<![CDATA[tourismanalytics.com - News Articles]]>Thu, 28 Jan 2021 00:21:30 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[ICAO: Air travel down 60 percent, as airline industry losses top $370 billion.]]>Tue, 26 Jan 2021 14:20:42 GMThttp://tourismanalytics.com/news-articles/icao-air-travel-down-60-percent-as-airline-industry-losses-top-370-billionWith its latest economic impact analysis of COVID-19 now completed, the UN agency for civil aviation has confirmed that international passenger traffic suffered a dramatic 60 per cent drop over 2020, bringing air travel totals back to 2003 levels.
ICAO reports that as seat capacity fell by 50 per cent last year, passenger totals dropped by 60 per cent with just 1.8 billion passengers taking to the air during the first year of the pandemic, compared to 4.5 billion in 2019.
Its numbers also point to airline financial losses of 370 billion dollars resulting from the COVID-19 impacts, with airports and air navigation services providers (ANSPs) losing a further 115 billion and 13 billion, respectively.
The pandemic plunge in air travel demand began in January of 2020, but was limited to only a few countries. As the virus continued its global spread, however, air transport activities came to a virtual standstill by the end of March.
With the wide-scale lockdown measures, border closures, and travel restrictions being set out around the world, by April the overall number of passengers had fallen 92 per cent from 2019 levels, an average of the 98 per cent drop-off seen in international traffic and 87 per cent fall in domestic air travel.
Subsequent to the April low point being reached, passenger traffic saw a moderate rebound during the summer travel period.
That upward trend was short-lived, however, stalling and then taking a turn for the worse in September when the second wave of infection in many regions prompted the reintroduction of restrictive measures.
Sectoral recovery became more vulnerable and volatile again during the last four months of 2020, indicating an overall double-dip recession for the year.
Disparity between domestic and international recoveries
ICAO also reported that there has been a persistent disparity between domestic and international air travel impacts resulting from the more stringent international measures in force.
It said that domestic travel demonstrated stronger resilience and dominated traffic recovery scenarios, particularly in China and the Russian Federation where domestic passenger numbers have already returned to the pre-pandemic levels.
Overall there was a 50 per cent drop in domestic passenger traffic globally, while international traffic fell by 74 per cent or 1.4 billion fewer passengers.
As of late May 2020, the ICAO Asia/Pacific and North American regions led the global recovery in passenger totals, largely due to their significant domestic markets. Europe saw a temporary rebound but trended downward dramatically from September. Latin American and Caribbean traffic saw improvements in the fourth quarter, while recoveries in Africa and the Middle East proceeded less robustly.
World passenger traffic evolution
1945 – 2020
Financial distress and grim outlook ahead
Paralyzed revenue streams resulting from the plunge in air traffic has led to severe liquidity strains across the aviation value chain, placing the industry’s financial viability in question and threatening millions of jobs around the world.
Cascading impacts have also been severe across tourism markets globally, given that over 50 per cent of international tourists formerly used air travel to reach their destinations.
The global 370 billion dollar drop in gross airline passenger operating revenues represented losses of 120 billion in the Asia/Pacific, 100 billion in Europe, and 88 billion in North America, followed by 26 billion, 22 billion and 14 billion in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and Africa, respectively.
ICAO indicated that the near-term outlook is for prolonged depressed demand, with downside risks to global air travel recovery predominating in the first quarter of 2021, and likely to be subject to further deterioration.
It expects any improvement in the global picture only by the second quarter of 2021, though this will still be subject to the effectiveness of pandemic management and vaccination roll out.
In the most optimistic scenario, by June of 2021 passenger numbers will be expected to recover to 71 per cent of their 2019 levels (53 per cent for international and 84 per cent for domestic). A more pessimistic scenario foresees only a 49 per cent recovery (26 per cent for international and 66 per cent for domestic).
ICAO continues to provide recommendations and support for the aviation sector to weather through the crisis. Its new Guidance on Economic and Financial Measures summarizes a range of measures that can be explored by States and the industry to alleviate the imminent liquidity and financial strain, and to strengthen the industry’s resilience to future crisis.
2020 passenger traffic and revenues, by region
File Size: 3335 kb
File Type: pdf
Download File

<![CDATA[Six Ways The Travel Industry Will Win Back Tourists In 2021]]>Tue, 26 Jan 2021 14:19:47 GMThttp://tourismanalytics.com/news-articles/six-ways-the-travel-industry-will-win-back-tourists-in-2021Corrina Allen-Kiersons Contributor Forbes Life
With vaccines beginning to be rolled out in several spots across the globe, a return to travel will also soon be on the horizon. The industry has been hard hit by the pandemic and, especially considering the overall economic downturn, may be one of the slowest sectors to recover. With that in mind, tour companies, hoteliers, and travel agencies are already working hard to woo future travellers to explore again once it’s safe to do so. Here’s how they’ll be fueling our urge to get out and see the world.  
Dateless departures 
For the relaunch of their 2021 schedule, Exodus Travels is offering tour-goers a spot on their very first trips to reopened destinations — whenever that might happen. Playing up the idea that trip anticipation is one of the highlights of travel, the Exodus program will guarantee travellers a spot on the first tour to their clients’ destination of choice — be it Japan, Kenya, or the Amalfi Coast. If the dates don’t line up with a traveller’s desired vacation time, Exodus will rebook them on an alternative tour, making it a win-win situation. 
Increased online engagement
Leading up the holidays, brands like Belmond have been getting their clients’ attention with virtual events that not only inspire travel, but offer fun, informative, and festive activities that serve as mood-lifters during this unusual holiday season. Making the most of their IGTV channel, the brand offers masterclasses in Christmas cracker-construction and wreath-making and will end the season with a spirited carolling session on December 22.
The Role Of A Mentor
Since the onset of the pandemic, Viking has been offering clients virtual tours of historic estates like Downton Abbey’s Highclere Castle, hosting ‘Foodie Friday’ online cooking classes with their renowned chefs, and organizing talks with acclaimed authors like Jeffrey Archer. Each event is designed to get travellers dreaming about a particular destination by invoking the culinary or cultural experiences typically tied to international travel. Ultimately, however, increased online engagement will keep these brands top of mind when travel resumes. 
Maintenance of pandemic-era cleaning and service standards
During the pandemic, hotels and hospitality providers have struggled to find a balance between safety and providing guests with the same level of personalized service they have come to expect. At Berlin’s Hotel de Rome, Regional Quality & Training Manager Tiago Brandt says, “Wherever possible, we offer contactless services and reduce interaction at the request of our guests and in accordance with current regulations. Even though — especially in the technological field — many things become more practical and faster, we also make the experience that many of our guests appreciate and seek a personal service and interpersonal interaction.”
This is indeed sometimes challenging in the current situation,” he adds. “It is of course our aim that our guests feel comfortable with us and, despite the current regulations, receive the personal and individualized service they are used to. Therefore we train with our team the use of body language and non-verbal communication elements in the interaction with our guests, to counteract face masks and distance rules, as an example. We consider successful communication to be essential. Our Guest Relation and Concierge team also approaches guests in the lobby even more proactively in order to provide individual service.”
Post-pandemic, expect top hotels to have honed hospitality skills even further, having achieved a level of safety, cleaning, and maintenance standards that allow guests to enjoy worry-free stays.
Environmental, cultural and community activism
From combating climate change to supporting Indigenous populations through tourism, travel providers are redoubling their efforts to do good while doing their jobs. The Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi is inviting guests to adopt a coral frame in an effort to rehabilitate the region’s delicate reefs, already threatened by climate change. In Jamaica, the famed GoldenEye hotel and its Oracabessa Foundation partner have launched a new dive shop where locals and guests alike can take part in replanting the country’s reefs. 
Travel bubbles
Trust will be paramount when travel reopens and some tour operators are offering travellers the opportunity to travel with the people they trust most: their own friends and family. Trafalgar, Costsaver and Insight Vacations all offer the “travel bubble” option — small, private group trips for their upcoming 2021 journeys that allows a set of family and/or friends to share a tour while maintaining a safer distance from people they’re unacquainted with. As a bonus, this type of travel will give those who’ve been separated from loved ones over the course of the pandemic to reunite and reconnect in 2021.
