Which Are the Top 50 Operators in the UK?
While online travel companies not even known a decade ago continue to grow in size and presence in the tour operator business in the UK, TUI’s UK operation remains by far the largest in the country, according to the latest Atol filings. Atol (Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing) protection is the most reliable measure of a travel company’s size through the number of passengers it is authorized to process. Most companies renew their Atol licensing in March or September, with the biggest brands tending to renew in the autumn, according to the travel trade publication TTG, which reported on the Atol license renewals. As TTG explained, The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) also regularly updates information about the number of passengers an Atol-holder is licensed to carry as companies adjust numbers according to forecasts, so these new figures are the most accurate guide to the size of travel brands available.
Some interesting notes from TTG on the Atol renewals include the following:
- The latest renewal brings the total number of Atol-protected packages to 27.1 million, an increase of 807,000 on the same point last year
- Tui has increased its Atol authorization by 573,000 seats in the past year, taking the number of passengers it is licensed to carry up to 5.3 million, meaning that its top spot could not be challenged even if its two biggest competitors merged.
- Thomas Cook could be close to giving up its title as the UK’s second-biggest tour operator if Jet2holidays’ expansion continues. A charter air operation that launched its own online holiday booking service just a decade ago, Jet2holidays has increased it authorized passenger number by more than 30 percent in one year and is close to overtaking Thomas Cook as the UK’s number two operator. The nation’s oldest tour operator, Thomas Cook has held the number two spot for more than a decade.
- The brand that seems to have taken the industry by surprise is loveholidays.com, in eighth place among the country’s Top 50 operators; two years ago it was No. 23.
Under “Extreme Vetting,” Who Will be forced to turn over Their Cell Phones upon Arrival?
“Extreme Vetting” Proposals Causing Industry Extreme Angst: An estimated 200,000 visitors to the United States would be asked to turn over their cellphones to U.S. Customs and Borders Protection (CBP) agents and to answer questions regarding passwords and political ideology should the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) implement new measures that have been floated by DHS as a part of the Trump Administration’s proposed “Extreme Vetting” of overseas travelers to the USA.
Though no official proposal has been announced by DHS, widely circulated reports in the news media suggest that “extreme vetting” options for overseas visitors to the USA include the examining of cell phone contacts, pictures, social media passwords, and financial data. And the Wall Street Journal has reported that that DHS is also looking into ideological questionnaires for foreign travelers, including their views on the treatment of women and military targeting decisions.
The legal authority to do so seems be there. “There’s a theoretical legal basis for the vetting proposals: because there’s no inherent legal or constitutional right for foreigners (other than lawful permanent residents) to visit the U.S.,” wrote Noah Feldman in a piece for Bloomberg News, adding, “There’s nothing wrong with conditioning entry on disclosure of private information.” Feldman also suggested that the proposals might affect U.S. citizens as well, noting that, “Under long-standing Supreme Court precedent, the right against warrantless search and seizure doesn’t apply when you’re entering or leaving the country.”
At a hearing of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee, after Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) was sharply critical of the possibility that travelers would be asked to turn over their cellphones to CBP agents, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) asked DHS Secretary John Kelly about how many travelers would be affected, Kelly estimated that one-half of one percent of travelers would have their phones inspected.
According to our calculation, one-half of one percent of the 40 million overseas travelers that the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office estimates will visit the United States in 2017 is 200,000. While this number is indeed a fraction of the total, the mere notion that visitors would be asked to turn over their phones and submit to questioning has produced a torrent of criticism from right and left and from U.S. citizens and prospective visitors from abroad.
Of all of the comments we’ve seen, one, in particular gives voice to what the U.S. inbound tourism industry fears: Susan Hall, a lawyer who heads up the technology and intellectual property team at the law firm of Clarke Willmott, which has offices through the UK, told The Guardian: “In the short to medium term, I think the answer is going to be avoiding all but absolutely essential travel to the United States.”
Collette Vacations Repositions as “Trade-Friendly Tour Operator”
UK Escorted tour operator Collette has announced four appointments that completed a new sales team designed to position the company as a “trade-friendly tour operator.”
They are (above, left to right) Cheryl Thompson, who has had experience at Wendy Wu Tours and Hoseasons, is business development manager for Central England; Faye Anderson, who has worked for Thomas Cook and bed bank Medhotels, is business development manager for Southern England; Amanda Elgie, who has joined Collette from AmaWaterways, is business development manager for the North of England and Scotland; and Priti Gadhia, formerly with the Trinidad and Tobago Tourist Board, takes on the newly created role of business development manager specializing in the groups market.
Why Did the USA Drop from No. 4 to No. 6 in Popularity as a Global Destination?
