Japanese Company Acquires Canada’s Largest Receptive
No one in the tour and travel industry seemed to have been tipped off when the H.I.S. Company, one of Japan’s largest tour operators, announced last Friday that it was acquiring Jonview Canada, the largest receptive tour operator in the country and a presence in Canada’s industry for more than 30 years. On its website, the company said that it brings more than 250,000 visitors annually to the country. It also makes a point that its staff (Jonview employs 180 people in Toronto and Montreal, along with 120 seasonal guides) prides itself on the fact that its customer service is underscored by its multilingual staff. The company offers products and services in English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese and Mandarin.
What Drove Transat to Sell: “Transat is thus successfully implementing its strategic focus on its leisure travel activities in Canada and the development of its hotel business,” said Jean-Marc Eustache, president and CEO of Transat, parent company of Jonview. This is a focus borne out by the company’s decision last year to sell off its Transat France operation—one of the largest travel companies in France—to TUI France. Announced in the spring of 2016, the merger has resulted in the loss of more than 200 jobs and is still underway as some employees are still separated geographically between Levallois-Perret (headquarters of TUI France) and Ivry-sur-Seine (home base of Transat France). By January, the merger plan is to have all employees at Levallois.
What H.I.S. Gets from the Deal: “The acquisition of Jonview Canada is part of our ambitious expansion plan for North America,” said Hideo Hatano, general manager, global business development division, H.I.S., echoing a not uncommon theme among Japan’s international tour operators. Lacking opportunities to increase share in Japan, whose slow-growth population (it has one of the world’ lowest birth rates) offers few opportunities to increase share in a stagnant market, tour operators have been seeking opportunities abroad.
Last March, for instance, JTB completed its acquisition of Panorama Tours Indonesia (PTI), one of the largest travel companies in Indonesia with more than 51 outlets and 800 employees across the archipelago nation. Of the move, Hiroyuki Takahashi, JTB president and CEO, said, “Moving forward, we will engage in full-fledged development of our business model, from one that has until now considered human interactions predominantly in terms of outbound travel from Japan, to a model that is global in outlook, with a focus on Asia.”
Then, last June, Brazil’s largest tour operator/travel agency—CVC—announced that it had retained JTB Americas to serve CVC’s customers New York, Florida and California in the United States. JTB already has subsidiaries in Brazil.
The Jonview—H.I.S. action must still be reviewed and approved by Canadian government authorities, although there was no evidence at the time of the announcement of the acquisition that there were any real obstacles to the transaction.
Inbound Arrivals to Canada is Setting Records
Destination Canada, the official tourism promotion agency for the country, has issued its latest monthly graphic (the full monthly reports follow by a couple of weeks) showing that, for the peak season-closing month of August, a half-dozen of its 11 targeted country markets had their best August ever in the number of visitors they send to Canada.
At a Glance: August Arrivals to Canada
Numbers from Mexico Soar: For seven consecutive months, the increase in the number of visitors to Canada from Mexico has been in percentages that are in the high double digits with August totals setting a record for the month—nearly 38,000.
Is the increase in Mexican visitation at the expense of the USA? Meanwhile, for the nearest comparable period between the U.S. and Canada—arrivals figures from the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office are available for the first five months of 2017—inbound traffic from Mexico to the USA has fallen by 6.1 percent; in hard numbers, this is a decline of 441,000 visitors vs. the same period in 2016. At the same time, the market from Canada seems to be recovering following two consecutive years of contraction.
At a Glance: Atlanta
For full information visit touroperatorland.com
Is the Trump Slump His Fault?
The speculation over whether there is a causal relationship between the actions of U.S. President Donald Trump and the anemic performance this year of the inbound tourism industry in the United States spiked again early last week— as it has done every so often during the past year—with the publishing of the newest poll or set of survey results that show certain country markets (and/or the overall international inbound travel market) are sending fewer people to the USA.
So, the situation poses the question: Are President Trump and the policies he advocates causing international travelers not to visit the United States?
