Is it Possible? New York City International Traffic was Really UP Last Year
China Rises to Position of NYC’sNumber 2 International Source Market: During the first quarter of 2017, it had almost become written in stone that, for a variety of reasons—the most commonly mentioned one being a dislike of U.S. President Donald Trump—visitation to the United States from Mexico, Canada and overseas source markets would decline by at least single-digit percentages. Such was the case with New York City, the top international gateway for visitors to the U.S., with one widely reported study indicating that international visitation would likely be off by 300,000 vs. 2016.
Wrong. While the news did not receive the attention that did the projections of decline, there was actually an increase of more than 3 percent in international visitors in 2017 to the USA’s largest and business international gateway. Moreover, says NYC & Company, in its recently released 2017-2018 Summary, international visitation, is projected to enjoy another increase of more than 3 percent in 2018.
As Reported by NYC & Company, Highlights of 2017-2018 Summary:
- Despite strong political headwinds facing our industry at the start of 2017, New York City welcomed a record 62.8 million visitors last year. This marks the eighth consecutive year of visitation growth. Domestic travel increased by almost 2 million person trips, from 47.8 to 49.7 million, a 3.9 percent gain over 2016. Particularly strong performance in the overnight visitor market helped push these results up.
- International visitors lagged at the start of the year, but ultimately surpassed the 13 million mark—a 3.4 percent increase—driven by regional growth from Asia and South America, together with a turnaround from Canada. (It is important to note, however, that as forecast, several key markets like the UK, Germany, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and the Middle East were down due to a variety of challenges including currency exchange rates and concerns about the welcoming nature of the U.S.)
- Forecast for 2018: The city should see another year of growth in 2018 as global economic conditions support increased domestic and international travel. The current forecast anticipates 65.1 million visitors (Up 3.7 percent year-on-year), as domestic visitation breaks the 50 million mark with 51.4 million visitors, and international visitation breaks another record with 13.7 million visitors. Domestic visitation is forecast to continue at an above 3 percent growth rate in 2018. High consumer confidence levels, low unemployment and rising wages are expected to increase domestic demand for travel to the City. International travel growth is expected to outpace domestic visitation growth if current global economic and policy conditions hold.
How Has the Ranking of Top 20 UK Tour Operators Changed This Year?
The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has released the latest figures for Atol license holders in the UK travel industry following the latest April renewals (some companies renew six months later, in October) and they suggest that, overall, sales of tour packages should likely increase overall outbound travel—but not necessarily to the U.S.
Some notes on the renewal figures for the Top 20 tour operators, based on seats to be sold, include the following (For purposes of comparison, we’ve posted the Top 20 list for last year below.).
The Top 3 tour operators, TUI Group, Jet2holidays and Thomas Cook continue to dominate the list in terms of number of licensed seats. (Jet2holidays has surpassed Thomas Cook for the Number 2 position.)
TUI has grown its Atol license total by just under one percent, from 5,344,076 to 5,386,845, adding more than 40,000 more passengers to its annual total since April 2017.
Jet2holidays, an package tour holiday provider with NYC as it’s only US destination, as increased its Atol license inventory by nearly a third (29.2 percent) vs. last April—from 2,272,178 to 2,936,420.
Thomas Cook is listed as the third highest Atol holder, with a total of 2,389,227, which is down 2.5 percent vs. 2,450,181 at the same time last year.
Online travel agent Expedia, with 1,416,227, reduced its numbers by 0.4 percent while On the Beach, a UK OTA, On the Beach, added more than 200,000 seats to its license, going from 1,100,951 to 1,302,261.
British Airways Holidays saw its numbers drop nearly 12 percent—from 893,000 to 786,000, while Love Holidays parent We Love Holidays jumped from 9th on the list last year to 6th this year, more than doubling its numbers from 400,093 to 804,618.
Loveholidays.com is licensed to carry 804,618, up 27.5 percent year-on-year), has now overtaken British Airways Holidays (786,000, down 12 percent going from eighth to sixth place after more than doubling its capacity in just two years.
Meanwhile, Kuoni, which renews this fall, indicated that it had changed the name under which it renews its Atol. Last year, Kuoni’s license at this time of year was for 84,688 passengers. This year, reporting under the name of parent company Der Touristik UK, it was 55,019.
Virgin Holidays also moved into the Top Ten, ahead of Southall Travel, with its numbers increasing from 337,623 to 388,249.
UnionPay v Alipay v WeChat Pay: An Objective Comparison
What delegates to NAJ’s recent Active America China Summit in Atlanta heard from Daniel Crain, managing director of global ready education for the BRIC Marketing Group is that a case can be made for tying into any or the component(s) of the “Trifecta” of payment systems: China’s UnionPay bankcard/credit card; Alipay; and WeChat Pay.