<![CDATA[Let’s take this opportunity to reinvent New Zealand’s tourism.]]>Tue, 26 Jan 2021 14:18:29 GMThttp://tourismanalytics.com/news-articles/lets-take-this-opportunity-to-reinvent-new-zealands-tourism​December 13 2020
Rod Oram imagines how we could reinvent tourism so that, instead of depleting and damaging our natural assets, it becomes an activity that generates ecological and economic, social and cultural benefits.
Tourism is one of humankind’s great achievements in modern times. Yet the benefits it brings us often come with negative consequences. Profits for hosts and fulfilment for tourists, for example, can strain communities and degrade ecosystems.
Sometimes we suffer a double-whammy. We escape our stressful lives for fleeting holiday encounters with things we’ve lost, such as peace, freedom and natural beauty; yet too much tourism in one place can spoil the very things we yearn for.
But what if we reinvented tourism so it becomes an exemplar of wholesome humanity? An activity that generates common wealth in all senses of the word – ecological and economic, social and cultural? Those four capitals are the basis of the Government’s Living Standards Framework and the wellbeing focus of its Budget-making process. Rightly so, since the quality of our personal and collective lives depends on them. By enhancing these four capitals, tourism would increase its contribution to Aotearoa and encourage other sectors and other segments of society to grow anew too.
Tourism is well suited for the task. It touches so many aspects of our lives, from the experiences we seek to the technology and resources we use to realise them. Most of us are tourists, at least at home if not abroad; and most of us are hosts, at least to family and friends, and sometimes in our brief encounters with tourists seeking directions or advice.
Making wise tourism choices worldwide will help speed up the transformation to deeply sustainable economies and societies over the next few decades. Crucially, that is all the time humanity has left to avert a climate catastrophe, and to ensure 10 billion people, the likely population in 30 years’ time, can live reasonably well on this planet.
We’re only 5 million people here in Aotearoa. But some of our distinctive attributes give us opportunities to offer our own particular take on the reinvention of tourism, as well as a great responsibility to do so.
Ours was the last large land mass to be settled by humans, beginning barely 800 years ago. Then these lands, waters and surrounding oceans were astoundingly diverse and rich in indigenous flora and fauna. Today, because of our exploitation, these once fecund ecosystems are greatly depleted and despoiled, with a high degree of indigenous species loss too.
Yet, we still have the largest stock of natural capital per person after oil- and gas-producing countries, analysis by the World Bank shows. We are responsible, for example, for the ninth largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world’s oceans, one which still has a high level of indigenous species. And we have big ambitions on land too, such as eradicating introduced species of mammalian predators that have decimated native forests and birds. The Predator Free 2050 movement is spurring communities to action around the country. We can become world leaders in restoring ecosystems and embedding our built environments deeply in nature.
For many visitors, Aotearoa is the ultimate long-distance destination. How can they journey in climate-compatible ways to help us develop a zero-emissions transport system? How can their enjoyment of our unique landscapes, ecosystems and species help us restore them? How can their engagement in our towns and cities help us express our own attractive styles of urban life? Above all, how can we enliven them and strengthen our identity and society by sharing with visitors our indigenous Māori world view that we are inherently one with nature?
Defining tourism's value
Tourism and travel are global agents of change because of their contributions to economies. In 2019, their combined sector grew by 3.5 percent to contribute 10.3 percent of global GDP, and they contributed 330 million jobs, one-tenth of all jobs, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council’s 2020 report.
Last year was the ninth in a row it had grown markedly faster than the global economy as a whole. Only two sectors grew faster: information and communications at 4.8 percent, and financial services at 3.7 percent. Among slower sectors, agriculture grew by 2.3 percent and manufacturing by 1.7 percent.
While domestic tourism has been a feature of societies for generations, international tourism is a phenomenon of prosperity and globalization in the decades since the Second World War. In 1950, only 25 million tourists crossed international borders, according to data from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. In 2018, 1.46 billion did so, a 58-fold increase.
Drivers of the spectacular growth included the phenomenal increase in aircraft efficiency and thus plunging travel costs, particularly in the jet age; rising incomes; the opening of borders; heavy investment in promotion and infrastructures; and the sharing of stories, experiences and adventures through mass and, latterly, social media. In many ways, the rise of tourism is evidence of the postwar gains in economic wealth, political freedom, social progress and technological sophistication.
... there were 134 citizens for every international tourist in 1950, but only 1.3 for every tourist in 2019. In other words, international tourists grew 100 times faster than citizens.
Here in Aotearoa, we’ve experienced an even more remarkable surge in tourism. In 1950, only 14,176 overseas tourists arrived here, according to Statistics New Zealand. In 2019, we hosted 3,864,018 of them, a 273-fold increase. That was a rate of growth almost five times faster than the global sector’s rapid expansion.
Our international arrivals averaged barely 40 per day in 1950 but 10,600 a day in 2019, with the summer peak far higher and the winter trough much lower. Meanwhile, over those seven decades our population grew from 1.9 million to 5 million. This meant there were 134 citizens for every international tourist in 1950, but only 1.3 for every tourist in 2019. In other words, international tourists grew 100 times faster than citizens.
By meeting the needs of overseas visitors, we gain many benefits for ourselves. These include greater air connectivity and capacity which makes it easier, and possibly cheaper, for us to travel overseas and at home at least out of season; a wider range of customers, attractions, accommodation, restaurants, bars, entertainment, business services, jobs and other economic activities; and the opportunities for visitors to get to know us and our country, and we them and theirs.
The economic equation is complicated, though. The headline facts are clear. In the year to March 2019, Statistics New Zealand data show domestic tourists generated $23.7 billion of expenditure (with $17.9 billion coming from households and the balance from business), and international tourists $17.2 billion. The sector employed 229,566 people, a mix of full time, part time and seasonal. Total tourism generated a direct contribution to GDP of $16.2 billion, or 5.8 percent of GDP, and an indirect contribution of $11.2 billion, or 4 percent of GDP. The combined GDP share is similar to the global average, though, so our economy is not as “tourism heavy” as it is often perceived to be.
In addition to its low labour productivity, tourism demonstrates low capital productivity.
While there’s no doubting the volume of tourism activity, judging its value is harder. The main measure is the economic value added by each full-time equivalent employee (FTE). Value added is the “value” businesses add to the goods and services they purchase and use in producing their own outputs.
But 2014 was the last time the Statistics NZ’s Tourism Satellite Account calculated tourism employment on the full-time equivalent basis necessary for comparing the value generation of sectors. That data showed 166,800 FTE direct and indirect employees, who generated 8.3 percent of GDP. Their contribution per employee to GDP was $88,612 for direct employees and $89,567 for indirect employees. By comparison across the whole economy, the average contribution was 16 percent greater, at $106,155 per FTE. This was consistent with a pattern identified by Lincoln University’s 2006 analysis of the Tourism Satellite Account dating back some years.
In addition to its low labour productivity, tourism demonstrates low capital productivity. In the year to March 2019, the sector’s net capital stock for all tourism (direct and indirect) was $106.69 billion, or 12.6 percent of the $842.66 billion total for all industry. Yet, the sector’s contribution to GDP was disproportionately lower at 9.8 percent.
Tackling tourism's challenges
While tourism creates substantial gains, it also generates significant externalities – costs which are not included in calculations of its overall net economic benefit. These include the damage tourism does to climate, ecosystems, and social and amenity values, plus the burden of infrastructure costs borne by government or other parties.
The sector’s brisk growth over the past decade has prompted it to work diligently on these economic, environmental and social challenges. For example, Tourism Industry Aotearoa released its Tourism 2025 and Beyond Growth Framework in 2014, and updated it in 2019 as its Sustainable Growth Framework. Its “Top 10 Actions” are: Embed sustainability; Managing destinations; Growing and shaping demand; Embracing Tikanga Māori; Living Tiaki [protection, guardianship]; Engaging the community; Measuring and managing industry carbon use; Investing in infrastructure and amenities; Fostering domestic tourism; Investing to deliver quality tourism data and research.
