Caps on Visitor Numbers, Higher Fees Loom for U.S. National Parks
A report over the past weekend that the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) is considering caps on the number of visitors to what comprise, arguably, the most popular tour attraction in the United States for overseas travelers is causing concern among tour operators—both international and receptive, as well as U.S. domestic operators—just as delegates from more than 60 nations are preparing to attend IPW in two weeks (June 18-22) in New Orleans. The news also comes in the wake of a record year in the number of visitors to locations operated by NPS, and with the expectation that those numbers will increase both this year and next as viewers worldwide see Brand USA’s giant screen movie, “National Parks Adventure,” which focuses on U.S. national parks, on screens in every major overseas source markets.
According to an AP report, NPS is seriously considering, or is already seeking input from users and other sources in order to determine if a limit on the number of visitors should be implemented at such popular national parks as Denali National Park in Alaska, Yellowstone National Park, Arches and Canyonland National Parks in Utah and Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Some highlights of the problem facing the parks include the following:
—Visits to U.S. national parks and related properties in 2015 reached a record 307 million, surpassing the previous record year set in 2014. And most estimates seem to indicate that 2016 will set another record.
—Last summer at Grand Canyon National Park, park managers increased entrance fees and moved lines along by dedicating an entrance gate to people who already had an annual park pass.
—Nearly 4.1 million people visited Yellowstone National Park in 2015, a 17 percent increase in visitors over 2014 (an additional 580,000 people). There weren’t enough bathrooms or parking spaces in the park. Staff and visitors reported pulses of crowding at popular spots, “partially due to an increasing number of tour buses.”
—In 2015, interpretive rangers gave out 52,036 resource warnings for behaviors such as threatening thermal features, approaching wildlife too closely, hiking in restricted areas and “taking bathroom breaks outside of the restroom.”
—From 2014 to 2015, motor vehicle accidents with injuries were up 167 percent, emergency medical transports to facilities outside the park were up 37 percent, and search and rescue operations were up 61 percent.
—Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah are looking at additional options to address increased visitor numbers, including a timed entry system, building more parking lots and other infrastructure, setting a daily cap on vehicle entrances and adding a private shuttle service.
Top 50 U.S. National Parks, Recreation Areas, National Memorials, Historical Parks, Etc.
2015 Attendance and Share
|Rank||Park||Recreation Visitors||% of Total|
|1||Blue Ridge PKWY||15,054,603||4.90%|
|2||Golden Gate NRA||14,888,537||4.85%|
|3||Great Smoky Mountains NP||10,712,674||3.49%|
|5||Lake Mead NRA||7,298,465||2.38%|
|6||George Washington MEM PKWY||7,286,463||2.37%|
|8||Natchez Trace PKWY||5,785,812||1.88%|
|9||Vietnam Veterans MEM||5,597,077||1.82%|
|10||Grand Canyon NP||5,520,736||1.80%|
|11||World War II Memorial||5,068,224||1.65%|
|12||Chesapeake & Ohio Canal NHP||4,798,312||1.56%|
|13||Castle Clinton NM||4,597,029||1.50%|
|14||Cape Cod NS||4,503,220||1.47%|
|16||Statue of Liberty NM||4,279,020||1.39%|
|17||San Francisco Maritime NHP||4,173,014||1.36%|
|18||Rocky Mountain NP||4,155,916||1.35%|
|21||Korean War Veterans Memorial||4,077,835||1.33%|
|22||Gulf Islands NS||3,976,883||1.29%|
|23||Delaware Water Gap NRA||3,735,134||1.22%|
|25||Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial||3,530,401||1.15%|
|27||Franklin Delano Roosevelt MEM||3,290,080||1.07%|
|29||Chattahoochee River NRA||3,173,204||1.03%|
|30||Grand Teton NP||3,149,921||1.03%|
|31||Thomas Jefferson MEM||3,102,442||1.01%|
|33||Point Reyes NS||2,501,106||0.81%|
|34||Glen Canyon NRA||2,495,093||0.81%|
|35||Rock Creek Park||2,443,772||0.80%|
|36||Mount Rushmore NMEM||2,434,297||0.79%|
|38||Cuyahoga Valley NP||2,284,612||0.74%|
|39||Assateague Island NS||2,275,606||0.74%|
|40||Cape Hatteras NS||2,274,635||0.74%|
|42||Kennesaw Mountain NBP||2,174,870||0.71%|
|43||Valley Forge NHP||2,143,965||0.70%|
|44||Joshua Tree NP||2,025,756||0.66%|
|45||National Capital Parks Central||1,833,085||0.60%|
|46||Hawaii Volcanoes NP||1,832,660||0.60%|
|47||Bryce Canyon NP||1,745,804||0.57%|
|50||Indiana Dunes NL||1,640,195||0.53%|
|Source: U.S. National Park Service|
Pay to Play? There are two key factors that confront NPS. First is the natural tension between the dual mission of the park service to enhance the visitor experience for current users, while taking steps to ensure the visitor experience in the future; and a Congressional mandate imposed on NPS (and on other federal agencies) to seek alternative revenue streams beyond government appropriations.