Each of the three have user numbers in the hundreds of millions and each has a suite of services to which a travel supplier can tie into. What might tilt one toward WeChat vs. the other two is the penetration of the WeChat into so much of its Chinese user based through the range of activities, such as messaging, that are a part of a user’s every day life.
We’ve assembled some of the key elements of Crain’s presentation and augmented it with information we gathered on our own to illustrate what the Trifecta is all about.
The Trifecta …
China Union Pay:Founded in 2002, the Shanghai-based company’s bank card has grown exponentially in its number of users: In an article last summer on finextra.com, it was reported that, according to RBR’s Global Payment Cards Data and Forecasts to 2022 study, the continued rapid expansion of the Chinese cards market has helped UnionPay to increase its share of cards to 43 percent in 2016, and extend its lead over Visa and Mastercard. UnionPay has been the largest scheme globally for card numbers since 2010 and, by the end of 2016, there were more than six billion UnionPay-branded cards in circulation. RBR also found that UnionPay, Visa and Mastercard collectively account for 80 percent of cards worldwide.
AliPay: It was founded in established in 2004 in Hangzhou, China in February 2004 by the Alibaba Group and its founder, Jack Ma—China’s richest person. Alipay moved its headquarters to Shanghai, although its parent company, Ant Financial, remains Hangzhou-based. As far as we could determine, Alipay, which overtook PayPal as the world’s largest mobile payment platform in 2013 had about 450 million users at the end of 2016.
WeChat Pay is a digital wallet service for users of WeChat, which was founded in 2011. It is owned by Tencent, China’s largest technology company. WeChat has grown exponentially and at latest count the number of WeChat users was near a billion. The number who use WeChat Pay was around 340 million at the end of 2016.
Usage—Crain expands upon the ways in which the three payment systems can be used:
—In terms of various uses, WeChat Pay closely follows AliPay. It can be used to pay bills, buy goods online and offline, order tickets, grocery deliveries, hail a cab and do just about everything else. In addition, WeChat Pay powers the rapidly growing WeChat ecosystem. In addition, WeChat Pay powers the rapidly growing WeChat ecommerce ecosystem, making buying and selling products with WeChat online stores a smooth and secure experience.
—Moreover, WeChat continues to expand its services to various financial products—from investment funds to insurance, allowing users paying for that wth WeChat Pay and from within the app.
—In offline settings, WeChat Pay works pretty much in the same way as AliPay—using a system-generate dynamic QR code. In fact, both systems have become so popular that it’s a common site to see WeChatPay and AliPay QR codes next to each other at points of sale.
—Although Union Pay issues credit cards, it is better known as China’s primary debit card provider. It is always linked to a user’s bank account and requires using the physical car to process a transaction. Up until the introduction of the QR payment systems and a mobile app, this was the only way to go to process a payment.
—UnionPay is still the most commonly accepted payment in China with nearly every business being the network’s member. Most government services also accept Union Pay.
—Unfortunately, the reliance on magnetic strip and the security PIN makes Union Pay a less secure payment method.
For a destinations or travel suppliers who want to know more before committing to a partnership with UnionPay, AliPay or WeChat Pay, they should consult with one of the firms that specialize in the Chinese market before determining the level of commitment they want to make before venturing into this area of partnering and promoting.
New Airline Service
—Air China has launched twice-weekly service from Beijing to Panama City via HoustonIntercontinental. The Chinese carrier was already operating direct to Houston Intercontinental from Beijing, a route it currently serves with five weekly flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. On Thursdays and Sundays, the aircraft will now operate Beijing-Houston-Panama City-Houston-Beijing, with seats also available to purchase on the sector to and from Houston Intercontinental and Panama City
—Just prior to IPW next month (May 19-23) in Denver, Norwegian on April 9 launched service connecting Paris and Denver. The new service will operate twice-weekly, (Mondays and Fridays) between Paris De Gaulle.
—Delta Air Lines began a daily service between Orlando (MCO) and Amsterdam on March 30th. The route is Delta’s only transatlantic service from the Florida airport. TUI Airlines Netherlandscurrently provides a twice-weekly (Mondays and Fridays) service between Amsterdam and Orlando Sanford.
—Beginning June 1st, Canada’s Westjet will, for the first time, provide service between Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Halifax, Nova Scotia . The Paris-Halifax line then continues to Calgary, Alberta. For its first year of operation, it will be seasonal, from June 1 to October 27.
—On March 27, British Airways launched service from London Gatwick to Las Vegas. The flight from Gatwick to Las Vegas marks a return to a route that the airline last operated in 2016. It faces direct competition from Virgin Atlantic Airways which provides daily flights between the two airports.
—Norwegian began non-stop service on 27 March from London Gatwick to Austin. The new route to the U.S. launched just two days after the airline launched flights to Chicago O’Hare. The new service to Austin will operate year-round, three times weekly.
