Will National Day Week Re-Start China?
While it will not have any impact on outbound long-haul travel (say, to the United States), there is expected to be a surge in domestic demand beginning with the launch tomorrow of China’s all-important National Day Holiday. A strong travel demand has been made even stronger by this year’s longer holiday as the Mid-Autumn Festival, which also falls on Oct 1, will overlap with the weeklong National Day holiday, giving people an extended holiday of eight days until Oct 8.
Commonly referred to as Golden Week, the period accounts for a substantial share of the country’s overall annual travel and tourism expenditures.
Also factoring into the expectations for a domestic travel boom in China is the sense that the holiday is made all the more meaningful by its place on the calendar as the first significant travel holiday in 2020 without heavy restrictions since the emergence earlier this year, in China, of the coronavirus-driven global pandemic. Then, too, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a time to factor in visits to relatives and for family reunions.
Published reports indicate that high-speed passenger railroads are booked to capacity for travel to and from different parts of the country. And according to an item earlier this month in China.or.cn, Haikou Meilan International Airport in the capital of Hainan province, for example, will add and/or resume more than 1,500 flights to meet the demand of the travel spike expected for the National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival holidays.
Also, about 1,346 flights are expected to be added connecting Haikou with major tourist cities including Guangzhou and Shenzhen in Guangdong province, Wuhan in Hubei province, and Shanghai. Further, about 180 flights are scheduled to resume operation, according to the airport.
Now, as noted above, while all of this domestic travel activity won’t have a direct impact on international or long-haul overseas journeys by Chinese travelers, it suggests that the “travel aptitude” of the Chinese consumer is high and that they are ready to travel abroad—both to regional destinations such as Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, and to long-haul destinations in Europe and North America.
Posing a major challenge to a positive outlook for a renewed travel between China and the U.S. are muddled political relations, as well as tensions over trade matters. Even if air traffic between the United States and China is restored to pre-pandemic flight levels—not a great probability at all—it will take some time for U.S. receptive tour operators, travel suppliers and destinations to re-integrate into the distribution channels of China.
In the meantime, this week’s expectations for strong domestic activity in China will stoke the hopes of those promoting the USA. And, as the author Vera Mazarian has told us, “Hope is the last thing that dies.”
Travel to USA Can Only Get Better
The just-posted numbers from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) tell us that close of August marked the worst-ever half-year period for travel from overseas countries to the United States.
As the world’s travel and tourism industry fights to remain a viable force midst the drear and dross of the coronavirus-drive global pandemic that has virtually shut the industry down since the beginning of March 2020, we take solace in surveys that tell us certain sectors of travel and tourism are finding viability with creative selling or that a pent-up demand simply has to translate into travel. But when it comes to the key figures that really matter, the outlook for the near-term is not that encouraging.
Take a look at the new look on the National Travel and Tourism Office arrivals website:
Let’s consider the capacity and capability of several of the airlines that make overseas travel to and from the U.S. possible. A column last week by OAG’s John Grant that focused on the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. He wrote:
“For two of the majors, current bookings for November are running at just 25 percent of those reported at this time last year whilst for Delta Air Lines forward bookings are only at 12 percent of last year’s level for November. Clearly booking data changes every day but two factors also play on this data; quite how many of these bookings are vouchers being redeemed and precisely how much was paid for each booking. A triple whammy of fewer bookings, vouchers being used, and low yields just compound the misery for the carriers.”
For now, the overwhelming consensus of the news that reports on trave trade activity in the key markets and regions that are key to a healthy industry is that we should not expect a magic spike somewhere in Q4, and that we should focus—if we aren’t already doing so—on 2021 and 2022.
And remember: the numbers below will only get better.
USA Gets Poor Ratings from Key Markets
U.S. Image Declines Internationally as Most Say Country Has Handled Coronavirus Badly: Ratings for Trump remain poor Since Donald Trump took office as president, and the image of the United States has suffered across many regions of the globe. As a new 13-nation Pew Research Center survey illustrates, America’s reputation has declined further over the past year among many key allies and partners. In several countries, the share of the public with a favorable view of the U.S. is as low as it has been at any point since the Center began polling on this topic nearly two decades ago.
In some country markets, ratings for U.S. are at record low.
Percentage who have a favorable view of the U.S.
