The Vaccine Impact
It took almost the entire calendar year of 2010 for pharmaceutical companies to get a virus that works. It will be this month or next when the first recipients will have their upper arms ready for the small prick of the needle that delivers the vaccines that have been developed to contain and eventually eliminate the COVID-19 virus. The new vaccine has been heralded as a savior for the world’s travel and tourism industry. Relief is on the way.
For the millions worldwide who have been laid off, furloughed or otherwise re-routed from their careers in tourism as a result of the COVID-driven global pandemic, the presence and potential of a vaccine will help to facilitate a shift in attitude: Instead of wondering, with little hope, if they would ever get back to the industry they know, there is now the hope that they might be able to return to selling, marketing, promoting and operating the tourism product.
What does all this mean? Here are some thoughts.
• If there has been one lesson that the team at Connect Travel’s INBOUND Report has had underscored and amplified for them in the past nine-plus months, it is that the professionals and managers who lead the industry remain the most resourceful and innovative of professionals of any other economic sector.
• Realizing the interdependence of the industry’s many components, tourism managers have pressed for, and receive from, federal government lump-sum payments and loans totaling in the scores of billions of dollars to help long-haul carriers weather the pandemic storm.
• Receptive tour operators, both small and mid-size, have been especially hard hit by the pandemic. But many are family owned and/or have small staffs. They cannot just lay off, furlough or make themselves part-time. So, as have many other components of the tourism industry, receptives have been reducing expenditures by operating remotely—”attending” virtual meetings and making sales calls online.
• Strapped for cash, international tour operators have already started selling, and seeking deposits for, long-haul travel (not just for 2021 and 2022) in 2023! Even before the word “vaccine” became common parlance in the industry, receptive tour operators and their partners began bravely preparing product for Q2 ‘21and Q3 ‘21, gambling that progress on getting the pandemic under control would be made. Such activity turns out to have been a good bet: once more destinations and activities roll out more product, these operators and their partners will already have had their pipeline open and ready to operate.
• No business, no matter how big they are, has been immune from the pandemic’s economic squeeze. TUI, Europe’s largest tour operator, recently announced that it was delaying payments to hotels. (This suggests, naturally, that if TUI is feeling the financial crush, then others must be feeling it as well. And they are.)
• Destinations accustomed to the revenue stream driven by international visitors found themselves with no long-haul air service to bring customers and clients to the USA. As a result, over the course of this past summer and into the fall, some DMOs and airlines have been successful in patching together short-haul “travel bubbles” that emphasize in-country or close-in regional travel product.
• If they’ve left the tourism industry, where are they going? We can’t come up with a reliable figure on the matter but, on the basis of the number of personal notices we’ve seen on the social media, it seems that more than a few former travel sales managers or directors have found a new job and home within the large services sector that include, for example, insurance, real estate and health care facilities (Does the latter suggest the hotel GMs and/or COOs at attractions and travel experiences have what it takes to long-term health care facilities, retirement homes or retirement communities?)
• Beyond Zoom. While the Oxford Dictionary has other English words as candidates, the mostly widely-known new word in the tourism industry is Zoom. Some businesses and organizations have taken the use of Zoom to new and higher levels in pacing, timing and fresh dialogue. Go to YouTube and take a look and listen at anyone of the three dozen or so programs in Connect Travel’s series of virtual roundtables on far-ranging subjects particular to the travel and tourism industry.
Connect, which last month in Orland held the first-of-their-kind series of tourism industry in-person and live marketplaces and conferences, is working on state-of-the-art meetings that incorporate some of the features that were well-received in Orlando into its schedule of events for 2021.
• Safe Bets—China and the UK: For 2019, before the pandemic crisis threw itself at the global travel and tourism industry, China and the UK, were the number three and number two overseas source markets for inbound tourism to the USA. The UK is about to inoculate its citizens with vaccines that neutralize COVID-19 virus, and Americans will be next. Most recent surveys of UK travelers tell us that there is a tremendous amount of pent-up demand for travel to the USA. Meanwhile, the people of China, which has reduced COVID-19 to a point at which new cases are near or at zero, are—by all indications—ready to resume long-haul travel. The key to opening the sluice gates for tourism from China and the UK to the United States will be airline lift capacity.
• To be continued … Join the dialogue by writing us and letting us and our readers know what you have been doing to respond to the damage of the global pandemic and how you have prepared for a return to (a new) normal. Just leave a reply below.
NTTO: Monthly Arrivals Creep Upwards
With an ever-so-slight increase—some so small in size that the changes involved might be deemed statistically insignificant—the number of visitors from some traditionally strong overseas source markets crept upwards during the month of October. If indeed the increases in travelers from the UK, India and Argentina are miniscule, one can readily respond: Well, at least the numbers did not decrease from the previous month.