The question requires two answers. First, President Trump’s policies (and, it seems, his personality) are, in part, responsible for a slump in the amount of inbound travel to the United States—more for some country markets than for others. And, second, the real damage and impact of the Trump Slump might be systemic and long-term. That is, the damage could be long-term and require years to repair. Some further thoughts on the two answers follow.
- Yes, Trump’s Policies Have an Impact
First, the latest statistical salvo came early last week with the release of study from ForwardKeys—a young Valencia, Spain research and marketing company that has received a lot of attention of late because of the model it uses to develop its findings—showing that, since Jan. 27, 2017, when President Trump announced what turned out to be the first of three bans on travel from mostly Muslim-majority nations, there had been a 1.4 percent decline in international visitors vs. the same period in 2016.
(At about the same time the ForwardKeys report came out, a federal judge blocked implementation of the latest version of the Trump travel ban, which was directed at the citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen — and some Venezuelan government officials and their families.)
Meanwhile, from our own prepared tables, based on the preliminary results of the surveys of the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO), we found the drop-off in travel to the USA from abroad—though for a slightly different time period in 2016 and 2017—to be even greater than that calculated by ForwardKeys.
What about the Strong U.S. Dollar and its Impact?
While the dollar has had an impact for the past two-plus years, a recently stronger Canadian dollar and euro have actually produced increases in visitor numbers from Canada and some European nations (France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands). Otherwise, the decreases shown in the above table would be even greater.
- The Impact will also be Long-Term
When one contemplates the decrease in visitor numbers reflected in the ForwardKeys study and the data furnished by NTTO, it becomes clear that the impact of the Trump travel ban has extended well beyond the capacity of the eight nations affected as, collectively, they send few visitors to the United States. But each time the globally unpopular travel ban gets mentioned in news reports, according to one article, “travelers around the world are turned off and shy away from visiting this country.”
This effect has been especially pronounced in Mexico, where public opinion on President Trump’s overall positions on immigration reflects outrage, as well as an all-time record low for approval of a U.S. President; earlier this year, Trump registered a 5 percent approval rating among Mexicans. (Meanwhile, visitation to the United States for the first five months of 2017 was down by 6.1 percent vs. the same period last year.)
But worse is the corresponding attitude that Mexicans have about the United States as a whole. Among Mexican, the percentage who have a favorable perception of the United States is the lowest it’s been in the past 15 years, while the percentage of those who have an unfavorable perception of the United States has reached an all-time high for the same period.
ut, in Spite of all of the Above … the USA is still No. 1: At NAJ’s recent RTO Summit six weeks ago in Orlando, David Reichbach, director of analytics and data security for San Francisco-based Destination Analysts, highlighted some findings from the company’s 2017 State of the International Traveler report showing just how well the USA fares as a destination. For the report, Destination Analysts surveyed 14 U.S. feeder markets: Canada, Mexico, Brazil, China, Japan, India, Australia, Germany France, UK, Argentina, South Korea, Netherlands and Italy. Overall the company tracks more than 65 America destinations by familiarity, appeal, likelihood of visitation, promotional buzz and “bragging rights.” Following are two tables which show that the USA remains a durable and desirable destinations from the 14 key markets.
Park Service Plans to Triple Tour Bus Entrance Fees at Top Parks
Operators could pay as much as $1,200 for largest buses during peak season: The U.S. National Park Service announced last week that it is proposing to increase tour bus entrance fees at some of the nation’s most popular and increasingly overcrowded national parks, and it has predictably met with some concern among the millions of people who visit the facilities, as well as the U.S. tour operators, receptive tour operators and international tour operators who promote and sell national park product.
The NPS says that 80 percent of the commercial tour entrance fees remain in parks that collect them. The other 20 percent is spent on projects in other national parks. NPS would expend the funds on projects and activities that further the mission and purpose of the NPS, with an emphasis on deferred maintenance. That is, the NPS says it has a $12 billion backlog of projects.