The sector’s analysis was more sophisticated than its past efforts, and its proposed actions have merits. But the sector’s strategy was still business as usual: further brisk growth (from revenues of $39 billion in 2018 to $50 billion in 2025) while trying to cope better with the negative consequences.
This failed to convince Simon Upton, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. Seven months later he produced his report Pristine, Popular . . . Imperilled? The Environmental Consequences of Projected Tourism Growth. He concluded:
"Twenty years ago, one of my predecessors, Dr Morgan Williams, issued a report entitled 'Management of the environmental effects associated with the tourism sector. I deliberately didn't read it until we had completed our own research to avoid approaching the topic with preconceptions. When I finally came to do so, I was struck by how little has changed. Numbers have grown, compensatory investments have been made and some genuinely impressive initiatives have been taken by some players. But the essential challenges remain clearly recognizable, although now on a much-enlarged scale. Despite many soothing words about sustainability over the two intervening decades, we haven't significantly shifted an extractive path dependency."
Just three months later, life as we knew it – in its entirety, not just tourism – was upended by the rapidly accelerating global Covid-19 pandemic. In response, on 19 March 2020 our Government closed the border to all but returning New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.
Of the extensive economic consequences, the tourism sector has suffered the greatest shock. Its total loss of international tourism revenues, with no hope of more than a trickle of people across the border until well into 2021, is devastating for its people and companies. Admirably, though, they are remaking their businesses in highly creative and innovative ways. Their pivot to domestic tourism has been particularly effective, with an eager response from New Zealanders missing their overseas travels.
But to absolutely thrive, the tourism sector needs to radically rethink its role in our natural environment, society and economy. Its greatest opportunities lie in tackling its greatest liabilities. Then it will become a trailblazer for all New Zealanders on their journey to deeply sustainable relationships with the natural world – literally our life-support system – and with each other in our social and economic structures.
The biggest liability is carbon emissions generated by tourists flying here, with cruise ships compounding the problem. Even the most efficient of these ships emit three to four times more carbon dioxide per passenger-mile than a jet, according to research by Bryan Comer at the International Council on Clean Transportation in Washington DC.
We could ignore this, given it is a global issue and we’re small. Between 2009 and 2013, global tourism emissions increased from 3.9 to 4.5 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent (four times more than previously estimated), and accounted for about 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to research published in Nature Climate Change.
“The majority of this footprint is exerted by and in high-income countries. The rapid increase in tourism demand is effectively outstripping the decarbonisation of tourism-related technology. We project that, due to its high carbon intensity and continuing growth, tourism will constitute a growing part of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions,” the authors wrote.
Or we could be a leader, making carbon-neutral tourism a defining goal of our ambitious new strategy. There are pathways for decarbonising travel. Some technologies are here, such as electric cars; others are near, such as electric campervans with adequate range. Others are medium term, such as jet engines running on sustainable fuels; and some long term, such as hybrid and electric aircraft.
But tourists, domestic and international, can go carbon neutral right now by offsetting their greenhouse gas emissions. Some people consider offsets are greenwash, a way to salve consciences while avoiding the crucial need to cut emissions or not generate them at all.
They are, though, a legitimate way to help fast-forward the changes we must make in our behaviours and technologies. Thus, the real issue is the integrity of the offsets chosen. For example, the United Nations’ Carbon Offset Platform says the UN’s portfolio of Clean Development Mechanisms have replaced fossil fuels with renewable energy, reduced energy consumption, and removed atmospheric carbon through reforestation and ecosystem regeneration projects. To date, “CDM projects have been responsible for avoiding more than 1.8 billion tonnes of GHG emissions.”
A growing number of New Zealand organisations are providing credible offsets with demonstrable benefits, with Toitū Envirocare (part of Landcare Research), the Crown Research Institute, and Ekos among the leaders.
Offsets are highly affordable. For example, for an economy-class round trip from the UK to New Zealand the price is $260–$300, based on a November 2020 cost of offsets of around $38 a tonne of CO2. The range reflects the differences in the way suppliers calculate the emissions generated. By comparison, the UK government’s departure tax for the out-bound flights is $160, while the New Zealand government charges a $35 International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy.
Starting as a volunteer programme, inbound tourists should be encouraged to be carbon-neutral travellers, not just for their international flights but for their carbon footprint from transport, accommodation, activities and other sources while they are here. Tourism and travel organisations could offer them easy-to-use calculators to do so, and show them where their offsets were being put to good use. Visiting those projects, such as regenerating native forests, would help them to deepen their knowledge of the country, to get to know us better and to enrich their visit to Aotearoa.
Developing such a programme first with domestic tourists would be a way for us to learn about the journey to a deeply sustainable country, thereby increasing tourism’s social and cultural value to society. It would also be an incentive for tourism and travel operators to invest in such a future for their businesses as they help to accelerate the shift to clean tech and energy, thereby increasing tourism’s economic and ecological value to society.
Towards regeneration
Such profound change is underway in many sectors. For example, the Primary Sector Council’s Fit for a Better World vision, mission and strategy document, released in July 2020, is based strongly on the concept of regenerative agriculture. This is given a unique and deeply New Zealand context through its embrace of Te Taiao, an expression of te ao Māori, the world view of humankind’s symbiotic relationship with nature. With the strategy document, the council released a companion document describing this. It is called Te Taiao Ora Tangata Ora – the Natural World and Our People Are Healthy.
The traditional view of sustainability is broadly about changing the way we do things to minimise the negative impact we have on ecosystems, people and society. The concept of regeneration, though, goes far further. It’s about redesigning everything we do so we help nature, people and society recover and flourish.
We could help nature rebuild its diversity and vitality, resilience and fecundity in all of Aotearoa’s land, waters, atmosphere and oceans. Ways to do so include eradicating predators from native bush; helping threatened species recover; making infrastructure compatible with natural environments; ensuring tourism and other human activities do not degrade pristine places; and using natural resources in ways that help renew and regenerate the ecosystems which provide them to us.
As a nation, we define ourselves in large part by our wild and rural places, even though a higher proportion of people live in towns and cities than in many countries in Europe and elsewhere. We could give expression to our distinctive style of urban life by bringing nature back into our towns and cities to make them healthier and more productive, in terms human and natural. Ways to do so include travelling less by relying more on virtual communications and on walking, cycling and public transport; by restoring urban rivers and coastal waters; and by bringing more of nature back into urban environments to help us feed ourselves and restore urban ecosystems.
Imagine just one example. We make Matariki a great midwinter festival, celebrating in places urban, rural and wild the turn in our seasons towards natural and human regrowth. Festivals of music, the arts, food, adventure, sport, science, innovation, industry and more would be a great draw for domestic tourists; and an even stronger one for visitors escaping ever hotter northern hemisphere summers for our mild winter days which are perfect for outdoor and indoor activities.
An enlivening logic runs through these great ambitions. We must learn how to work with nature, not against it. In all we do. This is the journey tourism reinvented can take us on. As we regenerate our ecological and economic, social and cultural capitals, we in turn will richly reward tourism.
Rod Oram contributed this essay to 100% Pure Future: New Zealand Tourism Renewed. It is a collection of pieces on the sector's future published by BWB Texts this week. 
<![CDATA[How Iceland Is Rethinking Tourism for the Long Haul]]>Tue, 26 Jan 2021 14:17:29 GMThttp://tourismanalytics.com/news-articles/how-iceland-is-rethinking-tourism-for-the-long-haulIceland wants visitors to plan beyond the long weekend and spread out across the island.
BY JULIA ESKINS: Travel and Leisure
January 18, 2021
Iceland has a New Year’s resolution. After a 10-month pause in tourism due to global lockdowns, the country is preparing for a new era of outdoor adventure—one that locals are hoping is more sustainable than before.
The Nordic island nation’s meteoric rise in popularity remains a controversial topic. Once named the fastest-growing destination in Europe, its economy has become reliant on flashpackers keen to marvel at glaciers, geysers, and green-streaked skies. But environmentalists have raised concerns about the impact of overtourism on delicate ecosystems. Iceland’s answer? Encourage people to stay longer, travel slower, and make use of the country’s greatest asset in a COVID-minded world: space.