In the wake of the release of the World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017, professionals in the Visit USA travel and tourism industry have been scratching their heads in befuddlement over the news in the report that the United States slipped from No. 4 its competitiveness ranking in the last Competitiveness Report in 2015 to No. 6 in the new report. In the way that most news channels reported the findings, however, the shift meant a decline in “popularity.” In reality, the ranking means that, given the complex rating system† that measures 14 different factors, the United States needs to do some work in order to improve its already high standing (6th out of 136 nations studied).
A strong dollar is what really hurt the USA’s overall competitiveness—not its popularity—over the past two years vs. the Euro and other currencies. This is evident in the fact that the USA remain mired in the bottom 25 percent in the category of price competitiveness for the second consecutive report—ranking 106th out of 136 national economies this year vs. 128th out of 138 national economies in the 2015 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report.
Overall, the report presents a strong profile of the United States, although improvement in some areas is needed: “The United States has the most travel-and-tourism competitive economy in the Americas and ranks 6th globally, two places lower than in the previous edition.
“Environmental sustainability performance remains poor (115th, down 1 place), with the country losing some ground on forestry and water management. At the same time, security concerns (84th) relating to terrorism threats, lack of improvement and maintenance of ground infrastructure (26th), and insufﬁcient environmental sustainability need to be addressed. Investing in more modern ground infrastructure and improving environmental protection are, therefore, key to maximizing the development outcomes of the travel and tourism sector in the United States.”
The aim of the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index is to provide a comprehensive strategic tool for measuring the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the travel and tourism sector, which in turn, contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country. By providing detailed assessments of the travel and tourism environments of countries worldwide, the results can be used by all stakeholders to work together to improve the industry’s competitiveness in their national economies. It also allows countries to track their progress over time in the various areas measured.
Key Overall Findings: There are four key findings emerge from the results of the 2017 edition of the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report.
—First, travel and tourism competitiveness is improving, especially in developing countries and particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. As the industry continues to grow, an increasing share of international visitors are coming from and travel to emerging and developing nations.
—Second, in an increasingly protectionist context—one that is hindering global trade—the T&T industry continues building bridges rather than walls between people, as made apparent by increasing numbers of people travelling across borders and global trends toward adopting less restrictive visa policies.
—Third, in light of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, connectivity has increasingly become a must-have for countries as they develop their digital strategy.
—Finally, despite the growing awareness of the importance of the natural environment to tourism growth, the travel and tourism sector faces enormous difficulties in developing sustainably, as natural degradation proceeds on a number of fronts.
† The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index Explained: The TCI measures four broad factors of competitiveness. These factors are organized into subindexes, which are further divided into 14 pillars:
The Enabling Environment subindex, which captures the general settings necessary for operating in a country:
- Business Environment
- Safety and Security
- Health and Hygiene
- Human Resources and Labor Market
- ICT Readiness
The Travel and Tourism Policy and Enabling Conditions subindex, which captures specific policies or strategic aspects that impact the T&T industry more directly:
- Prioritization of Travel and Tourism
- International Openness
- Price Competitiveness
- Environmental Sustainability
The Infrastructure subindex, which captures the availability and quality of physical infrastructure of each economy:
- Air Transport Infrastructure
- Ground and Port Infrastructure
- Tourist Service Infrastructure
The Natural and Cultural Resources subindex, which captures the principal “reasons to travel”:
- Natural Resources
- Cultural Resources and Business Travel
The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness 2017 Framework
Overall Ranking of 136 Nations
|Economic Rank||Country||Score||Change Since 2015||Economic Rank||Country||Score||Change Since 2015|
|5||United Kingdom||5.2||0||73||Trinidad and Tobago||3.67||-4|
|11||Hong Kong SAR||4.86||2||79||Philippines||3.6||-5|
|25||Iceland||4.5||-7||93||Iran, Islamic Rep.||3.43||4|
|29||United Arab Emirates||4.49||-5||97||Rwanda||3.36||1|
|45||Bulgaria||4.15||4||113||Bosnia and Herzegovia||3.12||n/a|
|63||Saudi Arabia||3.82||1||131||Sierra leone||2.69||1|
|65||Morocco||3.81||-3||133||Congo, Democratic Rep||2.64||n/a|
Tucson Looks to Tap into Medical Tourism from Neighboring Mexico
Just a little more than 70 miles from the U.S. border with Mexico, Tucson’s health care and tourism establishments are embarking on a campaign to make the city a better known healthcare and wellness destination for international visitors, particularly Mexican families with enough disposable income to pay for medical care in the United States.
The multi-faced effort will include a website in Spanish and concierge services to help tourists find the health care they need. “Tucson’s healthcare sector is one of our strengths,” Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said in a statement reported by the Arizona Daily Star. “This new association will help promote Tucson as a health care and wellness destination to international visitors.”