In a scorching op-ed piece in the New York Times last week, Reed Watson, executive director of the Property and Environment Research Center said that the current problem with the U.S. national park system is a sense of entitlement on the part of Americans. He recommends increased user fees at all facilities: “We Americans want uncrowded, bucolic landscapes and we want them for free — or more precisely, we want them for the taxpayer-subsidized, price of a $30, seven-day car pass. Subsidizing entrance fees into our national parks ensures the parks will stay crowded and poorly maintained. The idea behind the national parks was preservation, not degradation in the name of subsidized access. And preservation is not free.”
While Overall UK Leisure Market Grows, Package Sales Lose Share
According to new data made available by the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS), while the number of package sales made by British travelers increased in 2015, those sales have fallen behind the pace set by the overall leisure market. The new data also show that, overall, overseas travel by UK travelers increase by nearly 10 percent last year; this includes travel to the USA. Final figures on travel to the USA are not yet available. Commenting on the increase, the British travel industry trade organization, Abta, said that the 9.4 percent rise in overseas travel in 2015 was “the largest annual rise in nearly 20 years.” Some highlights from the ONS numbers:
—Package holiday sales rose by 5.1 percent to 16.7 million in 2015.
—The total number of overseas breaks increased by 9.4 percent to 42.2 million over the same period.
—Total spending on all overseas holidays added up to £26.3 billion ($38.5 billion) in 2015 … the first time it has exceeded £25 billion ($36.6 billion) since the pre-recession year of 2008).
—Of this total, £11.5 billion were spent on package holidays.
—Package holidays accounted for 39.6 percent of all international leisure trips last year; they accounted for a 41.1 percentage share of the market in 2014.
—Even though share fell by 1.5 percentage points, the number of package holidays purchased in 2015 increased by 808,000 over 2014.
—Packages have been steadily recovering since 2010 (with the exception of 2012 when sales dipped by 1.8 percent) and have been growing at an average annual rate of 3.1 percent over the past five years.
—Package sales reached their lowest point in 2010 when British travelers purchased 14.3 million package holidays; 18.95 million packages were sold in 2006.
— The ONS figures also showed that the average amount spent on a package holiday in 2015 was £687 ($ 1,000) which was same as in 2014 and was also higher than the average for all holidays of £623 ($911) per trip.
What is the Most Expensive Destination in Canada?
Vancouver has just been named Canada’s most expensive city based on the results of a new survey released by CheapHotels.org. Lodging costs in Canada served as the basis for the distinction. The survey covered hotel rates across 30 main urban destinations in Canada.
The survey established for each Canadian city destination the average rate an overnight guest can expect to pay for the cheapest available double room there during the month of June. June was intentionally chosen for comparative purposes since most destinations in Canada reach their highest average rates then.