Major Associations Taken Aback: Pam Inman, president of NTA, told us that the organization and its tour operators were “concerned about the reasonableness and size of the proposed increase.”
NTA has had a longstanding agreement with the National Park Service, she explained, that the association would be notified 18 months ahead of any entrance fee increases so our members could implement pricing adjustments. “This is critical for our members and their customers,” she noted, “as companies book tour groups months in advance. With this recent announcement of the proposal to establish seasonal pricing on many of the most visited parks, NTA is concerned how this will impact not only our tour companies but also those area supplier members who serve their travelers.”
Inman pointed out that the proposed change “has no reasonable implementation period of the fee increase, with only a 30-day public comment period,” she said, while announcing that NTA has formed a coalition with other industry organizations to express the industry’s concerns.
Meanwhile, the International Inbound Travel Association (IITA) echoed NTA’s concern, with spokesperson Lisa Simon—she’s IITA’s executive director—saying that the organization was “shocked at the proposed peak-season commercial tour entrance fee structure. While we have advocated for (the Park Service’s) standardized Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) fees and processes, these proposed increases – which could be more than 400 percent during peak season for one motorcoach tour group – are outrageous.”
“We have consistently advocated for more funding for the National Park Service to address serious backlogged infrastructure issues, so we’re not opposed to reasonable fee increases,” she said. “However, this proposal is not the answer. We will provide comments on the proposal by the November 23 deadline and will encourage our members to do the same.”
It’s More than just Entrance Fee Increases: The entrance fees are part of a package of what one might call a realignment in the way the NPS conducts business with the tour operator community. In the report that explained the proposal, the NPC pointed out that The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 amended the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 by requiring the Secretary of Interior to establish a commercial tour fee “…to be imposed on each vehicle entering (each unit of the National Park Service for which an entrance fee is charged) for the purpose of providing commercial tour services within the unit.”
The NPS has not updated the commercial tour entrance fee schedule since implementation in 1998. Beginning May 1, 2019 all parks that have a vehicle entrance rate must charge the commercial tour entrance fees based upon the most recent Commercial Vehicle Fee Schedule below. Parks that have a per person entrance rate only will charge the per person fee.
The Park Service is also proposing to implement peak-seasonal commercial tour entrance fees at 17 national parks. The peak-season for each park is defined as its busiest contiguous five month period of visitation. The proposed new fee structure will be implemented in Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion National Parks with peak season starting on May 1, 2019; in Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and Shenandoah National Parks with peak season starting on June 1, 2019, and in Joshua Tree National Park with peak season starting on January 1, 2020. Proposed peak-season commercial tour entrance fees are below.
The proposed entrance fee increases are part of several changes in Park Service policy developed, the NPS says, “in response to feedback from the commercial tour industry.” Other proposed revisions will change its Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) permitting policies. “A number of road-based commercial tour1 providers operate in more than one park unit and expressed frustration over inconsistencies in the NPS CUA program,” the NPS explained. “Currently, operators must deal with varying CUA fees and lack of a standard CUA application process. This lack of consistency has led to tour operator confusion.”
The Park Service invites the public to comment on the proposed changes to commercial tour requirements and fees. Public comments will be accepted until November 23, 2017. To submit written comments, mail comments to: National Park Service, Recreation Fee Program, 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Washington, DC 20240.
NOTE: There has never been a charge to enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited (more than 11 million a year) park in the system. This is because a property deed restricts the Great Smoky Mountains facility from charging admission. Nearly 1,200 landowners parted with their land to make the park in 1936. In 1951, when the state of Tennessee handed over control of the highways that run through the Smokies, it stipulated that the park had to be free for everyone to visit. Specifically, “no toll or license fee shall ever be imposed,” which is generally how National Parks generate revenue.
WTF @ wtm?—Walking The Floor @ WTM?
