New York Cruise Line Acquires New York Water Taxi
One of the major players in the New York City tour and travel business, New York Cruise Lines, Inc., and The Durst Organization have announced that they have closed a transaction for the sale of New York Water Taxi and Circle Line Downtown to New York Cruise Lines, owner of Circle Line Sightseeing Yachts, located on 42nd Street and the Hudson River. The combination of the Circle Line and New York Water Taxi brands expands the reach of New York Cruise Lines, which is the parent company of the Circle Line Sightseeing Yachts. Circle Line, has hosted more than 60 million passengers since 1945.
Samuel Cooperman, chairman and CEO of New York Cruise Lines, said, “With the acquisition, New York Cruise Lines will own and operate 25 ships, including transportation ferries, high speed thrill rides and sightseeing, dinner, entertainment and charter yachts, with capacity ranging from 74 to 600 passengers.
New York Cruise Lines also owns and operates unique floating restaurants at Pier 81’s North River Landing, including North River Lobster Company, an award winning casual lobster shack, as well as the brand new Fish Bar at North River Landing, a waterfront seafood lounge and restaurant with an outdoor top deck and bar. New York Cruise Lines also operates World Yacht, a luxury special events and private charter business, as well as The BEAST Speedboat summer time thrill ride. The company is located in Hudson River Park on 42nd Street and the Hudson River, convenient to Times Square, the High Line and Hudson Yards.
North River Lobster Company (www.northriverlobsterco.com)
Fish Bar at North River Landing (www.northriverfishbar.com)
North River Landing (www.northriverlanding.nyc)
Circle Live Concert Series (www.circlelivenyc.com)
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises (www.circleline42.com)
World Yacht Special Event Cruises (www.worldyacht.com)
Asia Travel Boom, Led by China, to Continue in 2017
According to the ITB World Travel Trends Report 2016/2017—it was prepared by IPK International on behalf of ITB Berlin—all indices point to substantial growth in outbound travel by Asians. Some highlighted items from the Trends Report:
- Asians traveled more than ever so far this year, with a surge in trips to destinations within the region and including many more beach holidays. China was once again the growth driver. After a double-digit rise in international trips this year, the outlook remains strong for 2017.
- The Asian economy continued to grow well in 2016 and is expected to maintain on a solid growth path, according to figures from the ifo Institute for Economic Research in Munich.
- After GDP growth of 4.8 percent in 2015, the region is forecast to grow by 4.6 percent in 2016 and also in 2017, slowing to a 4.4 percent increase in 2018.
- In China, fiscal impulses will continue to generate annual economic growth rates of about 6 percent, but Japan and South Korea will be held back by low growth in international trade, according to the ifo experts.
- Outbound travel by Asians grew by11 percent in the first eight months of 2016, according to World Travel Monitor® figures.
- There was a very strong 14 percent rise in trips to destinations within Asia and an 11 percent increase in travel to the Americas.
- The number of trips to Europe dropped, however, by one percent between January and August 2016.
- China was the driving force for growth with an 18 percent rise in outbound trips (excluding to Hong Kong and Macao).
- South Korea also performed very well in the 2016 measuring period with an 11 percent rise in international travel.
ASIAN OUTBOUND TRAVEL TRENDS
January through August 2016
- Holidays, which account for an overwhelming 81 percent of all outbound trips by Asians, increased by 11 percent over the first eight months of 2016.
- There was a healthy 7 percent increase in international business trips, and a strong 12 percent rise in the number of visits to family and friends (VFR) and other leisure trips abroad.
- Asians are clearly going on more sun & beach holidays, which grew by 20 percent between January and August 2016, according to World Travel Monitor® figures.
- There was also good growth for countryside trips (+15 percent) and city trips (+8 percent) but the number of touring holidays increased by only 2 percent.
ASIAN OUTBOUND TRAVEL TRENDS
January through August 2016
Type of Holiday
Rolf Freitag, IPK International founder and president, commented: “This year’s boom in Asian outbound travel, especially by the Chinese, is remarkable. Moreover, we can observe an important long-term trend. Asians are starting to go on fewer sightseeing trips taking in several countries. Instead, many of them dream of relaxing on sun & beach holidays. In other words, they are gradually becoming ‘normal holidaymakers’ like in Western countries.”
