Speculation Runs Rampant Over Imminent Kuoni Sale
The Tour and Travel Industry’s Latest USA Attraction—TourOperatorLand.
Q: What is stubborn and deliberate? A: The UK Recovery
The latest monthly data from the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) tell us that both the overall British economy, as well as the inbound travel market from the UK to North America, are growing at consistent-yet-modest rates of recovery.
Overall, GDP grew by 0.4 percent in Q3 2015, ONS reported, a figure that was revised down from the previously published estimate of 0.5 percent. So far, growth averaged 0.5 percent during the first three quarters of 2015, following growth of 0.7 percent per quarter during 2014. GDP is now 6.1 percent higher than its level prior to the 2008-09 economic downturn and recession.
While it is doubtful that UK annual arrivals to the U.S. will reach the high of 4.7 million registered in 2000, the latest numbers posted for October 2015 for outbound traffic to North America show that—once the final numbers are in—will likely reflect a year-on-year increase in arrivals of four percent or more.
Other Highlights from the latest ONS reports:
—Overall, UK residents made 21.4 million visits abroad in the 3 months to October 2015, an 8 percent increase compared with the 3 months to October 2014.
—Visits to North America in October 2015 were actually down by 10 percent, from October.
—However, Visits to North America, year-on-year for the quarter ending in October rose by three percent.
Also, year-to-date (January thru October), the number of visits to North America by UK residents increased four percent (from 3.310 million to 3.350 million).
UK Resident Visits to North America
August thru October
|Total for Quarter||1,356||1,400|
The Power of TripAdvisor to be Explored and Explained next Month During Digital Day at RTO Summit West
Steve Paganelli, head of destination marketing sales, Americas at TripAdvisor, will be among the featured speakers at next month’s Digital Day at the RTO Summit West (Feb. 17-18) at the Ritz Carlton Marina del Rey, California. Paganelli, himself a former CEO of the Greater New Haven CVB, will discuss “The Power of Trip Advisor” in one of the sessions during the Feb. 17th Digital Day, a full-day digital immersion program targeting traditional international sales professionals. Registration for the event is included with the regular supplier registration fee for the RTO Summit. For more information, visit www.rtosummit.com.
NEW AND INTERESTING
Fishing the Waters off Cape May, New Jersey: For add-ons or day-trips with itineraries revolving about New York City or Philadelphia, the notion of a four-hour fishing trip for individuals or small groups has received some attention of late, thanks to some skillful promoting on the part of Miss Chris Boats, an operation docked at Cape May, N.J. The core product of the company is a four four-hour fishing trip for one—rods included (it retails for $50). The vessel ferries its captain and passengers to deep waters of the Delaware Bay and the near Atlantic in pursuit of fish. Captain Mike Scanlan leads a team of certified captains who tend the till during fishing trips. The crew provides bait and fishing instructions for beginners to prepare them for the expedition. Their prey includes just about anything that’s biting.
For more information, visit http://www.capemayfisherman.com/, or call 609.849.9453
Free! 20 Favorite U.S. Attractions: Here is a list that is partly crowd-sourced. What happened is that Marla Jo Fisher, a staff columnist for the Orange County Register, put together a list in November 2015 of 10 favorite—and free—U.S. attractions. She asked her readers to let her know of their own suggestions for a list, and they responded. Last month, Fisher posted a second list of ten favorites. Most of them welcome groups, while there is usually a charge for parking. We’ve digested the narrative on each site, adding a little of our own here and there. The ranking is not necessarily a true ranking; it merely reflects the order in which they appeared as published.