Future of MICE: Beds and Meeting Space Coming to Airlines in 2020
We used to joke about such things, but Airbus and Zodiac Aerospace—the global aerospace equipment and systems supplier—are planning on creating sleeping pods, lounges and meeting space to put in the cargo holds of aircraft by 2020.How? Carriers will be able to include pre-constructed beds that will be separate from the main economy and business class seating areas.
There will also be bookable meeting roomspace, lounges and areas for children to play. Instead of taking space from established seating spaces, Airbus and supplier Zodiac Aerospace will put the areas below the usual seating classes—in the cargo hold. For more on this possibility, which was first announced last week in travel trade publications in Europe and elsewhere, read here:
Celebrating IPW at 50 Years: What Was Your Most Memorable Moment?
As we prepare to gather in Denver next month for the 50th edition of IPW—the most important event on the inbound tour and travel industry’s calendar—the INBOUND Report shares recollections of and about the event from those who have been a part of IPW (formerly Pow Wow) over the years. This week, we feature the recollections of two veteran tour and travel industry professionals:Jackie Ennis, head of international marketing for the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, and Jorge Franz, vice president of international sales and tourism at the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Jackie Ennis: “IPW in Las Vegas. I had never been to Las Vegas before. As I stepped into the elevator from my hotel to go down to the show, a nicely dressed woman came out of the elevator and proceeded to vomit into her hands. Horrified, I ran back to the room to get the poor girl a towel and I got the elevator, the door clicked shut and I missed the moment.” Welcome to Las Vegas.
Jorge Franz: “Ten years ago, I was so desperate to get CityPass to choose Houston as their next city, I followed Mike Gallagher (co-chairman and co-founder of CityPass) into a bathroom and said ‘You need to come to Houston to check us out’ He said, ‘If I go will you leave me alone?’ And he finally came. The results have exceeded our wildest expectations.”
At a Glance” Illinois’ Heritage Corridor
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HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Less than a week after it merged with The Mark Travel Corporation, Apple Leisure Group has named Lynn Torrent as its new executive vice president and president of distribution. In this new role, Torrent will report to John Hutchinson, president of Apple Leisure Group, and will be responsible for all aspects of Apple Leisure Group’s tour and destination management businesses. Before joining Apple, Torrent came to apple from Carnival Cruise Lines, where she had most recently served as executive vice president-commercial operations.
Edison Rivas has been named regional market manager for the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Latin America for Secret Escapes in New York City. Before joining the company, Rivas held senior sales positions in New York for some well-known receptive tour operators including JacTravel, GTA and Tourico Holidays.
NYC & Company has announced the selection of Brands Travel as its new representative office in Mexico. Based in Mexico City, the agency will lead travel trade, communications, marketing, and MICE efforts across Mexico, New York City’s ninth-largest international visitor market. The account is led by Brands Travel CEO Carlos Ulibarri, with Carlos Baruki and Mauricio Castillo overseeing trade activity, and Rodrigo Medina managing public relations and marketing efforts in market.
G2 Travel is expanding its team for the Western US and Canada. The company has hired Hiromi Celis (left) as destination manager for Las Vegas and the Nevada Region. Celis was previously business development director of CHD, Inc. (Chinese Host). Prior to that, she worked at companies such as The Mirage, Treasure Island and AlliedTPro. Celis will be based in Las Vegas. Stella Wang, has joined G2 as the destination manager for the Mountain States in an effort to expand G2 Travel’s supplier partnerships throughout the popular National Parks areas.Wang has over 10 years of experience in the travel industry and comes from a strong background in hotel sales and with tour operators such as ATI and Destination America. Wang is based at G2’s Los Angeles office.
Belinda Vazquez, currently director of Ireland and ancillaries for TUI UK, has been named the company’s new retail director for TUI UK & Ireland. She starts her new job on May 1st.She will head up TUI UK & Ireland’s retail division and team across its 600 stores, as well as take responsibility for the company’s commercial relations and retail business support functions.Vazquez, who is a 20-year veteran of TUI, replaces Mark Bather.
Philipp Holzinger, now head of key account management at Thomas Cook Germany, has been named successor to RüdigerBlaek as senior sales manager, who is retiring after more than 40 years with the company. Holzinger will begin his new role on July 1st.
TUI Germany’s cultural holidays specialist Gebeco is changing its sales and marketing structure. In the future, the former sales manager Jens Hulvershorn(right) will be responsible for marketing, while the sales department will be headed by BjörnOberländer. The classic distribution and the special group distribution have combined into one unit. In the future, the sales department will also be responsible for stationary travel agency sales as well as new and digital distribution channels.
Ali Brewer, manager of membership sales and promotions, American Bus Association (ABA)has left the association after serving it for eight years. She started at ABA as an intern. In an online post to friends announcing her move, she did not indicate what her future plans are.
An Appeal from the Editor-in-Chief: