Chinese Government Tries to Curb Unseemly and Rude Behavior by Chinese Tourists
Apparently having had endured enough accounts of bad behavior abroad by Chinese travelers abroad, the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) announced that it will begin tacking the “uncivilized” behavior of Chinese tourists to create a “communications and accountability mechanism” that would have CNTA reporting the names of such individuals to tour operators, travel agents and other travel suppliers to help them determine whether it would be appropriate to sell tickets to tourists with a record of bad behavior while traveling.
Li Jinzao, chairman of CNTA, also said the tourism agency would publish photographs and videos of undesirable conduct by Chinese tourists as part of a national information campaign promoting “civilized” behavior. And, he explained, text messages would be sent to tourists when they arrived at their destinations, reminding them to observe good manners.
The action comes in the wake of recent episodes in which Chinese travelers have defaced priceless archaeological works, urinated in public, consumed endangered sea species, failed to observe the practice of queuing when traveling in groups and been involved in some highly publicized incidents of “traveler rage.” Just two months ago, in December, a group of Chinese tourists made a Bangkok-to-Nanjing Air Asia flight turn around in midflight and return to the airport after one of the group of four threw scalding hot water at flight attendant and another threatened to blow up the plane. During the same week, there were reports that another group of Chinese tourists had pushed over a barricade protecting a famous mural in the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
All of these instances of rude behavior occurred despite the government’s best efforts to discourage it. In October 2013, CNTA published an information packet a 64-page Guide to Civilized Tourism and Travel. The guidebook featured helpful illustrations with captions such as: “Don’t spit phlegm or gum, throw litter, urinate or defecate wherever you feel like it. Don’t cough, sneeze or pick your nose or teeth in front of others.” The booklet also advised Chinese travelers not to: lie down in public, go out with disheveled hair and a dirty face, or remove one’s shoes and socks.
The speculation on the part of most U.S. travel suppliers is that the “uncivilized” behavior cited above will not disappear in the near future as more millions of middle-class, travel-ready Chinese make their first trips abroad. Unlike travelers from other large source-markets, Chinese do not have a long history of international travel; realistically speaking, the market is actually a little more than a decade old.
What’s Going on with Hotel Rates in New York City?
Last year, market-wide, the average daily rate increased “only” 1.8 percent; December revenue per available room declined 0.4 percent; and the research firm STR’s most recent pipeline report counts 13,000 rooms under construction, so there is a bit of trepidation surrounding the 2015 market performance.
Part of what spurred the question is the following table showing absolute levels of occupancy for San Francisco and New York City for the full-year 2014 with the corresponding ADR growth:
|San Francisco/San Mateo, Calif.||84.10%||10.90%|
|New York City||84.80%||1.80%|
San Francisco May Put a Muzzle on the Talking Tour Bus Driver
San Francisco May End the Days of the Talking Tour Bus Driver: a move that could have far-reaching consequences should other municipalities elsewhere in the U.S. embrace the idea, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has introduced legislation that would prohibit bus drivers from narrating tours while driving. Introduction of the proposed measure follows a fatal accident last October in which a motorized cable car tour bus struck and killed a female city employee who was crossing the street just outside City Hall in San Francisco, allegedly by a driver who was distracted.
Supervisor Norman Yee, who introduced the legislation, explained that driving a tour bus around San Francisco is more complex than driving a regular vehicle, which is why drivers of tour bus drivers need to concentrate on driving instead of narrating while driving, adding that distracted drivers poses a significant risk of injuries or death to motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists: “According to the California Traffic Safety Survey in 2013, 36 percent of Californians surveyed thought that talking while driving posed a the biggest safety problems on California roadways and nearly 70 percent of California drivers surveyed said they had been hit or nearly hit by a driver who was talking or texting.”
The 2015 Trade Show Showdown
The 2015 Trade Show Showdown–NTA vs. ABA Events Held Less than One Week Apart: NAJ, the parent company of INBOUND, recently attended both the ABA and NTA 2015 trade shows, which took place less than a week apart. Although they don’t admit it, the leadership of NTA and its Travel Exchange and the American Bus Association (ABA) and its Marketplace are competing with one another tooth-and-nail for the attention and participation of the same operators and suppliers. Impressions and highlights from the two events follow.
