Trevor Kucheran, January 30, 2021 Travel Off Path.Com
Some Canadians have decided they're still going to travel south to sunny destinations and have re-booked their flights with U.S. airlines.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced yesterday that flights from Canada to sunny vacations destinations would be suspended effective Sunday, January 31st. The announcement was made in cooperation with the four major airlines in Canada that fly internationally.
However there were no suspensions announced on flights to and from the United States. Therefore the ban does not stop Canadians from flying to the U.S. and then on sunny destinations such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
United States airlines including American and United both have flights from Canada to all of the sunny destinations that Canadian airlines can no longer fly to. This has lead to Canadians booking their trips directly with U.S. airlines for flights with one stopover in the United States.
Samuel from Calgary Alberta, (who did not want his last name mentioned), told Travel Off Path that he would still be flying to Cancun in February. “My flight with WestJet was cancelled so I just booked with United,” he explained.
“I have a stop over in Denver and then fly to Cancun. I am building my retirement home there so I need to go and check on it.”
While Canadians will still be able to fly with U.S. airlines to sunny destinations, they wont be able to bypass the hotel quarantine when they return home.
Hotel Quarantine For Canadians Returning From Abroad
In his press conference, Justin Trudeau also outlined plans for a mandatory hotel quarantine for all Canadian travelers returning from International travel. Travelers will be required to stay in a supervised hotel quarantine until negative results from a Covid-19 PCR test come back. The hotel quarantine is expected to last 3 days if a traveler tests negative and could cost up to $2000.
The hotel quarantine is to be implemented “as soon as possible in the coming weeks” according to the Canadian Prime Minister.
For most Canadians, the extra stopover in the United States and the high cost of hotel quarantine will be enough to keep them at home. The United States also requires proof of a negative Covid-19 test to enter the country so Canadians would also need a negative Covid-19 test when departing. Those that are set on taking their vacations and have the means to do so will still be able to visit sunny destinations through U.S. airlines.
U.S. Airlines Could Benefit From Canada's Ban On Sunny Destinations
For Canadian airlines, the international ban on sunny destinations is another blow to an already financially difficult time due to the pandemic. Canadians traveling for more essential reasons such as business and reuniting with family, or those choosing to still vacation in the suspended destinations will have no choice but to book through U.S. airlines.
Sunny Destinations Canadian Airlines Are Suspended From Flying
All four Canadian airlines have cancelled all flights to destinations that are considered ‘sunny vacation destinations'. Canadian airlines are no longer permitted to fly to the following destinations between January 31st through at least April 30th.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Liberia, Costa Rica
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Aeromexico Suspends All Flights To Canada
While U.S. airlines are still flying in and out of Canada, Mexico's national airline Aeromexico has suspended all flights starting the second week of February.
Vancouver: Suspended February 10 – April 30
Montreal: Suspended February 10 – April 30
Toronto: Suspended February 8 – April 30
When this was first announced, many Canadians did not realize that ‘sunny destinations' does not include the United States. While flights were suspended to many vacation destinations, they were not suspended to Covid-19 hotspots such as Florida.
28 JAN 21
Global tourism suffered its worst year on record in 2020, with international arrivals dropping by 74% according to the latest data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Destinations worldwide welcomed 1 billion fewer international arrivals in 2020 than in the previous year, due to an unprecedented fall in demand and widespread travel restrictions. This compares with the 4% decline recorded during the 2009 global economic crisis.
According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, the collapse in international travel represents an estimated loss of USD 1.3 trillion in export revenues - more than 11 times the loss recorded during the 2009 global economic crisis. The crisis has put between 100 and 120 million direct tourism jobs at risk, many of them in small and medium-sized enterprises.
While much has been made in making safe international travel a possibility, we are aware that the crisis is far from over
Due to the evolving nature of the pandemic, many countries are now reintroducing stricter travel restrictions. These include mandatory testing, quarantines and in some cases a complete closure of borders, all weighing on the resumption of international travel. At the same time, the gradual rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine is expected to help restore consumer confidence, contribute to the easing travel restrictions and slowly normalize travel during the year ahead.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “While much has been made in making safe international travel a possibility, we are aware that the crisis is far from over. The harmonization, coordination and digitalization of COVID-19 travel-related risk reduction measures, including testing, tracing and vaccination certificates, are essential foundations to promote safe travel and prepare for the recovery of tourism once conditions allow."
Recovery outlook remains cautious
The latest UNWTO Panel of Experts survey shows a mixed outlook for 2021. Almost half of respondents (45%) envisaged better prospects for 2021 compared to last year, while 25% expect a similar performance and 30% foresee a worsening of results in 2021.
The overall prospects of a rebound in 2021 seem to have worsened. 50% of respondents now expect a rebound to occur only in 2022 as compared to 21% in October 2020. The remaining half of respondents still see a potential rebound in 2021, though below the expectations shown in the October 2020 survey (79% expected recovery in 2021). As and when tourism does restart, the UNWTO Panel of Experts foresee growing demand for open-air and nature-based tourism activities, with domestic tourism and ‘slow travel’ experiences gaining increasing interest.
