Dubai welcomed 15.92 million overnight tourist visitors in 2018, up 0.8 percent from 2017, according to official statistics released by Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing said on Sunday.
Tourist numbers from China increased by 12 percent, with Saudi Arabia maintaining its place as the second-biggest country of origin for visitors, growing by 3 percent to 1.6 million as compared to 2017.
“Our strategic investments, innovative destination promotion programmes, responsive federal policy reforms and long-term global partnerships – all backed by the tremendous support of our stakeholders across the government and private sector, continue to yield strong results,” said Helal Almarri, Director-General of Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.
Dubai and the UAE overall have been implementing measures to boost tourism to the country, including granting the Russians and Chinese visas on arrival, moves that have helped boost visitor numbers from the respective countries.
Dubai has been ramping up its roster of events and developing new attractions to woo visitors. The emirate has marketed itself as a family-friendly destination with theme parks including Marvel-inspired IMG World of Adventures and Dubai Parks and Resorts.
The UK also held on to its third spot as a source market with 1.2 million visitors.
China climbed to fourth spot, with tourist numbers surging 12 per cent to 857,000, while Russia rose two places to sixth position with a 28 percent uptick in the number of travelers to 678,000.
The number of German tourists rose 12 percent to 567,000.
Meanwhile, the number of hotel rooms and apartments rose 8 percent to about 116,000 across 716 establishments, with average occupancy reaching 76 percent.
Luxury hotels accounted for a third of total inventory, followed by four-star hotels with a quarter share and one to three-star with a fifth of all rooms.
Cancún sees decline in international tourism for first time in seven years: Insufficient marketing, insecurity seen as two reasons for the 2% drop
Insecurity and a lack of tourism promotion have been blamed for a 2% decline in international arrivals to Cancún in January, the first year-over-year decrease for any month in almost seven years.
Just over 1.51 million passengers arrived at Cancún International Airport in January 2019 compared to 1.54 million in January 2018. The last time Cancún saw a decline in international visitor numbers was in April 2012 when 0.6% fewer passengers flew into the resort city than in the same month the year before.
Hotel occupancy in the first week of the month was also down.
At 76% it was the lowest in six years and was 6.5% less than last year.
Gerardo Herrera, a tourism specialist at the Iberoamerican University, partially attributes last month’s reduction in visitor numbers to increasing insecurity in Quintana Roo, the state where Cancún is located.
The state’s homicide rate shot up from 21.57 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2017 to 44.63 last year, an increase of 106%. There were 71 homicides in Quintana Roo last month, according to the National Public Security System (SNSP), 31 more than in January 2018 and five times higher than the number of murders in January 2017.
Herrera also said the federal government’s decision to disband the Tourism Promotion Council (CPTM) and the resultant lack of tourism marketing was also a factor that contributed to the drop-off in arrivals.
“I believe that there is a perception that tourism will just happen and that’s not right. No product sells itself, it needs advertising,” he said.
Herrera added that the recent depreciation of the United States dollar against the peso could also have been a factor behind the decline.
Given that the economy of Mexico’s No. 1 source country for tourists – the United States – is showing signs of slowing, the academic said that more tourism promotion, not less, is needed.
Armando Bojórquez, president of the Latin America Culture and Tourism Association (ACTUAL), agreed with Herrera that insecurity and a lack of promotion were behind the tourism decline in Cancún, adding that it is cause for concern because the city is the best barometer of the overall tourism situation in the country.
Caribbean countries that compete with Cancún and other Mexican tourism destinations are doing a better job at attracting visitors, he said.
“The Dominican Republic and Cuba are growing at a fast pace and they’re beating us in the market because of marketing, we have to ramp up the advertising strategy . . .” Bojórquez said.
Others have also been critical of the federal government’s decision to disband the CPTM and redirect its funding to other projects.
Earlier this month, the Mexican Employers Federation (Coparmex) described the decision to concentrate tourism funding on the Maya Train project as “almost suicidal.”
Coparmex chief Gustavo de Hoyos said the government’s decision to bet “everything” on the ambitious rail project in the country’s southeast was the “wrong bet” and a “high risk.”
But the federal Secretariat of Tourism (Sectur) remains confident that international tourism will continue to grow.
Sectur estimates that more than 43.6 million tourists will come to Mexico this year, 5% higher than the record 41.4 million visitors who arrived in the country in 2018.
The Nassau/Paradise Island hotel industry has “rebounded with gains not seen for ten years”, it was revealed yesterday, as room revenues closed 2018 up 34 percent year-over-year.
