Cancun Sun: November 27, 2022
Demand for the once-popular Mexican Caribbean vacation destination Tulum has fallen in recent months as high prices and a wealth of popular alternatives draw visitors away. Tulum has long since been a popular alternative to nearby Cancun, a place where travelers could leave the hustle and bustle of the big city in favor of destinations with both a more local charm and plenty to see and do. This year, however, it seems that travelers may be prioritizing their vacation spending in other places.
The news is bound to come as a blow to authorities in the region, but with the Maya train nearing completion and the plans to build an airport in the town firmly in the pipeline, it might just be an untimely blip rather than a significant sea change. Here’s a look at why travelers are choosing to visit rival destinations instead and what the future may hold for Tulum.
Tulum Suffers Popularity Blow – Information For Travelers
On the face of it, Tulum has everything a traveler could need. Stunning beaches, jungle, and seas for nature lovers, ancient Mayan temple ruins for history and culture fans, and lively beach clubs for those who just want to let loose on their vacations. However, recent reports have shown that instead of building on its past successes like other destinations in the region, Tulum hasn’t just stagnated but gone backwards – and there are several reasons why this has happened.
For a start, prices in the town have bordered on the ridiculous for several months now. Whilst taxis in Cancun have always had a bad rep, those in Tulum have taken it to another level, with some travelers quoted as much as $100 for a two-kilometer ride. On top of that, with record-breaking numbers of travelers looking to come to the region, some have been quoted as much as $1,000 a night for a basic room without air conditioning. Whilst Cancun isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, there’s no denying that there’s far better value to be found there.
Tulum has carved out a name for itself as somewhat of a party destination, with its clubs and laid-back atmosphere seemingly a massive draw for travelers – but its reputation as a fun place to go could also be in jeopardy. The town has recently brought in laws to limit its noise levels at night, abruptly ending parties for many travelers, whilst those who do stick it out have been charged as much as $10,000 for reserving a table.
The town’s popularity levels grew exponentially in 2020, as Mexico became one of the first countries to remove its Covid-19 restrictions and welcome travelers back in. Now, as we approach 2023, other countries have long since reopened, and it is believed that the likes of Mykonos, Ibiza, and Saint Tropez have reclaimed American travelers once more – places where travelers certainly won’t have to worry about the party finishing early.
The recovery of these popular European destinations has hit Tulum hard in the pocket. According to findings from Dinero, Tulum has lost between 50-70% of the income it once collected from travelers. With the rest of the Mexican Caribbean looking to break records and reel in travelers by the airplane-load, Tulum’s aggressive pricing strategies and poor value in the eyes of travelers could see it suffer more – both at the hands of international destinations and the likes of Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Playa Del Carmen, and Bacalar – a place already being described at the next Tulum.
Whilst the figures quoted in recent stories are exorbitantly expensive, there’s still a hope that Tulum will see sense and land on its feet once more. A true Mexican gem, there’s a reason it captured the hearts of so many travelers back in 2020 – but if it doesn’t address the pricing issues or embrace what made it so captivating in the first place, its time as one of the top places to visit in the country could be over.
UNWTO | 23rd November 2022
International tourism is on track to reach 65% of pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022 as the sector continues to bounce back from the pandemic.
An estimated 700 million tourists travelled internationally between January and September, more than double (+133%) the number recorded for the same period in 2021. This equates to 63% of 2019 levels and puts the sector on course to reach 65% of its pre-pandemic levels this year, in line with UNWTO scenarios. Results were boosted by strong pent-up demand, improved confidence levels and the lifting of restrictions in an increasing number of destinations.
Highlighting the speed at which the sector has recovered from the worst crisis in its history, the latest World Tourism Barometer from UNWTO reveals that monthly arrivals were 64% below 2019 levels in January 2022 and had reached -27% by September. An estimated 340 million international arrivals were recorded in the third quarter of 2022 alone, almost 50% of the nine-month total.
Europe continues to lead global recovery
Europe continues to lead the rebound of international tourism. The region welcomed 477 million international arrivals in January-September 2022 (68% of the world total), hitting 81% of pre-pandemic levels. This was more than double that of 2021 (+126%) with results boosted by strong intra-regional demand and travel from the United States. Europe saw a particularly robust performance in Q3 when arrivals reached almost 90% of 2019 levels.