Note: 2000 trend is from 1999 or 2000 and provided by U.S. Department of State:
Source: Pew Research Center, Summer 2020 Global Attitudes Survey
According to the report, “just 41 percent in the UK express a favorable opinion of the U.S., the lowest percentage registered in any Pew Research Center survey there. In France, only 31 percent see the U.S. positively, matching the grim ratings from March 2003, at the height of U.S.-France tensions over the Iraq War. Germans give the U.S. particularly low marks on the survey: 26% rate the U.S. favorably, similar to the 25% in the same March 2003 poll.”
The report continues, “Part of the decline over the past year is linked to how the U.S. had handled the coronavirus pandemic. Across the 13 nations surveyed, a median of just 15% say the U.S. has done a good job of dealing with the outbreak. In contrast, most say the World Health Organization (WHO) and European Union have done a good job, and in nearly all nations people give their own country positive marks for dealing with the crisis (the U.S. and UK are notable exceptions). Relatively few think China has handled the pandemic well, although it still receives considerably better reviews than the U.S. response.”
All publics surveyed rank the U.S. coronavirus response lowest.
Percentage who say ( ) has done a good job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak
Note: In Australia and Canada, the question was asked about “COVID-19.” In Japan, it was asked about “the novel coronavirus,” and in South Korea, it was asked about “Corona 19.”
Source: Pew Research Center, Summer 2020 Global Attitudes Survey
Said the report: “Ratings for U.S. President Donald Trump have been low in these nations throughout his presidency, and that trend continues this year. Trump’s most negative assessment is in Belgium, where only 9 percent say they have confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing in world affairs. His highest rating is in Japan; still, just one-quarter of Japanese express confidence in Trump.”
Poor ratings for the U.S. and Trump
Percentage who have ( ) …
Source: Summer 2020 Global Attitudes Survey.
A note on methodology: The Pew Report focuses on public opinion of the United States in 13 countries in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Views of the U.S. and its president are examined in the context of long-term trend data. The report also examines how people in other countries perceive America’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and how those perceptions compare to ratings for their own country, the World Health Organization, the European Union and China. For this report, we use data from nationally representative surveys of 13,273 adults from June 10 to Aug. 3, 2020, in 13 advanced economies. All surveys were conducted over the phone with adults in Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK, Australia, Japan and South Korea.
Click here for a complete copy of the Pew Report.
Connect & ReConnect with Domestic Tour Operators
There was considerable interest in the most recent—”Connect & ReConnect with Domestic Tour Operators”—of Connect Travel’s virtual roundtable series on keeping connected with travel trade leaders, especially as both the travel trade and national news new media have begun to focus on the expectation that recovery from the coronavirus-driven global pandemic will occur first in domestic markets, including student, senior and specialized groups. So popular was the first webinar discussion on the subject that it was brought back again (thus the “ReConnect” in the name of the event) and, again, generated participation by hundreds of travel and tourism professionals.
The industry panel was comprised of the following participants:
Keith Snode, chief operating officer, Kaleidoscope Adventures – [email protected].
Rich Bradley, president & CEO, Original Orlando Tours – [email protected].
Jennifer Simpson, chief experience officer, Bespoke Experiences – [email protected].
Steve Maehl, vice president field operations, Global Travel Alliance – [email protected].
Matthew Granger, director of sales, Guardian Music and Group Travel – [email protected].
Moderating the discussion was Shari Bailey, vice president, Connect Travel, and general manager, Connect Travel Events.
1. Booking Trends: Requests and bookings are occurring. Panelists believed that primary group destinations in 2021 will change, creating unique opportunities for tertiary and “beyond the gateway” destinations. Requests have been for destinations closer to home, more regional. Additionally, booking windows, regardless of market segment, have reduced significantly.
2. Student Groups: Don’t count out student travelers. Students, parents and teachers want to travel. Individual school districts across the country are tasked with deciding how and when sanctioned public school trips will begin safely traveling again. Private schools and non-school sponsored groups are traveling. Safety is a top concern, groups are smaller, and booking windows have changed from 1 year out to 3 months.
3. Product Trends: Bespoke/custom tours, walking tours, outdoor activities, destinations beyond the gateways and traveling closer to home have certainly increased in popularity. Tour operators need this information to create new programs.
4. Partnership: Flexibility and fluid timelines are the new norm; making partnerships more important than ever. The panelists reminded, “We all need to be good stewards to our industry.” There are obligations on everyone’s end. As compromises and agreements are reached; balancing flexibility with responsibility is paramount. Be mindful to keep the integrity of the product.