Similar to other hot-ticket destinations like Venice and Amsterdam, which celebrated reduced pollution in 2020, Iceland experienced its own silver linings in a year of fewer visitors. Thingvellir National Park director Einar Sæmundsen noticed less litter on trails that were previously trampled by hikers. Meanwhile, locals enjoyed the quietude, with domestic travelers flocking to beloved sites, as well as the Westfjords and Eastfjords—two lesser-explored regions that are finally getting the attention and financial support from the Icelandic government to thrive.
“The growth we saw in the number of visitors up to 2019 was far too rapid and we were getting close to the edge of seriously unsustainable development,” says Tryggvi Felixson, a tour guide and Chair of Landvernd, the Icelandic Environment Association. “We are fortunate that Iceland is a relatively big country. It’s possible to distribute the traffic more evenly than we have done before.”
More funding for infrastructure and conservation
Unlike destinations that tightened budgets in 2020, Iceland increased its spending on tourism by 40 percent. A substantial amount of the $1.73 billion ISK ($13.6 million) budget was used to improve infrastructure at tourist sites. Many of these places, like the basalt column-flanked canyon of Stuðlagil, became famous due to social media. The government is finally playing catch-up to build necessities like restrooms, parking lots, designated trails, and wheelchair-accessible entrances.
“It’s been challenging to stay ahead of social media,” says Skarphéðinn Berg Steinarsson, Director General of the Icelandic Tourist Board. “Visitors like to go around wherever they want and that's how we want to keep it. But we are sometimes unprepared for the sites they're visiting. Many of these places are much more delicate during the winter and spring when the frost is leaving the soil. A lot of traffic can spoil the environment.”
Iceland’s parliament is also now debating a proposal to establish a national park in the Highlands, which will cover and protect about 30 percent of the country, says Felixson.
A push for longer stays, alternative routes, and remote accommodations.
Inexpensive flights once made Iceland a magnet for weekend jaunts, but with COVID-19, longer trips that include working remotely are becoming the norm. In November, Iceland announced a new visa for international remote workers. Foreign nationals, including Americans, are now eligible to stay in Iceland for up to six months, as long as they are employed with a company or can verify self-employment. Unlike other visas aimed at digital nomads, Iceland’s program has some important fine print. Your monthly salary must be at least 1 million ISK ($7,360) or about $88,000 per year to qualify.
The quality-over-quantity strategy is simple: attract high-earning professionals that can help stimulate the local economy without leading to overcrowding. The new visa program is just one aspect of Iceland’s shift toward attracting those craving a slower style of exploration.
“Not everyone has to drive the Ring Road,” says Steinarsson. “We’re encouraging people to travel around the country but, preferably, stay longer in each region.”
Offering alternatives to Route 1, which follows the circumference of the island, Iceland opened two new circuits in late 2020. One is the Westfjords Way, a 590-mile journey around the Westfjords peninsula, which was previously closed in the winter due to avalanche risks. The second new route is the Diamond Circle in North Iceland, a 155-mile circuit replete with waterfalls and wildlife.
But that isn’t to say the capital should be completely overlooked. This spring, new geothermal spa The Sky Lagoon is set to open in Reykjavik. The project is one of the biggest in Icelandic tourism’s history at 4 billion ISK ($31 million). With its 260-foot oceanfront infinity pool and architecture inspired by the region’s traditional turf-houses, it could be an attractive alternative to the famous Blue Lagoon.
For those who want to experience nature away from the crowds, the newly launched Bubble Hotel offers the chance to sleep under the Northern Lights in one of 18 clear dome structures located in two remote forest locations. Meanwhile, close to Europe’s largest glacier in Vatnajökull National Park, the new Six Senses Össurá Valley is set to open in 2022. With 70 rooms and private cottages sprawled across 4,000 acres and built using renewable materials, the property will usher in a new option for sustainable luxury.
Conserving the environment while continuing to grow economically remains a challenge. But perhaps the forced pause has led to more than just a rebirth of quiet and clean trails. This time—with more remote adventures and better infrastructure—the land of ice and fire will be ready.
<![CDATA[Aruba Airport revises its traffic forecasts for 2021 through 2025.]]>Mon, 25 Jan 2021 14:57:04 GMThttp://tourismanalytics.com/news-articles/aruba-airport-revises-its-traffic-forecasts-for-2021-through-2025​The AAA now estimates that in 2021 the airport will handle 582,895 RGPs, 46% of the total handled in 2019, in 2022 856,852 RGPs, 68% of those handled in 2019, in 2023 985,380 78% of those handed in 2019, in 2024 1,059,283 RGPs, 84% of the 2019 total and in 2025 1,138,729 RGPs, 90% of the 2019 total.
For 2021 the forecast has been adjusted downwards from 52% of the RGPs handled in 2019 to 46% of those handled in 2019. For the years 2022 through 2025 the AAA is confident that the airport will reach the projected percentages versus the year 2019. It should be noted that these percentages will vary as the years come closer and AUA Airport has much better insights into the recovery of its airlift for those years.

Revised Forecasts as of January 2021
<![CDATA[Google launches hub to aid destinations, hotels and partners in recovery]]>Tue, 08 Dec 2020 15:06:53 GMThttp://tourismanalytics.com/news-articles/google-launches-hub-to-aid-destinations-hotels-and-partners-in-recoveryAs the travel sector eyes recovery in some markets while navigating fluctuating regulations in others, Google is launching a new suite of tools designed to help industry stakeholders make better data-informed decisions.
The search giant’s new website - called Travel Insights with Google - is built around three tools geared toward destinations, hotels and Google’s commercial partners.
The first tool, Destination Insights, is a public resource for governments and tourism boards that details top sources of demand for a destination, as well as the destinations within countries that travelers are the most interested in visiting.
With the data, destinations can map out possible resumption of travel on specific routes and decide where to communicate with potential future travelers.
The second public tool, Hotel Insights, packages Google hotel search data to help hotels - namely small and independent hotels - understand how to target their marketing as they plan for recovery.
In addition to real-time insights, it also includes a resource guide to help hotels leverage tools like Google My Business and Google Reviews.
The final component, available to Google’s commercial partners, is the Travel Analytics Center, which enables organizations to combine their own Google account data with broader Google demand data and insights. The insights will help travel partners manage their operations and find opportunities to reach potential visitors.
In an interview with PhocusWire, Richard Holden, Google vice president, product management for travel, calls the site a “one-stop shop for a number of different products and links.”
Although Travel Insights with Google will be available globally, the site is launching with a focus on Asia Pacific, where “lockdowns have worked well and COVID rates have gotten under control,” Holden says.
“We’re certainly not focused on trying to encourage travel at a time when travel may still be unsafe in various parts of the world.”
Recovery efforts
Holden adds that the new tools are an extension of other initiatives Google has put into place to help the industry recover.
“[Google] has been looking at what’s been going on in the industry, which has been unprecedented. … Travel is probably 10% of global GDP, and a massive amount of businesses depend upon this. We see estimates of 120 million tourism jobs that could be at risk across the globe,” he says.
“We spent a lot of time thinking about the data that we have, the data we’re able to collect and the insights we have from users as well, and what can we do to help the industry recover?”
On the consumer front, Holden says Google pivoted to helping travelers understand travel advisories as well as hotel and flight rates and refund policies. It also promoted “hero rates” to support first responders.
For businesses, in June, Google launched Flights Demand Explorer to provide search data to airlines. Holden says Demand Explorer data will be bundled into the Travel Analytics Center.
Amid the pandemic, the search engine has also heavily pushed its pay-per-stay program, which was in limited release prior to COVID-19. “What [pay-per-stay] effectively does is shifts the burden of cancellation risk to us at Google, away from hotels,” Holden says, noting that hotels and big OTAs like Agoda “have leveraged this heavily and found it particularly useful.”
Holden says there are no plans to pull back on the pay-per-stay program at this time, and there is no intention to discontinue Travel Insights with Google in the future  – “to be honest, the data is useful for these businesses in any shape or form going forward.”