TourOperatorLand Comes to Life at World Travel Market: Thirty U.S. destinations and attractions who are partners of the NAJ Group on TourOperatorLand.com website will be live and in person next week (Nov. 6-8) World Travel Market in London to answer tour operator questions about new hotels, group friendly dining options and help customize itineraries to the needs of their clients. So, view mini-profiles of those who will be there to help click here: http://conta.cc/2ix5ghv. Additionally, NAJ’s intrepid reporter will be “walking the floor” posting daily photos of the American pavilion on our Facebook account. To stay up with the latest, join our TourOperatorland.com facebook page here. https://www.facebook.com/TourOperatorLand/?ref=settings
NEW AIR SERVICE
- Danish carrier Primera Air is to launch direct flights to Toronto from London Stansted next June.
The carrier will offer three flights a week all year round to Canada (in addition to its already announced daily services to New York’s Newark Airport, starting next April, and four flights a week to Boston Logan Airport, starting in May 2018). Primera is part of the Primera Travel Group that operates travel agencies and tour operating companies in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Estonia. It already operates flights to more than 70 destinations in Europe.
- The Spanish flag carrier, Iberia has announced new service to San Francisco next year. The route will have non-stop return flights between Madrid and San Francisco, with three flights per week, set to begin in late April 2018 until the end of September.
- Hainan Airlinesbegan flights to its ninth North American destination on Oct. 20, it inaugurated a 7,570-mile link between Chongqing and New York JFK (JFK). The carrier also began connecting Chengdu to the New York airport, with flights on Oct. 26 th. These routes mean that Hainan Airlines now offers 14 non-stop city pairs between China and North America..
- Delta Air Lines plans to make Aeromexico a “second-tier” member its joint venture with Air France-KlLM and Alitalia, as the companies launch the largest cross-border alliance between the United States and Mexico. Delta now owns 36.2 percent of Aeromexico.In addition, Delta is part of two other transatlantic joint ventures: one with Air France-KLM, one with Alitalia;and another with Virgin Atlantic. Cooperation between the two companies is expected to increase, said Ed Bastian, Delta’s CEO, with a goal of a double-digit increase in traffic between the two countries.
The 25 Happiest Places in the USA (Where’s New York?)
It’s more interesting for the cities that didn’t make the list: Delegates to the next IPW (May 19-23, 2018) in Denver could, if they so desire, squeeze in a drive of less than 30 minutes to visit the Happiest City in America—Boulder, Colorado. Boulder (population of 108,000) is a city at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, in northern Colorado, northwest of Denver.
How did it Become Number One? Author Dan Buettner and Dan Witters of Gallup put together a list of 16 questions relating to physical, social, community, financial, and purpose well-being, drawing on nearly 250,000 interviews conducted with adults from 2014 to 2015 as a part of the comprehensive Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. After averaging the responses to those questions in 190 metro areas across the United States, they produced the National Geographic Happiest Places list. The Top 25 follow.
- Boulder, Colo.
- Santa Cruz/Watsonville, Calif.
- Charlottesville, Va.
- Fort Collins. Colo.
- San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, Calif.
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara
- Provo-Orem, Utah
- Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.
- Barnstable Town, Mass.
- Anchorage, Alaska
- Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Fla.
- Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, Calif.
- Salinas, Calif.
- North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla.
- Urban Honolulu, Hawaii
- Ann Arbor, Mich.
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward
- Colorado Springs, Colo.
- Manchester-Nashua, N.H.
- Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, Calif.
- Washington D.C.-Arlington, Va.-Alexandria, Va.
- Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.
- San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif.
- Portland-South Portland, Maine
- Austin-Round Rock, Texas
Why not New York City? New York, which is usually at the top of any most-desired, most-popular destination list in the United States for both Americans, as well as international visitors, might take issue with the kind of personality a U.S. city ought to have—a city where you don’t have to be happy. Perhaps it’s best stated thus:
Receptive Tour Operator of the Week
My Vacation Tours
7362 Futures Drive
Orlando, Florida 328219
Only 20 years old, My Vacation Tours has a small staff with much experience. The company has brought together a team that specializes in saving time and money by offering Florida’s most group-friendly hotels, discount attraction tickets, dining options, transportation, cruises, concierge services in general, including “no line” service at the theme parks in Orlando and much more.