The social-demographic profile of Asian outbound travelers reflects this trend towards more short-haul holidays within Asia. They are mostly relatively young:
- About 38 percent of Asians taking international trips are aged between 15-34.
- Another 49 percent are aged 35-54.
- Just 13 percent are aged over 55, according to World Travel Monitor® figures.
The proportion of older international travelers is much higher in Europe and North America. Asian outbound travelers are on average also slightly better educated and better off than their counterparts in Europe and North America.
Against this very positive background, the outlook for Asian outbound travel remains good. IPK International predicts a 6 percent rise in Asian outbound trips in 2017, based on its Travel Confidence Index which measures travel intentions for the following year.
New Motorcoach Provider Using Uber-like Tactics to Sell Group Travel
Created a little more than a year ago, Skedaddle, which is based in both Boston and New York City, became a start-up celebrity over the past weekend as it booked charter buses that brought more than 11,000 people to the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, Jan.21—the day after the Inauguration of President Donald Trump.
So huge was the bookings surge for Skedaddle — the company had interest from thousands more riders than it booked — that, early in the month, it cut off the number of new routes to Washington. The company said it did not want to run the risk of signing up so many people that it could not serve them all well. As it was, the post-Inaugural march traffic made it the largest ever two-day period of business for the company, which has just 19 people on staff.
How it Works: Loosely resembling the Uber model, Skedaddle has users interested in sharing a bus with others downloading its app. Users can then either create a new route or join an existing route. Once a minimum of nine people have committed to the route, the company arranges the deployment of a professionally driven shuttle, van, or bus. The service also notifies users of routes (and buses filling up) that match their interests.
Each route has a standard seat price which is based on distance and other factors. Skedaddle encourages early route signups by offering the creator of the route a free seat, and a 20 percent discount for the next nine riders to commit. The rest of those who sign up pay the same price.
The company apparently has no trouble finding vehicles, which comes as no surprise to anyone in the tour and travel industry. There are hundreds of bus and van owner-operators across the U.S. whose main business is comprised of schedule charter groups (school groups and school sports teams, etc.) and who have both room and time on their calendar for more business.
It remains to be seen, but the weekend surge in use of the Skedaddle—which began as an East Coast venture, then began operations in Los Angeles and San Francisco, suggests that it will soon have a national route structure. As it is now, routes can be set up as either one-way or round-trip. The percentage of each is likely to change as demand drives availability and the number of routes. For more information, visit www.letsskedaddle.com.
For Germans, a Surge in Bookings Driven by Lust for Travel and Horrendous Winters
Two reports during the past couple of weeks have buoyed the hopes of the German travel trade for the coming year. One, the regular monthly report on market trends by the Nuremberg-based marketing research firm GfK revealed a surge of more than 11 percent in sales revenues for travel agents last month; another, the annual FUR (Forschungsgemeinschaft Urlaub und Reisen) analysis suggests that the Germans’ desire to travel is strong and that more people expect to travel this year.
First, the GfK market travel survey, as reported by the German travel trade publication, FVW:
- A sales recovery that started in November gathered pace in December with an 11.4 percent increase rise in revenues that more than compensated for a 6.4 decline in December 2015, according to analysis of bookings in 1,500 representative travel agencies.
- The 2016/17 tourism year is now showing a small sales increase of one percent on a cumulative basis.
- Winter sales rose by 11.4 percent in December, and are now only 4 percent behind last year’s level.
- Bookings for April, including the Easter holidays, are up by 32 percent which, FVW notes, more than compensates for a 13 percent decline in March.
- Even so, the remaining winter months remain below last year, however.
- Summer sales increased by 13 percent last month, leaving cumulative sales for 2016/17 showing a 10 percent increase to date. (This, too, outweighs, the 6 percent decline as of December 2015.) Two thirds—67 percent—of all revenues in December were for summer 2017 bookings.
- There is a 31 percent increase for June, as well as growth for July, August and September, with only May and October still behind previous year levels.
- Also the German IT services company TATS also registered good December business in its monthly sales review of 2,500 travel agencies, with bookings increasing by 4.8 percent last month, leaving a cumulative increase of 7.1 percent for advance bookings through to October 2017. There was a 7.6 percent rise in sales of cruises, which are showing a 17.3 percent increase for 2016/17 as a whole.