5. Connect: Outreach is important, be sure to keep your clients up to date. Our panelists specifically requested destination updates, new product and program information, flexibility and availability guidelines, and safe + clean guidelines. Equally important, updated contacts from your organizations. They need to know who/what is open, group size capability at restaurants, restrictions at attractions, etc.
Steve Maehl: “From destinations, what do we need? It’s super-helpful to have comprehensive lists on what’s open and what’s closed. Earlier (this year), we got to the point where every other day we were checking different websites. ‘OK, what’s the status on this venue? We don’t know if they’re open or if they’re closed. Or if they have a cap limit. Or a group size limit.’ On a package, you can easily have 25 vendors that you’re working with … it’s hard to keep track of.”
Rich Bradley: “If you were to break down our market segments, in a normal year, 50 percent of our business is international; so, there’s half of it gone right off the bat. Forty percent is outside of Florida and 10 percent is within Florida. The 40 percent has been dead most of the year, but it’s starting to get a little tire kicking going. So, really, the challenge for us is that we are down to the last 10 percent of the market, and which of those people are willing to venture out and have some fun.”
Keith Snode: “We’ve reshaped some products of ours. We launched ‘Just for Us Adventures,’ which are tours and destinations curated specifically to limit contact with large groups and crowds … as well as smaller groups, keeping groups contained, private experiences and things like that.”
Jennifer Simpson “We’re very flexible and fluid in terms of the timeline. So, although we had Savannah on our radar to launch for Q2 in 2022, we just launched it last week because we had a guest said that said we want it. And within two days, we put something together for a group of eight. But it was a very high net worth individual who was willing to pay for the compressed timeline.”
Matthew Granger: “Our marketing has been minimal up to this point. Before things got too crazy, we did a very shallow dive into the different destinations that SYTA (Student & Youth Travel Association) was promoting—the top 10 domestic and top 10 international ones. We want to be able to do the same thing going forward with your cities. So, CVBs, vendors, different attractions, restaurants … send me what you have.”
Trade Talk: What’s New
Necessity—the mother of invention for the Travel Trade: In reviewing the daily and weekly news, of late, that cover new developments among international tour operators, USA-based receptive tour operators and, in general, the distribution system that promotes and sells the Visit USA travel experience abroad, one suspects that the industry has always had at its core some really inventive and resourceful people who are constantly devising new ways for travelers to enjoy the experience. And for travel sellers who market the experience. For the most part, these innovators keep their ideas to themselves, maybe discussing them with some like-minded professionals elsewhere in the travel and tourism industry until … it’s necessary to try something different.
Such is the case as the industry tries to reckon with the shadow of the coronavirus-driven global pandemic. Local, regional and international in nature, there follows a sampler of what is going on in the industry of late.
• UK-based senior traveler specialists Saga Holidays has introduced a “Stay & Discover” range within its 2021 program, allowing customers to tour an area form a single hotel base. A total of 42 new holidays have been added for 2021, with the operator producing its first brochures since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Stay and Discover” features the Saga Reassurance Promise, which includes travel insurance with coronavirus cover and extra cancellation rights, no amendment fees and a £99 ($126) deposit. The operator has also reintroduced its Price Promise to guarantee best prices for early bookers. Chris Simmonds, managing director of Saga Holidays said: “We’re really excited to finally launch our new 2021 holiday brochures and the wealth of new holidays including Stay & Discover which offer guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in the destinations while enjoying the comfort of the hotel as a single base.”
• In Germany, in a development that seems to have surprised the traditional distribution system and the way it conducts business, “more and more travel agencies want to introduce a fee for additional services,” reports the German travel trade publication Touristik Aktuell. The coronavirus crisis and its dramatic consequences for the entire travel industry have increased the willingness of many travel agency owners to introduce a flat-rate service. More than half of the participants surveyed in a recent webinar indicated that they wanted to charge a flat rate in the future. Almost 60 travel experts took part in the survey. The webinar was led by Wibke Rissling-Erdbrügge from the training institute WRE Training.
• Hoteliers and operators are adapting to increasing number of travelers traveling to “close-in” destinations. The recent edition of Duetto’s Pulse Report, which tracks key hotel business metrics from Aug. 24-Sept. 6, showed significant increases in performance for the hotel markets of North America, bolstered by the Labor Day holiday weekend. Reported businesswire.com, “This is the first true boost to hotel performance since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and is a breath of fresh air for what have been highly restricted markets, which will continue to wax and wane in the months ahead.”