At the same time, the Middle East saw international arrivals more than triple (+225%) year on year in January-September 2022, climbing to 77% of pre-pandemic levels.. Africa (+166%) and the Americas (+106%) also recorded strong growth compared to 2021, reaching 63% and 66% of 2019 levels, respectively. In Asia and the Pacific (+230%) arrivals more than tripled in the first nine months of 2022, reflecting the opening of many destinations, including Japan at the end of September. However, arrivals in Asia and the Pacific remained 83% below 2019 levels. China, a key source market for the region, remains closed.
Arrivals and receipts at – or above – pre-pandemic levels
Several subregions reached 80% to 90% of their pre-pandemic arrivals in January-September 2022. Western Europe (88%) and Southern Mediterranean Europe (86%) saw the fastest recovery towards 2019 levels. The Caribbean, Central America (both 82%) and Northern Europe (81%) also recorded strong results. Destinations reporting arrivals above pre-pandemic levels in the nine months through September include Albania, Ethiopia, Honduras, Andorra, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Colombia, El Salvador and Iceland.
In the month of September arrivals surpassed pre-pandemic levels in the Middle East (+3% over 2019) and the Caribbean (+1%) and came close in Central America (-7%), Northern Europe (-9%) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (-10%).
Meanwhile, some destinations recorded notable increases in international tourism receipts in the first seven to nine months of 2022, including Serbia, Romania, Türkiye, Latvia, Portugal, Pakistan, Mexico, Morocco and France. The recovery can also be seen in outbound tourism spending from major source markets, with strong results from France where expenditure reached -8% through September, compared to 2019. Other markets reporting strong spending in the first six to nine months of 2022 were Germany, Belgium, Italy, the United States, Qatar, India and Saudi Arabia.
Strong demand for air travel and hotel accommodation
The robust recovery of tourism is also reflected in various industry indicators such as air capacity and hotel metrics, as recorded in the UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker. Air seat capacity on international routes (measured in available seat-kilometers or ASKs) in January-August reached 62% of 2019 levels, with Europe (78%) and the Americas (76%) posting the strongest results. Worldwide domestic capacity rose to 86% of 2019 levels, with the Middle East (99%) virtually achieving pre-pandemic levels (IATA).
Meanwhile, according to STR, global hotel occupancy rates reached 66% in September 2022, from 43% in January. Europe led the way with occupancy levels at 77% in September 2022, following rates of 74% in July and August. The Americas (66%), the Middle East (63%) and Africa (61%) all saw occupancy rates above 60% in September. By subregion, Southern Mediterranean Europe (79%), Western Europe (75%) and Oceania (70%) showed the highest occupancy rates in September 2022.
Cautious optimism for the months ahead
The challenging economic environment, including persistently high inflation and soaring energy prices, aggravated by the Russian offensive in Ukraine, could weigh on the pace of recovery in Q4 and into 2023. The latest survey among the UNWTO Panel of Tourism Experts shows a downgrade in confidence levels for the last four months of 2022, reflecting more cautious optimism. Despite growing challenges pointing to a softening of the recovery pace, export revenues from tourism could reach USD 1.2 to 1.3 trillion in 2022, a 60-70% increase over 2021, or 70-80% of the USD 1.8 trillion recorded in 2019.
For the November editon of the UNWTO's Tourism Barometer click below
By Rebecca Ann Hughes | Euronews.travel | 18/11/2022
When the pandemic hit, travel stopped. Nearly three years on, most countries have opened up - but certain kinds of visitors are more welcome than others.
Countries are being more selective about the type of tourism they want, with nations like New Zealand expressing a desire for “high quality tourists” over budget travellers.
Earlier this year, the island country’s tourism minister reiterated a plan to attract wealthy tourists over those who campervan around the country “on $10 [€7] a day by eating dried noodles.”
Schemes to target rich travellers combat overtourism and safeguard the environment, the countries implementing them say. But does it mean budget travel is gone for good?
Here’s what countries favoring “quality” tourists are saying about their campaigns.
Japan lures lucrative tourism to lesser-known regions
From next year, the Japan Tourism Agency has announced it will focus on bringing wealthy foreign tourists into the country.
The agency has said it will choose 10 or so “model” tourist sites and help develop their accommodation and resources.
The selected sites should already have high quality tourism resources but be ready to upgrade elements to suit the needs of affluent visitors.
The tourism agency said big spenders tend to stick to the three metropolitan cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.
It hopes the new tourism campaign will persuade wealthy tourists to visit Japan’s lesser-known regional areas.
Iceland, the Cayman Islands and Montserrat reach out to rich remote workers
Pandemic border closures meant many countries lost significant tourism revenue. To recover this shortfall, some used special visas to entice remote workers.
