Pandemic Tests Resilience of UK Operators
Confidence of TOP 25 tour operators shaken in past year as they post numbers for coming year. “Oh to be in England now that April’s there,” the country’s Robert Browning (1812-1889) mused in one of his better-known poems. In April 2021 year, it just might mean that the British travel and tourism industry is waging a frantic virtual war of marketing, promoting, selling and making the case for their fellow citizens to travel abroad in order to help preserve the industry.
April, you see, is one of the two occasions each year when Air Travel Organizer (or tour operators) Licenses (ATOL) are approved for the coming year. The process hasn’t been normal for a year-and-a-half now—ever since once second-largest operator, Thomas Cook, collapsed on Sept. 23, 2019, just days before the deadline for filing for ATOL approval. Six months later, in April of 2020—it was just weeks after the COVID-19 crisis became a global pandemic. And now, licensees are filled with anxiety (or eagerness, perhaps), as they await May 17th. This is date when agents and operators can start selling overseas travel.
The data seem to suggest that even though the one-year number for ATOL passengers is down (3.3 million) for just the Top 5 operators. However, the Number 1 operator, TUI UK, is expecting to serve more than 3.7 million customers in the coming year.
By posting both the Top 25 ATOL holders from this year vs. April 2020, the data below show an imperfect, but real l impact because of COVID-19 and a global pandemic.
International Recovery Still Postponed
Of late, the panelists on Connect Travel’s “Staying Connected” weekly webinars* that focus on what steps DMOs and U.S. travel suppliers are doing to facilitate or plan for a recovery international and overseas travel to the United States, have been telling viewers that a recovery probably won’t come until the third quarter of 2021. This seems to be a consensus view of the sources that INBOUND follows, too.
Meanwhile, the latest monthly data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) on overseas arrivals to the USA don’t offer “ah-ha!” moment when reviewing the numbers. The monthly figures for March, it was thought, might reveal some tangible clue or new insight as to what to expect, as they cover a month that marked the one-year anniversary of the de facto beginning of the shutdown of global travel. It was on March 13, 2020 that U.S. President Donald Trump signed an order prohibiting travel to the United States from most European countries. (Europe produces the largest regional number of overseas visitors to the U.S.)
There are no surprises, unfortunately, in the data below. Indeed, while it might seem surprising to find some comfort in the numbers from South America and, in particular, Colombia, the numbers are still relatively small. And in the case of Colombia, it should be noted that—despite restrictions—it has had an easier time than other nations sending visitors to the U.S. One reason is that Colombia benefits from connecting flights from elsewhere in Central and South America. Also, a flight from Cartagena, Colombia is only about 1,105 miles by air—about the same distance as a flight from Miami to New York City (1,090 miles).
China Market Notes
● Hate matters: Anti-Asian Hate is influencing travel intentions.
By Karen Yue, group editor, TTG Asia Media*
“Shall we take a moment to talk about the Anti-Asian Hate movement that is raging in the US? On the surface, it seems to have a distant relation to travel and tourism since these hate crimes are mostly aimed at the resident Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. However, look just a little deeper and you will realize it has a significant effect on travel and tourism.
“… for Asian consumers across the globe watching news about the US’s Anti-Asian Hate movement and taking in social media posts by AAPI citizens who are coming out with their own stories of abuse, there is little difference. Many would wonder if their skin would attract the same treatment should they go to the destination as tourists. This consideration will resurface when they make their travel plans for the future.”
* Yue has been a part of TTG Asia Media for more than 15 years—as a marketing services executive, reporter and editor. She is based in Singapore. Click here to read the complete article, which first appeared in TTG Asia.
● Domestic travel explosion for May Day holidays: The quasi-official Global Times reports that some 200 million Chinese were ready to travel somewhere in China for the May Day holidays (May 1-5) which, the publication said, “are expected to be the hottest Golden Week since the outbreak of the global pandemic.” Bookings for air travel tickets, hotels and scenic spots improved significant from 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, with the total number of tourists expected to exceed the level recorded in 2019 and hit 200 million, according a Trip.com report.
While closed borders and other restrictions prevent any significant international travel, Chinese holidaymakers seem to have found an outlet for their desire to travel abroad by taking longer trips within China itself. The Global Times reported that, this year, intra-provincial long-distant travel “may post explosive growth,” with about 70 percent of consumers choosing intra-provincial trips, said Trip.com.
● The CNBC business news network last week reported that PayPal is planning to launch a local wallet in China that will focus on cross-border payments, according Hannah Qiu, the China CEO for PayPal. Qiu told CNBC that the U.S. company is planning to launch a domestic wallet in China that will not compete with the dominant Chinese companies for domestic payments but will focus on cross-border payments. Earlier this year, PayPal became the first foreign company to have 100 percent control of a payment platform in China by acquiring a 30 percent stake it did not already own in GoPay. But until the announcement of its plans to launch a local payment platform, PayPal has been quiet on its plans. According to spendmenot.com, PayPal accounts for 22 percent of online transactions in the United States.