Heading up the effort is the Tucson Health Association—a group that includes Visit Tucson, Banner Health, the Carondelet Health Network, Northwest Medical Center and Tucson Medical Center. It hopes to entice tourists to come to the city for elective, nonemergency services.
Certain areas in the United States have already established medical campuses that provide a wide gamut of elective health care services, and they have worked with local tourism offices in their promotions, since most surgery requires periods of recuperation and follow-up visits. A stay in the USA can easily last several weeks and, often, the patient seeking surgery is accompanied by family members. All of this translates into a large number of room nights as well as significant per capita spend at a destination’s restaurants, attractions and entertainment venues.
Josef Woodman, CEO of the North Carolina-based Patients Beyond Borders, told the Daily Star that approximately 250,000 medical tourists come to the U.S. for treatment each year and spend as much as $40,000 per patient.
One factor contributing to the growth of the medical tourism sector in the USA has been the growth of more generous health care plans abroad—plans that cover the kind of elective, non-essential medical care for which the U.S. is known.
However, says Felipe Garcia, executive vice president of Visit Tucson, although some Mexican insurers will pay for certain procedures in the U.S., the Tucson Health Association expects most visitors will likely pay out-of-pocket for the procedures.
“If your patient needs a certain procedure we have in the U.S., we’ll take care of it in Tucson, do the surgery and then we’ll send the patient back to Mexico where the provider there can take the next step with recovery,” Garcia said.
New Air Service Announced this Week
—Beginning April 10th, Austrian Airlines has been flying to Los Angeles (LAX). The carrier offers five weekly flights on a 6,120-mile route from Vienna. Austrian already operates flights to Chicago O’Hare, Miami, Washington Dulles and two airports in New York. Los Angeles is the fourth new destination in the US to be added to Austrian’s network during the last four years, along with Chicago, New York Newark and Miami. The route to Los Angeles will face no direct competition. With this launch, Austrian now flies to six airports in the U.S. on 28 weekly flights according to OAG schedules. †
—After a two-and-a-half year hiatus, Virgin Australia Airlines resumed flights between Melbourne and Los Angeles (LAX) on April 4. The 7,923-mile flight will be served by the airline five times weekly, up from the three-times-a-week it served in 2014. The airline also serves Los Angeles from Brisbane and Sydney. †
—On April 7, WestJet launched flights between St. John’s, Newfoundland and Tampa, Florida. The low-cost carrier weekly lights on Fridays for the 2,094-mile route WestJet now serves two airports in Florida from St. John’s, with Tampa joining Orlando which is also served weekly (Saturdays). For Tampa, this becomes WestJet’s fourth connection to the Floridian airport, with it already linking Tampa with Halifax, Ottawa and Toronto Pearson. †
—Iceland’s WOW air launched flights to its eighth destination in North America on April 5th, 3,659-mile connection between Reykjavik/Keflavik and Miami International. The route will be flown three times weekly (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) facing no direct competition. According to the airport, this is Miami’s first-ever service to Iceland. WOW already serves Baltimore/Washington, Boston, Los Angeles, New York Newark and San Francisco in the USA, as well as Montreal and Toronto Pearson in Canada. †
—Update on airberlin service from Germany to California: Due to the continued ground handling problems at Berlin-Tegel Airport, the start date for the Berlin–San Francisco routes will be postponed from 1 May to 29 May 2017. Air Berlin had recently changed the service provider in Berlin. Since 26 March 2017 AeroGround, a wholly owned subsidiary of Flughafen München, is responsible for ground handling services. The other U.S.-bound flight from Tegel, the Berlin – Los Angeles route, is set to start operating from the middle of May – twice a week.
† Source: anna.aero
Five Things You Need to Know about China’s FITs
David Becker, CEO of Attract China, the New York-and-Beijing headquartered company that helps businesses and DMOs with marketing and promoting to the outbound Chinese travel market, will be a featured speaker at NAJ’s RTO Summit East next month (May 14-15) in New York.
Becker will discuss “Five Things You Need to Know about Digital Marketing to Reach Chinese FITs:
- What Channels do Chinese Travelers use to search for travel information?
- What websites do Chinese tourists use to book travel?
- What’s the difference between We Chat personal vs We Chat Commercial Platform?
- Strategies to construct an affordable digital marketing strategy in China
- What are the key ROI or KPI (Key Performance Indicators) to use?
Following up on Becker’s China focus in the day-long program of presentations and discussions will be Sally Berry, tourism sales and marketing manager, Corning Museum of Glass, who will address “How Attractions Sellers are Using We Chat and Weibo to Target Chinese Consumers.” Berry, who has worked to dramatically increase the number of Chinese visitors to the Museum of Glass, located in Corning, NY, has considerable experience in using both We Chat and Weibo in marketing and promoting the attraction.
