Trump-Related Travails–Another Update
While we haven’t reported on the subject for three weeks, it does not mean that there have been no new developments. Since then, the impact of President Donald Trump’s proposed ban on travel to the U.S., as well as the response to his comments regarding specific country markets continues to grow at a steady, deliberate pace. Here is a synopsis of what has happened of late:
—Tourism Economics, the Philadelphia-based U.S. travel forecasting firm that partners with the UK’s Oxford Economics, released figures indicating that, because of the travel ban(s), the U.S. will realize some 4.3 million fewer international travelers this year. This translates into a revenue loss of $7.4 billion. An additional 6.3 million visitors and $10.8 billion that they would have spent will be lost in 2018, it estimated.
—Apparently because of or related to President Trump’s campaign rhetoric regarding Mexicans, the number of visitors to Canada from Mexico increased nearly 70 percent in December, to 30,268 from 18,095 in the same month a year earlier. And for January 2017, visitors to Canada from Mexico reached increased 51 percent vs. January 2016.
—The Toronto District School Board—it is Canada’s largest school board—will end class trips to the U.S. due to Trump’s travel restrictions. The move was driven by fears that students will be unfairly stopped at the border because of their heritage or country of birth. Explaining the move, Ryan Bird, spokesman for the school board, said, “We don’t want to put our students in a position where they are traveling to the U.S. with their friends and classmates and then be denied entry to the U.S. for no legitimate reason. Equity, inclusiveness, fairness are key principles for us as a school board.”
—A according to the results of a survey of 250 colleges and universities conducted by the American Associations of Collegiate Registrars and released during the third week of March, nearly 40 percent of colleges are reporting overall declines in applications from international students. The biggest decline is in applications from the Middle East.
—Graduate schools appear to be feeling the impact the most, with nearly half reporting drops. “Our deans describe it as a chilling effect,” said Suzanne Ortega, president of the Council of Graduate Schools.
—The market research firm ForwardKeys found inbound travel to the U.S. flat from Jan. 28 through March 25. At the same time, the Airlines Reporting Corporation found a relatively low increase of 0.9 percent in inbound travel to the U.S. during the first seven weeks of this year, compared to larger gains in each of the previous two years. “This is not a particularly encouraging statistic for the USA,” said Olivier Jager, CEO of Forward Keys.
—According to the Mexican travel trade news portal, Volaris—it is budget airline largely responsible for an increase in recent years of air traffic to the USA from Mexico—has decreased its seat offerings to the United States, reducing frequencies on five routes to the United States and canceling one. The carrier will reduce its offering to the USA by up to 6 percent this year. For the sake of comparison, the company has reported February 2017 overall passenger growth of 14 percent, year-on-year.
—A March 23rd webinar sponsored by the U.S. Travel Association that featured Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics (see above) and other travel analysts agreed that the outlook for inbound travel to the USA is not a positive one. One participant, Ted Sullivan, vice president, resorts and destination analytics at ADARA, pointed to analyses showing that, globally, searches for U.S. travel destinations had declined in the immediate wake of the Trump travel. The tour and travel industry will have a better idea as spring progresses, to determine if the decline in searches converts to a decline in bookings in travel to the U.S.
CityPASS Turns 20 Years Old: The Backstory
It was twenty years ago at IPW in Chicago that Mike Gallagher and Mike Morey, both of whom had established careers in marketing attractions in California, introduced a concept they had been working on for some time: CityPASS, which aggregates attractions in a specific U.S. destination into a prepaid booklet of tickets and selling the “bundle” at a price which amounts to a significant discount—usually around 40 percent—from what a consumer would pay for the tickets if they purchased them separately. Essentially, that’s it. While other multi-admission passes are part of the tour and travel industry currency, Gallagher and Morey were the first.