“Our data shows us, from hotels across the nation, people are willing to spend longer hours in the car than ever before to arrive at a destination of leisure,” said David Woolenberg, CEO of Duetto. Overall trends in North American hotel bookings over Labor Day, in comparison with the prior 14 weeks, showed the following:
—Traditional drive-to markets saw positive increases in new bookings as well as an increase in demand, which indicates our drive radius has increased in search of leisure. For example, Colorado saw a 432 percent increase; Tennessee (excluding Nashville) a 439 percent increase; Louisiana a 590 percent increase; Nevada a 272 percent increase; California increased 283 percent; and Florida increased 189 percent.
—Remote and rural locations are often being favored over urban destinations. (Colorado, Tennessee, Nevada)
—Travelers are willing to drive further distances in lieu of air travel. (Louisiana, California)
—New York City saw its largest uptick in net new bookings, up 318%, over the prior 14 weeks. Although well below 2019 numbers, these numbers show a positive response to some restrictions lifting and lowered COVID rates.
Said businesswire, “Remote and rural locations fared very well over the Labor Day weekend, some with bookings rivaling or surpassing 2019. One innovative hotel brand and Duetto customer specializing in luxury airstream experiences, AutoCamp, saw bookings up 37 percent from Labor Day 2019 at its Yosemite property
• The global tour operator Intrepid Travel, which specializes in small group adventure travel, says it has seen unprecedented demand for family tours over the last several months, prompting the company to create new retreat-style tours geared towards the demographic, with safety and quality as top priorities. Intrepid has found that a quarter of the top 25 itineraries booked by its customers globally over the past three months have been family-themed tours, compared to just 12 percent during the same period last year, indicating a desire for families to go abroad in 2021 after months spent distancing. Currently, the top family trips booked globally are all based in Africa and Asia, including the South Africa Family Safari with Teenagers and a family tour of Vietnam, while North American families are also interested in adventures in the Middle East, particularly Jordan and Egypt. The four new Family Retreats, based in Morocco, Turkey and England, will have groups immerse themselves in one location in handpicked accommodation with nearby experiences.
“After months spent indoors away from friends and classmates, we’ve seen families are eager to get out and explore the world once it is safe to do so, and have a desire to reconnect with both nature and like-minded people,” said Dyan Mackie, Intrepid’s family product manager.
• The Toronto-headquartered global tour operator G Adventures is branching out from global tour products to day tours, giving people the opportunity to get a taste of small group travel while remaining close to home. Its new “One Day in Boston: Sunrise to Sunset” local experience has been designed to offer a small, physically-distanced group of 16 people a day out in Boston. The day tour includes an early morning outdoor yoga session in the Common, a guided walk along the Black Heritage Trail, a bike tour into Cambridge, a three-hour food and history lesson through Chinatown and ends with a sunset sail on a classic schooner.
The city tours may be rolled out to other cities depending on demand. As reported by TravelMarketReport.com, Steve Lima, director of marketing for the U.S., says the small group operator wants to give people the opportunity to find adventure in their own backyard. The One Day in Boston: Sunrise to Sunset tour is priced from $259 per person for a full-day guided day tour, starting at 7:30am. It runs on Saturday Sept. 26 and Saturday Oct. 3, 2020. The tour is commissionable for travel advisors. Meanwhile, as the coronavirus-driven pandemic continues to create global uncertainty, G Adventures has suspended tours through Oct. 31, 2020, as well as the November and December departures of its G Expedition ship, with the exception of a small selection of tours departing in Europe in September and October where travel is possible between certain countries.
Germany Going from Bad to Worse
Better than any assessment that the INBOUND Report could offer regarding the state of the travel and tourism industry in Germany is this past month’s travel agency index put out by the Munich-based business consulting firm, Dr. Fried & Partner. It showed the index at a near all-time low of 66.2, which is lower than it was in August. No agent surveyed described their status as “good,” while the percentage of “bad” responses had risen to 97.2 percent from last month’s 93.2 percent. The number of travel agents who, compared to last year, had sales of travel services that had fallen significantly in the last 2-3 months, totaled 96.5 percent of travel agencies indicating such; this was even more than in August when 94.8 percent indicated a decline of sales compared to 2019.
One has to rely on figures involving travel agencies, rather than those concerning tour operators, because the travel trade and leading tour operators have already conceded, it seems, that 2020 is a lost year for their business.
More than any other European market, Germany has suffered the full force of the impact of the coronavirus-driven global pandemic—from the shutdown of all borders in the EU till July 1st, followed by selective bans on varied countries since that time. The latter have hurt those agencies and operators who feature packages to favored destinations throughout the continent.
Airline Lift Capacity is Nil: Because long-haul air traffic has been effectively non-existent for six months, there has been no promotion of international travel or Visit USA product. And a return to pre-coronavirus traffic levels are not expected to return for several years. The situation is particularly dicey for Germany, whose de facto national carrier, Lufthansa—it is the largest German airline which, when combined with its subsidiaries, is the second largest airline in Europe in terms of passengers carried—has been teetering near total collapse.
The carrier recently announced a third round of job cuts on top of 22,000 announced since the start of the coronavirus crisis. Lufthansa, which received a government bailout of €9 billion ($10.5 billion) in June, said it would have to realize €1.1 billion ($1.3 billion) in impairment over its fleet decisions.
Usually, if one is looking for an answer as to where the industry is going, one looks at what the major operators are doing. And there, the situation is hardly encouraging. For instance, after earlier announcing its intention to try to move some 2020-21 product in the last quarter of 2020, TUI—the largest tour operator in Germany, Europe and the world—announced that it is reducing capacities in winter to around 40 percent of the original offer. (The TUI Group announced this in advance of the publication of the full-year results.) This action followed a decline of 83 percent in bookings this past summer. For the coming summer 2021, TUI plans to offer 80 percent of the originally planned capacity.
Meanwhile, Ingo Burmester, CEO Central Europe for DER Touristik, the number two market leader in German, said that he expects lower prices for destinations with weaker demand. “We will pass this on to our customers,” he said. DER Touristik is now accepting bookings for all of its 84 own-brand hotels as well as many other hotels for summer 2021, enabling families to make very early bookings for school summer holiday dates at discounted prices.
There seems to be a consensus in the industry that next year—for those who make it there—will bring about stable, if not cheaper, prices for the inventory that is/will be available.
“Connect with Hotelbeds” a Hit
Hundreds of travel and tourism professionals showed for Connect Travel’s recent virtual roundtable to join ten top professionals from global industry leader Hotelbeds to discuss the current state of business and the outlook for the near-term future. The team from Hotelbeds (along with their contact information) included:
Alice Kilpatrick – Sourcing – Regional Manager Southeast USA, Hotelbeds, [email protected]
Bill Chambers – Regional Manager Rest of West, Hawaii & Canada, [email protected]
Renata Cenni – Regional Manager SouthWest, [email protected]
Jules Pandise – Strategic Account Manager for North American Sales, Hotelbeds, [email protected]
Ruben Mordan – Area Contract Manager – South East, Hotelbeds, [email protected]
Aline Magalhaes – Area Yield Manager – Northeast US, Hotelbeds, [email protected]
Roberta Chiappero – Area Yield Manager SouthWest, [email protected]
Jayne Stones – Head of Sourcing USA and Canada, Beyond the Bed|Hotelbeds, [email protected]
Phil White – Head of Sourcing Theme Park & Cruises, Beyond the Bed | Hotelbeds, [email protected]
Joseph Sheller – Head of Partner Marketing, [email protected]
Moderating the program for the roundtable was Shari Bailey, vice president, Connect Travel general manager, Connect Travel Events. (Photo of Shari Bailey) Following is a list of the key takeaways one got from the roundtable discussion.
1. Bookings Trends: Hotelbeds and Beyond the Bed see domestic travel recovering first with decreased passenger focus on primary destinations. International travel has been heavily focused on Summer 2021. Here are the key booking takeaways:
• The average ADR decline for most US destinations is 25% in 2020 & 2021.
• Most re-bookings are for June/July or later for 2021.
• Safety and Cleanliness is a top priority. In fact, 76% of all Hotelbeds bookings are made at “Safe2Stay” designated properties.
2. Product Trends: Data show secondary and tertiary destinations growing at a faster pace, bypassing top destinations. Beyond the Bed has seen an increased demand for outdoor activities and private tours. As Domestic content becomes more important than ever before, Hotelbeds is working to include new properties, activities, transfers, and tours in their portfolio.
3. Value: Consumers are looking now more than ever at VALUE across all hotel star ratings and activity options. Create early booking promotions, lead-in pricing, fee reductions, and refundable pricing.
4. Marketing: Hotelbeds is dedicated to fueling the recovery through partner and destination marketing. Redesigned co-op options based on booking trends will allow you to participate.
5. Connect: Hotelbeds wants to hear from you. Destination updates, new products and programs, flexibility and availability guidelines, and safe and clean guidelines are important to them. Equally important, they are committed to keeping their partners up-to-date on their suite of programs to aid in recovery.
Check out the full Hotelbeds presentation here.
Brazilian Comeback Gains Momentum
Top industry leader says domestic growth leads recovery, sales for international segment are “heating up.” U.S. travel suppliers and DMOs who’ve depended in the past on a strong Brazilian inbound market in the past, have received some reassuring news from the just-released Brazilian Overview Monthly Report for September.
“We begin the last quarter of 2020 with some very good data and perspectives for the rebound of travel in Brazil. Domestic trips are leading the way,” José Guilherme Alcorta, CEO of the authoritative PANROTAS, publisher of news and analytic products, told subscribers to the report, “but there is a huge demand just waiting for the end of restrictions to countries such as Argentina, United States, Chile, Portugal, Italy and France. Sales for international travels in 2021 are starting to heat up and we hope to get by the end of 2020 with a clear outlook for next year and beyond.”
He also said that “there is the expectation of a vaccine in São Paulo as soon as October, with the immunization completed in 2021. That will surely bring back confidence and allow Brazilians to travel more freely.”
To suggest that Alcorta’s words are reassuring are an understatement for Brazilian international tour operators and U.S.-based receptive tour operators who have depended on travelers from Brazil, which had begun last year to recover from a period of weak demand and was, according to the latest long-term forecast from the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office, the number five overseas source market for the United States, behind only the UK, Japan, China and South Korea.
Some of the highlights of the Overview, which PANROTAS publishes along with FerocomercioSP, the São Paulo organization that has a wide portfolio of products dealing with business, economic and research subjects, include the following:
—Brazil’s Consumer Confidence Index (ICC) was relatively stable in July and August. And while it is below the level of 2019, it still remains at an optimistic level. “The recovery of confidence is in charge of the economy, slowly and gradually,” said the report.
—”A relatively recent simple announcement of a possible removal of travel restrictions from Brazil to the United States made sales and searches for airline tickets to American cities soar.” As companies are offering flexible rebooking policies, many Brazilians are taking advantage of promotion opportunities and buying tickets for the end of the year and summer (December to March).
—Travel companies are betting on Brazil and the Caribbean as the main destinations for the resumption of travel at the end of the year.
—The wave of layoffs at operators and travel agencies has created another phenomenon: the creation of new agencies and independent consultants that seek the structure of larger companies to serve their customers
—Car rentals and vacation rentals are in high demand by tourists.
—Direct flights will be preferred when international travel resumes (in to avoid more flights and more time at airports) to destinations such as Miami, Orlando, New York, Lisbon, Buenos Aires, Paris, Rome, Istanbul, and Dubai.
Click here to download the September edition of the Brazilian Overview Monthly Report
—Another note of relatively upbeat news came via the results of the sixth monthly survey of Braztoa (Brazilian Association of Tour Operators) conducted since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic showed that 79 percent of member operators made sales in August. The index was at 78 percent for August.
—The survey also indicated that the percentage of companies that reported having sold up to 50 percent compared to the previous year’s revenue increased from 10 percent to 25 percent.
Canadian-U.S. Traffic in a Woeful State
Well, Maybe Next Year—after COVID-19: Our most important market has been in trouble. More than a quarter (20.8 million visitors, or 26.3 percent) of all international arrivals to the United States are from Canada. The latest tally from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) arrivals figures shows that visitation from Canada to the United States was down by more than 55 percent.
For Canada, all of its Top Ten target markets for international visitors (the USA, China, Mexico, the UK, India, France, Germany, South Korea, Japan and Australia) were off by more than 75 percent through the first six months of the year.
And it doesn’t seem to make a difference whether one regards Canada as a source for inbound traffic to the U.S. or as a part of the receptive market of North America. For both Canadian and U.S. suppliers who depend on cross border traffic (especially in the New York-Canada section of the joint border), there is a huge dependence on this type of travel activity, with the value of the Canadian dollar vs. the U.S. dollar serving as a key variable. In recent years, it has largely favored the United States. *
What has really crushed the Canada—U.S. trade has been the impact of the coronavirus-driven global pandemic. Because of it, the shared land borders between the two countries have been closed since March 18 and extended each month since.
There was some hope as the industry entered the fourth quarter of 2012 that what was left of the peak travel season or the shoulder season that unofficially launches in October, that there might be something left to salvage.
But just as September was ending, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, the United States borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed through October 21.
“We continue to work with our Canadian and Mexican partners to slow the spread of COVID-19,” he wrote in a Tweet. “Accordingly, we have agreed to extend the limitation of non-essential travel at our shared land ports of entry through October 21.”
For those interested in the specifics, the border closure applies to nonessential travel, but does not apply to trade and still allows for Americans returning to the U.S. and Canadians returning to Canada.
In June, the Canadian officials eased some Canada-US border restrictions for “foreign nationals who are immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and who do not have COVID-19 or exhibit any signs or symptoms of COVID-19.”
The rule strictly defines family members as the following:
—A spouse or common-law partner;
—A dependent child, as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, or —A dependent child of the person’s spouse or common-law partner;
—A dependent child, as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, of a dependent child referred to in paragraph (b):
—A parent or step-parent or the parent or step-parent of the person’s spouse or common-law partner;
—A guardian or tutor.
—Americans traveling to or from Alaska are also allowed to drive through Canada, but must display a “hang-tag” during their trip and can only pass through certain border crossings, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.
* The numbers are indeed weak no matter what one’s perspective is. For instance, Destination Canada. Beginning with June 2020, it has begun to include same-day trips from non-U.S. countries—air passengers in transit to other countries—which have normally been excluded. Destination Canada estimates that these same day trips account for 3 percent of total arrivals. U.S. travel excludes same-trips by land. Data on mode of entry at the country level are not available, so only the long-haul arrivals by mode of entry are provided in the agency’s data.
Hodge Podge: Changes & Appointments
Former Kuoni senior sales operations manager Brad Bennetts is joining easyJet Holidays—it is the eighth largest tour operator in the UK, based on ATOL figures—as head of distribution, replacing Si Morris-Green who is leaving the operator Bennetts left Kuoni in August following a strategic review and staff consultation triggered by the COVID-19 crisis.
John De Fries has been named the new president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA). De Fries, who began his new job on September 16, is the first native Hawaiian appointed as HTA’s president and CEO, and was chosen from a pool of more than 300 candidates for the job. He replaces Chris Tatum, who retired after a 40-year travel industry career on Aug. 31. De Fries, who was born and raised in Waikiki and resides in Kona, formerly headed the Department of Research and Development for the County of Hawaii, which is charged with stimulating economic growth in tourism, agriculture and renewable energy.
Destination management company Discova has appointed Tom Grapes as business development manager for the UK and Europe. Grapes will start his new role earlier this month, having worked most recently for the Flight Centre Travel Group, where he was Asia product manager. Discova currently operates in 14 countries in Asia, as well as Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. In March, the DMC appointed former Intrepid head of industry sales Andrew Turner as global director of sales.
Erica Muhlemanhas been named executive vice president of new business development/marketing & sales at the Canton, Ohio Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company (HOFV). Muhleman brings to HOFV extensive knowledge of corporate sponsorships, sales and marketing, and community and public relations accumulated from her over two decades of experience working in the sports and entertainment industries, including a tenure at Pegula Sports and Entertainment. She has worked directly with corporate leadership executives and business partners within professional sports organizations such as the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League. Prior to Pegula Sports and Entertainment, Muhleman served as vice president of corporate partnerships for the Buffalo Bills. Earlier in her career, she worked as manager of marketing services for the Cleveland Browns.
Cheryl Hargrove has left her position as director of industry & partner relations at Explore Georgia, part of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and will focus her attention on her public relations and consulting firm, Hargrove International. Hargrove had worked for Georgia for more than six years. Previously, she held senior positions at the National Geographic Society and at Travel South USA.
Lucy Hathaway has been appointed chief sales officer at travel insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance. As chief sales officer, Hathaway will lead the organization’s efforts to strengthen and evolve its long-standing partnerships across its key distribution channels, while securing new business relationships. Hathaway brings 25 years of insurance industry experience to her new role in the areas of strategic planning, business development and financial management. She has held senior leadership positions at Travelers Canada and RSA Canada that included responsibility for developing and executing national underwriting and distribution strategies.
Jennifer Catto is the new chief marketing officer at Travelport. An award-winning marketing executive with two decades of leadership experience at both fast-growth and established companies, Catto was most recently chief marketing officer of Telaria, a data-driven software platform designed to monetize and manage premium video inventory. During her four years with the company, she launched the Telaria brand and, within 24 months, successfully established it as the recognized leader in connected television.
Diogo Elias is the new director of sales and marketing at Latam Airlines Brazil. Latam provides service from a number of Brazilian cities to the USA. Elias, who has an MBA from the University of Michigan, previously worked at Microsoft, Magazine Luiza and Itaú
EasyJet has named TUI Group’s aviation boss, Kenton Jarvis, as its new chief financial officer, where he will team up again with chief executive Johan Lundgren, who was also a former TUI executive before taking the helm of EasyJet three years ago. Jarvis will replace Andrew Findlay, who EasyJet earlier this year said plans to step down as CEO next May. EasyJet says it will provide an update on Jarvis’ start data in due course. Jarvis joined TUI in 2003 and is currently chief executive of aviation and business improvement director of markets at the travel group. He was formerly finance director of Airtours Holidays.
Gerald Kassner, owner and managing director of the German tour Operator Schauinsland Reisen, has been named Travel Industry Manager of the year 2020. The Travel Industry Club (TIC) annually honors special achievements by tourism managers. The company was founded in 1918 by Erich Kassner, the grandfather of Gerald.
Claudia Batten, an experienced U.S.-based technology executive, is the new chair of Serko Limited, a New Zealand-headquartered company that helps companies drive down the cost of their travel program using smart technology, and making the process of booking and managing travel and reconciling expenses a positive experience. Batten welcomed the announcement from her Los Angeles base, commenting: “As a founder, entrepreneur and manager of people I have personally experienced the frustration of current business travel and expense solutions. We have big ambitions for our products, despite the current macroeconomic conditions, and we are committed to continuing to build for the future of travel and expense.”
Nigel Fell has been named chief commercial officer for The World Tourism Association for Culture and Heritage, which is headquartered near Sydney, Australia. Fell, a UK national, is a multi award-winning destination and business development strategist who has served for some of Europe’s largest and best-known travel organizations, including tour operators and not-for-profit associations. For more than 20 years, Fell has worked with governments, tourist boards and major tour operators to develop, implement and manage tourism strategies. In addition, Fell is a qualified trainer and has worked to upskill and mentor business owners around the world.
After 15 years at the helm of the Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO), Pierre LePage has stepped down as the organization’s executive director. Widely known in the Canadian travel and tourism industry, LePage previously served for nearly two decades in national sales for Thomas Cook.
Posted Industry Jobs
From SearchWide Global:
—The Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce is looking for a president and CEO. For more information, visit here.
—The Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau is looking for a new president & CEO. Click here for more information.
—The City of Omaha has an opening for the position of director, parks, recreation and public property. Visit here for additional details.
—The city of Fort Smith Arkansas is searching for an executive director of its Advertising and Promotion Commission. Click here for more information.
—The Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau is searching for a new president and CEO. For details, visit here.
—The Virginia Tourism Corporation (it is the state’s DMO) has an opening for a director of research and market intelligence. Click here for more information.
—In the Charlotte/Concord area of North Carolina, Great Wolf Resorts as an opening for a director of sales and catering. For details, click here.
—Explore Ashville Convention and Visitors Bureau is searching for a president and CEO. Click here for more details.
—In Florida, the Naples•Marco Island•Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau is looking for a deputy director. For more information, visit here.
—The Park City Chamber of Commerce/Convention & Visitors Bureau is looking for a new president. Click here for more information.
—Visit Santa Clara is searching for a president and CEO. Click here for more information.
—Destination Ann Arbor is looking to hire a vice president of sales. For more information, visit here.
Four Events, Three Days, One Place
We want you to know unequivocally that your health and wellness are of the utmost importance to our team.
We are 100% going forward with eTourism Summit, RTO Summit South, THRIVE Summit and TOUR. Our event plan was recently approved by Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal OrlandoTM and the schedule has been created to comply with all Florida regulations.
The hotel is ready. We’re ready. The industry is ready.
Here is a high-level overview of the more-detailed Safe + Clean Connect plan:
- Temperature check points will be frequent.
- Masks will be required and provided.
- Meals will be boxed.
- Hand sanitizers and alcohol wipes will be distributed and widely available.
- Trade show aisles will be noticeably wider.
- Many vendors will be onsite demonstrating cutting-edge and practical event elements to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
- We will be utilizing indoor/outdoor venues throughout the programming.
We know there is no way to 100% protect everyone from COVID-19. Although we cannot remove all risk, we are doing everything in our power to mitigate it to minimal levels. Several large events have commenced in the last few weeks and we have reported on them to show you that this can be done and we can meet safely again. Please read that article here. It’s time to get our industry, which has been hit so hard, back on track again.
For questions, email Becca Smith at [email protected].