For the full agenda for next month’s RTO Summit East, click on: http://www.rtosummit.com/east/agenda/.
The NAJ Group, publisher of the Inbound Report, thanks Tanya Leader, vice president of sales, St. Tammany Parish Tourist & Convention Commission—the New Orleans North Shore—for being an RTO Summit luncheon sponsor.
Farm to Chopsticks: USA Targets Chinese Foodies
The U.S. Foreign Commercial Service in Beijing and the U.S. Embassy in China have just launched a social media contest in China that promotes food tourism in the United States. Dubbed the “American Foodie Tour,” it encourages Chinese social media users to upload their best photos of U.S. regional cuisine to Weibo, with the best photo each week winning a prize, as well as entering the “grand prize” drawing that will conclude the contest in May.
The contest was launched with a three-hour event on April 14 in Beijing and attracted more than 10,000 social media viewers. It will also feature bi-weekly trivia contests with additional prizes related to food and travel in the United States. Regions featured in the contest are: the U.S. West/Northwest; Southwest, Midwest, South/Southeast and Northeast
The contest, as reported in Jing Daily, involves a wide spectrum of sponsors from the U.S. travel and tourism industry, as well as U.S. companies operating in China, runs until May 19. It is designed to promote regional cuisines. Each week the contest will be dedicated to a particular region in the United States. Social media users are encouraged to submit their own photos of a dish from the region, including the name of the dish, as well as where it comes from. Contest entries are judged by a panel of judges from both the U.S. Embassy in China, as well as representatives working in the Chinese tourism industry. In total, five regions will be featured in the contest, covering all of the United States.
Officially, the contest takes place on Weibo under the hashtag “#行美国品美食” (“Travel America, Taste Culinary Delicacies”), but the U.S. Embassy and its missions will also be announcing contest events and winners on other Chinese social media platforms, including WeChat. In addition, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, as well the U.S. Consulates in Shenyang, Guangzhou, and Shanghai will host in-person food and travel-related events at their cultural centers, inviting locals to experience and learn about U.S. food, culture, and travel.
Disneyland is the headline sponsors of the contest and is sponsoring its grand prize—a roundtrip to the United States, including a Disneyland vacation package and a stay at the Disneyland Hotel in Florida, as well as entrance tickets to a food and wine festival. Other travel-related sponsors include Brand USA, Delta Air Lines, Hertz, Hawaiian Airlines, Universal Studios, Visit Seattle, Visit Pittsburgh, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, United Airlines, DM Investment, and Galaxy Tour. Additionally, Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks are providing selected contest participants with vouchers for use at their coffee shops in China.
HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Oleg Likhashkin, fomerly hotel contractor for Miki Travel is the new general manager, inbound USA and Canada, for G2 Travel, a wholesaler specializing in group travel to the U.S. which was founded by GTA founder and CEO David Babai in 2011 after his non-compete agreement with GTA expired. Likhashkin is a GTA alumnus, having worked for the company for nine years (2005-2014) before joining Miki.
The São Paulo-based Flytour Group, which sells both domestic and international travel product, has announced the recent hiring of João Carlos Ayres as its new marketing director. He joins the company from the MAPFRE Group, a leading Latin American insurance company, where he was senior director of marketing. Ayres has more than two decades of marketing experience.
Simon Nowroz has been appointed director of marketing for Carlson Wagonlit Travel. Prior to his appointment, Nowroz, a veteran of more than 25 years in the travel and tourism industry, worked for Capital Advisors, a consulting firm specializing in optimizing customer returns that he co-founded. He also led New Ventures for 3 years before taking over the management of Travelport in Asia Pacific for 9 years. He will be based in Minneapolis.
Brian Jemison has left his position as director of sales and marketing at OUE Skyspace LA and returned to the world of professional sports. He has taken on the job of manager, service and retention for the Miami Marlins. Prior to his job with Skyspace, Jemison had senior positions promoting Boston College’s athletic programs, as well as the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.
After 12 years, Adriano Mellenberg has left his position as general manager of Taks Tour Operadora, a tour operator company based in Guarulhos, São Paulo. Mellenberg, who said he would seek new professional challenges related to tourism, can be contacted at email@example.com.
Tim Howe Schröder has left Ryanair, where he served as head of corporate sales and senior marketing manager, to take on the position of vice president, corporate sales for Germany, Austria and Switzerland at Airberlin, which now serves a number of U.S. destinations. Schröder had been at Ryanair for two years. He was previously with Hambuirg-based BCD Travel for more than seven years.