Robert Sands, Baha Mar’s senior vice-president of government and external affairs, told Tribune Business that 2018’s momentum had been maintained through “a very strong 2019 first quarter” with most tourism industry participants confident these trends will hold for the full year barring any hurricanes or unanticipated economic shocks.
With average daily room rates (ADRs) and revenue per available room (RevPAR) ahead of 2017 comparatives in eight and seven months, respectively, of 2018, Mr. Sands said “all parties are benefiting” from the increase in visitor numbers and spending.
He warned, though, that there remained “quite a lot of work to do” to sustain the growth momentum in The Bahamas’ largest industry and biggest GDP contributor, adding that hotels by themselves “don’t make the destination”.
Calling for the sector’s “holistic development”, the veteran hotelier said The Bahamas needed to ensure downtown Nassau was revived and Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) able to cope with peak season passenger volumes, in addition to “uplifting” service levels and the guest experience.
Mr. Sands spoke out after newly-released Ministry of Tourism data, obtained by Tribune Business, showed that Baha Mar’s full opening had combined with improved US economic growth and confidence to produce the first marked rebound since the 2008-2009 recession.
The Nassau/Paradise Island hotel industry’s 2018 performance was also boosted by the weak late-year comparatives from 2017 due to Hurricane Irma, which deterred travel to The Bahamas, as well as the wider Caribbean, for several months. The Bahamas also benefited from the damage that storm and others inflicted on other regional destinations, which resulted in travelers switching their vacations to The Bahamas.
The sector’s room revenue, room nights sold and air arrivals rose by “double digit” percentages for all months except March 2018, when the latter “only” grew by 9 percent. Nassau/Paradise room revenues closed last year up by 34 percent, while room nights sold were ahead by 28 percent and 19 percent, respectively.
“I think to put it in context, we see significant growth in stopover visitors to the destination,” Mr. Sands told Tribune Business of the data. “The numbers are getting back to levels seen maybe 10, 20 years ago.
“I think that augurs well. I think it’s important that not only was New Providence strong, but a lot of the Family Islands - event those in the south - enjoyed good growth. It sends the message that the tourism industry is rebounding and making steady progress towards achieving great gains - the likes of which we’ve not experience in the industry for probably the last 10 years.
“I think overall the numbers are very, very encouraging for the tourism sector here in The Bahamas,” he continued. “Based on the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) meeting last week, all sectors of the industry are reporting a very strong first quarter, which sets the foundation for the year and people are very optimistic the trends will continue for the full year barring any unforeseen catastrophes and the like.”
The Nassau /Paradise Island hotel sector’s average ADR closed at $250.57 for 2018, as opposed to $239.26 the year before. Average daily room rates were higher in eight out of 12 months, including for the entire first quarter winter season and Christmas period, and only slipped behind 2017 in the summer months.
Similarly, revenue per available room (RevPAR), which is a key indicator of hotel performance, stood at a $154.60 average for the full year as compared to $145.34 in 2017. While its performance was slightly more uneven, it finished ahead of prior year comparatives for seven out of the 12 months.
Mr. Sands agreed that the ADR and RevPAR data provided further evidence that fears Baha Mar’s full entry into the market would spark a “price war” with Atlantis were unfounded. There had been speculation for many years that the two mega resorts would split, rather than grow, the high-end visitor market, resulting in “cannibalization” and a “race to the bottom” on rates.
The Ministry of Tourism data, Mr. Sands suggested, showed the opposite was occurring. “It sends the message that incremental business is accreting, all parties are benefiting, and that speaks volumes to what’s happened in the marketplace,” he told Tribune Business.
The Baha Mar executive added that there was “no question in my mind” that the resort industry’s promotional spend, together with the Ministry of Tourism’s just-launched Fly Away promotion spearheaded by rock icon Lenny Kravitz, were “propelling The Bahamas’ equity in the marketplace and beginning to pay dividends for the destination”.
Still, Mr. Sands conceded that “tremendous opportunities for growth” also present challenges for the tourism and hotel sector, including securing sufficient airlift to fill available hotel rooms and improving the infrastructure that underpins the industry.
He added that “offering value for money, good service levels and continuing to exceed visitor expectations as they come to the destination” were vital if The Bahamas is to maintain its current tourism momentum.
“It’s taken us a long time,” Mr. Sands said of the industry’s rebound, “and I think there’s still quite a lot of work to be done. Certainly, we have to pay attention to the ability of a new airport that it can manage all the volumes of passengers coming in at peak times.
“Hotels, as a destination in and of themselves, don’t make The Bahamas. We have to ensure the holistic development of island economies, the development of downtown Nassau and all aspects of the tourism sector and all players in tourism to ensure we holistically uplift the product offering and service to the visitors and guests.”