For the record, the U.S. had 4,712 arrivals from the UK in October (vs. 3,980 in September); India’s arrivals last month totaled 15,785 (vs. 14,589 for September); and Argentina registered 9,213 arrivals in the U.S. last month vs. 3,731 for September).
How is this happening? It appears that major air carriers have been able to add/re-start a small number of routes as some national travel bans have been lifted or eased a little. Meanwhile, the number of arrivals from Caribbean and Central American markets could likely be an instance of roundtrip leisure travelers from the United States, along with a smaller number of travel bans in these nations.
Where there is hope: Nine months ago, no one in the global or U.S. travel and tourism industry was prepared for the catastrophic impact of the coronavirus and the global pandemic that it has fed. At the same time, we believe that it is fair to suggest that most of us did not expect hear of reports that approved vaccines to combat the virus would be ready this month.
We have no special insight or information that suggests when the impact of widely available vaccines might spread its impact throughout the distribution chain from source to consumer. But as the data below suggest: It won’t be soon enough.
We Have an Int’l Air Connectivity Crisis
Because of COVID-19, traditional, large cities suffer, while cities with large numbers of domestic connections now dominate. One of the great challenges to the international airline industry wrought by the COVID-19 crisis is the weakened connectivity of the major airports and the major airlines that serve them. Without an action plan to address the question of connectivity (and the gaps that have weakened it), the situation is bound to get worse for those who plan, and plan on, the connections that are critical for international long-haul travel.
This is the strong impression one receives in reviewing the findings of a report that was released at the recent 76th Annual General Meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Originally planned to take place in Amsterdam in June 2020, the meeting was pushed back to the end of November in Geneva.
The IATA report released data declaring that the COVID-19 crisis “has had a devastating impact on international connectivity, shaking up the rankings of the world’s most connected cities.” As evidence, it cited the following:
—London, the world’s number one most connected city in September 2019, has seen a 67 percent decline in connectivity. By September 2020, it had fallen to number eight.
—Shanghai is now the top ranked city for connectivity with the top four most connected cities all in China—Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu.
—New York (a 66 percent decline in connectivity); Tokyo (down 65 percent), Bangkok (down 81 percent), Hong Kong (an 81 percent drop-off) and Seoul (a 69 percent decline) have all exited the top ten.
—Cities with large numbers of domestic connections now dominate, showing the extent to which international connectivity has been shut down. The following table compares the year-on-year ranking difference in major cities—from September 2019 to September 2020.
Commenting on the findings, Sebastian Mikosz, IATA’s senior vice president for member external relations, said in a statement: “The dramatic shift in the connectivity rankings demonstrates the scale at which the world’s connectivity has been re-ordered over the last months. But the important point is that rankings did not shift because of any improvement in connectivity. That declined overall in all markets. The rankings shifted because the scale of the decline was greater for some cities than others. There are no winners, just some players that suffered fewer injuries. In a short period of time we have undone a century of progress in bringing people together and connecting markets. The message we must take from this study is the urgent need to re-build the global air transport network.”
Measuring Air Connectivity: IATA’s air connectivity index measures how well connected a country’s cities are to other cities around the world, which is critical for trade, tourism, investment and other economic flows. It is a composite measure reflecting the number of seats flown to the destinations served from a country’s major airports and the economic importance of those destinations.
COVID-19 impacts on connectivity by region
(April 2019-April 2020, IATA Connectivity Index measure)
Africa suffered a 93 percent decline in connectivity. Ethiopia managed to buck the trend. During the first peak of the pandemic in April 2020, Ethiopia maintained connections with 88 international destinations. Many aviation markets reliant on tourism, such as Egypt, South Africa and Morocco, were particularly severely impacted.
Asia-Pacific saw a 76 percent decline in connectivity. Stronger domestic aviation markets, such as China, Japan and South Korea performed better among the most connected countries in the region. Despite the relatively large domestic aviation market, Thailand was severely impacted perhaps because of the country’s high reliance on international tourism.
Europe experienced a 93 percent fall in connectivity. European countries saw significant declines across most markets, although Russian connectivity has held up better than Western European countries.
Middle East countries saw connectivity decline by 88 percent. With the exception of Qatar, connectivity levels reduced by more than 85 percent for the five most connected countries in the region. Despite border closures, Qatar allowed passengers to transit between flights. It was also an important hub for air cargo.