The two had known one another for a while. Morey had been president of Pinetree Service Corporation, a Los Angeles-area transportation and tourism services company, and later established his own marketing and research firm, specializing in working with museums, aquariums and zoos. Gallagher served for 17 years as executive vice president of Marine World Africa USA (now Six Flags Discovery Kingdom), taking over the job in 1980 at the age of 28. Their paths crossed at many industry functions, including conferences of the California Travel Industry Association, which Gallagher once chaired.
After back-and-forth discussion and planning, they finally settled on the multiple admission product they labeled CityPASS. And then, deciding to make their idea a reality, they debuted the concept with two cities—Seattle and San Francisco—and met with a positive response from operators and other destinations who had never sold such a product, even though some cities promoted packages of attractions within their boundaries.
After the sale of more than 17 million booklets and the addition of another 10 destinations (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New York City, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Toronto and Southern California—which includes admission to Disneyland, Disney California Adventure Park, SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOLAND California), it looks like their venture is working out.
By 2012, CityPASS had become sufficiently established that Megan Allen was named CityPASS president and CEO after moving up the ranks following her initial hire in 2000. Morey and Gallagher retained their co-founder title and responsibilities, stay active and do not use the word “retired.” Gallagher, for instance, has been especially active in travel and tourism industry organizations and in2013, was inducted into the U.S. Travel Association’s Travel Industry Hall of Leaders.
Today, CityPASS has well-established enough that destinations seek to have their attractions made part of the CityPASS brand. As for the attractions marketers who part of CityPASS, they realize their product is part of the brand is that, more or less, has the imprimatur of a product with a solid reputation across the global travel trade. The latter point is reinforced each year at IPW with the day-long media marketplace, in which some 500 journalists interact with U.S. travel suppliers in a venue that is sponsored by CityPASS and includes an awards program for best travel articles in three different categories and a packed reception for journalists who are known for their capacious appetites.
Keeping pace with technology means that the familiar CityPASS ticket booklets are fast becoming a memory: “We’ve seen sales go from primarily box office to largely online; we’ve gone from shipping every ticket booklet by post to sending a good portion of them via email; and, last year, we introduced our first entirely mobile pass, New York C3,” explains Allen.
But the company retains a personal, homey atmosphere where everyone knows one another—not surprising since CityPASS is located in Victor, Idaho (population not quite 2,000) in the Teton Valley and within walking distance of Wyoming.
Why Victor? As a spokesperson explained it to us, Mike Morey’s home is in Victor. When Mike and Mike began their partnership, Gallagher was the one who initially attended more trade shows and tourism events and was just generally on the road more. Morey, although he did attend various industry events, didn’t travel nearly as much as Gallagher. So, if the headquarters was to be in one of the partner’s hometowns, it made sense for it to be in Mike Morey’s.
It also means that there is a lot of room for CityPASS, now 20 years old, to grow for the next 20 years—at l
Unique Promotion: Your Room is Comped if You Get a Divorce
Countryside Hotels has announced an advertising campaign that involves the marital status of its prospective guests. The company will refund the money to couples who, within 12 months after staying at one of their hotels, are divorced. Company spokeswoman Anna Madsen was confident that there will not be many customers who can take advantage of the offer because “we have welcomed many couples in our hotels and we have seen how beneficial it can be to dedicate time to each other.”
The aim of the campaign is to “make people understand how important it is to bet on the relationship and invest time in it before it is too late.” The offer will apply to all married couples when they sleep in the same room and make the reservation under a “guarantee of the relationship.” If they split in the next 12 months, they will receive a refund for two hotel nights, as long as they attach the divorce papers as evidence.
Headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden, Countryside chain has more than 40 hotels in its collection
Were you in Berlin? … Some Images from ITB
The Inbound Report’s international editor, Betsy Cooper, joined hundreds of colleagues from the USA in taking part in the world’s largest travel trade gathering—ITB—held recently in Berlin. Here, we share some of her photos from ITB with you.