Some nations - like Iceland, the Cayman Islands and the Caribbean island of Montserrat - went a step further, limiting their schemes to wealthy workers.
Digital nomads hoping to relocate to Iceland for six months on the country’s remote-work visa programme need proof of a 1 million Icelandic krona (€6,625) monthly salary, or about €79,500 a year.
The Cayman Islands launched their Global Citizen Concierge Program (GCCP) in 2020. It allows remote workers to resettle in the British Overseas Territory on a two-year visa but only if their salary tops $100,000 (€98,666) per year.
The Caribbean island of Montserrat began offering a Remote Work Stamp in February 2021 that allows digital nomads to work from the country for a year. The only catch? Your annual earnings must be upwards of $70,000 (€69,000).
Tenerife tourism targets quality over quantity
Tenerife is looking to lure “quality” tourism going forward as opposed to quantity of visitors.
Its visitor numbers have reportedly returned to almost pre-pandemic levels so the country is focusing on the type of tourism it attracts instead.
The country wants to target visitors that come to learn about culture, heritage and gastronomy, not just for the beaches.
Tenerife’s tourist board will launch digital marketing strategies aimed at “curious” and “quality” travellers.
Holland invests in valuable tourism
The Netherlands is similarly looking to attract what its tourist board calls “valuable tourism.”
“We focus on target groups that contribute economically, socio-culturally and ecologically to a thriving destination and fit within the carrying capacity and identity of the area,” says Conrad van Tiggelen, Director of Branding & Strategy at the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions.
Although the board wants to encourage tourism that supports the local economy, van Tiggelen adds that,” we do not relate the value of visitors to expenditures only.”
New Zealand sparks anger after spurning cheap travellers
This summer, New Zealand repeated its intention to target big spenders over budget travellers.
Tourism minister Stuart Nash reiterated that the country would “unashamedly” look to lure high-net-worth individuals.
In 2020, Nash declared New Zealand was seeking the type of tourist who “flies business class or premium economy, hires a helicopter, does a tour round Franz Josef and then eats at a high-end restaurant.”
Are higher spending tourists better for the environment?
Nash’s statement provoked criticism that bigger-budget tourists actually often have a bigger carbon footprint than budget travellers and stay for shorter periods of time.
“We’ve found that it’s really not true that higher spending visitors are better for the environment,” says Jeremy Sampson, CEO of the Travel Foundation.
“It’s much more nuanced: the costs of servicing tourist demand have not been well understood.”
The foundation conducted some research in the Canary Islands, for example, on the impact of the luxury market on the environment.
“We found that the five star visitors were bringing a much more significant cost in terms of environmental resources,” says Sampson. “The luxury hotels were using more water and energy and had more waste management requirements.”
Do wealthier tourists benefit the local economy more than budget travellers?
Sampson also says that the notion that higher spending visitors are better for the local economy is also not always true.
“While five star visitors might generate more income overall, that income is often not spread out very well across the community,” he says.
In contrast, people who stay in short term rentals spend less but in more diverse and local businesses.
Sampson feels budget travel is definitely not going to become a thing of the past.
“I think that the idea that one visitor segment is inherently undesirable is quite flawed,” he says.
“It’s about finding balance and understanding that each segment has both costs and benefits.”
November 16, 2022
The 2021 Tourism Satellite Account report from the Department of Statistics has been released, indicating that the tourism industry contributed 2.2% of the total Bermuda Gross Domestic Product at current prices.
Minister of Economy and Labour Jason Hayward explained, “The Tourism Satellite Account Report highlights the direct, indirect and induced effects of the tourism industry on output, employment and wages in Bermuda. In 2021, the tourism industry contributed 2.2 per cent of the total Bermuda Gross Domestic Product at current prices.
“Gross value added produced from activities of tourism-related establishments, such as hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and passenger transport businesses, totaled $687 million. Of this total, gross value added derived from direct tourist spending accounted for 22.9 per cent or $157 million.”
The Minister further explained, “In 2021, tourism contributed $110 million or 10.7 per cent of the total government revenue, a 14.6 per cent improvement over the previous year. Additionally, residents spent an estimated $227 million on foreign travel in 2021, an increase of 9.7 per cent year-over-year.”
“After factoring in the multiplier effects of visitor spending on output, employment and wages to households, tourism indirectly contributed an additional $55 million in value added to the economy and 196 additional jobs. The combined direct and indirect effects on wages were measured at $159 million in 2021.
“The spending of these wages in the Bermuda economy has a multiplier effect by further creating additional jobs and wages, referred to as the induced effect of tourism spending. These induced effects were measured at 315 jobs and $32 million in wages. Tourism’s contribution to government revenue in 2021 was $110 million or 10.7 per cent of the total revenue.”