North American connectivity declined 73 percent. Canada’s connectivity (-85 percent decline) was hit more heavily than the United States (-72 percent). In part, this reflects the large domestic aviation market in the United States, which despite a significant passenger decline, has continued to support connectivity.
Latin America suffered a 91 percent collapse in connectivity. Mexico and Chile performed relatively better than the other most connected countries, perhaps due to the timing of domestic lockdowns in these countries and how strictly they were enforced.
Before the pandemic
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the growth in air connectivity was a global success story. Over the last two decades the number of cities directly linked by air (city-pair connections) more than doubled while over the same period, air travel costs fell by around half.
The top-ten most connected countries in the world mostly saw significant increases over the 2014-2019 period. The United States remained the most connected country, with growth of 26%. China, in second place, grew connectivity by 62 percent. Other standout performers in the top ten included fourth-place India (+89 percent) and ninth-place Thailand (+percent). For more information: Full Air Connectivity report (pdf)
UK Market Notes
#1. Magazine boosts role of operator—says package holidays are cheaper. The widely read UK consumer magazine Which?—it refers to itself as a “consumer champion”—gave a boost for tour operators in a recent issue. Its research on the cost of a holiday indicated that the use of package holidays is cheaper than those put together on a “do-it-yourself” basis. In addition to the matter of overall cost, Which? said that a packaged holiday offers greater protection to the consumers than do-it-yourself booking offer.
As reported by Travel Weekly UK, the Which? study said that package holidays were better value in eight out of 10 cases. The magazine studied the price of the cheapest packages available online from five UK airports from both Jet2holidays and Tui and compared them with the cost of identical DIY holidays. “Holidaymakers opting for packages could save hundreds of pounds on the cost of their trip, while also avoiding the risk of losing their money if they can’t travel due to government restrictions, lockdown or if their airline or hotel goes bust.” For more on Which? and its work, visit https://www.which.co.uk/.
#2. USA is one of the top preferences in a survey of would-be travelers. The at-home travel agent group, Not Just Travel, has reported that it has experienced a 5 percent year-on-year increase in bookings on the back of a weekly spike in demand. While we don’t know what kind of methodology the group used in its survey, it is safe to say, on the basis of trade media accounts elsewhere, it is probably correct. There have been numerous testimonials from travel and tourism professionals suggesting that there is a substantial pent-up demand on the part of travel consumers. Not Just Travel reported a 62 percent increase in inquiries for the week ending Nov. 27, crediting the spike to positive news revolving about COVID-19 vaccine trials and the Christmas holidays ahead of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. Not Just Travel said that it is probable that the traditional post-Christmas peak booking period is being pulled forward as a result. (The early weeks/weekends are known simple as “The Peaks” for the UK travel industry.) The activity is good news for U.S. destinations and travel suppliers, as Not Just Travel reported that the top destinations booked for 2021-22 are the United States, Canary Islands, Dubai, Lapland and Maldives.
#3 Are cut-rate deals a sign of growing consumer confidence? The UK travel trade publication Travel Mole reports a “Glimmer of hope for operators as cut-price deals drive bookings upturn … as operators and airlines have released a fresh wave of cut price deals as hopes rise that consumer confidence may slowly be returning.”
TM said that, while the immediate picture remains bleak, with much of the winter market having been written off, “a rush of Black Market offers,” coupled with vaccine developments, a reduced quarantine period and news that consumers even in the harshest of post-lockdown tiers can travel overseas, has given consumers and operators a lift.
Overall, TM reported, Wendy Wu Tours, Virgin Atlantic Holidays, Newmarket Holidays, Icelandair, Cathay Pacific, Ryanair, TUI, On the Beach, EasyJet Holidays, and Virgin Atlantic, to name a few, have offered deals. “Operators hope the introduction of cut-rate price packages and flights, at a time when consumer morale is showing sign of improving, will clinch sales,” reported TM, with many bookings, it seems, for Q2 and Q3 dates.
#4. And now the glum news: A study of travel anxiety study has found that 70 percent of Brits feel nervous about the future of travel with COVID-19 still around. In what should come as no surprise to anyone in the tourism industry, the specialist travel insurance company Medical Travel Compared surveyed some 2,000 holidaymakers from across the UK to reveal the future of travel in a COVID-19 world. In a news release the company attached some numbers regarding everything from catching the virus abroad to having to quarantine upon arrival,
According to Medical Travel Compared: Despite the increase in COVID travel fears, just 1 in 4 Britons are concerned about having to quarantine when they arrive back home from a holiday abroad. Even fewer (6 percent) fear being tested for COVID-19 in an airport. Low morale around travel is evident, with the survey revealing that 48 percent think they won’t be able to travel as often as they would like to in the future as a direct result of the pandemic.