- For 2016 (January—December) the TATS travel agency survey shows an overall sales increase of 0.3 percent, including a slight 0.1 percent drop in leisure travel sales. A strong 10.7 percent increase in cruise holiday sales compensated for a slump in flight-based package holidays and other trips.
Second, the FUR Analysis: Possibly because of what one trade journal described as the Germans’ “Die Reiselust” (loosely, the desire or longing for travel) Germans will keep traveling this year after remarkably stable demand in 2016 despite terror attacks around the world, according to the annual Reiseanalyse survey by market researchers FUR (“Forschungsgemeinschaft Urlaub und Reisen) found.
Survey results—they were based on a representative study last November of more than 2,500 adults—were presented and discussed at the annual CMT Trade Fair in Stuttgart, which concluded on Jan. 22. They indicated that Germans went on some 69 million holiday trips and spent about €66 billion ($70.6 billion) on travel last year. In addition, the number of short leisure trips increased by 4 percent.
Prof. Martin Lohmann, FUR’s academic adviser and head of the Institute for Tourism and Spa Research in Northern Europe, who presented the study, said that the results were better than expected at the start of 2016 when headlines were dominated by terror attacks in several destinations and a public debate over whether politics should influence the choice of a holiday destination. Lohmann emphasized, however, that “These trends have not reduced the overall volume of demand for holiday travel. But there were significant shifts in the tourism travel flows.”
- Looking ahead to 2017, Lohmann was optimistic about prospects and predicted another stable year:
- A stable high level of demand with a volume of about 69 million holiday trips and spending of €66 billion ($70.6 billion) is expected. “Terror, crises, political and social changes might affect this picture in the future but the impact will be limited,” Lohmann predicted.
- Nearly four of out every five Germans (79 percent) are already thinking about this year’s holidays,
- Their desire to travel has increased (to 56 percent from 51 percent last year), and a clear majority has both time and money for private travel, according to the Reiseanalyse survey.
- About 23 percent of Germans want to travel more than last year and only 13 percent plan to reduce travel. (“These figures point to stable demand,” said Lohmann.)
As for destinations:
—41 percent of Germans want to visit a new country this year compared to 42 percent last year.
—Still, the favored destinations remain the same as in recent years, led by Germany (30 percent), Spain, Italy, Austria and Turkey.
Further complicating the situation is the unusually harsh winter, which is discouraging travel of any kind. Last fall, European experts announced that the winter of 2016-2017 would be the coldest in the last 100 years as arctic air masses arrive over the European continent. And they were right. And according to German meteorologist Dominik Jung, the lowest temperatures were expected to be recorded in January and February. March will not be any warmer, and temperatures would not increase until April. His predictions were supported by AccuWeather meteorologist Joe Bastardi and by Elena Volosiouk, specialist at Phobos Meteorological Centre.
(The Inbound Report take on the above: None of the data directly address the matter of overseas travel by Germans. While there might be an increase in desire to travel and that could stimulate demand for short-haul international product, as well as domestic product within Germany, there is nothing that causes us to change our mind—or to reconsider our forecast—when it comes to our prediction of a one to three percent decline in Visit USA traffic in 2017.)
Female Tourists Dominate China’s Outbound Tourism
A new report from Tuniu, one of the top online travel booking sites in China, 62 percent of its clients in 2016 were women. Also, female customers dominated numbers among people making multiple trips abroad. Why? Because Chinese travelers are spending more on experiences instead of seeking shopping opportunities, and as this trend has developed, female tourists have become the dominant demographic among outbound travelers.
These were just a couple of the interesting facts one gleaned from the Tuniu data, as reported by ecns.ca. Some of the others include the following:
- With increasing household income, more parents in China would like to bring their children with them on trips abroad. In 2016, customers under 18 years old increased by 110%, becoming the fastest growing client group.
- Tuniu’s data shows that Chinese tourists are increasingly traveling greater distances.
The table below seems to reflect a shift from short-haul international destinations to long-haul international destinations among Tuniu customers.
- While tourists from China’s first-tier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are growing smoothly, tourist numbers from second and third-tier cities are said to be booming.
- As more tourist destinations became visa-free for China in 2016, China was once again first-overall globally in terms of the number of people traveling abroad, and for tourism spending.
- Tuniu’s customer bookings increased 34 percent in 2016 compared to the previous year.