And, given the billions of dollars its travel partners spend with the search giant, Holden says Google is continuing to evaluate how it can add more value to its partners.
“I genuinely think we’ve been very helpful and we’re continuing to try and be as helpful as possible.”]]>
<![CDATA[2020 - A Year in Travel: Charting the Travel Industry's Path to Recovery]]>Wed, 02 Dec 2020 20:52:18 GMThttp://tourismanalytics.com/news-articles/2020-a-year-in-travel-charting-the-travel-industrys-path-to-recoveryNEEDHAM, Mass., Nov. 18, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Tripadvisor®, the world's largest travel platform, and Phocuswright, the leader in global travel market research, today jointly released the findings of a comprehensive new research paper into the shifting trends in global travel demand and traveler behaviors, charting the industry's road to recovery in the wake of the ongoing pandemic.

The report, entitled '2020 - A Year in Travel: Charting the Travel Industry's Path to Recovery', analyzes Tripadvisor's first-party data on travel planning behaviors around the globe, as well as consumer sentiment across six major markets, to provide a unique insight into global travel trends. 

The full report can be read, for free, here:

Key findings from the report include:

After positive signs of recovery in domestic leisure travel over the summer, demand for accommodation is now falling back in a number of markets as infection rates rise
Europe experienced the strongest leisure travel recovery during the summer, with the number of travelers researching domestic hotel stays reaching 2019 levels of demand for a sustained period in late July and August. However, the recent re-introduction of lockdown restrictions in countries like France, Germany and the U.K. has seen demand for rooms drop 
In the U.S., the domestic hotel recovery was slower but steadier than major markets in Europe. By the first week of September, domestic hotel clickers in the U.S. - likely driven by leisure travelers - outnumbered those in the same week in 2019
Signs of recovery in Asia-Pacific were less obvious across the region as a whole between June and October, though some markets - such as Singapore - saw a surge in demand for domestic stays
Confidence to travel remains fragile, but with big differences by market
Of consumers surveyed in six markets, confidence to travel was highest among U.S. respondents (48% said they felt more confident it would be safe to travel in the next three months compared to the previous three) and lowest among respondents in Italy (just 12%)
Travelers are reassessing the type of trips they want to take…
Two-thirds of consumers surveyed (65%) say the ability to avoid crowded places when traveling is now a more important factor in their choice of destination than it was pre-pandemic, and more than half (52%) say they are more likely to take an outdoor/nature trip than they were before the pandemic.
Between May and September, outdoor activities, nature and parks accounted for thirty-four percent (34%) of all attraction page views on Tripadvisor, up from 25% in 2019.
...and as a result, their choice of destination is changing too
Looking at year-on-year data over the October period, ski and seaside resorts, as well as other rural destinations, dominated the list of fastest recovering destinations in Europe for domestic accommodation searches on Tripadvisor, with Zermatt in Switzerland and Adler in Russia topping the list based on year-on-year demand 
Over the same period, destinations like Key West, Myrtle Beach and Sedona were recovering quicker than larger destinations like New York and Las Vegas in the U.S., based on year-on-year demand for domestic accommodation searches.
Despite continuing consumer uncertainty, the desire to travel remains very strong
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents are still thinking about where they want to travel next
"While there was positive progress over the course of the summer, the re-introduction of tighter restrictions on travel in many countries is clearly having an impact on demand in the short-term," said Steve Kaufer, chief executive officer, Tripadvisor, "The good news is that consumers' desire to travel remains incredibly resilient, and that pent-up demand bodes well for the travel industry in the long run, especially considering the advances announced last week in the development of a vaccine."
"The industry has shown incredible adaptability and resilience in what has been a long and difficult year for travel," said Charuta Fadnis, senior vice-president of research and product strategy, Phocuswright. "Our research consistently shows that travel remains a key part of consumers' lifestyles and travelers are keen to indulge their wanderlust again. Vaccines and therapeutics will boost the nascent recovery and the industry can look forward to brighter days ahead." 

The joint report by Tripadvisor and Phocuswright provides an update to the findings published in a June research paper by Tripadvisor, entitled 'Beyond COVID-19: The Road to Recovery for the Travel Industry', www.tripadvisor.com/Covid19WhitepaperMay2020
which outlined five distinct stages of tourism impact and recovery resulting from the pandemic: 

Decline - Travel declines sharply as widespread restrictions enforced
Plateau - Sharp decline in bookings levels out, but travelers start dreaming their next trip
Emerge - Easing of travel restrictions begins, early signs of recovery in dining sector
Domestic Travel - Travelers book their first trips away, but stay close to home
International Travel - Border restrictions ease, and international travel begins to rebound.
For additional information on the impact COVID-19 has had on the tourism industry, visit Phocuswright at https://www.phocuswright.com/ or visit Tripadvisor's webinar series found at:
The data cited in this release was gathered and analyzed from two key sources:
  • A TripAdvisor Consumer Sentiment Survey, based on data drawn from an online survey of up to 2,400 consumers per survey, in partnership with Qualtrics, conducted approximately every two weeks from 3/27 through 10/21 across six countries - U.S., UK, AustraliaItalySingapore and Japan
  • Site behavioral data sourced from first party traffic data on the TripAdvisor platform.
<![CDATA[The Travel Industry Is Up Against a Psychological Make-or-Break]]>Wed, 02 Dec 2020 20:50:49 GMThttp://tourismanalytics.com/news-articles/the-travel-industry-is-up-against-a-psychological-make-or-breakPredictions on recovery from a consultant who has an eye on it all
As the head of travel and tourism for Boston Consulting Group, Jason Guggenheim is used to troubleshooting on behalf of airlines and hotel companies when the road gets bumpy. Typically that means rethinking operations and carrying out restructuring efforts for sprawling resorts, cruise lines, online travel agencies, or big names in air travel. But even for someone whose job it is to fix the industry’s most complicated problems, there’s never been a year as turbulent as 2020.
Clearer skies may be ahead in 2021, but that’s relative. Boston Consulting Group predicts that travel won’t rebound to 2019 levels until 2023 or 2024. So Guggenheim is likely to be just as busy next year—and the following, and the following.
That’s because the tourism business is driven by the great intangible of consumer confidence. Regardless of therapeutics or vaccine availability, second or third waves, or the efficacy of safety protocols, the industry won’t fully recover until travelers and service providers do so psychologically. Even then, the industry varies greatly, ranging from the already booming roadside hotel sector to unable-to-operate cruise lines.  
Here’s what to expect in the medium to long term, from an expert who has an eye on it all.
Staying Near vs. Going Far
The 2020 trend of vacationing within driving distance is here to stay—or at least some semblance of it. “Our research tells us that across demographics, wealthy or not, people still miss the unique experiences that travel provides,” Guggenheim says. But when it comes to the once-in-a-lifetime, long-haul trips that were gaining enormous popularity in the before days, “that sort of travel is going to take a longer time to come back.”
Instead, Guggenheim predicts that travelers will find the same unique experiences within a smaller radius of their home. In the U.S., he says, that will mean a continued reliance on domestic travel and short-haul destinations like Costa Rica that provide a large range of options for adventure and pampering.
“Being many time zones away from home and in remote locations in jungles or islands—people will worry, ‘If I get sick, I’m 14 hours from home in a country that may not speak my language or offer me medical treatment to the standards I get at home,’ ” Guggenheim explains. That line of logic only deepens for destinations that require multiple flights, including those on small or regional aircraft.
This inverts the formula of what was selling in pre-pandemic days. Safaris, Robinson Crusoe-style getaways to private islands, and cruises to arctic climes will carry newly significant risks, while trips that lacked exoticism or far-flung romance now feel safe and exciting in their own ways.
All this gets amplified by the trends of who books big-ticket trips. The 55-plus set, which has driven the high-spending multigenerational travel trend, has now become the most high-risk and safety-conscious.
“They will not travel [that way] for a number of years or maybe ever again,” Guggenheim says, making exceptions for very experienced travelers. That’s why he believes long-haul business travel will actually eclipse long-haul leisure in the short term. “Age is definitely an influencer of the return of long-haul leisure—and long-haul cruise, that market is going to be slow for a while.”