- The ABA Marketplace, held Jan. 10-13 in St. Louis, was declared a success by 80 percent of the sellers we met with; they appreciate the clear focus of the show and the fact that it is designed so that sellers can get in and out in two days, should they wish to do so. Domestic operators, in general, reported consistently stronger sales results for 2014, although the increases over 2013 seemed surprisingly low given the strong stock market and buoyant economy, and they believe that 2015 will be even stronger. Several told us that their business was flat—but that was fine with them because they didn’t want to work that hard to build it.
- The student tour market has rebounded strongly after a post-2008 slump, as parents view learning by travel as an investment in their children’s future and are willing to explore creative fundraising ideas for student tours or actually finance the trips themselves. ABA seemed to have the edge for this market segment.
- While there were several large tour operator companies at ABA Marketplace, the show is primarily comprised of mom-and-pop buyers and motorcoach companies that have created tour divisions to increase utilization of their fleets when they are not engaged in charter business. They are very open to meeting with new destinations and suppliers but, realistically, their primarily challenge is in marketing their tours. According to most of the DMO’s and suppliers we spoke with, ABA operators rarely deliver more than one or two groups a year to a destination. But in an industry segment where the ROI is measured by the number of contacts generated and the quantity of appointments consummated, leads can be more important than the materialized groups itself when justifying one’s attendance. And no one goes hungry at ABA.
- The Moveable Feast—the ABA Comfort Food Court trough is always open. Were the two shows simply evaluated on free-food-grazing for attendees, it would be no contest. We don’t know how or when it started, but, over the years, the ABA Marketplace has become a comfort (aka junk) food court where exhibitors tempt buyers with snacks found nowhere on the heart-healthy foods list of the American Heart Association. Maybe attendees were trying to sate hunger pangs before they walked into the first luncheon served at the St. Louis Convention Center, where clearly half the people at our table left after the first bite. Moving from booth to booth, there was: Minnesota grilling spam; Wisconsin slicing and dicing cheese; Connecticut with a potato chip sampling operation; Atlantic City hedging bets with two types of popcorn; and Texas distributing Coke and other soft drinks, while others offered pecan pie, chocolate bars, candy and, of course, the crowd favorite, ice cream scooped by Wyndham sales executives.
- NTA—A Work In Progress with no Progress: “For the past five years, NTA has been a work-in-progress with no progress.” That’s how one supplier described the association’s state of affairs at its Travel Exchange–an unwieldy collection of events that combines the NTA Annual Convention, the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) Expo and the Faith Travel Association (FTA) Annual Conference—held Jan. 18-22 in New Orleans. The fact is the once dominant association has been trying to move forward since the CrossSphere rebranding debacle by experimenting with both international outbound and Chinese inbound receptive operators, new dates, and co-locating its show with UMA which created a muddled purpose and failed to gain acceptance with many suppliers and DMOs.
- Held less than a week apart from ABA’s show, this year’s Travel Exchange brought out many fairly senior executives who wanted to be present to evaluate the show for participation in the future. Even longstanding NTA stalwarts reported that they were confused about the direction in which organization is headed.
- NTA’s board recruited Pam Inman, former executive vice president and chief operating officer of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA), as the new president who, in earlier interviews stated that she was hired because of her experience in association change. (Before her tenure with AH&LA, she had served for nearly five years as president and CEO of the Tennessee Hotel & Lodging Association.) She‘s been aboard at NTA since last September. During the NTA business meeting following the show’s opening breakfast, Inman announced several initiatives that were greeted favorably by many attendees we spoke with.
- The first, and most significant, was that the organization is moving the show back to a November or December date next year, essentially having two shows that fall in the calendar year 2016. This move will also terminate the co-location relationship with UMA after the third year as the November timing is not advantageous for them. Inman then announced that she would propose changes in the bylaws that would infuse the president with more authority. For the past few years, the newly elected NTA volunteer chairman, served as the face of the organization, representing NTA at various functions and speaking engagements while the president remained in Lexington minding the store.