Perhaps only partly related to the good news it released on its own, Tuniu received upbeat news from other quarters as the Credit Suisse Group has upgraded shares of Tuniu Corporation from a neutral rating to an outperform rating in a just-released research note, and Zacks Investment Research has upgraded Tuniu Corp. from a “sell” rating to a “buy” rating.
A Follow-up on the Condition of the Mexican Market: “It’s about the Exchange Rate, Stupid!”
When we at the Inbound Report prepared our 2017 Outlook for Key Source Markets, we more or less treated the political environment at the time—it was a little more than a month after the election of Donald Trump as president—as a net zero (± 0). We did so for several reasons but, essentially, it was because of the belief expressed by key receptive tour operators and industry analysts that both U.S. travel suppliers and DMOs, as well as Mexican tour operators, would not allow political considerations to interfere in the conduct of business—especially when the market is the largest source of visitors to the USA and nearly every Mexican traveler has a relative of some degree working or residing in the United States. That is, the marketplace would remain open for business.
Most tour and travel industry professionals seem to have been operating on the assumption that the amity between Mexico and the United States transcended remarks by President Donald Trump that nearly all Mexicans considered inflammatory. And most people, on either side of the USA-Mexico border, didn’t really believe that, as President, Donald Trump would really build the border wall between the two countries. Mexicans would still be visiting the United States in 2017 and beyond.
Even the top Mexican tourism official seems to have mellowed a little on the situation. On Nov. 11, the news portal REPORTUR.com wrote that Mexico’s secretary of tourism, Enrique de la Madrid, said “Let’s prepare for the worst, working for the best, in case some of Donald Trump’s statements come true, and let’s be ready for any scenario.” A survey conducted by the country’s National Council of Entrepreneurial Tourism (CNET) indicated that 54 percent of those responding suggesting that the election of Trump would have a negative impact, while 36 percent said that everything would remain the same, and just 10 percent indicated that Trump’s election would be beneficial.
It’s the Dollar that Counts: Then, this month, de la Madrid changed his focus. In his remarks to the 6th Anahuac Conference on “Tourism Perspectives for Mexico,” he emphasized the importance of inbound tourism from the United States—it accounts for 60 percent of the country’s inbound tourism market, primarily because the U.S. dollar has become so strong vs. the Mexican peso during the past year. (Click on this link to view an up-to-date chart detailing the value of the peso vs. the U.S. dollar over the past year: http://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=MXN&to=USD&view=1Y)
The peso has fallen 20 percent against the dollar since last April. This—not any animosity because of a President Trump—is one of the reasons that Francisco Madrid Flores, the director of the Faculty of Tourism at the Anahuac University, said that for this year 2017 is forecast to decrease travel of Mexicans abroad by two percent.
As a consequence, de la Madrid wants to strengthen the country’s inbound market, and bring visitors to other parts of Mexico, where, currently, 80 percent of travel is concentrated in five destinations.
In the interim, no one in the Mexican tourism industry really wants to talk loudly about the down side of what might happen during a Trump presidency, although talk of deportation and a wall persist in the U.S. and within the Trump Administration: Even Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of the 12,000-member First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas got into the act, telling an Inauguration Day worship service which included Trump, “You see, God is not against building walls.”
From what we’ve picked up from our sources, travel and tourism industry lobbyists will be working back channels and through informal contacts to see that the source market that is Mexico is not constrained or cut off. So many thousands of workers in the industry have their roots in Mexico and depend on their jobs—and the industry depends on their work—that a loss of workers because of deportations or fears of a wall would have consequences that no one really wants to contemplate.
So, what will happen?
Canada’s National Parks and Monuments Offering Free Admission in 2017
One of the ways that Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2017 is by having Parks Canada offer free admission to all Canadian national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas for the entire year. All a visitor has to do is to order a Discovery Pass, which Parks Canada will mail to you. For all of 2017 the gives its holder unlimited opportunities to enjoy National Parks, National Marine Conservation Areas and National Historic Sites across the country.
But please note:
—You only need to order one pass for your group or family if you are all travelling together. A 2017 Discovery Pass is valid for everyone arriving in the same vehicle at a national park, or arriving together at a marine conservation area or historic site.
—The Discovery Pass is only accepted at national historic sites which are operated by Parks Canada.
—Activities such as tours or parking that normally carry a separate fee may not be covered by the Discovery Pass.