Vancouver, British Columbia topped the rankings with an average overnight rate of $164 (CAD) for its least expensive double room. It must be pointed out that the survey excluded hotels that were not centrally located, that were rated less than three stars and that had earned an overall negative average guest rating.
Coming in second on the survey was Canada’s largest city, Toronto, Ontario. An average nightly rate of $152 put it number two among all destinations considered. Rounding out the Top 3 was Halifax, Nova Scotia. At just a few dollars cheaper, $148 per night, it came in third on the survey.
Cost of a Night’s Stay in Key Destinations in Canada
|Destination & Rank||Rate $Can||Rate $US¹|
|1. Vancouver, British Columbia||$164||$126|
|2. Toronto, Ontario||$152||$116|
|3. Halifax, Nova Scotia||$148||$113|
|4. St. Johns, Newfoundland||$146||$111|
|5. Calgary, Alberta||$142||$108|
|6. St. Catharines, Ontario||$138||$105|
|7. Kingston, Ontario||$137||$104|
|8. Richmond, British Columbia||$134||$102|
|9. Laval, Quebec||$127||$97|
|10. Windsor, Ontario||$127||$97|
|11. Winnipeg, Manitoba||$124||$95|
|12. Hamilton, Ontario||$122||$93|
|13. Galineau, Quebec||$122||$93|
|14. Vaughan, Ontario||$121||$92|
|15. Regina, Ontario||$121||$92|
|16. London, Ontario||$119||$91|
|17. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan||$118||$90|
|18. Kelowna, British Columbia||$117||$89|
|19. Quebec City, Quebec||$116||$88|
|20. Ottawa, Ontario||$113||$86|
|21. Montreal, Quebec||$112||$85|
|22. Trois Riveres, Quebec||$112||$85|
|23. Thunder Bay, Ontario||$111||$85|
|24. Sudbury, Ontario||$111||$85|
|25. Barrie, Ontario||$108||$82|
|26. Edmonton, Alberta||$106||$81|
|27. Surrey, British Columbia||$106||$81|
|28. Markham, Ontario||$94||$72|
|29. Brampton, Ontario||$86||$66|
|30. Mississauga, ,Ontario||$85||$65|
|¹ Conversion figures prepared by Inbound Report, using xe.com. Figure is rounded to nearest dollar.|
¹ Conversion figures prepared by Inbound Report, using xe.com. Figure is rounded to nearest dollar.
A Note on Methodology: The table compares the cost of lodging for 30 city destinations in Canada for the month of June 2016. The survey considered all 18 destinations with a population of greater than 250,000 as well as 12 popular cities with a population of greater than 100,000. The prices displayed reflect the average rate for each city’s least expensive available double room (minimum 3 stars) for the time period of June 1st to 30th, 2016.
Where Travelers from the Key Source Markets Get their Inspiration and Information for Making a Destination Decision
In our first report on the results of her company’s study of the latest data on key international statements, the Inbound Report focused on travel spend, travel budget, length of itineraries and other related factors. In this issue of the Inbound Report, we look at what Erin Francis-Cummings, president and CEO of San Francisco-based Destination Analysts, has to say about the sources of information that travelers from key markets use for making a decision on a destination. The numbers come from the Destination Analysts’
The Destination Analysts report, “ The State of the International Traveler,™” which features 15 major global markets (of the Top 15 international source markets listed by the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office, all but Colombia and Spain were included in the survey) cover a wide range of travel-related activities as they related to the U.S.