The research also unveiled what parts of traveling abroad the UK has missed the most this year. Tops was the weather—63 percent state they miss this aspect of travel the most. Exploring new places (62 percent) and downtime away from the day-to-day/a chance to relax and unwind (54 percent) took second and third places.
China Experiencing Domestic Travel Boom
Should bode well when international recovery comes. The recent release of the official public holidays calendar for China has apparently kicked off a boom in the booking of domestic holiday travel by Chinese travelers. Like the would-be holidaymakers in most countries, the Chinese are sitting atop a cauldron of pent-up desire to travel. However, they cannot satisfy that desire through international travel, most of which is subject to country bans. As well, most major air carriers have had to cut back on routes and flight frequencies because of the reach of the COVID-19 virus and global pandemic that it has caused.
But Chinese travelers seem to have enough in-country destinations and experiences to satisfy the desire to travel for the time being. In addition, China, where the COVID-19 virus was first reported almost a year ago, has in place a strict set of practices and controls, and in the words of one report, “has all but declared victory” over the virus.
As a result, there are reports, such as that from Trip.com, the country’s largest travel company, that bookings for smaller, private group tours during the Lunar New Year holiday soared 160 percent on one day compared with a normal day. The OTA also indicated that searches for independent tourist itineraries related to the three-day New Year’s Day holiday from January 1 to 3 soared 120 percent compared with a normal day. And online travel operator Tongcheng-Elong said searches for tickets for travel, tourist attractions and other related products had surged 300 percent from normal as of Thursday afternoon.
What’s selling? Private tour groups are gaining in popularity with Chinese tourists as they feature limited numbers of tourists, usually family members or friends. Most of those booking private group tours for the break are families with children or senior members, Trip.com said.
The developments above tell the U.S. travel marketer or DMO promoter hoping for the Chinese market to come back is: Be prepared. Should the USA be able to open up to greater numbers of Chinese travelers (and other international travelers, for that matter) because of a reduction in COVID-19 virus levels at home, it seems likely that there will be a sufficient number of Chinese travelers ready and willing to visit.
Trip.com’s Big Picture: Meanwhile, China Travel News reported that the Chinese domestic business of Trip.com Group continues to show strong recovery momentum:
—China domestic air ticketing business achieved positive year-over-year growth for the third quarter of 2020.
—China domestic hotel reservations achieved positive growth, with mid-to-high end domestic hotel reservations reaching double digit year-over-year growth exiting the third quarter of 2020.
—Net revenue for the third quarter of 2020 was $805 million, representing a 48 percent decrease from the same period in 2019 and a 73 percent increase from the previous quarter.
—Accommodation reservation revenue for the third quarter of 2020 was $365 million, representing a 40 percent decrease from the same period in 2019, and a 98% increase from the previous quarter, primarily due to the recovery of China domestic market.
—Packaged-tour revenue for the third quarter of 2020 was $48 million, representing an 80 percent decrease from the same period in 2019, and a 151 percent increase from the previous quarter, primarily due to the easement of cross-region travel restrictions in China since mid-July.
—However, as a result of the continued negative impact due to COVID-19 in the fourth quarter of 2020, the Company expects net revenue to decrease by approximately 37 percent to 42 percent year-over-year for the fourth quarter of 2020.
“In the third quarter of 2020, the global travel industry continued to be under significant pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in China, we have already seen most of our major business segments return to pre-COVID level of activities in recent months,” said James Liang, executive chairman of Trip.com Group.
Lastly, this item: Illustrating how some nations are establishing “travel bubbles” with neighboring or nearby countries, Japan and China have resumed business travel ties, with travelers using Tokyo’s Narita Airport making about 20 flights to and from Chinese cities that are operated weekly—and vice versa. (Japan has taken the same measure with Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam.)
German Market Notes
#1. No change in anemic sales numbers: Retail sales in the travel and tourism industry continue to show the industry’s performance as weak as it has been since the beginning, nearly 10 months ago, of the global pandemic brought on by the COVID-19 virus.
—The total invoiced sales of the travel agencies recorded in the “ta.ts travel agency mirror” in November 2020 are minus 92.2 percent compared to the same month last year.
—The billed tourism turnover shows a minus of 93.2 percent in November. Air traffic revenue is down 93.8 percent. The other sales are minus 82.6 percent and the number of tickets is minus 93.7 percent. Sales from the tourism sub-division cruises were down 89.4% in November.