Visit Houston Shows How Walls Can Unite People
Houston’s tourism bureau, Visit Houston, has launched an exchange program with the Mexico Tourism Board designed to use art to promote travel between the two countries in an era of “Trump talk.”
Among the many artists and chefs involved, for example, is a muralist playing off the theme of walls between the two countries; his murals, being painted on walls across Mexico, are “an opportunity to use walls to unite people and bring them together,” Visit Houston’s senior vice president of tourism, Jorge Franz, told the trade publication Travel Market Report during Mexico’s Tianguis Turistico held March 27-30 in Acapulco.
United Airlines has extensive service between Houston—one of its major hubs—and cities throughout Mexico. It is the city’s number one international source market, Franz said. More than 2 million travelers from Mexico visited Houston in 2015, he noted, spending an average $1,300 per person per trip, triple the spend of the average U.S. visitor.
Even with the negative attitude toward U.S. President Donald Trump on the part of an overwhelming majority of Mexicans, Franz said he expects travel from Mexico to remain flat this year rather than decrease.
In the United States, meanwhile, Houston is “doing a lot of training and fam trips with travel agents interested in investigating a new urban destination” with a blossoming assortment of culinary offerings recently highlighted by popular television journalist Anthony Bourdain.
On Capitol Hill, Industry Tells Congress: “How Many Ways Can you Say Welcome”
More than 300 professionals, managers and executives from all parts of the U.S. travel and tourism industry came to Washington, D.C. last week for “Destination Capitol Hill” and, led by the U.S. Travel Association, held more than 300 meetings with U.S. Senators, Representatives and their staffs in the annual “lobby-in” that had a special message this year: “Welcome Legit Travelers.”
The slogan is designed to emphasize US Travel’s mission—the main part of it is to promote and facilitate travel to the U.S. from abroad—midst concerns that a U.S. government focus on traveler security and keeping potential terrorists from entering the United States will discourage international travel to America.
To illustrate the message, travel and tourism industry visitors to Capitol Hill distributed custom “Welcome Legit Travelers” mouse pads to lawmakers that, US Travel said, emphasized “security is key, but it must be balanced with strong messages of welcome to legitimate international business and leisure travelers.”
“In the wake of executive orders on travel and immigration,” the statement added, “tough new visa vetting practices and the introduction of an electronic devices ban on some Middle East-based flights to the U.S., the travel industry has mobilized around the need for balanced communication and travel facilitation in addition to strengthened security.”
The statement added, “The travel community is encouraging policymakers to mitigate the possible unintended fallout of aggressive security steps with policies that bolster international travel–for example, preserving Open Skies aviation agreements and supporting Brand USA.”
Roger Dow, president and CEO of US Travel, explained that the travel industry “supports efforts to secure travel, but recent policy changes require extra effort to facilitate travel for legitimate international visitors,” and noting that the record attendance at Destination Capitol Hill demonstrates our industry’s passion and dedication to keeping the U.S. an attractive, welcoming place for people to visit and invest.”
“Security and travel facilitation are not, and cannot be mutually exclusive,” stressed Dow, who has said in a number of statements that the USA is “closed to terror” but “open for business.”
New Air Service—from China to Pittsburgh, and More …
Caissa Touristic, a Chinese-German tour operator that organizes and manages group, individual, theme and business travel to and from China, is scheduled to begin nonstop charter flights from China to Pittsburgh International Airport this year under a three-year partnership agreement announced last week.
As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the start date for the flights and the frequency of the service are still being finalized, said Bob Kerlik, a spokesman for the Allegheny County Airport Authority.
Kerlik did not know whether Caissa will fly into Pittsburgh on a seasonal or year-round basis. Pittsburgh will be the first North American market to be served through the operator, he added. Caissa Touristic is headquartered in Hamburg, with offices in Munich, Frankfurt, Paris, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Changchun and Dalian.