—Camping fees are not included with the Discovery Pass
—Validity Period: January 1st 2017 to December 31st 2017.
—Display: The 2017 Discovery Pass must be hung from the rear view mirror of the vehicle facing forward or it can be placed on the front driver side dashboard facing up.
What about the Travel Trade? As much as possible, Parks Canada says, it will be taking a “business as usual without the payment” approach for the travel trade to help ensure a smooth transition through the year. You can find more information in the travel trade section of Parks Canada website at:
For a list of links to Canada’s national parks, visit: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/index.aspx
For securing a copy of the Discovery Pass, copy and paste this link: goo.gl/aW5cO8
NAJ’s eTourism LABs—a “Three-fer” for the Digital Tourism Marketer
Slated to take place over two days (March 14-15, 2017) in Philadelphia, NAJ’s eTourism Labs (the progeny of NAJ’s annual e-Tourism Summit in San Francisco) is a “three-fer” opportunity for the serious tour and travel industry digital marketer.
“It is actually three different events in one,” said Jake Steinman, founder and CEO of the NAJ Group, which also publishes the Inbound Report. The first day includes three tracks each of which address different pain points.
- Digital Media Strategies built around Measurement. A workshop addressing the latest media strategies and an “ROI Parade” featuring the latest ways marketers are calculating value for their funders.
- A full-day workshop covering Video creation and distribution that we call “Visual Storytelling.”
- Boot Camp for Newbies. Specially designed training for new hires or P.R. staff making the transition from traditional to digital? (Designed in collaboration with DMAI).
AND…attendees will hear from 45 experts about the future of native advertising, content marketing strategies, Addressable TV, cross device attribution, influencer marketing, video sharing psychology, social media marketing, e-mail marketing, web design and practical panels that will discuss such topics as tactics to replace website traffic lost to Google algorithm changes.
AS WELL AS…Vetted and Curate “solution providers” presented in a “Shark Tank” format because we no one has time to meet with everyone trying to sell them.
Oh! And Don’t Forget… to invite your agencies so they can become aware of newest forms of digital advertising and how they are working for clients like DMO’s and attractions.
For complete program and registration information, visit: http://labs.etourismsummit.com/
HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Will Seccombe has established his own public relations and consulting business for the tour and travel industry—Revolution Strategy, LLC—in the Tallahassee, Fla. area. Seccombe last month stepped down as president and CEO of Visit Florida after state legislators and Gov. Rick Scott criticized the agency’s million-dollar contract with Pitbull, a globally known rapper, to promote the state. Seccombe had held the top position for more than four years. Previously, he was Visit Florida’s chief marketing officer. (On a side note, Seccombe will serve on the NAJ’s eTourism Summit Advisory Council and will be presenting at http://labs.etourismsummit.com/.)
Svetlana Yazovskikh has been named executive director of tourism for the Philadelphia CVB. She succeeds Brian Said, who left the bureau last September to join Choose Chicago as vice president, global development. Yazovskikh was promoted from her position as the bureau’s senior international tourism manager. She joined the agency in 2008 as tourism services manager.
Brian Jorgenson has been appointed senior vice-president of product management for Sabre. He joins the Dallas-based Sabre from his post as senior vice president at Fiserv, a financial services technology consultancy that is also based in Dallas. In his new role, Jorgenson will be responsible for maintaining Sabre’s standing in central reservations and distribution solutions, while building upon the SynXis Enterprise Platform to expand Sabre’s property management, guest experience, retailing and loyalty capabilities for hoteliers.
The new Düsseldorf tour operator Anex Tour has appointed Carsten Burgmann will be responsible as sales manager for the entire range of the company’s products. A veteran of more than 25 years in the tour and travel industry, Burgmann most recently served as director of sales and marketing for VÖ Travel.
Oliver Schmitt is the new director of sales, distribution and digitalization for Cologne-based Eurowings. He joins the carrier from Teléfonica Germany where he was director online. Eurowings flies to Boston, Las Vegas, Miami, Orlando and, beginning July 11, 2017, Seattle/Tacoma.
Jay Reilly has been named vice president of corporate sales for Groupize, the hotel group booking platform. Reilly, who has been a business development executive in the hospitality industry for more than two decades, was most recently with AirPlus International, where he worked on global corporate payment solutions providing richer data for better travel supply chain management.