—Viewed cumulatively, the total invoiced travel agency turnover in the months from January to November is minus 77.0 percent. Tourism recorded a minus of 73.6 percent, while air traffic recorded a minus of 82.4 percent. The other sales show a minus of 64.2 percent and the number of tickets a minus of 78.5 percent. The cruises segment recorded a decrease of 70.0 percent.
2. Is TUI Too Big to Fail? Carrier gets another bailout package to stay afloat: Hanover-based TUI, the largest tour operator in Europe, was able last week to secure a financial package of 1.8 billion euros ($2.2 billion) with private investors, banks and the federal government. Deemed absolutely essential to the company’s cash flow situation—it had been announced earlier that TUI was suspending payments to some hotels—and, ultimately, its very survival. TUI had already received a total of 3 billion euros ($3.65 billion) in state-backed loans in two stages earlier this year.
No one seems to be criticizing the deal, as Germany’s integrated economy, along with the reach of TUI through every level of the distribution model, makes it an essential part of the nation’s overall economic health. Likewise, from a corporate perspective, it is especially important to the economy of the UK, where TUI UK is the country’s largest tour operator. And one must not forget that the UK is still suffering from the failure in September of last year of Thomas Cook, which was the nation’s third-largest tour operator at the time it shut down.
#3. Nowhere to go. The situation is especially difficult for German travelers. Though travel agents and tour operators are working to move incremental product for Q1 and Q2 in 2021—hoping that a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus will save the rest of next year—there is little opportunity in the present for Germans to holiday internationally because of travel bans. One tally late last week (the number changes almost daily) put the number of countries that Germans can visit at 44.
There is no travel permitted at all—to or from—between Germany and the USA. The situation is very much the same for other global source markets or countries who depend on German visitors. These include Canada, China, Japan, India and Australia. Check here to see what the international travel map looks like for German travelers.
#4. Adieu. The tour operator Fox-Tours Reisen, the travel agency brand of Berge & Meer Touristik, is gone from the market after a run of 23 years. It will be merged with the parent company. In a letter to travel agencies, the company said, “We will inform you separately about the exact date of the entry of the merger in the commercial register and the associated entry into effect of the merger.”
Connecting with Tour Operators +
At last week’s “Connect with Tour Operators Virtual Roundtable, viewers and listeners were treated to a lively dialogue covering what changes and adaptations they’re making in the midst of the current environment for doing business in the travel and tourism. The group discussion included: Marina Petrova, Founder, places.events; Tereza Reis, president, Personal RGE Tours; Dave Falsetti, regional director-Americas, musement; and moderator,Shari Bailey, vice president, Connect Travel, and general manager, Connect Travel Events.
There was a decided emphasis in much of the webinar on customer preference, facilitated in part by Marina Petrova’s presentation that was based primarily on Google analytics.
#1. Both the research as well as anecdotal accounts from tour operators tell us that customers are searching for attractions and activities that are “near me.”
#2. Travelers are bored. Scores of inquires going to Google show that travelers are asking “What to do when they are bored.”
#3. With travelers becoming more interactive in their online searches, it is important to have the conversation with them have as many touch points as possible.
#4. Tour operators, destinations and travel sellers of all kinds are hearing that the need for flexible cancellation policies; what suppliers are going about sanitizing and cleaning their locations and facilities.
#5. Because travelers are looking for new options, tour operators are building new contracts, and are eager to hear from DMOs and travel suppliers. So, please, they should send them information on re-starts, changes, safety protocols and additions to their product inventories. Now!
Maria Petrova: “We now live in a world of data. There is so much information that we can tap into like Google search queries or data from social media platforms, and it’s not as if we are not crossing any privacy boundaries because it’s aggregate data and it still allows us getting the information about what’s out there.”
Dave Falsetti: “Although there are re-bookings, I think people are waiting, still, to see kind of what happens with next year because the demand is there, and everyone’s ready to jump into it. So, maybe they’re not looking for 2022 because they want to come—still next year. That’s what we’re seeing from the tour operator side.”
Shari Bailey: “As we go through these conversations week after week, the number one thing that we’re hearing is that people want to travel, but they want to feel safe, and they’ll travel when they feel safe.”
Tereza Reis: (On her company’s weekly training webinars) “Well, in the beginning when we started in March, we thought we were going to do those webinars until maybe June or July. Well, we’re still doing it. We had one yesterday. We have them every Wednesday.”
Tereza Reis: “We just do international markets. They need to get the getaways into the U.S. and the major cities. So, when they come from Europe or Latin America, they need to come to one of the main destinations. But what we’ve been seeing lately is …they are asking for more destinations close by the main destination. Let’s say, if they’re going to New York, well now they’re talking about exploring the Hudson Valley, the Finder Lakes.”