A spokesperson said, “The 2021 Tourism Satellite Account report is available online at www.gov.bm/tourism-statistics. The public is advised to read the concepts and definitions on the last page of the report before reviewing the data.”
For the full 2021 Tourism Satellite Account Report click below
Geneva - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced passenger data for September 2022 showing that the recovery in air travel continues to be strong.
Total traffic in September 2022 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) rose 57.0% compared to September 2021. Globally, traffic is now at 73.8% of September 2019 levels.
Domestic traffic for September 2022 was up 6.9% compared to the year-ago period. Total September 2022 domestic traffic was at 81% of the September 2019 level.
International traffic climbed 122.2% versus September 2021. September 2022 international RPKs reached 69.9% of September 2019 levels. All markets reported strong growth, led by Asia-Pacific.
“Even with economic and geopolitical uncertainties, the demand for air transport continues to recover ground. The outlier is still China with its pursuit of a zero COVID strategy keeping borders largely closed and creating a demand roller coaster ride for its domestic market, with September being down 46.4% on the previous year. That is in sharp contrast to the rest of Asia-Pacific, which, despite China’s dismal performance, posted a 464.8% increase for international traffic compared to the year-ago period,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
International Passenger Markets
Asia-Pacific airlines saw a 464.8% rise in September traffic compared to September 2021, the strongest year-over-year rate among the regions. Capacity rose 165.3% and the load factor was up 41.5 percentage points to 78.3%.
European carriers September traffic climbed 78.3% versus September 2021. Capacity increased 43.8%, and load factor moved up 16.3 percentage points to 84.1%, second highest among the regions.
Middle Eastern airlines posted a 149.7% traffic rise in September compared to September 2021. September capacity increased 63.5% versus the year-ago period, and load factor climbed 27.6 percentage points to 80.0%.
North American carriers had a 128.9% traffic rise in September versus the 2021 period. Capacity increased 63.0%, and load factor climbed 24.6 percentage points to 85.4%, which was the highest among the regions for a fourth consecutive month.
Latin American airlines’ September traffic rose 99.4% compared to the same month in 2021. September capacity climbed 73.7% and load factor increased 10.8 percentage points to 83.5%.
African airlines saw a 90.5% rise in September RPKs versus a year ago. September 2022 capacity was up 47.2% and load factor climbed 16.7 percentage points to 73.6%, the lowest among regions.
Domestic Passenger Markets
Japan’s domestic RPKs rose 127.9% in September and are now at nearly 75.6% of 2019 levels.
US domestic traffic climbed 16.8% in September compared to September 2021, pushing it to 0.4% above the September 2019 level. The 85.4% load factor was the highest among the domestic markets.
The Bottom Line
“Strong demand is helping the industry cope with sky high fuel prices. To support that demand in the long-term, we need to pay attention to what travelers are telling us. After nearly three years of pandemic travel complexity, IATA’s 2022 Global Passenger Survey (GPS) shows that travelers want simplification and convenience. That’s an important message for airlines but also for airports and governments. They own many of the facilitation processes that let passengers down at some key airports over this year’s northern summer travel season. According to the GPS, a majority of passengers want to use biometric data rather than passports for border processes. And 93% of passengers are interested in trusted traveler programs to expedite security screening. Modernizing the facilitation experience will not only help alleviate the choke points, it will create a better experience for all,” said Walsh.
View the September Air Passenger Market Analysis (pdf)
November 9, 2022
In this context, governments and investors have mounting pressure on the sector to reduce emissions and increase sustainability through more stringent emissions standards, green tax incentives, and growing ESG-linked investments. Moreover, an increasing number of consumers are indicating a preference for more sustainable travel options.
In response, many travel companies, such as airlines, have made improving sustainability and minimizing greenhouse gas emissions key business goals. However, to achieve these goals and transition into a more sustainable future, T&T companies must successfully develop products that enable more sustainable travel choices.
Split of GHG emissions by industry (pre-pandemic) Image: A Net Zero Roadmap for Travel and Tourism, World Travel & Tourism Council (2021)
A rising demand for sustainable travel
Recent studies and survey results indicate that travellers increasingly value sustainable travel, indicating an opportunity for sustainable travel products. In parallel, a survey by Booking.com found that four out of five global travellers agreed that sustainable travel is a priority for them, with 71% intending to travel more sustainably and 78% aiming to stay at a sustainable property at least once a year.