- In 2015, this may change, especially since the new chairman for the first time is an Argentinean tour operator, Jorge Cazenave, general manager of Buenos Aires-based Cazenave Argentina for whom any trip to U.S. destinations outside of a gateway can be an all day ordeal. To Inman’s credit, she seemed to be accessible and omnipresent at Travel Exchange, while NTA’s previous president, Lisa Simon, seemed as if she were in the witness protection program ensconced in important meetings.
- News that NTA would be more welcoming to travel agents caused many suppliers and DMOs to wince, as that is usually handled by another department and means crossing over into someone else’s silo. While the pool of traditional tour operators is dwindling, the market for new operators seem to be emerging from new sources with an existing infrastructure to reach consumers that fall outside the traditional tour and travel industry. The motorcoach owners—as evidenced at ABA this year—are becoming the new channel of distribution for smaller and mid-size destinations and suppliers with over-the-road product. In this world, the lowly travel agent may emerge as a primary future source of escorted tours as the customer base for senior center group leaders die off. And with the U.S. dollar gaining 20 percent against the Euro, interest in Europe this year will surely increase for the coming summer season and travel agents may find more interest in groups.
- The main challenges for NTA’s Travel Exchange are twofold:
- How to grow the international outbound segment of the business grow in a way that doesn’t alienate its core domestic suppliers and DMOs who have provided the bulk of the association’s funding.
- How to differentiate itself from the ABA Marketplace.
One idea may be to “hide” the outbound portion of the show from the domestic suppliers by dedicating one day that focuses solely on outbound travel that domestic suppliers and DMO’s could avoid. During a brief conversation in the press room at the show, Inman was asked about her vision for the future of the association. She stated she was only in the job six months, but she had experience turning around her previous association and is not afraid to institute changes. She also maintained that there was only a 20 percent overlap among buyers at the two shows and that suppliers could be selling NTA operators differently than they do ABA operators. (We met two attractions who were doing just that. Showing ABA operators “entry level” basic information from a motorcoach operator’s perspective—parking, driver perks, etc.—while being more collaborative with NTA operators about actual experiential product development.)
- At a press conference, however, Inman did lay out the NTA’s legislative priorities for 2015. She said the organization will be working toward initiatives that will contribute to or help with transportation infrastructure modernization, the Visa Waiver Program, the centennial of U.S. National Parks next year, travel to Cuba and the NTA’s China Inbound Program.
- The Faith Travel Association—was it a Hail Mary Pass? This year there was speculation as to how NTA would integrate its new Faith Travel Association (FTA), an organization that was launched by the NTA at last year’s Travel Exchange and that now has 189 registered members, including 43 travel agents. This year, the FTA had its own area on the NTA trade show floor, with 18 exhibitors on the first day of the conference, dedicated to FTA seminars and programming. However, the organization had difficulty in attracting domestic worship leaders and church ministers who have the ability to pre-form groups from their base of churchgoers. Exhibitors told us that most of the buyers they met seemed interested in outbound Holy Land programs.
- When NTA announced that its November 2016 show would end the co-location with the UMA show, the response of many suppliers was: “Amen.” The two shows didn’t really seem to fit together either practically or culturally. While UMA attendees were focused on buying hardware—equipment–NTA sellers were selling software in the form of tour itineraries and ideas.
Market Snapshot – Australia
U.S. Secure as Australia’s Favorite Long-Haul Market: The latest data furnished by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that the U.S. remains the favorite long-haul destination for Australian travelers. A decade ago, the UK was the favored English-speaking destination of choice for long-haul Aussie travelers. The U.S. became the new number one within a couple of years and has since maintained that position. One might suggest that the stronger Australian dollar had something to do with the change—it increased in value from mid-June 2004 to mid-June 2014 by 35 percent—but the value of the Aussie dollar increased even more during the same period, 45 percent, vs. the British pound sterling.