UK Long Haul Travel Not Likely to Reach Pre-Pandemic Levels until 2024: This was the bottom line of the message given last week on the opening day of the two-day Brand USA Global Marketplace, which focused on the UK and Ireland. It came from David Googer, managing director for Europe and the Middle East at Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company. He also told participants:
—A rebound from pandemic lows will start sometime this year, but will not reach 2019 levels.
—Factors bolstering economic recovery and the travel and tourism sector will be a pent-up demand from consumers who have increased their savings, gotten their COVID-19 vaccinations, and have saved money and are “sitting on huge pots of cash,” as well as air corridors between international destinations.
—Leisure travel will lead the way, along with domestic and short haul.
—Compared to 2019, UK outbound travel was down by 73 percent in 2020, compared to 2019, but will be about 50 percent less in 2021.
—For long-haul travel, there was an 80 percent decline last year, while this year it is expected to be 64 percent down vs. 2019.
● Herschend Enterprise, already considered the nation’s largest family-owned themed attractions corporation, has announced that it has added to its portfolio of brands with the purchase of the 64-year-old Vancouver Aquarium in Vancouver, BC. With it the latest acquisition, Herschend—it first became widely known for its Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri—now has theme parks and water parks, including Dollywood; attractions and tours; live entertainment programs (they include the Harlem Globetrotters); on-screen entertainment programs; and hospitality properties that include Callaway Resort & Gardens. Herschend Enterprises has more than 10,000 employees.
● Yosemite to Cap Visitor Numbers: It has been announced that Yosemite National Park, the second most-visited U.S. National Park, will impose a cap on visitor numbers this summer. Park Superintendent Cicely Muldoon says advance reservations will be required for most visitors. Reservations are required for day use visitors who intend to visit from May 20 to September 30. Last year a day-use reservation system was in place which limited Yosemite visitation to 50 percent. The actual limit will increase this summer range from 50 percent to 90 percent of normal capacity depending on the current levels of COVID-19 infections locally in Mariposa County, California. Rocky Mountain National Park and Glacier National Park are adopting similar rules.
Following are the 10 Most Visited “National Parks” in 2020: Out of the 423 parks in the National Park System in 2020, there were 62 with the naming designation “national park” when these visitor statistics were collected. Please note, the total of park units and units with the naming designation “national park” may have changed in this current year.
● Good Advice Will Cost You: Noted last week in the online French travel trade magazine Tourmag was the brief item that follows:
“Advice is added value according to TUI. In Germany, the tourism giant has decided to charge its customers for ‘good advice’ from agencies. From now on, a customer will be charged two packs of ‘service fees,’ including a Premium including the registration of additional luggage, the reservation of activities at the hotel, etc. For Hubert Kluske, TUI’s sales manager, this flat-rate service should become the ‘industry standard.’”
TourOperatorLand.com Partner of the Week: Austin
Austin, the Capital of Texas, is also known as the “Live Music Capital of the World®”. In the evening, the city echoes with the sounds of all types of music. This vibrant and pedestrian friendly cosmopolitan city offers a variety of things for travelers to see and do. Austin, with its lakes and rolling hills, is the gateway to the scenic Texas Hill Country. See some of the many areas you can explore.
A Perfect Austin Weekend: Unique trips are an Austin specialty. When you plan a trip to a city with this much to do, it can be hard to pick and choose. That’s why we asked around and made a list of activities that visitors love and locals can’t get enough of. From stand-up paddle boarding to eclectic restaurants and vintage shopping finds, here’s how to squeeze some of Austin’s very best into just three days.
Ideas for First Timers:
—Is it really a trip to Austin without BBQ? Do yourself a favor and stop in at Terry Black’s BBQ for their melt off the bone beef ribs and brisket! Your tummy will thank you.
—Walk the grounds of our beloved state Capitol which offers free guided tours daily!
—Beat the TX heat with a refreshing dip at Barton Springs Pool, a spring-fed swimming spot with grassy hills for sunbathing.
—Take a shopping stroll along the iconic South Congress Avenue, known for its funky stores and chic boutiques.
—Once the sun begins to set, line up on the Congress Avenue Bridge to witness a staggering 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats fly into the night sky from beneath the bridge, which takes place nightly from spring through fall.
Ideas for Repeat Visitors:
—Get your boot scootin’ on at Broken Spoke, an old-fashioned honky-tonk that’s been known as one of the best dancehalls in Texas since opening in 1964. Dust off those boots and join in one of the dance lessons offered Wed.-Sat. nights.
—Take a street art mural tour with Austin Detours!