|Destination/Attraction||Capsule Comment||Contact Info|
|1. Ballard Locks, Seattle||Watch ships being raised and lowered at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. The locks were built to enable boats to sail between saltwater Puget Sound and freshwater lakes To allow the salmon to navigate the same distance, engineers built a fish ladder to help them get through. You can watch through underwater windows||www.friendsoftheballardlocks.org|
|2. Denali National Park Sled Dog Kennels||The only working national park sled dogs in the United States, these animals earn their keep in the winter, patrolling the park with their rangers. In the summer, you can visit their kennels, see a ranger demonstration and even pet and take photos with the dogs..||www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/kennels.htm|
|3. Golden Gate Bridge,||The recently built Strauss Plaza overlook and pavilion offer free, sweeping close-up views of the bridge, along with a visitor center, cafe and gift shop. Its free, though you must pay to park or ride the bus.||www.goldengate.org|
|4. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, Atlanta||Includes several interesting sites, including the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr.; the Ebenezer Baptist Church, important in the civil rights movement, where he and his father preached; and the neighborhood of Sweet Auburn the largest black business district in the segregated South. Nearby is Kings grave site and a fascinating museum. Parking is free.||www.nps.gov/malu|
|5. National Mall, Washington D.C.||From the U.S. Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, the mall covers more than two miles and includes such sites s the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the 500-plus feet high Washington Monument the worlds tallest freestanding structure and ride it elevatorfor free with same-day tickets.||www.nps.gov/nama/index.htm|
|6. National Zoo, Washington DC||Hugely popular with school groups and tour bus groups, it has more than 1,000 animals on exhibit, including its famous pandas on loan from China. The animals live in nice natural groupings here, and the zoo does much worthwhile conservation research.||www.nationalzoon.si.edu|
|7. The Smithsonian Collection||The Smithsonian is not just a single facility, but comprises 19 different facilities, including 11 of which are on the National Mall. (It also includes, by the way, the National Zoo.) Theres something for everyone, including the Air and Space Museum, American history, natural history, fine arts, American Indian and African American history, postal history and more. All free.||www.si.edu|
|8. St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans||Historic site dominates the French Quarter, overlooking Jackson Square. Its the oldest continually operated Roman Catholic cathedral in the U.S., it was built in 1794. and TV shows. Its open daily for self-guided tours 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., and you can attend Mass at noon.||www.stlouiscathedral.org/tours|
|9. Temple Square, Salt Lake City||An interesting look at Mormon history and culture is centered on this 35-acre site, which is considered the Vatican of the Latter-day Saints. You cant go inside the temple unless youre a Mormon, but you can enter the tabernacle. If its Christmastime, come in the late afternoon so you can see the beautiful lights come on. If you have time, go across the street to tour Beehive House Brigham Youngs home.||www.visittemplesquare.com/tours|
|10. USS Arizona Memorial, Honolulu||The self-guided tour of the sunken USS Arizona memorial is free, from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center that chronicles the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Theres a short movie on the attacks, and boat trips to the memorial. The National Park Service releases 1,300 free, same-day walk-in tickets daily, starting at 7 a.m. First come, first served. You must be present to get the tickets. Go early.||www.nps.gov/valr/index.htm|
|11. Point Reyes National Seashore||Located north in Marin County of San Francisco, it includes 80 miles of seashore, offering whale watching, rocky points and a historic lighthouse.Theres no charge to enter or park. The historic Point Reyes Lighthouse has its own visitor center and the main Bear Valley Visitor Center has interesting exhibits and trailheads nearby||www.nps.gov/pore|
|12. Garden of the Gods,||A 1,367-acre nature park with towering red rocks, which offers 15 miles of scenic trails from easy walks to 3-mile hikes. The Perkins Central Garden Trail is an easy paved 1.5-mile loop thats wheelchair and stroller accessible, with less than 30 feet of elevation gain. Admission and parking are free. Also, there are free guided nature walks every day.||www.gardenofgods.com|
|Colorado Springs, Colo.|
|13. Niagara Falls, New York and Canada||Niagara Falls comprises Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side of the border; and American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls on the U.S. side. Niagara Falls State Park side, with its lush green parklands, five islands on the river and more than 400 acres of nature, bike trails and more. Theres no admission charge, but parking is $10.||http://www.niagarafallsstatepark.com/|
|14. Freedom Trail, Boston||Take a walk through the history of the American Revolution, which started in Boston. The trail visits 16 historical sites in a little over 2 miles. It includes Paul Reveres house, the Old North Church, the USS Constitution, Bunker Hill and much more. You follow a red brick path. Its free to walk the trail at your own pace. Some sites along the way require admission if you want to go inside.||www.freedomtrail.org|
|15. Staten Island Ferry, New York City||The best view of one of the USAs enduring symbols is on this ride. And its free. It runs between the bottom tip of Manhattan and Staten Island, takes about 25 minutes each way, and is best enjoyed when its not rush hour, when the ferry will be jammed with commuters. The ferry operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, generally every half-hour, more frequently at rush hour.||www.siferry.com|