Concerning the environment, specifically, 69% of respondents to an Expedia survey confirmed that they want to lessen their environmental footprint, and 75% said they would like to use more environmentally-friendly modes of transport.
However, while travellers seem to indicate an increased willingness and demand for environmentally-friendly and sustainable products, the uptake of sustainable travel products anecdotally does not show the same accelerated trend just yet. As sustainable offerings are relatively in their infancy, there is limited research on actual purchasing behaviour. Furthermore, recent surveys revealed that travellers prefer companies’ sustainability practices and offerings to be more transparent, intuitive, and easy to access.
Roadblocks to sustainable consumer behaviour
Additionally, industry interviews and research we are conducting have helped identify a range of roadblocks that explain the gap between consumers’ stated intentions and what they are doing in practice.
These roadblocks can be classified or clustered into six main categories:
1) Limited availability - The roadblock of availability centres around the lack of a sustainable product substitute within a company’s offering. This includes limited overall sustainable product options as well as sustainable products that are competitive with more traditional offerings.
2) Lack of awareness - This roadblock refers to travellers’ lack of awareness of sustainability challenges in T&T, sustainability behaviours that can help overcome these challenges, and sustainable products on offer.
3) Low credibility - Low credibility refers to consumers wanting a greater degree of reassurance and information about the claims companies make concerning the sustainability of their products. Product aspects like transparency, coherent reporting, certification and verified labelling are all tied to improving credibility.
4) Price premium - Generally, sustainable travel options are deemed more expensive than their traditional counterparts. As the willingness to pay a premium for a more sustainable product varies by customer segment and is ever-evolving, customers often drop out from purchasing the alternative due to the higher price.
5) Cumbersome purchase experience - Customers are often discouraged from purchasing sustainable products if the process is burdensome and counterintuitive.
6) Lack of rewards/acknowledgement - This roadblock refers to the need to make customers feel rewarded for their efforts, both physical and emotional. Tools in this space help people facilitate the publishing of their sustainability efforts on social media or provide recognition in physical environments.
Addressing the say-do-gaps
Companies that can provide sustainable offerings that address these say-do-gaps will be better positioned to meet customer needs. As a result, a virtuous cycle can be generated in which increased purchase of sustainable products leads to greater company performance, reinforcing further investment into such options. In turn, the increasing supply of sustainable products would make it easier for travellers to behave sustainably, helping the T&T sector in its net zero transition.
To make a case for investment in sustainable travel products, Accenture and the Forum are working to explore the say-do-gap further, provide an overview of existing sustainable travel products and configurations, develop recommendations for creating sustainable products, and present the industry with a call to action.
The full report on this topic will be published in December 2022.
New study finds just one scenario for tourism that meets climate ‘net-zero’ goal, given current growth forecasts
Instead, global policymakers and climate planners attending COP27 are urged to combine all those measures with significant investments and incentives for bringing forth the greenest forms of transport, and limits on the most polluting. This is the only scenario that can provide comparable levels of revenue and opportunities to travel in a decarbonizing world.
These are the findings from a soon-to-be-released report, Envisioning Tourism in 2030, published by the Travel Foundation in collaboration with CELTH, Breda University of Applied Sciences, the European Tourism Futures Institute, and the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions, and with additional input and perspectives from a broad range of businesses, tourism destinations and other stakeholders across the world. They conclude that destinations and tourism businesses must take action now to identify new opportunities and build resilience to changes in visitor patterns, potential new restrictions and regulation, and the worsening impacts of climate change.
The team behind the report have used a sophisticated ‘systems modelling’ technique to explore future scenarios for global travel and tourism. They found only one decarbonization scenario that could match current growth forecasts which , approximately doubling revenue and trips in 2050 from 2019 levels. This scenario is achieved through trillion-dollar investments in all available decarbonization measures and by prioritizing trips which can reduce emissions most readily – for instance those by road and rail. Some limits must also be applied to aviation growth until it is fully able to decarbonize, in particular capping the longest-distance trips to 2019 levels. These made up just 2% of all trips in 2019 but are, by far, the most polluting. If left unchecked, they will quadruple by 2050, accounting for 41% of tourism’s total emissions (up from 19% in 2019) yet still just 4% of all trips.
The best-case scenario identified means the world can still travel and tourism can support the destinations and businesses that rely on it, avoiding COVID-like restrictions and regulations. Step out of this scenario and it will be much worse for the planet and tourism. The report emphasizes the huge undertaking required to achieve this future, but show it is technically possible, if the will is there.