It is more likely that some Australians have foregone travel to the UK for two reasons: the doubling of the latter’s Air Passenger Duty (APD), which is assessed on every traveler departing by air from the UK. The APD for the trip from the UK to Australia is the highest—£92 ($150+) per person; and the targeting of Australia as a key market in the promotional campaigns of Brand USA.
The following table shows the top ten destination countries for short-term† (less than a year) resident departures in 2003-04 compared with 2013-14. New Zealand remained the most popular destination in 2013-14, with Australians making 1.2 million journeys there. Of the top ten destination countries in the year ending June 2014, short-term resident departures to India recorded the strongest growth over the ten year period, with a percentage change of 321.3 percent. It was followed by Indonesia (266.1 percent), and Malaysia (247.9 percent).
Short Term Residential Departures
|Destination Countries||Departures (000s)|
* For the 12-month period ending with June 2004
** Includes Isle of Man and Channel Islands
SOURCE: Australian Bureau of Statistics
Short Term Residential Departures
|Destination Country||Departures (000s)||Percent Change 03/04 to 13/14|
* For the 12-month period ending with June 2004
** Includes Isle of Man and Channel Islands
SOURCE: Australian Bureau of Statistics
Distances between Sydney and favorite long-haul destination gateways: Sydney to London—10,552.7 miles; Sydney to Los Angeles—7,497.5 miles; Sydney to Beijing—5,556.3 miles; Sydney to Bangkok— 4,677 miles; Sydney to Jakarta—3,412.6 miles; Sydney to Auckland—1,339 miles.
HODGE PODGE: People, Promotions, Places and Product News Bytes
Jay Gray has left his post as vice president, global market development, for Brand USA. Gray, who joined the agency in 2011 from the U.S. Travel Association, is moving to Moscow, Russia, where he his wife was transferred as a part of her job. Gray, who also has a firm called Gray Matter, will continue to consult for Brand USA until the organization finds a replacement for his position.
Patricia Denny is the new international tourism development manager for the Port Of Seattle. She takes over for B.J. Stokey, who retired last October to Santa Fe, N.M. after 31 years of promoting Seattle. Denny comes to the post from her work as an active member and former vice president of the Utah Tour Guide Association. She also served as manager, travel trade program in the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
Tui UK and Ireland has promoted Jill Carter as the new director of retail, where she leads the transformation of the retail business across the 649 shops in the UK and Ireland. She will report into customer operations director, Fraser Ellacott. Carter joined Tui UK and Ireland in 1991 and moved quickly through the retail leadership team first as a regional sales manager, then as a divisional sales manager and, most recently, as head of sales.
Lauren Himle (何乐伦 ), has left her position as a tourism account executive at Mall of America, where she worked on the attraction’s APAC marketing initiatives and represented it at international travel shows in China, Japan, S. Korea, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand, and has joined the Shanghai office of Ecolob—it is headquartered in St. Paul, Minn.—as sales development manager.
Jessica Banchs has been named vice president of sales for Orlando-based Globo International Tours. She comes to the job from NuWorld Events, where she served as vice president, sales and sponsorships consultant. Previously, she had been manager of international sales for JetBlue Airways.
Patricia S. McNally has left her position as director of partner services at Brand USA, returning to her eponymous consultancy business, which she has tended to for more than six years. McNally is a long-time veteran in communications, public relations and strategic planning in both the private and public sector, especially with travel and tourism industry issues. Her CV includes a five-year tenure with the old U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration, where she served as an international tourism market and promotion specialist.
Matt Gaffney president and CEO of Capital Region USA, has been named to a 21-member LGBT Tourism Task Force appointed by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to develop marketing strategies that will strengthen the state’s share of the LBGT market. The task force will be reviewing successful campaigns—both domestic and international—in developing its strategies and proposals. Gaffney, who has headed Capital Region USA for nearly 14 years, had previously served for more than decade as vice president, worldwide sales and marketing, for the Virginia Tourism Corporation.
Kuoni Group Travel Experts has appointed Rodrigo Ferreira as commercial director for Latin America. Based in Sao Paulo, Ferreira joins Kuoni from CVC, where he had served as international product manager for Asia, Africa, Middle East, Oceania and European Circuits.