Away from Nassau/Paradise Island, Grand Bahama’s hotel sector showed modest improvement in a year where it was not up against like-for-like comparatives that included a fully open Grand Lucayan prior to October 2016.
The extent of the task facing that resort’s purchaser is highlighted by the fact that the island’s average daily room rate and RevPAR figures, at $69.50 and $38.76, are less than one-third and one-quarter, respectively, of the same benchmarks set by their Nassau/Paradise Island counterparts.
Grand Bahama also enjoyed only modest improvement in its room revenues, air arrivals and room nights sold, which were all up by “single digit” percentages compared to 2017 figures.
“Room revenue did not increase between the months of July and October 2018 for Grand Bahama because there was a decline in the combined ADR for these four months compared to the same period of 2017, and in some of these months room nights sold also declined,” the Ministry of Tourism said.
“However, room revenue for the hotels in Grand Bahama increased by 4 percent by the end of December year-to-date 2018, and room nights sold increased by 2 percent.”
According to Visit Orlando, Orlando saw the volume of air visitors increase by 7.1% in December 2018, growing from 4,244,996 air visitors in December 2017 to 4,548,340 air visitors in December 2018.
According to STR Orlando had 128,000 hotel rooms in December 2018 and achieved an average city-wide room occupancy of 73.5% (down 6.7 percentage points compared with December 2017), and an ADR of $130.01 (up 0.6% compared with December 2017).
In calendar year 2018 Orlando saw a 6.8% increase in the volume of air visitors, growing from 47,538,149 air arrivals in 2017 to 50,789,060 air visitors in calendar year 2018.
Orlando achieved an average city-wide room occupancy of 77.5% in 2018 (down 2.1 percentage points compared with 2017), and an ADR of $127.32, (up 4.7% compared with 2017).
Visit Florida’s Research Department recently announced that the state of Florida saw a 4.6% increase in the number of tourist arrivals in the fourth quarter of 2018, with total arrivals growing from 28,993,000 in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 30,329,000 arrivals in the fourth quarter of 2018. Domestic arrivals were up by 5.3%, while arrivals from Canada grew by 2.1%. Arrivals from overseas fell by 1.1% from 2,888,000 in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 2,856,000 in 2018.
In calendar year 2018 Florida saw a 6.2% increase in total tourist arrivals, growing from 118,756,000 arrivals in 2017 to 126,119,000 in 2018. Domestic arrivals increased by 7.1%, to 111.8 million while arrivals from Canada were up by 1.9% to 3.51 million. International arrivals were down however, falling by 1.0% from 10.9 million visitors in 2017 to 10.8 million in 2018.
According to the Airlines Reporting Company (ARC) the overall average price of a round trip air fare (including all taxes, fees and other charges) bought through a travel agent from the USA to top Mexican and Caribbean destinations and purchased for travel between December 1 2018 and February 28 2019 increased by 3.6% compared to the same period of 2017/2018.
The lowest average fare was to San Juan, Puerto Rico at $396, up 10.6% compared to 2017/2018. The highest average fare was to Punta Cana at $639, up 8.7% compared to 2017/2018.
Cancun led all destinations with a passenger count of 772,000 passengers with San Juan second at 525,000 passengers.
Results are based on round trip air tickets purchased from U.S. travel agencies to destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico only.
Travel includes trips from December 1, 2018 - February 28, 2019, which included Christmas, New Year's, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Valentine's Day, purchased by February 2, 2019.
According to the Jamaica Tourist Board, Jamaica saw the volume of stopover arrivals increase by 3.7% in December 2018, growing from 251,800 arrivals in December 2017 to 261,147 arrivals in December 2018. Stopover arrivals from the USA grew by 17.5%, from 156,660 visitors in December 2017 to 168,363 visitors in December 2018. Cruise arrivals increased by 8.8%, from 208,212 cruise visitors in December 2017 to 226,554 cruise visitors in December 2018.
In full year 2018 Jamaica saw a 5.1% increase in the volume of stopover arrivals, growing from 2,352,915 stopover arrivals in 2017 to 2,472,727 arrivals in the same twelve months of 2018. Arrivals from the USA increased by 7.8% in 2018, growing from 1,509,963 arrivals in 2017 to 1,628,402 arrivals in 2018. The number of cruise visitors decreased by 4.0% in 2018, falling from 1,923,274 cruise visitors in 2017 to 1,854,873 cruise visitors in 2018.
According to VisitBarbados.org, Barbados saw the volume of stopover arrivals increase by 1.3% in December 2018, growing from 72,505 arrivals in December 2017 to 73,435 arrivals in December 2018. Stopover arrivals from the USA grew by 8.1%, from 19,260 in December 2017 to 20,819 in December 2018 and increased by 0.7% from the U.K., from 26,523 arrivals in December 2017 to 26,697 in December 2018.
In 2018 Barbados saw a 2.7% increase in the volume of stopover arrivals, growing from 663,511 arrivals in 2017 to 681,197 arrivals in 2018. Arrivals from the USA increased by 8.4% in 2018, growing from 189,022 arrivals in 2017 to 204,830 arrivals in 2018 while arrivals from the U.K. grew by 1.4% in 2018, growing from 222,346 stopovers in 2017 to 225,519 stopovers in 2018. The number of cruise visitors fell by 0.9% in the first eleven months of 2018, falling from 559,313 cruise visitors in 2017 to 554,439 in 2018.
Mexico's new president, citing a lack of transparency in how funds are spent, appears to be following through with reported plans to shutter the country's international tourism offices and cut funding to promote inbound tourism.
Although the government has made no official announcement, there have been numerous reports in Mexico's news media in recent months that president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador planned to shut the Tourism Promotion Council and shift its $295 million annual budget to construction of a railroad connecting tourism destinations and villages across the Mayan Peninsula.
In an email to Travel Weekly, Pablo Azcarraga, who chairs both the Mexican hotel chain Grupo Posadas and Consejo Nacional Empresarial Turistico (CNET), the voice of Mexico's private tourism sector, said Thursday that the private sector "is in the process of negotiating with the federal government a new proposal to create a new joint entity that will manage the advertising and promotion funds."
Azcarraga continued: "I have a programmed meeting with the secretary of finance to discuss the urgent need for the funds and the impact that tourism has in the Mexican economy."
Ray Snisky, chief commercial officer for Apple Leisure Group's vacations sector, one of the largest U.S. sellers of Mexico travel packages, said the new administration "is turning its back on the tourism industry, which drives employment and fuels the Mexican economy, at the worst possible time ever."
"Now more than ever it is vital for the government to work in collaboration with the private sector to promote this spectacular tourism offering," he said. "Other destinations continue to gain market share, and it will only get worse without a united promotional strategy."
Snisky said Apple Leisure Group is enhancing its working relationship with Mexico's state tourism offices, "but that fragmented strategy loses some of the cohesive leverage we were able to gain previously by engaging consumers and travel counselors with the entirety of the destination of Mexico in a singular campaign."
Global passenger traffic demand rose at a healthy rate in 2018 despite volatile fuel prices, the uncertainty created by Brexit and US-China trade tensions.
According to figures released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) increased by 6.5 percent last year, compared with 2017. Although this represented a slowdown compared to the 2017 annual growth of 8.0 percent, it was another year of above-trend growth.
Full year 2018 capacity climbed 6.1 percent, and load factor edged up 0.3 percentage point to a record 81.9 percent, exceeding the previous high set in 2017.
“2018 was another year of strong passenger demand, as aviation continued to support the global economy. We expect similar, if somewhat moderating performance in 2019,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and chief executive.
International passenger traffic in 2018 climbed 6.3 percent compared to 2017, down from 8.6 percent annual growth the year before. Capacity rose 5.7 percent and load factor climbed by 0.4 percentage point to 81.2.
Asia-Pacific recorded the largest year-on-year increase in international traffic, rising by 7.3 percent compared to 2017. However, this represented a slowdown from the 10.5 percent growth in 2017.
European carriers’ international traffic climbed 6.6 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year, which was down from 9.4 percent growth the year before. Capacity rose 5.9 percent and load factor increased 0.6 percentage point to 85.0 percent, which was the highest for any region.
North American airlines had their fastest demand growth since 2011, with full-year traffic rising 5.0 percent compared to 2017, an increase from 4.7 percent annual growth in 2017.
Middle East carriers’ traffic increased 4.2 percent last year, down from 6.9 percent growth in 2017, while African airlines saw 2018 traffic rise 6.5 percent compared to 2017, which was an increase compared to 6.0 percent annual growth in 2017.
Latin American airlines’ traffic climbed 6.9 percent in 2018, a slowdown compared to 8.8 percent annual growth in 2017. Capacity rose 7.7 percent and load factor dipped 0.6 percentage point to 81.8 percent. IATA said traffic was affected by the mid-year general strikes in Brazil as well as by political and economic developments in some of the region’s other key economies.
IATA’s figures for domestic travel showed demand climbed 7.0 percent last year, which was unchanged from the rate in 2017. All markets showed annual growth, led by India and China.
India’s domestic market posted the fastest full-year domestic growth rate for the fourth consecutive year, with an 18.6 percent annual demand increase.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.