“It’s clear that business as usual for tourism is neither desirable nor viable,” said Menno Stokman, Director at the Centre of Expertise Leisure, Tourism & Hospitality (CELTH). “Climate impacts are already here, increasing in frequency and severity, with monumental costs for humanity and the environment that affect tourism more than most other sectors. Current decarbonization strategies will reach net zero far too late. So we must reshape the system. From a climate perspective, once we reach net zero we can travel as much as we like. Shifts in investment will get us there within a decade for shorter-distance trips. But for long-haul we need more time, and we should take this into account as tourism plans its future.”
A global coordinated response also needs to address the existing inequity within the tourism system. Many countries, particularly those in the Global South, have yet to fully develop their tourism economies and will have fewer resources to invest in green infrastructure. And some destinations, such as island nations, which are both more susceptible to the impacts of climate change and most dependent on tourism and long-haul visitors, must be the first to be supported.
“As always, the risk is that the most vulnerable people and nations, those that did the least to cause climate change in the first place, will lose out,” said Jeremy Sampson, CEO of the Travel Foundation. “We urge governments at COP and beyond to coordinate globally and consider what is fair in terms of who pays for this huge investment, and what is equitable in terms of optimizing global travel distribution. We must not exacerbate the existing system, which often fails to yield fair outcomes for host communities. Instead, tourism’s coming transformation is the sector’s opportunity to make good on its promise to be a catalyst for positive change once and for all.”
The Envision Tourism in 2030 recommendations aims to support the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, a UN-led initiative supporting the Paris Agreement goals, and which the Travel Foundation helps implement. Intrepid Travel was among the first signatories when it launched last year at COP 26 and, alongside Destination Vancouver, Visit Barbados and the Netherlands Tourism Board, is sponsoring the report.
“This research clearly shows the need to plan now for a resilient low carbon tourism sector. We must recognise the future will be different from business as usual and that the climate crisis is not a competitive advantage,” said Dr Susanne Etti, Global Environmental Impact Manager at Intrepid Travel. “Tourism operators should unite behind the Glasgow Declaration to align, collaborate and accelerate collective action and innovation to decarbonize travel. Only then can our industry truly achieve its huge potential sustainable development,” Dr Etti added.
The report is due to be published early next year.
IATA | 1st November 2022
IATA announced the results of its 2022 Global Passenger Survey (GPS), showing that travelers top concerns for travel in the post-COVID crisis period are focused on simplification and convenience.
“Travel during COVID-19 was complex, cumbersome, and time consuming due to government-imposed travel requirements. Post-pandemic, passengers want improved convenience throughout their trip. Digitization and use of biometrics to speed up the travel journey is the key,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security.
Planning and Booking
Passengers want convenience when they plan their travel and when choosing their departure point. Their preference is to fly from an airport close to home, have all booking options and services available in one single place, pay with their preferred payment method, and easily offset their carbon emissions.
Proximity to the airport was passengers’ main priority when choosing where to fly from (75%). This was more important than ticket price (39%).
Travelers were satisfied being able to pay with their preferred payment method, which was available for 82% of travelers. Having access to planning and booking information in one single place was identified as being top priority.
18% of passengers said that they offset their carbon emissions, the main reason given by those that did not was awareness of the option (36%).
“Today’s travelers expect the same online experience as they get from major retailers like Amazon. Airline retailing is driving the response to these needs. It enables airlines to present their full offer to travelers. And that puts the passenger in control of their travel experience with the ability to choose the travel options that they want with convenient payment options,” said Muhammad Albakri, IATA Senior Vice President Financial Settlement and Distribution Services.
Most travelers are willing to share their immigration information for more convenient processing.
37% of travelers said they have been discouraged from traveling to a particular destination because of the immigration requirements. Process complexity was highlighted as the main deterrent by 65% of travelers, 12% cited costs and 8% time.
Where visas are required, 66% of travelers want to obtain a visa online prior to travel, 20% prefer to go to the consulate or embassy and 14% at the airport.
83% of travelers said they would share their immigration information to speed up the airport arrival process. Though this is high, it is slightly down from the 88% recorded in 2021.
“Travelers have told us that barriers to travel remain. Countries with complex visa procedures are losing the economic benefits that these travelers bring. Where countries have removed visa requirements, tourism and travel economies have thrived. And for countries requiring certain categories of travelers to get visas, taking advantage of traveler willingness to use online processes and share information in advance would be a win-win solution,” said Careen.
Passengers are willing to take advantage of technology and re-thought processes to improve the convenience of their airport experience and manage their baggage.