Quote: “We are prepared for your groups and individuals!
The TourOperatorLand.com website by the NAJ Group (it also publishes the INBOUND Report) has introduced both receptive tour operators, U.S. tour operators and international tour operators to travel product and services of U.S. travel suppliers and DMOs. Visitors to the website can use its exclusive Receptive Finder™ to find the right RTO. It is designed to help both the travel trade and travel suppliers find the right U.S. based receptive tour operator to sell their products on the international travel market place.
The receptive operators, who are vetted and qualified by the NAJ Group, also take part in at least one of NAJ’s RTO Summits series. The Summits take place annually in Los Angeles (Feb. 21-22, 2018), New York City (April 17-18) and Orlando (TBD, 2018). For more information, visit www.rtosummit.com.
HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Nan Marchand Beauvois has been promoted to the post of senior vice president, national councils and general manager, ESTO (Educational Seminar for Tourism Officials) for the U.S. Travel Association. She was previously vice president. A veteran of more than three decades in the tour and travel industry, Marchand Beauvois joined U.S. Travel as a senior director of national councils in February 2011 after serving as executive director of the Pasadena CVB. Her resume also includes a 15-year tenure with Universal Studios Hollywood, where she was vice president of sales.
Also from US Travel, Tori Barnes has joined the association in the new position of senior vice president, government relations. Previously, Barnes served for 14 years with General Motors Company, where she was most recently executive director of federal affairs. Her previous experience includes tenures as a congressional liaison for the Republican National Committee and as director of fundraising and events for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s National Capital Chapter.
Emma Lelliott has been named head of trade sales for Belleair Holidays, a UK operator that sells a wide range of Visit USA product. Lelliott joins the company from Alpharooms where she was head of sales and operations for two years. She has also held positions at Medhotels, TUI and Thomas Cook. Lelliott will oversee trade sales for both Belleair and its sister company, Magic Rooms.
John Curran has returned to Chicago as vice president and general manager of Big Bus Tours Chicago after starting the year in New York City, the company’s largest global operation. Curran has been a visible leader in Chicago tourism for 25 years including a tenure at Choose Chicago as managing director of tourism. He brings several years of sightseeing tour experience to Big Bus Tours which has operated in Chicago since 2015.
Paris-based Jet Tours has reorganized the commercial division of the company’s territory which comprises French offices, with the operator promoting Stéphanie Joubrel, as head of the Paris, Hauts de Seine and Center France sector. Joubrel began her career in travel agency and has been working in the group for 15 years.
Flybe airlines, which provides numerous connections to long-haul U.S. bound flights, has appointed Roy Kinnear as new chief commercial officer as part of a management shake-up in the wake of the company’s recent profits warning. Kinnear, currently chief executive of Air Seychelles, will join the company in January. He will have overall responsibility for the airline’s revenue management, network, scheduling, and other commercial aspects. The shakeup at the airline will also see Flybe’s chief revenue officer, Vincent Hodder become chief strategy officer. Prior to Kinnear’s arrival at Flybe, Ronnie Matheson, Flybe’s director of revenue management and distribution, will take up the role of interim CCO.
John Marshall has been named director of sales for the NFL Experience Times Square in New York City. He joins the attraction from the Top of the Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center, where he served for more than 12 years, almost eight of them as sales manager.
Andrew Goodsell, chairman of Saga Holidays, the well-known over-50s UK holiday specialist, has announced his retirement, effective next year. Goodsell has been with the company for 26 years.
In Brazil, which is the eighth largest source market in terms of the number of students (nearly 20,000) it sends to the United States, the Student Travel Bureau (STB) has hired Rui Pimenta to the position of director of sales. He will be charged with expanding STB’s presence with new stores and taking care of training for the commercial team, in addition to increasing the number of customers. Pimenta has 15 years of experience in sales management focused on international education.