|16. Getty Center, Los Angeles||An architectural gem. Collections include Van Goghs Irises and paintings by such European masters as Monet, Renoir, Degas, Rembrandt and others, along with antiquities and ancient statues, decorative furniture, illuminated manuscripts and lots of photography. View is stunning. On a clear day, you can see all the way across to Catalina Island.||www.getty.edu|
|17. Getty Museum, Malibu, Calif.||Once the main home of the Getty collection, this stunning jewel was modeled after a villa in Pompeii. Also built by J. Paul Getty, it now houses the Getty Centers collection of Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities. The villa itself and its setting near the sea is part of the charm. For the villa, you need a free timed ticket, which you can order on the website. Theres a fee for parking.||www.getty.edu|
|18. 9/11 Memoria, NYC||A somber memorial to one of this nations worst tragedies. On the site of the former World Trade Centers, this memorial is a moving tribute to those who died and those who tried to save them. Theres a 9/11 memorial mobile app available. Note that the memorial is free to visit, but the adjacent museum has an admission charge. Inscribed in bronze around the twin memorial pools are the names of everyone who died in the terrorist attacks of Feb. 26, 1993, and Sept. 11, 2001.||www.911memorial.org|
|19. Mount Rushmore, S.D.||Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, this monument featuring colossal heads of presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt includes a visitors center, a walkway with an up-close view and a sculptors studio, closed in winter, that includes more information about how it was built. Free ranger programs in season describe more about the memorial. A Lakota, Nakota and Dakota Heritage Village on-site is also free. Parking is $11.||www.nps.gov/moru|
|20. Manzanar National Historical Site, California||About 230 miles northeast of Los Angeles, this large facilityit was once aJapanese internment camp during World War IIis being restored. It was one of 10 camps where a total 110,000 men, women and children Japanese American citizens and Japanese nationals were held in remote, military-style camps during the war. There is no fee to enter, park or go on the 3-mile auto tour. There are replicas of barracks, a mess hall,. a model of the camp, photos, artifacts and a short film. The site is on Highway 395, 9 miles north of Lone Pine.||www.nps.gov/manz|
|Source: Orange County Register|
Brand USA Fourth MegaFam to Feature National Parks
FAM IV: Buoyed by the by the success of the first three iterations of the undertaking, Brand USA is planning MegaFam 2016—a multi-destination familiarization tour for 100 travel agents from the UK and Ireland—that will focus on the United States’ outdoors, especially its national parks, and incorporate new states into the itinerary.
The 2016 trip, scheduled for May 11-19, continues the practice of going “Beyond the Gateways,” involving seven different itineraries, featuring 18 states, including Alaska and Hawaii for the first time. Coinciding with the U.S. National Park Service’s centennial celebration this year, each itinerary will have the travel agents experience the USA’s great outdoors has to offer by visiting a national park.
The new 2016 itineraries are: Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland/Florida, Georgia, South Carolina/Colorado, New Mexico/Nevada, Utah, Arizona/Washington, Oregon/Alaska/ and Hawaii.
The participating agents will return to California for a final event, where they can share their experiences, educate each other on their itineraries and better sell all the destinations when returning home.
Agents vie for a spot on the trip by booking flights to the United States with BUSA’s partners, American Airlines and British Airways, and earning specialist badges on the agent-training program, USADiscoveryProgram.co.uk. The training program educates and supplies travel agents with the knowledge and assurance they need in order to sell more of the USA as a holiday destination, and to ensure the United States is kept at top of the mind—with both agents and their customers.
According to the agency, in 2014, agents vying for a MegaFam spot booked over 12,000 flights to and within the USA, up from the previous year’s 5,500 flights. In 2015, that number increased to 22,000 passengers booking travel during the entry period of January to early April.
Second Film to Star Much of United States: The Brand USA giant screen film, “National Parks Adventure” launches worldwide next month (Feb. 12) but the pre-opening reaction to trailers and extended trailers from those who have seen them has been so enthusiastic—especially from the theatre owners who saw a version at last September’s annual conference of the Giant Screen Theatre Association—and advance sales have been so robust, that Brand USA has already approved a second big screen film that will premiere in two years.
“The Next Big Film,” as it was referred to in materials made available at BUSA’s last board of directors meeting, will be titled “America’s Treasures,” which will be “a cross-country and cosmopolitan journeys through the USA, focusing on popular culture, music, entertainment, and innovation.” One reason the board took the action was to be able to retain the services of MacGillivray Freeman, the Laguna Beach, Calif.-based producer of “National Parks Adventure.” The company has created a string of award-winning big screen hits going back to “To Fly”—the IMAX film that played to full house audiences for years during the mid-1970s at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
Because the producer’s own calendar has upcoming long-term commitments, the board wanted to begin negotiations with the film company as soon as possible, in order to ensure a February 2018 launch of the new film.