—Enjoy the picturesque views of Austin’s skyline with a morning jog on the leafy 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake, which winds along the shimmering waters of Lady Bird Lake.
—Rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard at Congress Avenue Kayaks, SUP ATX or Zilker Park Boat Rentals to explore the glittering waters of Lady Bird Lake, all while getting a body-toning workout.
—Take a scenic drive out to our beloved Hill Country. With more than 50 wineries within a short drive, the Texas Hill Country is the perfect place to uncork a bottle and soak up some breathtaking views
Following is a sampler of some of Visit Austin’s royalty free photos available at TourOperatorLand.com.
For more information on Visit Austin, go to its TourOperatorland.com pages here. For additional information on partnering through TourOperatorland.com, contact: Betsy Cooper, Director of TourOperatorLand.com and Partner Engagement at Connect Travel. Phone: 415.728.1085 / Email: [email protected]
HODGE PODGE: Changes, Openings & Appointments
John Edman director of Explore Minnesota, is stepping down after 21 years of service to the state, effective June 3, 2021. The news came via an official state news release that praised Edman, who “has diligently served as the state’s chief spokesperson for tourism-related issues while managing an agency with approximately 50 staff.” Edman holds the distinction of being appointed to the state’s top tourism post by four governors of three different political parties: Gov. Jesse Ventura (Independent) in 2000, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (Republican) in 2003 and 2007, Gov. Mark Dayton (Democrat) in 2011 and 2015, and Gov. Walz in 2019 (Democrat). He has also served in national and state leadership positions on numerous organizations and boards, including the National Council of State Tourism Directors, Brand USA and the U.S. Travel Association, which named him State Tourism Director of the Year in 2015.
Amira Ayoub has been promoted to the post of marketing manager for Latam Airlines Brazil, replacing Sabrina Salgado, who has left the company. Ayoub has been with the carrier for more than six years and her last position was as senior marketing coordinator. She remains in the leadership of the airline’s communication and branding strategies and accumulates the function of trade marketing in the national market.
Doug Bennett has been promoted from senior vice president of convention development to executive vice president at Louisville Tourism. Bennett has been with the agency for more than five-and-a-half years.
Experience Kissimmee has announced the hiring of Casey Leppanen as its new vice president of marketing and communications. Prior to his new role, Leppanen served as director of marketing and fan development for Sharks Sports and Entertainment based in San Jose, California. He was recruited to transform San Jose Sharks’ business practices, marketing strategy and strategic direction at various levels of the organization.
Emily Machen has been appointed as marketing director for the Eastern Short of Virginia Tourism Commission. Machen, who moved to the area several years ago, has worked in different facets of Eastern Shore tourism, most recently handling marketing and content creation for Quail Cove Farms in Machipongo.
Melissa DeFreest has been promoted to the post of vice-president of tourism and communications for the Somerset County (N.J.) Business Partnership. She has served the organization as director of marketing & communication since June 2017.
Elizabeth Garry has joined Camping World Holdings as its new vice president, commerce. In her new position, her focus will be on the company’s digital retail strategic evolution while creating a cohesive customer in-store and online experience to support omnichannel growth. Garry’s previous work experience includes Wayfair and most recently Walmart eCommerce for nearly three years, and where she was responsible for the development and expansion of product categories and creation of strategic multi-channel product and customer initiatives
Olivia Bussey has been appointed marketing and social media manager for Your Co-op’s homeworking division The Personal Travel Agents. Bussey will cover maternity leave for current marketing and social media manager Kiri Dulay from the end of April. She previously worked as travel trade sales and marketing manager for Manchester Airport before being made redundant last year as a result of the pandemic. Bussey started her career at TUI, where she was a travel trade specialist, based in Darlington, from 2015 until 2018.
The TUI Group has added to its leadership team of the tours and activities division—TUI Musement. Musement Co-Founder Alessandro Petazzi, who has been TUI Musement chief growth officer over the past six months, takes on a strategic advisor role. Petazzi will hand over his day to day managerial responsibilities during a transition period throughout April, taking the role of strategic advisor from beginning May 1st. There will also be an extended and central Sales & Marketing function headed by TUI Musement Chief Marketing Officer Mirco Fiumene, who is a veteran of Amazon, PayPal and Ebay.
Dave Ziedelis has been appointed as the new executive director of Visit Frederick (Md.). Ziedelis has worked in professional sports and event management for 32 years, most notably as the general manager of the minor league Frederick Keys baseball team. The appointment comes three months after longtime Visit Frederick Executive Director John Fieseler announced his retirement earlier this year.