When do you expect a rebound in international tourism in your country?
Looking further ahead, most experts do not to see a return to pre-pandemic levels happening before 2023. In fact, 43% of respondents point to 2023, while 41% expect a return to 2019 levels will only happen in 2024 or later. UNWTO’s extended scenarios for 2021-2024 indicate that it could take two-and-a-half to four years for international tourism to return to 2019 levels.
When do you expect international tourism to return to pre-pandemic 2019 levels in your country?
All world regions affected
Asia and the Pacific (-84%) - the first region to suffer the impact of the pandemic and the one with the highest level of travel restrictions currently in place - recorded the largest decrease in arrivals in 2020 (300 million fewer). The Middle East and Africa both recorded a 75% decline.
Europe recorded a 70% decrease in arrivals, despite a small and short-lived revival in the summer of 2020. The region suffered the largest drop in absolute terms, with over 500 million fewer international tourists in 2020. The Americas saw a 69% decrease in international arrivals, following somewhat better results in the last quarter of the year.
A full overview of the latest global, regional and sub-regional data can be found at the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer and the UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker.
For UNWTO Tourism Barometer December 2020 click file below.
Excluded from New CDC Travel Requirement, Puerto Rico is Uniquely Positioned to Welcome U.S. Travelers
January 27 2021 – Travel Market Report.
For those who want to get away to a sun and sand destination, Puerto Rico presents a unique opportunity to experience the Caribbean atmosphere without the hassle of having to meet the CDC’s new international travel requirement.
Starting Tuesday, inbound U.S. travelers will need to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days prior to re-entry.
Given that Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, the destination is excluded from the CDC requirement and Americans do not need to provide a negative COVID-19 test result to return back to the mainland United States. All trips to and from Puerto Rico are considered domestic travel, which may alleviate clients’ concerns who wish to travel in the upcoming months.
However, the CDC still recommends getting tested three to five days after arrival and staying home for seven days post-travel.
“Puerto Rico is in a unique position that caters to the desire for a change of pace and the feel of an international destination, with the safety and comfort that comes with domestic travel.” Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico, told Travel Market Report.
Dean cautioned that while Puerto Rico exempt from the latest CDC ruling, quarantine mandates, recommendations, and entry requirements may vary by state, and travelers should keep that in mind.
Travelers entering the island are still required to fill out a Travel Declaration Form through the Puerto Rico Health Department’s online portal, get a molecular COVID-19 test (nasal or throat swab) no more than 72 hours prior to visiting, and show proof of a negative result or they must quarantine.
“We are working to ensure that we are reaching the right type of traveler at the right moment and strategically opening the flow of tourists when the Island was ready and reducing the flow in alignment with health and safety efforts,” Dean said. “By targeting travelers who follow best practices in terms of social distancing, wearing masks, following arrival requirements, and pursuing ways to enjoy our beautiful Island safely, we’re positioning Puerto Rico to come back from this pandemic more quickly and stronger than our competitors.”
Puerto Rico faces a unique challenge because travelers must fly to reach it, compared to other popular tourist destinations on the mainland, so airlines safety measures directly affect the Puerto Rican tourism industry, Dean told TMR.
Another challenge to Puerto Rico’s tourism ecosystem is the halt of cruising, affecting in port cities like San Juan and Ponce in the south.
Dean said the island will focus on alternative offerings within the destination. Popular attractions like the El Morro and San Cristóbal forts, located in the historic Old San Juan, will reopen in the coming weeks with new COVID-19 safety measures in place, like reservations for groups larger than 10, masks, social distancing and cashless transactions. El Morro opens Jan. 24 followed by San Cristóbal Jan. 31.
Dean said that since many of the attractions exist within the setting of warm weather year-round, outdoor activities are at the forefront and activities that lend themselves to COVID-19 best practices, such as social distancing, will be highlighted in each region.
Similar to other destinations who have seen a drastic drop in tourism revenue, Puerto Rico is also inviting remote workers.
“We are also promoting remote work from the Island, which Puerto Rico makes easier than our competitors as U.S. citizens do not require a visa to enter or currency exchange,” Dead noted. “Long-term travel for remote workers is a great way to stimulate the local economy and allow for a change of scenery for the digital nomads.”
“In combination with rising COVID-19 cases across the country and the rollout of the vaccines, travel in general has slowed in the short-term as people adapt to the changes in protocols and day-to-day life,” Dean said, but added that data shows consumers are highly receptive to travel inspiration and expects that to transition into more bookings as 2021 continues.
“Puerto Rico is a resilient destination who’s strongest asset is its people. We have come back stronger than ever from natural disasters, political unrest and we are confident that this will be no different.”
With 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
ICAO Economic Impact Analysis of COVID-19 on Civil Aviation
ICAO COVID-19 Air Transport Dashboards
ICAO Air Transport Monthly Monitor
Guidance on Economic and Financial Measures
For ICAO's 125 page PowerPoint presentation upload file below
Corrina 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Iceland 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.
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
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.