Trusty Hotels vs. Private Airbnbs
The definition of luxury has shifted to prioritize private space over personal service. Statistically, Guggenheim says, “only about 9% of people [we’ve surveyed] are worried about catching Covid-19 in their homes, whereas about 48% are worried about catching it from traveling.” Airbnb, which offers maximum control over environment and minimum contact with strangers, ranks lowest among those travel-related worries, while flying and cruising are much higher.
But that doesn’t mean Airbnb will reign supreme forever. “Airbnb gets a benefit of feeling more like home than a hotel,” he says. “But for the wealthy, there are a lot more options.”
Among them are exclusive house-swapping clubs like Third Home or membership-based models that offer time-shares, such as access to mansions in Los Cabos or Breckenridge. “These services were gaining in popularity pre-Covid, and I suspect we will see more of that—especially at the ultrahigh end.”
Where does that leave hotels? “Many are going well above and beyond to keep people safe, beyond what is purely regulated,” Guggenheim says. But there’s still fear, particularly around lobbies and elevators. With souped-up RVs encouraging traditionally upscale travelers to swap nationally renowned spas for nationally protected forests, a full recovery may be several years away.
Small Companies vs. Big Boxes
If the entire travel industry has become one big season of Survivor, the winners and losers of this narrative may be as unpredictable as those on TV.
“It’s true that large corporations have more financial flexibility and options at their disposal in terms of raising capital, while small, locally owned businesses are more at risk,” says Guggenheim. But it can be hard to tell what’s what.
Your favorite hotel may have a Marriott flag at its entry but be owned by a local family that’s struggling to pay the mortgage or staff salaries, he explains. (Like many global hotel companies, Marriott manages its properties while remaining asset-light.) This is especially true of five-star hotels under such brands as Marriott’s Luxury Collection or Hilton’s Autograph Collection; the benefit their individual owners receive from big-box affiliations tends to rest largely with marketing muscle and business-boosting loyalty programs.
Then there’s the question of location. Beyond hard-hit cities, businesses will generally struggle to keep the lights on in beach towns and tourist towns where the economy relies disproportionately on vacationers.
“If there’s nobody coming to the businesses around them, and their locations are being decimated, hotels [of all kinds] will feel the strain,” says Guggenheim. In those cases, survival might rely on access to public funding or debt and equity markets—tools more likely available to the big fish in the pond. (A large convention center hotel, perhaps.) But even the biggest fish in a deserted pond will be on shakier ground than small fish in a sought-after one.
Deal or No Deal
Desperate times call for desperate measures. But Guggenheim says that while hotels may goose demand with promotions in certain leisure markets, that won’t translate to bargain-basement pricing—especially not where airfare is concerned.
“People who are comfortable with traveling right now are probably less price-sensitive,” he says, “and those who are choosing not to fly will probably not be influenced just because there’s a good deal on a ticket.”
“The majority of travelers will tell you—the number is well into the 60% range—that a vaccine is really what’s necessary for them to truly travel again.” Hopefully that happens before next summer. That peak travel season, Guggenheim explains, could be a watershed moment in which travel companies may need to seek bankruptcy protection or find other ways to protect liquidity.
But it’s about more than just a financial impact. A down summer in 2021 “would have a damaging effect on the psyche of the workforce, who would have gone two summers without operating at their best,” he says. “It’s a financial make-or-break, yes, but also a psychological one.”
“Right now any signal of normality is desired and needed,” Guggenheim continues. “It’s hard to put wins on the board right now, so having any step change will feel psychologically very important for the industry as a whole.”
<![CDATA[A Funding Crisis at Destinations Spurs New Tourism Marketing Models]]>Tue, 01 Dec 2020 16:05:05 GMThttp://tourismanalytics.com/news-articles/a-funding-crisis-at-destinations-spurs-new-tourism-marketing-modelsSkift - December 1 2020.
When tourism came to an abrupt halt in March, destination marketing organizations saw their primary revenue stream — a percentage of lodging taxes or “bed taxes” — tumble overnight.
Seven months since discussions began on how tourism would fund itself going forward after the damage from the pandemic, most organizations have seen their budgets shrink by as much as 60 percent while having to do more with less. And although some so-called DMOs have received emergency government assistance, the continued global health emergency’s strain on U.S. state budgets in particular, means that getting funding for tourism isn’t likely to take priority going into 2021.
That is forcing DMOs to do some hard thinking about changing up models from the past, according to interviews conducted by Skift over the past several weeks as new surges in coronavirus cases raise new uncertainties for travel.
Strategic marketing firm Miles Partnership, in collaboration with Civitas and Tourism Economics, earlier this year released a “Futures Funding” report laying out 10 recommended short- to medium-term priorities for DMOs until travel fully rebounds. They still are relevant now.
The priorities range from securing emergency funding to reviewing the DMOs’ structure, finding alternative revenue streams, taking on an advocacy role to push for change, and building up future reserves.
The report also shares data from a survey of 115 North American cities, all 50 U.S. states and 10 Canadian provinces, assessing their current state and recovery over the next five years. In November, Group Nao, a global innovation company, released a white paper — “Tourism Taxes by Design” — examining the use of tourism taxes in European cities as a funding mechanism, as well as data on the impact of Covid on European tourism marketing offices.
In addition to reviewing these studies, Skift spoke to a handful of DMOs to see how they’ve fared since April.
Our main takeaway: the DMO of yesterday is no longer, as destinations have been pushed into a whole new range of roles and responsibilities that go well beyond marketing in order to survive in a post-Covid world. These include advocating to lawmakers for their share of emergency funding through the CARES Act, forging political partnerships to establish new revenue mechanisms such as tourism improvement districts, demonstrating the value of tourism for economic development to their citizens, and reaching out to new corporate partners outside of the tourism sector.
“From marketing to destination management to economic development, and now it’s more a stewardship type of approach,” Milton Segarra, CEO of Coastal Mississippi and director-at-large on the US Travel Association Board of Directors, told Skift. “So in the last five years we have seen more changes in our business model than I think any other component of the tourism industry. And it’s a fast pace, extremely volatile, in terms of how you manage four basic components of this equation: a successful organization; the funding model; advocacy, dealing with elected officials; and how you’re going to deal with the communities. [I]n the middle is the visitor.”
In the Futures Funding report, Tourism Economics reveals a 52 percent drop in 2020 hotel tax related revenue for North American DMOs, while full funding recovery is estimated to take three to four years from now. Ninety percent of U.S. DMOs and 85.7 percent of Canadian DMOs surveyed said their annual budget had decreased by 45 to 59 percent, respectively. In Europe, one in three DMOs has seen its 2020 budget plummet by 50 percent or more.
North American DMOs also shared that they expect their 2021 budgets to decline by 27-47 percent, while Canadian tourism offices estimated a 41 percent drop for 2021, although Canadian tourism offices benefit from a wider range of federal and provincial government support. What these survey numbers reveal is how urgent it remains for DMOs to seek emergency recovery funds in the short term, as well as stable future funding sources in order to survive on the other side of Covid.
“We’re funded by the hotel/motel tax like most DMOs are,” Kristen Jarnagin, CEO of Discover Long Island, told Skift. “On Long Island, it’s very low, it’s only three percent and of that three percent we get less than 20 percent, and the rest of it goes to the two counties and they use it for a variety of distributions.”
This means Discover Long Island receives just about $3 million out of Long Island’s $17 million in bed tax revenue. “But all the tourism revenues — if you look at restaurants, retail, transportation — that’s about $740 million annually in local and state tax revenues,” Jarnagin said. “So we’re kind of fighting over the scraps for the hotel/motel. Driving those visitors is what generates that [$740 million].”
Coastal Mississippi has lost nearly $1 million in hotel bed taxes since March, despite faring better in tourism numbers over the summer, thanks of its drive destination appeal. CEO Milton Segarra told Skift the lost revenue had a very significant impact for the size of the DMO.
“It was a 20 percent [loss] on tax revenues, when you compare fiscal year 2019 with fiscal year 2020, and the total number was like $900,000 less in room tax that we did not see happening,” Segarra said.
This amount was significant for a small to medium sized DMO in the $5-6 million range budget, forcing it to make up the loss through furloughs, salary cuts, canceled service contracts and driving visitors to the destination when it reopened.
With numerous U.S. DMOs in the same boat, the consensus is that the hotel bed tax can no longer be the sole source of funding for their activities. In the Funding Futures survey, 71 percent of U.S. DMOs and 64 percent of Canadian DMOs indicated they were actively seeking new funding options.
“I personally think the industry long-term needs to diversify beyond just hotels because of what we’re going through right now,” Jarnagin said, “and just like any other corporation would in America, you would look at any funding stream you had to be successful, and that’s exactly what we should do.”
In seeking alternative streams of revenue, more destination marketers have been thinking out of the box, including considering mechanisms such as the tourism improvement district, which the Funding Futures report recommends as a future stable revenue stream, particularly in light of the current tourism crisis.
Pre Covid, a handful of destinations, particularly on the West Coast, were already benefiting from increased budgets thanks to this privately managed hotel assessment. For instance, Visit Anaheim CEO Jay Burress, on a recent “Funding for Tomorrow” webinar, hosted by Miles Partnership and Civitas, shared that establishing this additional revenue mechanism in 2010 helped the DMO’s budget grow from $8 million to $20 million a year.
Amid Covid, tourism improvement districts have proven to be a DMO lifesaver, bringing in funds when the DMO otherwise might not have seen any incoming bed tax revenue. In July, for instance, San Diego Tourism Authority received $32.3 million in funding through the San Diego Tourism Marketing District (SDTMD) for its 2021 budget, approved by the City Council.
“Despite facing a significant hit to our assessment collections due to the coronavirus, our City continues to have a productive public-private partnership in SDTMD,” the district’s board Chair Richard Bartell said in a press release. “Without it there would be little to no funds for tourism marketing, which is what drives visitation that generates tax dollars to fund the city’s essential services, supports thousands of direct tourism jobs and attracts billions in visitor spending.” The San Diego City Council also extended San Diego’s Tourism Marketing District operating agreement for another 10 years.
When Los Cabos Tourism Board was forced to branch out solo after the Mexico Tourism Board disbanded a year ago, it established a second, private sector financed fund to supplement the hotel bed tax revenue — a move that came months before the global tourism halt.
“We started a second trust that is just through private contributions and it’s on a membership basis where hotels and destination management companies and activities contribute, that is being used as a complement to what the public [hotel taxes] trust is doing,” Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of Los Cabos Tourism Board, told Skift.
In 2019, that meant $12 million in Los Cabos Tourism Board’s public trust and $2 million in the private trust. While the public funds suffered a hit due to Covid and hotel bed tax declines, the private trust, which also helps to fund an office in Los Angeles, saw continued contributions from private business.
“Very interestingly throughout Covid 19, even though the hotels were closed and other businesses were not having any tours, they kept covering the cost of the membership in the private trust, which is a really good example of the relevance that they see to the activities that we do.” Esponda said. “So they understood that the only way that we could implement these [marketing] campaigns and these communication strategies was if they would keep the funding coming.”
The challenge for North American DMOs is that they’re not dealing with the same set of legal scenarios or funding options. Crisis has opened the door to innovation, but not all solutions will be one-size-fits-all. Coastal Mississippi, for instance, is putting aside the tourism improvement district solution for now, which it had begun working on last year.
“[W] e are making sure we know exactly what the organization will look like and see what other potential revenues are available before we go into that one,” Coastal Mississippi’s Segarra said. After successfully advocating for emergency recovery funding from the state, the DMO is now focused on going through every cent it receives from the hotel bed tax.
For Long Island, part of the challenge is that hotels paying into the bed tax automatically get to be members of Discover Long Island, per the current legislation. “So any hotel that pays into the bed tax gets all of our benefits for free,” Jarnagin said. “So you have to think about that, since 2013 we haven’t received any additional dollars but every single hotel that opened is a new member of ours.”
Other solutions discussed in the Futures Funding report are long-term, including building reserves and regenerative funding, as DMOs — 70 to 90 percent of North American tourism offices surveyed — look to play a more important role in the sustainability of their destinations as well as increase engagement with residents and local businesses. For now, however, the priority remains surviving the crisis by resorting to all possibilities of emergency funding from governments, while creating new mechanisms and finding new partnerships for corporate support.
The Future Funding report reminds DMOs that all entities benefitting from the DMO’s work and its contribution to the destination should be fair game as potential future funding partners. Tourism marketing organizations should therefore begin reaching out to and consider to non-traditional tourism partners such as airports, universities, commercial property owners, and employers.
A handful of DMOs have taken that approach since Covid and begun thinking out of the box.
“We’re having a strategic session with our board next week, and one of the topics is how we’re going to from now on reach out to the local community,” Coastal Mississippi’s Segarra told Skift. “It doesn’t have to be a hotel or a transportation company, it could be a university or a bank, or construction companies — different partners that are really important and because we’re successful, they’re successful as well.”
Discover Long Island is eyeing the “city to suburb” exodus to market its services as a type of one-stop agency for attracting businesses to Long Island. “[W]e realized there’s no regional marketing entity for Long Island for economic development,” Jarnagin said. As a result, the DMO teamed up with the area’s eight Industry Development Associations to form the Long Island Development Collective, with the aim of promoting the region as a great place to “work, live, play” and attract business to the area.
The next phase would be building corporate sponsorship programs where corporations can start buying into Discover Long Island’s branding. “[W]e’ve been contacted by a lot of developers, corporations, real estate brokers, asking how can we get involved with what you’re doing,” Jarnagin said.
Los Cabos, where 80 percent of the economy relies on tourism and events contribute 6.8 percent to the gross domestic product, quickly pivoted in reaching out to new sources of private partnerships. “We are now expanding to the restaurant association of the destination, which is going to contribute to all our marketing strategies; it has the 85 biggest restaurants,” Esponda told Skift.
“We coordinated a digital concert when we reopened the destination and that concert was funded by American Express, which would not be a traditional partner in the tourism industry, but they funded all the cost. We have had interesting conversations with a couple of banks in the destination, and also we are looking to some real estate companies.”
Being deemed ineligible for the federal government’s CARES Act’s relief program for small businesses based on their classifications as 501(c)(6) non profits meant DMOs had to advocate for themselves and for tourism as major economic drivers that benefit the government and the community.
“What I don’t think we have done as destination organizations is express the importance of us,” Jay Burris, president and CEO of Visit Anaheim, said at the Funding for Tomorrow webinar. “They still think of us as a lobby group or a chamber, or a nice to have, not a need to have, not an ingrained part of a driver for the economy.” Burris suggested the creation of a future separate tax classification for tourism marketing organizations.
Coastal Mississippi also quickly embraced an advocacy role in April, alongside the state’s remaining tourism marketing offices, when it presented a case to the state as to why it must allocate a portion of the $1.25 billion CARES Act money to Mississippi’s tourism industry.
“We convinced the legislators about the need to make sure that the fourth largest industry in Mississippi, which is tourism, has a special input of dollars in this particular time,” Segarra said. “This was the first time ever in Mississippi to do something like this. It was very well received.”
By July, the state had allocated $13.5 million to Mississippi’s tourism boards, of which $3.4 million to Coastal Mississippi, which gave it funds for continued sales, marketing communications, technology, research and strategic partnerships.
With Covid county reports showing that tourism was the number one negatively impacted industry on Long Island, Discover Long Island saw it as an ideal time to introduce a new state bill for the approval of a tourism recovery investment district, whereby the additional hotel assessment funds being sought will also help with Covid recovery.
“So it’s a statewide initiative now; we spearheaded it, but it’s really a collective effort,” Jarnagin said. “It allows counties to opt in once it passes the state level.”
The legislature was adjourned before a vote on the bill could take place, but Discover Long Island hopes it will happen in January, when the same bill is reintroduced.
In a nutshell, this period of forced advocacy from DMOs has shows the need for increased community and government education on the important role of tourism marketing offices.
“You’ll be surprised how many highly successful entrepreneurs don’t know what we do or they don’t understand the business,” Segarra told Skift. “And then, the key is to educate the elected officials. The level of not knowing everything we do, it’s high and it’s our responsibility.”
What does a tourism marketing office do when its international and out-of-state tourists disappear? It starts talking to its residents. Just as DMOs were forced to make political partnerships, they had to communicate with locals more frequently. Residents became the DMO’s sole source of visitor revenue and a critical part of keeping the destination safe from Covid, and the DMO become the guiding light for locals in terms of safety protocols and advice on safe activities, sights, and places to stay as the economy reopened.
But there’s still a disconnect when it comes to residents valuing the impact of tourism on the places they live. From a recent Longwoods International study that Skift reported on recently, only about half of Americans think tourism is positive for the country, and we found that “citizen-level education is still needed on benefits of tourism to local and regional economies.”
Tourism marketing leaders agree this is an ongoing issue. The Futures Funding report calls this building on “community shared values” and recommends DMOs to “help [others] understand your activities, and how a great place to visit can also be a great place to study, start or grow a business or invest.”
“Right now people must understand — I’m talking about the locals — they need to know the impact we bring,” Segarra said. “Here in Mississippi, the taxes generated for the state represent $600 per household less than what [locals] have to pay but on the coast it’s $1,600 less that otherwise, if it weren’t for the taxes we generate, would have to be paid by locals.”
This “need to know” advocacy also applies to European tourism marketing offices and their residents. “We are totally underestimated,” Michael O’Tremba, managing director of the Hamburg Tourist Board, recently shared. “We should communicate stronger, make it more visible what we do [.] We care for the quality of life in the city. Would we have 4,000 restaurants in Hamburg if we wouldn’t have 100 million day guests — no of course not, we wouldn’t need it. The frequency of the public transport system wouldn’t be so high.”
Almost 70 percent of Hamburg’s accommodation tax also goes into festivals or sport events, O’Tremba added, including almost 60 percent invested in culture.
Discover Long Island’s concerted effort in communicating its role to residents has been ongoing for the last five years. “But the reality is, in my opinion, no matter how much we educate the locals and the elected officials, there’s always going to be that disconnect, because it’s hard to look at the long game[,]” Janargin told Skift.
As the months evolve and DMOs continue to expand in their roles, new forms of collaboration and funding mechanisms are likely to continue emerging. Public-private partnerships and tourism recovery investment districts are expected to increase, but for some DMOs the sky’s the limit for innovating in the midst of crisis.
Discover Long Island believes that in a distant future, it could operate independently like an agency. “We hired a video producer, content creator in house to do our online YouTube Channel, we’re producing all of our podcasts in house, we do all of our graphic design — why shouldn’t we be a private agency that all these businesses buy into? Compared to three million dollars a year, they’ll pay a marketing agency $500,000 a month retainer.”
First securing a stable private funding stream would have to be the first step in reinventing the DMO’s model for the long-term.
What’s for sure, is that the ongoing crisis will continue to bring all parties to the table — governments, corporations, citizens and community players — to join the conversation on the critical, multifaceted role of tourism marketing organizations post Covid.
“This is what DMOs will have to understand from now on: there’s no longer the time to just promote, it’s over. The notion that you’re going to get the business because you’re able to engage with that particular individual only based on tourism attributes, it’s over. [W]hen you’re traveling right now you don’t only select a hotel or airline, you select a destination that you know — what about safety, what about crime, what about terrorism, quality of life? So the new spiral of attributes has expanded tremendously. [T]he destination has to become a beacon of information overall on what is about us.”
<![CDATA[COVID-19 testing will likely remain part of American travel behaviors for the near future.]]>Tue, 01 Dec 2020 15:48:48 GMThttp://tourismanalytics.com/news-articles/covid-19-testing-will-likely-remain-part-of-american-travel-behaviors-for-the-near-future​With the fourth major travel holiday of the pandemic passing amongst a litany of restrictions and warnings, the burning question is: did Americans take trips for Thanksgiving 2020? Nearly 14% said they did—a rate similar to Labor Day weekend. About half of these Thanksgiving travelers plan to quarantine for some period after their trip while the other half will resume their normal activities. As we look ahead to December, nearly one-in-five Americans say they plan to take a Christmas holiday trip.
​In terms of how Americans are feeling about the virus, many emotions remain largely unchanged. Anxieties about personally or loved ones’ contracting the virus and the pandemic’s impact on personal and national economics are in an elevated but stable period that have not reached the peak levels seen during the two prior surges in March and July. Over 60% of Americans continue to believe the pandemic is going to get worse in the next month.
​Such concerns are still impacting Americans’ current travel marketability. Americans’ openness to travel inspiration has been on a steady decline since October 18th, when it hit a pandemic peak, but is now at 4.9 on a 0-11 scale. This week, fully half of American travelers say they have lost their interest in traveling for the time being, and 62.0% say if they were to travel right now, they wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy it.

The focus of some recent news stories on pandemic behaviors in specific travel destinations is also acting as a sentiment depressant. In the past month, 35.8% of Americans report they have seen one or more COVID-19 related reports in the media about travel destinations where people were behaving in a manner that would make them feel uncomfortable visiting. Unsurprisingly, 79.8% of those who have seen reports of such behaviors say that this news makes them less interested in visiting these destinations.
The significant increase in cases has resulted in new or returning consumer restrictions around the United States. Over half of Americans reports that their local community has instituted more restrictive COVID-19 rules in the past month and over half feel more restrictions are coming. Just under one-third say new travel restrictions have been imposed where they reside, and just over one-third say they would be more comfortable traveling within their home states under such restrictions. And while a majority agree with new/reinstituted restrictions and agree it’s important people follow government restrictions and recommendations related to controlling COVID-19, these restrictions are achieving their intention to deter travel right now. 29.4% of those with trip plans cancelled or postponed by the pandemic say this was due to government travel restrictions and over 30% said new travel restrictions make them less likely to travel even within their own states in the next two months.
Still, the worst of this latest surge’s impact on travel behavior may be passing or at least be in a temporary reprieve. The percent of American travelers who report they have cancelled or postponed any upcoming leisure trips because of the recent increases in COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has dropped to 38.1% from 47.4% two weeks ago, and now 56.3% say recent increases in COVID-19 cases around the country have made them less likely to travel in the next three months–down from 62.8% in the same period. This week 55.5% have returned to a readiness (versus hesitation) state-of-mind about travel.
Reports of vaccine developments also continue to provide Americans hope about their travel future. A majority of Americans still feel the latest vaccine news makes them more optimistic they can travel safely in the next six months. Over 44.2% agree that their “first trip after a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available will be a vacation, likely to a place far from my home.”
​This week 80% of American travelers have at least tentative trip plans for the future. In trying to understand what will motivate Americans to take trips, we requested those we surveyed to imagine that a friend or family member came to them with an idea to travel together in the next six months, and then asked what possible attributes of their friend’s travel idea would be most persuasive to get them to go. The pandemic clearly still weighs heavy, with confidence travel can be done safely, easy cancellation policies and relaxation the top motivational attributes. However, when asked where they most want to travel to in the next 12 months, the Hot List looks nearly identical to pre-pandemic, with Florida, New York, California, Hawaii and Las Vegas coming out on top.
COVID-19 testing will likely remain part of American travel behaviors for the near future. 28.7% of those who have traveled by air during the pandemic said they tested themselves after their most recent commercial airline trip. Nearly 40% of Americans say they plan on taking a COVID-19 test prior to taking their next trip.
If you need shareable graphics, content for presentations, video presentations and more, please visit our COVID-19 Insights Media page here.
Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of November 30th·      
Moving the Travel Industry Forward on “Destinations. Passport to Travel & Hospitality”
Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of November 23rd
How US Border Destinations are Faring with COVID-19’s Impact
Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of November 16th
The Present & Future of Live Events
The Rough Road for Millennials During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of November 9th
Coping with Pandemic Stress & Anxiety
An Outlook on the 2020 Holiday Shopping Season and Beyond
Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of November 2
Can More be Done to Get Americans Back to Traveling the Friendly Skies?
The 2020 Holiday Travel Season
Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of October 26th
The Return to Convention Travel