Passengers are willing to complete processing elements off-airport. 44% of travelers identified check-in as their top pick for off-airport processing. Immigration procedures were the second most popular at 32%, followed by baggage. And 93% of passengers are interested in a special program for trusted travelers (background checks) to expedite security screening.
Passengers are interested in more options for baggage handling. 67% would be interested in home pick-up and delivery and 73% in remote check-in options. 80% of passengers said that would be more likely to check a bag if they could monitor it throughout the journey. And 50% said that they have used or would be interested in using an electronic bag tag.
Passengers see value in biometric identification. 75% of passengers want to use biometric data instead of passports and boarding passes. Over a third have already experienced using biometric identification in their travels, with an 88% satisfaction rate. But data protection remains a concern for about half of travelers.
“Passengers clearly see technology as key to improving the convenience of airport processes. They want to arrive at the airport ready-to-fly, get through the airport at both ends of their journey more quickly using biometrics and know where their baggage is at all times. The technology exists to support this ideal experience. But we need cooperation across the value chain and with governments to make it happen. And we need to continuously reassure passengers that the data needed to support such an experience will be safely kept,” said Careen.
The industry is ready to power airport processes with biometrics through IATA’s One ID initiative. COVID-19 has helped governments understand the potential for passengers to share their travel information with them directly and in advance of travel and the power of biometric processes to improve security and facilitations processes and more efficiently use scarce resources. The proliferation of e-gates at airports is proving the efficiencies that can be gained. The priority is to support the OneID standards with regulation to allow its use to create a seamless experience across all parts of the passenger journey.
Lee Igel | Contributor | Forbes Magazine | October 31, 2022
More than 150,000 people from around the world will be traveling to Abu Dhabi next month for the Formula One season finale at Yas Marina Circuit. A couple of hundred millions more will get a feel for the action by watching the sights and sounds through broadcasts on television, computer, and smartphone screens. They may get closer to the in-person experience soon, though, thanks to the launch of the Yas Island Metaverse.
Yas Island is one of the landmark destinations in the United Arab Emirates' capital city. Its 25 square kilometers hold a galore of world-class shopping outlets, restaurants and cafes, beach clubs, hotels, leisure and entertainment venues, theme parks, and sports facilities. The metaverse project aims to grow that reach by creating a virtual replicate for users to experience and engage in the activities, attractions, and adventures—like riding the world’s fastest rollercoaster at Ferrari World or getting behind the wheel of a race car on the F1 track—that residents and visitors have come to know of the real-world version.
This move into the metaverse is being led by the Abu Dhabi Ministry of Culture and Tourism. It is bringing together a consortium of local partners, including Aldar real estate development, twofour54 media production, Miral destination management, Abu Dhabi Motorsport, and Flash Entertainment. Roblox, The Sandbox, and Super League Gaming—among the leading platforms in the current metaverse landscape—will be used to build the digital destination. The concerted effort to place Abu Dhabi in a virtual world puts community far beyond novelty.
Development of the physical-world island over the past fifteen or so years has led to it being included in Abu Dhabi's Economic Vision 2030, the government's plan to transform the emirate by shifting from a reliance on the oil sector to a focus on knowledge-based industries. Sports, under the umbrella of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, has a key role within it. But don't judge the effort purely by its title. The effort is in fair measures economic and social.
For the past decade, Abu Dhabi has been actively growing its position as a global center for international sports events. Hosting major sports events can drive tourism and commerce.
Earlier this month, the first-ever NBA games in the Arabian Gulf region were hosted in the island's Etihad Arena; a multiyear deal—and a sell-out crowd—mean more games coming to the cutting-edge 18,000-seat sports and entertainment venue. The World Triathlon Championship Finals, FIBA 3×3 World Tour final, and the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship weekend are among the sports events on the schedule in coming months. The FINA World Swimming Championships were held there last year. And fans of Ultimate Fighting Championship have known Yas Island for hosting mixed martial arts events since 2010—and more recently as the location of “Fight Island,” a project that started when UFC used the site for the “bubble” that allowed its competitions to continue during the early stage of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But sports also has the power to encourage health, inclusion, and cooperation across communities of all types. That is a meaningful part of Abu Dhabi's vision. Yas Island features prominently in its scope.
The Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that is contested at the Yas Marina Circuit is much more than a few hours of auto racing. It is a week-long festival of the sport, with all of Yas Island and many public parts of the emirate being accessed by fans and visitors. The nearly 3.5 miles (5.5 km) of track can also be configured in five different ways to accommodate the requirements of various motorsports events. Meanwhile, the same track is opened twice each week throughout the year for people to walk or jog on and cyclists of all ages and abilities to take a bike ride for free.