—British Airways began flights from London Heathrow to New Orleans on March 27, with a four-times-a- weekly service schedule. The service will increase to five times weekly beginning Oct. 30. This is the 21st U.S. destination served by BA from Heathrow.†
—On March 21st, Hainan Airlines began twice-weekly non-stop flights from Chongqing to Los Angeles. The 7,143-mile sector will be flown using the airline’s 787-8s and departs the Chinese city on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 9:15 p.m. with LAX departures on the following days at 6:30 a.m. (This route was announced just a week after the carrier launched flights from Chengdu to LAX.†
—KLM last week extended its network from Amsterdam by launching flights to four new cities on three different continents. One of them flies to Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) in the USA. The 4,152-mile route route to Minneapolis-St. Paul is also flown by Delta Air Lines—both are Sky Team members.†
—On March 26, Virgin Atlantic Airways began its newest route from London Heathrow to Seattle-Tacoma. Virgin has taken over from partner carrier Delta Air Lines on the 7,699-kilometre route, and will add another 53 seats daily one way on the rotation, yielding another 38,690 seats. Seattle-Tacoma becomes Virgin Atlantic’s ninth US route from Heathrow, with it joining the likes of Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York’s JFK and Newark, San Francisco and Washington Dulles. The airline also serves Las Vegas and Orlando from London Gatwick and Manchester, along with short seasonal services from Glasgow and Belfast International.†
† Source: anna.aero
Thanks to Strong Dollar, Canada Starts 2017 on a Roll
Data for the month of January 2017 show that all 11 of the 11 target international markets for Destination Canada registered healthy increases in arrivals versus January 2016. And last year was a near-record year for international visitation to Canada. With 19.98 million international overnight arrivals, 2016 saw the second highest number of arrivals in Canadian history, falling only four-tenths of a percent short of the record high set in 2002 (20.06 million).
Meanwhile, Destination Canada is going to give special focus on India in 2017. A market that has grown steadily in size for the past six years—actually doubling in size during this period—it is expected to generate continued double-digit percentage growth in 2017, especially with the launch of Air Canada service to Mumbai beginning in July 2017.
HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Wendy Knight, a longtime public relations consultant, has been named commissioner of the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing. Gov. Phil Scott made the announcement. Knight has more than 20 years experience in public relations, and once served as acting executive director for Cigna in Northern New England. Knight succeeds Megan Smith, who had served for six years under the state’s previous governor, Peter Shumlin.
Ralf Horter (left) is retiring from his post as chief commercial officer of Germany’s largest tour operator, TUI, is in order to have more private time in his life, but he remains a member of TUI’s supervisory board. Succeeding Horter will be Marek Andryszak,(right) perating officer who also remains head of the TUI subsidiary L’Tur, which specializes in last-minute holidays.
Andrew Botterill, dnata Travel Europe’s chief executive for its business-to-business brands is scheduled to step down this summer, indicating that he would like to spend more time with his family over the summer before moving on to a new opportunity. Botterill, who has been with the company for 17 years led the sale of Stella Travel Services UK to dnata in October 2014 and has spent the last 24 months leading the strategic review and integration of dnata’s B2B brands including Gold Medal Travel.
The San Angelo, Texas Chamber of Commerce has announced the appointment of Diann Bayes as vice president of its CVB. Bayes, who was chosen from among 75 candidates to replace Pamela Miller in the post, was most recently senior vice president of membership services for the Texas Travel and Tourism Industry Association in Austin. Bayes has worked in the industry for more than 20 years, with previous managerial positions at CVBs in Texas and Kansas.
At Thomas Cook, Ingo Burmester will officially take up the position of CEO Hotels & Resorts in May. Burmeister, who headed TUI’s Robinson clubs for five years and who had been with TUI since 2000, will be responsible for developing Cook’s own-brand hotel activities. The group currently has some 200 concept hotels which trade under brands such as Sentido, Smartline, Sunwing and Casa Cook.