Sources of International Destination Inspiration
|Opinions of friends and relativesin-person and/or through direct contact (e-mail, text, etc.)||56.60%|
|Online Mediatravel content found on the internet||52.20%|
|Travel agencies or tour operators||34.40%|
|Opinions of friends and relativesvia social media website||30.60%|
|Offline mediaprinted newspapers, magazines, etc.||25.10%|
|Source: Destination Analysts|
International Destination Inspiration:
Online Content vs. Direct Word-of-Mouth
|Source: Destination Analysts|
Digital Resource Usage
|Resource||Percentage Who Use|
|Online search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.)||67.20%|
|Online travel agencies (Expedia, Travelocity, etc.)||54.90%|
|Official visitors bureau website||34.90%|
|Tour agent or tour operator websites||32.60%|
|Online travel reviews, blogs, itineraries or opinions from other travelers||32.00%|
|Online mapping website (Google Maps, Mapqest.com, etc.)||26.70%|
|Social media websites (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.)||21.60%|
|Travel or lifestyle magazine websites (online content)||17.50%|
|Online video travel content||15.90%|
|Official visitors bureau social media content||14.50%|
|Travel-related apps on a mobile phone||11.60%|
|Travel-related e-mail newsletters||11.30%|
|Home-sharing or vacation rental websites (AirBnB, etc.)||11.10%|
|Newspaper travel section (online content)||10.20%|
|Source: Destination Analysts|
Traditional Resource Usage
|Resource||Percentage Who Use|
|Opinions of friends, colleagues or relatives||57.40%|
|Travel agentoff line (traditional or store front)||47.20%|
|Travel or lifestyle magazine||26.30%|
|Travel related TV programming||25.40%|
|Official visitor information center||22.20%|
|Newspaper travel section (printed)||16.40%|
|Travel related radio programming||5.40%|
|Source: Destination Analysts|
Use of Opinion of Friends and Relatives via Social Media Websites
For Destination Inspiration (by Market)
|Source: Destination Analysts|
Likely Use of Social Media Websites
To Plan International Travel (by Market)
|Source: Destination Analysts|
UK Trend Topics
Take This Job and Shove It … I Want to Travel: Just out from Inghams, the UK ski and winter holiday specialist, is a survey telling us that nearly half (48 percent) of the nation’s workers would rather trade their job for a holiday. Inghams ran a nationwide survey to 2,000 people via One Poll to find out the most popular items on Brits’ Bucket Lists, which revealed travel overall was the most desired thing to do. But 22 percent said they don’t have enough holiday allowance to travel.
Naturally, the latter finding caused Louise Newton, group head of marketing at Inghams to lament, “It’s disappointing to hear that a fourth of the UK don’t have a suitable holiday allowance to take a holiday. Should people want to travel this may lead to taking days unpaid which ultimately has an effect on the overall cost of the holiday. However short excursions could be the answer, this allows you to take a short break to travel and hopefully leaves you with a couple of days spare for something else.”
The survey also revealed the following:
—Nearly a quarter of people aged 55 over said they have actually quit their job to take early retirement to travel (19 percent) compared to 6 percent of 18 to 24 year olds who have gone travelling for a year.
—Asked what has been the best thing they have ticked off their bucket- list so far, losing weight was ranked higher than scaling the career ladder.
—Just over a third of men said they have scaled the career ladder compared to 28 percent of women
“Massive” Shift to Long-Haul Now Taking Place in UK Benefits USA: While it might not be indicative of the overall UK traveling population, Club Med says that its booking data indicate that one third of British holidaymakers are making a switch to long-haul travel abroad. The company said that 31 percent of travelers are making the switch from short-haul vacations because of cheaper foreign exchange rates (the British pound has held up well against the euro for the past two years) and European safety concerns. Estelle Giraudeau, Club Med’s managing director, told the UK trade publication TTG that the rate at which travelers were moving to long-haul was “massive.”
Some numbers cited by Club Med include the following:
—At the same point last year, Club Med’s bookings were 20 percent for long-haul and; this year it’s at 30 percent.
—Out of the bookings studied, 47 percent of clients gave recent European events, such as the Brussels bombings in March and the Paris attacks last year, as their strongest driver for staying away from the continent this summer, with
—The strength of sterling against other international currencies was also a major reason for avoiding the Eurozone, with 34 percent citing the value for money that long-haul destinations such as the US, Mauritius and the Dominican Republic could be a key influence.
—Said Giraudeau: “The currency exchange has been so strong for British travelers over the last 12 to 18 months and going long-haul is giving people so much more for their money. Take a destination like the US, a lifestyle there is costing 20% to 30% less than it would in the UK, which is a big draw.”