Financially, the film is a win-win for Brand USA, which put up no cash for the effort—it is being presented by Expedia, Inc. and Subaru of America, Inc. and is supported by other contributions—but will generate millions of lasting impressions worldwide. Timed to coincide with the centennial of the U.S. National Parks in 2016, the film is expected to generate more han 4 million movie-goers by the end of 2018 and, according BUSA estimates, more than $42 million in international media reach value.
These Charts Show Just How Much the Strong dollar Has Hurt Inbound Business from Canada
A fairly detailed survey of tourism-related businesses on both sides the Canada-USA border shows that the weakened Canadian dollar (or loon) has had a negative impact on the nuber Canadian travelers who make the short drive to the United States for shopping, overnight and weekend stays. (An estimated 75 percent of the Canadian population lives within 100 miles of the U.S. border.) More than a quarter of surveyed tourism-related businesses on the New York side of St. Lawrence River in the Thousand Lakes region said that the 2015 travel season was worse than the previous year. The correlation between the decline of the Canadian dollar and Visit USA traffic from seems inescapable.
Start with the key variable—the currency exchange rate. This year, 2016, started off with the loonie valued at $0.71 to the U.S. dollar (down 14 percent vs. last year and down 24 percent from January 2014, when it was at 93 cents).
The survey—it is an annual undertaking conducted by the 1000 Islands International Tourism Council, in Alexandria Bay, New York, just across the St. Lawrence River from Ontario and about 100 miles south of Ottawa—was sent this past fall to 510 tourism-related businesses in the council’s database, yielding a total of 214 responses that included 124 from Jefferson County businesses, 76 from Ontario businesses and 14 that didn’t identify their location. It contained a variety of questions about the six-month travel season from May through October. No narrative is necessary when one reviews some of the survey report’s key tables, which appear below.
Discussing the impact of the weak Canadian dollar, Gary S. DeYoung, executive director of the 1000 Islands Council, told the Watertown Daily Times, which reported on the survey, “When it dips below 80 cents, they’re paying more for stuff in the U.S.,” adding that passenger statistics at the 1000 Islands Bridge show Canadians crossed the border fewer times than last year. The trend benefited Ontario businesses, he said, which retained Canadian shoppers and lured more Americans who capitalized on the weak Canadian dollar.
“Obviously, we were fighting an uphill battle in terms of the dollar exchange,” he added, suggesting that many Canadians decided it wasn’t worth it to cross the border to shop.
HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Kenneth Svendsen has been named CEO of Chicago-based Entertainment Cruises, a member of Pritzker Group Private Capital’s family of companies. Svendsen joins the company following nearly three decades in the entertainment, hospitality and travel industries. Most recently, he served as president of the Walt Disney Travel Company. Prior to Disney, Svendsen was senior vice president and global head of sales and reservations for Hilton Worldwide.
Javier Vidal has been named director of business development for Pegasus Transportation, Florida. The company is a major ground transportation provider in Orlando, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Vidal is responsible for establishing new international markets and maximizing the use of technological tools and develop products. Vidal comes to Pegasus with more than 18 years of experience in sales and marketing, having served in management positions for companies such as Hotelbeds.com and The Walt Disney Company.
Vishal Suri has been named the new managing director of Kuoni Travel India. (The company was acquired last August from Zurich-based Kuoni by the Fairfax Financial Holdings group, which also owns Thomas Cook India.) Suri had earlier headed the outbound portfolio of Kuoni India. He succeeds Rajeev Wagle who resigned after three years in the position “to pursue his interest outside the organization.” Suri was also once chief operating officer of Thomas Cook India’s leisure operations.
Diego Camacho has joined Madame Tussauds New York as trade sales manager. He comes to the post from New York Water Taxi where he served for five years as tourism sales manager. Prior to that, Camacho was hotel sales coordinator for Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises.
Beth Helle has taken on a new position at Meet Minneapolis. She is now director of brand strategy, after serving for two years as director of tourism. Helle joined the organization in 2008 as an international account executive. Prior to joining Meet Minneapolis, she was a tourism account executive for eight years at Mall of America.
Mark Jaronski has left Visit Orlando, where he served for three years as vice president of global communications, to take over as CEO of Select Registry, a portfolio of more than 320 quality-assured, independent bed and breakfasts, inns and boutique hotels throughout North America. Prior to his tenure at Visit Orlando, Jaronski, a 21-year veteran of the travel and hospitality industry, served for more than 15 years in various senior positions at different Disney operations.