Marina Petrova: “What we see now is exactly what Tereza was saying: I think one of the reasons for that is, also, because people want to stay busy. They want to explore—but there are so many things that are closed now; that’s why they are looking at “What else I can do near me?’ “
Dave Falsetti: “You need to offer more product in these secondary and tertiary markets …I saw there was a 50 increase in the Corn Palace! So, people are going to places that, historically, probably aren’t the destination that you would assume that people are going to, but you never know what people are looking at.”
Tereza Reis: “With a vaccine so close to becoming a reality, people are now bringing back whatever they had for 2022 to 2021, which is good news. I think we’re starting to see the light in the end of the tunnel. I think we still have a few months ahead. They’re going to be challenging, but at least now we can see the light. So, we need to keep going, to keep doing whatever we’re doing.”
Maria Petrova: “If people are bored, offer them something—some things to do—and get them to your attraction—if you’re open.”
Click here to listen to and/or watch the webinar.
Brazil Update-COVID 19 v. Jogo de Cintura
“Who could have imagined a year like this?” José Guilherme Alcorta, CEO of the Brazilian travel trade publisher and event producer, PANROTAS, asked rhetorically in a message accompanying last week’s delivery of the latest Brazilian Overview Monthly Report published jointly by PANROTAS—the Brazilian trade media and event company—and FecomercioSP, the São Paulo-based business and economic research organization.
“And here we are, in December of 2020,” Alcorta added. “Our industry has been through a challenging and defying period, which served once more to emphasize the power of all travel professionals—each one of us who helps building this sector every day. Each one of us that have been dedicating our lives and our careers to a better travel and tourism industry and who can be defined as resilient, passionate, adaptable and persevering.”
“Resilient, passionate, adaptable and persevering?” Powerful words, but unsurprising to anyone who’s followed the course of the travel and tourism industry in Brazil over the past decade or so. They sound very much like the components of the qualities of “jogo de cintura”—peculiar to the country’s national character. The Cambridge Dictionary describes the Brazilian Portuguese expression jogo do cintura as: “clever or skilful/skillful actions to achieve something or deal with a problem.”
A Second Recession: This year, 2020, could well be described as one in which the Brazilian travel and tourism industry’s jogo de cintura has been on display. Entering the year, the nation was experiencing a still-fragile recovery from its worst economic recession ever (from the end of 2014 to the beginning of 2017—so severe that it was referred to simply as “La Crise,” or “The Crisis”) when it fell into yet another recession when its economy contracted in both Q1 and Q2. This coincided with the explosion of the COVID-19 crisis. (As of this writing, Brazil ranks second, behind only the United States, in the number of COVID-19 deaths.)
Despite all of the above, the November issue of the Brazilian Overview Monthly Report was able to point to some encouraging developments for the nation’s economy and for the travel and tourism industry in particular—a testimonial, in part to the Brazilian jogo de cintura:
—GDP growth in Q3 was 9.47 percent compared to Q2 and, consequently, taking the country out of the technical recession.
—Emergency government assistance from the Brazilian government has already benefited 67 million people with total of $33 billion expended by October.
—According to a study by Fecomercio-SP, e-commerce in the state of São Paulo grew six years in six months amid the pandemic.
—The Consumer Confidence Index (ICC) registered a slight decrease of 0.7 percent in October, but has 107.6 points, a level considered optimistic.
—The Retail Businessmen Confidence Index (ICEC) had the fourth consecutive increase and reached 96 points in October, the highest score since April.
Travel & Tourism Industry Notes:
—There is great expectation for the high summer season, between December and March, (Summer in the southern hemisphere summer is December through March) which, the Overview says, promises to fill hotels and resorts.”
—CVC, the largest travel company in Brazil (as well as the nation’s tourism sector generally) are benefiting from the decision by the company, just as La Crise was winding down, to add 100 new travel agencies annually in the country—focusing on rural and less populated areas—has increased interest and demand in the target areas. While CVC fell short of its initial goal, it still has nearly 1,300 agencies across the country. And the move was illustrative of what one might describe as a result of “jogo de cintura.”
—The CVC move has helped to stimulate demand, especially for domestic product, and the country’s major carriers—Gol, Azul and LATAM—anticipate operating between 60 to 80 percent of their domestic networks this summer.
—On the international market, Brazil has not generated any significant traffic to the United States, although there are a handful of flights by LATAM operating. At the same time, more than 100 countries are open to traffic from Brazil. (Compare this to Germany, which has a little more than 40 international destinations open to flights.)
—Overall, demand for all product is encouraging, and Q3 product improved over Q2, but is still well below pre-pandemic levels. Operators, too, reported that, while there was activity in Q3, sales were well below what they were prior to the pandemic.
—Of interest is a brief note in the Overview that “national charters are being seen as one of the ‘in-things’ of the summer, but there is no forecast and charters for international flights.”
—In sum, as 2020 is ending, the tourism industry is not where it wants to be, but, thankfully, it is not where it was when the year began.
Hodge Podge: Appointments & Changes
Deb Hickok, president and CEO of Explore Fairbanks, is stepping down after more than 20 years on the job. In a letter dated November 17, 2020, Hickok advised the organization’s board of directors of her resignation effective June 1, 2021 when she will “pursue the next chapter of opportunities.” “Deb’s announcing her exit more than six months in advance will allow ample time for an orderly implementation of that plan and the successful hire of a new CEO,” said Ashley Bradish, chair of the board of directors. Prior to joining Explore Fairbanks, Hickok spent a number of years in Pennsylvania, where she had her own consulting firm and also served at the Bucks County CVB, Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau and the Pennsylvania Department of Commerce/Division of Tourism.
Anne Sayers has been named Acting Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. She takes over from Sara Kain Meaney, who held the post for two years and who has “accepted an executive leadership role outside of state government.” Sayers joined the department two years ago. Previously, she has held leadership positions for several high-profile non-profit organizations, including a stint of nearly 13 years as program director for the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.
Niels Bartel has taken over responsibility for TUI.com and the branch sales of TUI Germany as director, digital commerce & own retail. He succeeds Matthias Gehring, who is leaving the company at his own request. Bartel started his TUI career in 2001 after studying controlling. After taking on operational responsibility at TUI Interactive, his path led him to Wolters GmbH. Bartel has been responsible for the strategy team at TUI Germany since 2020. In his new role, Bartel will continue to develop the Group’s online growth and the future strategy of the TUI branches.
Karen Goldberg has been appointed senior vice president, brand strategy & business development, of the newly-created division Four Hundred by Design effective immediately. She joins from Virtuoso Travel, where she had been managing director, hotels & resorts-New York, for Virtuoso Travel. Goldberg brings over 30 years of hospitality experience and strong industry relationships to Four Hundred, which is private membership lifestyle management company and is known for known for servicing some of the high profile and influential people. Four Hundred Travel is a full service, Virtuoso-accredited travel platform, and is headquartered in Manhattan, NYC.
Ryan Johnson, former World Travel Holdings sales and operations chief, has been named managing director of luxury tour operator Destinology. The appointment follows the online luxury operator’s acquisition this past October from Saga by Stewart Travel owner Brooklyn Travel Holdings. Johnston spent almost ten years at World Travel Holdings and previously held roles with MyTravel, Gold Medal Travel Group and Airtours.
Dr. Stefan Kreuzpaintner will assume responsibility for the worldwide sales activities of Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines on January 1, 2021. In addition, he will join the Executive Board of Lufthansa Airlines as chief commercial officer at the beginning of 2021, assuming responsibility for the Munich hub of Lufthansa Airlines. Kreuzpaintner succeeds Heike Birlenbach as head of sales. Birlenbach takes over the newly created Resort Customer Experience Lufthansa Group Airlines on January 1, 2021. Kreuzpaintner has worked for Lufthansa since 2003. He began his career in Frankfurt as Network Manager. In 2012, he took over the sales management of all Lufthansa Group airlines in Madrid for the Spanish and Portuguese markets. In 2015 he moved to Brussels Airlines in Brussels as vice president pricing, revenue management & distribution. In May 2017, Kreuzpaintner returned to group headquarters as vice president sales Europe, Middle East & Africa of Lufthansa Group Airlines.
Danny Crowe, group marketing director for JG Travel Group, is leaving the company to start at new job at a marketing agency. Crowe has been with JG Travel Group for 18 months, overseeing marketing for the brands Just Go Holidays, National Holidays, Omega Breaks, Cruise Connections and Albion. He will join the Go Inspire marketing agency in January. Sales and yield director Matt Herbert, who joined earlier this year from the tour operator Shearings, will oversee JG Travel’s marketing and public relations.
Keith Backsen has joined Destinations International as chief sales and services officer on January 1, 2021. This is a new position at Destinations International that will oversee the membership and partnership departments. Backsen has more than 30 years in the travel and tourism industry, with over 18 years working for destination organizations. His most recent position with the industry was as president and CEO of the Omaha CVB (Visit Omaha). Prior to Visit Omaha, he was the vice president of sales and services for Visit Spokane where he oversaw all sales initiatives
Paul Proly has joined Xplorie as the company’s newest destination manager. He joins the company from Central Florida’s Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures, where he was director of sales. Proly will be playing an integral role in launching Xplorie’s latest product, the Xplorie Enabled Voice Assistant. Proly’s more than 20 years of experience in the tours and activities industry includes tenures with industry leaders such as The Walt Disney Company and Arabian Nights Dinner Attraction.
Zoe Harris will be joining On the Beach (the UK’s third-largest tour operator) as chief marketing officer in January from GoCo Group where she is CEO for Look After My Bills. She was previously chief marketing officer for GoCompare. Harris joined GoCo from magazine and newspaper publisher Reach PLC where she was group marketing director for nearly six years. On The Beach said it had conducted “an extensive search process” across Europe following the departure of its former chief marketing officer Alistair Daly in March 2018.
Nils Jenssen, managing director of Reisecenter (Travel Center) alltours, has left the company at his own request and for private reasons. Jenssen had come to an agreement on the departure with the company’s partner and owner of alltours, Willi Verhuven. Jenssen has been the managing director of Reisecenter alltours GmbH since May 2015. Some 200 alltours travel centers belong. Jenssen will continue to fulfill his contract until he leaves. Alltours is one of the five largest tour operators in Germany and one of the top ten in Europe.
Rodrigo Sienra, has been named general manager for Brazil for Delta Air Lines. He replaces Fabio Camargo, who is leaving the company. Sienra takes the lead in Delta’s commercial efforts, reporting to Luciano Macagno, Delta Air Lines executive director-Latin America, Caribbean and South Florida. Sienra, who has been with Delta for six-and-a-half years, was previously sales manager.
Beth Gendler has been named future president and CEO of Alabama’s Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism. She’ll be taking on the new position upon the retirement next year of long-time CEO Herb Malone. Gendler, who has been a part of the organization for 18 years, currently leads the organization’s sales/meetings and sports commission efforts. Malone helped create the organization in 1993 after local community and business leaders envisioned an official tourism marketing organization for Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and the Fort Morgan peninsula.
Dawn McGowan has joined the North American team of Nina & Pinta, a London-based managed travel consultancy. The company has offices in Raleigh Durham, N.C.; Toronto; and the Washington D.C. area. Of the appointment, Nina & Pinta partner Jo Lloyd, said, “Dawn’s specialization in the hotel, extended stay and serviced apartments areas will serve our current and future clients well, and we are also excited for the boost she will bring to our team as an experienced sales professional.” McGowan most recently served as vice president of global sales for WWStay, a travel technology provider.
Debora Wright has been named vice president of sales and marketing for Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge (Visit VBR). For many travel and tourism professionals in the U.S., Wright’s name has been synonymous with the destination. One reason is that she has been with the organization since it was known as the Roanoke Valley CVB, joining it in 1993. She served as director of marketing for many years until she was appointed vice president of marketing and communications in 2013, where she served until her new job.
Posted Industry Jobs
From SearchWide Global:
—Destination Madison is searching for a new president and CEO. Click here for more information.
—The Bermuda Tourism Authority is looking for a chief sales and marketing officer. For additional details, click here.
—The Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau has an opening for a director of sales. Click here for more information.
—Visit Orlando is searching for a new president and CEO. For more information visit here.
—The city of Fort Smith, Arkansas has an opening for an Advertising and Promotion Commission executive director. For additional details, click here.
— Brett/Robinson Vacation Rentals on the Alabama Gulf Coast has an opening for a director of operations. Visit here for more details.
— Sports Facilities Management is searching for a senior project manager to join its facility planning and finance support services team. For more details, visit here.
—The Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau has an opening for a new president. Click here for more information.
—A new president and CEO is being sought by Destination Madison (Wis.). For additional details, click here.
—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 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
From Indeed.com: We’ve taken a look at this site (click here) which says that it has 680 jobs listed (although many are duplicates), including a fair number in the travel, tourism and related industries. A sampler of what to expect is below.
—Partnership manager, USA: Opening for senior manager, Japan and Korea at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: click here.
—Opening for partnership manager USA for Tiquets. Based in Philadelphia, PA. Click here.
—Opening for tourism partnership manager at the Virginia Tourism Corporation. Click here.
From LinkedIn Jobs: Known to many across the board in the travel and tourism industry, the LinkedIn list (click here) has numerous job opportunities posted. Following is a brief sampler of some of those jobs listed.
—Chief experience officer at Brightline Transportation in Miami, FL. Click here.
—Travel and tourism lecturer at Eden Brown Education, Lancashire, GB. Click here.
—Travel Program Administrator, Bass Pro Shops, Bass, MO. Click here.