How can sport promote economic growth and social innovation? How can sport be used to make a positive impact in people's lives and communities? How can sport develop cooperation between neighborhoods, cities, and nations?
A project like the Yas Island Metaverse can provide some helpful answers to those questions by offering people access to parts of our physical and digital worlds that they might not otherwise be able to reach. For those so inclined, it’s time to start your engines.
Vinicius Costa | Travel Off Path | October 31st 2022
This year, Tulum has been plagued by a surge in violence and corrupt practices, be it shootings or taxis operating on inflated fares. Even then, it has continued to grow as a destination and is expected to host a record number of guests this winter. So why does it remain one of America’s favorite sunny hotspots abroad, despite overtourism and bad publicity?
Tulum is a small town with a coastline straddling Mexico’s world-famous Riviera Maya. Home to an extensive boulevard lined with five-star resorts, it is part of the reason why the country is becoming a major luxury hub. Whether you love it or hate it, Tulum’s days as a budget beach break are numbered.
Ironically, the single biggest threat that could put a halt to the astronomical rise of its tourism sector is itself.
Why Are Tourists Still Flocking Into Overdeveloped Tulum?
Tulum is surely no longer the quaint fishing port it once was about three or four decades ago. Since big brands began battling among themselves for the best spot to build resorts in the area, and over-development saw the arrival of thousands of sun-seeking expats, altering the scene permanently, the Mayan town lost its ‘off-path’ character.
Now, its undercover police officers are patrolling beaches to avoid tourists getting mugged, and taxi fares are higher than Manhattan’s. So how come Tulum is still a trendy place to visit, what with its overcrowding, the media frenzy constantly bringing into question its safety, and the U.S. Department of State’s ongoing scrutiny? The answer is simple:
Tulum is the polished, American-friendly Mexico you’ll find in tourism brochures: amazing hotel amenities, incredible service, sandy beaches extending for miles on end, and a turquoise-blue ocean. Beyond the luxurious facade, it also serves as a gateway to the Mayan sub-world, an ancient civilization preceding Columbus.
The town’s famous postcard, and perhaps Mexico’s second most iconic landmark after the Pyramids of Teotihuacan, is a Mayan ruin perched atop a promontory overlooking the Caribbean Sea. An open-air museum, it allows visitors to trace the steps of the Ancient Mayan peoples who once ruled the land and learn their ways.
Moreover, Tulum’s natural offer is endless: inland crystalline lagoons, cenotes, a complex system of submerged caves the surviving Mayans still hold as holy, tropical jungles, and marine parks. When it comes to social life, it is reputed to be the ‘party capital’ of the Riviera Maya, with some considering it one of the ‘most varied‘ night outs in the Caribbean.
Is Tulum As Dangerous As The Media Portrays It?
Based on the travel preferences of the average American, the benefits listed above far outweigh Tulum’s darker side – that of inflated taxi prices, gang activity in non-touristy zones, and potholed streets. There’s no denying crime and other urban issues occur, but they are certainly not exclusive to Tulum and the Riviera Maya.
The risk of being robbed, or suffering a gun wound vacationing here is not higher than anywhere else in the Caribbean or beyond: we make this claim based on the U.S. Department of State’s own classification of the state as a Level 2 Destination. This same status applies to most countries lying south of the border and even America’s top four favorites in Europe.
Additionally, as we have discussed extensively on Travel Off Path already, these safety concerns tend to be blown out of proportion more often than not. For instance, the Department of State has added ‘kidnapping’ risks to its advisory page on Quintana Roo when this year, a single kidnapping case was reported in the state.
Tulum Is Not Perfect, But It Still Makes For A Fairly Decent Beach Break
In short, Tulum may not be perfect, but it still has appeal among all demographics, from families of four hoping to relax within their hotel’s exclusive beach strip to young travelers looking for adventure. Should it continue on its upward course, it should easily surpass its previous all-time high of two million visitors in a single year.
The Riviera Maya, including Tulum, is currently preparing to receive more than 9 million visitors this winter alone, more than they had in 2019, the most recent pre-pandemic reference year. A large number of those will be using Cancun as an entry point before traveling onward to Tulum, their final destination.
This year so far, more than 70 percent of tourists originated from the United States, proving Tulum’s high costs, which at times can be prohibitive compared to other lesser-known settlements in Quintana Roo, are not driving Americans away. On the contrary: they actively seek to splurge on all-inclusive vacays there.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.