IN MEMORIAM: Connie Campbell
Constance Elise “Connie” Campbell, who spent most of her professional career with the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau, passed away May 19th following a lengthy illness. The passing of Campbell, who served the bureau for 25 years, lastly as senior sales manager, caused a surge in traffic on the social media, with scores of friends and colleagues writing of her warmly and with feeling as they described a professional who indefatigably promoted New Orleans internationally and was an instantly recognizable figure at trade shows and sales missions abroad. Here is a sampler of what some had to say about her:
“May you rest in peace, dear Connie Campbell. You are the personalization, the definition of a real Southern Belle.”
“Connie always had a big smile and a glow.”
“She was a wonderful mentor and friend.”
“How many of us owe our position in the industry to your mentoring, to your steadiness, to your willingness to share your knowledge and expertise with us? How many of us found our ability to project calm and professionalism by watching you?”
“One of the sweetest human beings I have ever had the pleasure to know and fortunate to be friends with.”
A native of New Orleans, she did such a good job at promoting her city with receptive tour operators, for instance, that she was presented a Chairman’s Award by the Receptive Services Association of America (RSAA) at the organization’s 2012 Stanley Awards, held in New Orleans on February 8, 2012. The award acknowledged Campbell “for exceptional service when working with U.S. receptive tour operators, who are responsible for contracting with overseas tour wholesalers to provide customized travel packages for international visitors.”
Campbell is survived by: her father, Charles Joseph Campbell; her brother, John Mandich Campbell, Sr.; John’s wife, Sheri; and their three children—Anna Sable Campbell, John Mandich “Jack” Campbell II and Grant Joseph Campbell. She is also survived by three half-sisters: Judy Campbell; Heather Keilich (Richard); Ginger Campbell Betz; and brother-in-law and friend, Clyde Betz. As well, she is survived by numerous nieces, nephews, and godson, Connor Landrieu.
HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
In a unanimous vote of its directors, the Nebraska Tourism Commission fired Kathy McKillip as the state’s tourism director at a May 26th meeting; the move followed the suspension of McKillip earlier in the month. The dismissal of McKillip, who had headed the commission since 2011, came in the wake of a harshly critical state audit which found the commission had failed in its oversight of financial and accountability procedures. The audit found that, under McKillip, the state agency had overspent its ad contract by $4.4 million over three years; paid a speaker $44,000 for an appearance at a tourism conference for just 150 people; and paid $18,000 to move a tourism employee 200 miles.
Maria Whiteman has been appointed managing director for Saga Holidays. She joins the company from Amadeus Consulting, where she served as commercial director. A 25-year veteran of the travel and tourism industry, Whiteman’s resumé includes tenures at Tui UK, Hayes & Jarvis and Stella Travel Services UK.
Edison Rivas has joined JacTravel as a contract manager. He is based in New York City. Rivas, who has 15 years of experience in contract and product management working for U.S.-based receptive tour operators, has worked at AlliedTPro and Tourico Holidays and, just prior to his new position, at GTA.
Zena Hill is stepping down from her post as chairman of TIPTO (Truly Independent Professional Travel Organization) at the end of August. Under Hill’s four-year tenure, the British group has increased its membership from 12 to 20 supplier members, introduced four Supershows and four training days to its range of events, which include road shows for independent travel agents. Tipto has yet to appoint a successor to Hill.
The Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau appointed Carol Clark as its new director of public relations. In her new role, Clark will be responsible for promoting and sustaining Maui as a leisure and business travel destination. She most recently served as communications director for the Maui Region of the Hawaiʻi Health Systems Corporation at the Maui Memorial Medical Center.
Shawn Buckley has been named vice president of marketing, communications and tourism at the Albuquerque CVB. He joins the bureau from SkyTrail Sales & Marketing, where he served eight years. Prior to that, he was executive director of the Sheridan (Wyo.) Bureau of Travel & Tourism.