Cherie Richards has been promoted from her post as chief business development officer at the British homeworking travel agency Not Just Travel, and is now chief of staff as she helps oversee an expansion of the company as homeworking agents have become an increasingly important segment of travel’s distribution system. Not Just Travel, which has more than 800 agents, has about 40 staff in its corporate team. Before becoming a part of Not Just Travel, Richards served almost a dozen years with the Global Travel Group, a part of dnata.
Asheville native Marshall Hilliard has been named vice president of sales for Explore Ashville. Hilliard has held leadership positions with major hotel brands in Boston, Atlanta, New Orleans and Charlotte, including Hilton, Westin, Bissell Hotels and The Ballantyne, part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection of Hotels. Most recently, he served as area director of sales and marketing for Windsor Hospitality’s Marriott brands, including Renaissance Asheville. He succeeds Dianna Pierce, who retired in March after 26 years with Explore Asheville.
John Bevan, dnata Travel Group’s Europe chief executive, is succeeding Steve Allen as divisional senior vice-president at dnata Travel Group. He’ll start his new position June 1st. Bevan will report to Allen, assuming responsibility for all of dnata’s global travel brands across leisure, trade, technology, corporate and destination management. Prior to joining dnata, Bevan held senior positions in several different organizations, including tenure as chief operating officer at Spafinder Wellness 365.
Tom Perlozzo has been selected to fill the recently-recreated director of tourism and business development post for Ocean City, Maryland. Perlozzo brings a familiar name and face to the new position. Since 2018, Perlozzo has served as Worcester County’s director of recreation and parks and added to his title in 2019 to become Worcester County director of recreation and parks and tourism and economic development. He was the director of recreation and parks for Ocean City for two decades.
Helbiz Inc., a major player in micro-mobility, and which company operates e-scooters, e-bicycles and e-mopeds in over 30 cities around the world including Washington, D.C., Alexandria, Arlington, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Miami, Milan, Richmond and Rome, has appointed Davide D’Amico as global head of communications. Prior to joining Helbiz, Mr. D’Amico was the head of communications for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and all of its brands in Italy, focusing on the Jeep and Alfa Romeo brands, in the rest of Europe, Middle East and Africa for the past six years.
Duetto has announced the appointment of travel and hotel industry expert Chris Crowley to its executive leadership team as senior vice president of sales. Crowley will lead the global sales organization of the cloud-based revenue software provider, which currently operates offices in the US, Argentina, London, Germany, and Singapore. Crowley joins Duetto from the business travel consultancy Nina & Pinta, where he was a partner. Prior to that he was with global hotel solutions provider HRS, where he served as senior vice president of Enterprise Solutions.
From SearchWide Global:
—Travel Portland is searching for a vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion. More details here.
—Switch, a Saint Louis-based agency “dedicated to powerful experiences, delivering events, digital activations, branding, VR, environments and field tours that are worth sharing,” is looking for a president and CEO. More details here.
—Visit Wichita is searching for a vice president of marketing. More details here.
—Visit Wichita has an opening for a vice president of sales. More details here.
—Destinations International is searching for a senior director, membership engagement. More details here.
—The tourism research and intelligence company Arrivalist has an opening for a chief sales officer. More details here.
—The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau is searching for a new president and CEO. More details here.
—The Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority has an opening for a new president and chief executive officer. More details here.
—In Franklin, Tennessee, which is about 20 miles south of Nashville, the Williamson County Convention and Visitors Bureau is searching for a president and CEO. More details here.
—The position of president & CEO is open at the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce & Visit Big Sky is open. More details here.
—Headquartered in Irving, Texas, the Promotional Products Association International, is searching for a president & chief executive officer. More details here.
—The Valdosta-Lowndes County Conference Center & Tourism Authority in Georgia is looking for a new executive director. More details here.
—There is an opening for a CEO at Experience Olympia & Beyond in Washington State. For more information, click here.
—Visit Florida is searching for a vice president of marketing. For more information, visit here.
—In the Charlotte/Concord area of North Carolina, Great Wolf Resorts has an opening for a director of sales and catering. For details, click here
—Georgia’s Valdosta-Lowndes County Conference Center & Tourism Authority is searching for a conference sales director. More details here.
From Indeed.com: We’ve taken a look at this site (click here) which says that it has hundreds of new jobs listed, including a fair number in the travel, tourism and related industries. A sampler of what to expect is below.
—Hill+Knowlton Strategies is seeking a talented Vice President or Senior Vice Presidentto lead key consumer client engagements with a focus on travel and tourism. More details here.
—The American Queen Steamboat Company has a temporary, remote location opening for a shore excursions logistics manager. Location cited is in Easton, Pennsylvania. More details here.
—The City of Danville, Virginia has an opening for the position of economic development tourism manager. More details here.
—Tourism Economics, the U.S. arm of Oxford Economics, has an opening for a head of business development. More details here.
—The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences museum in Los Angeles is searching for a group sales manager. More details 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 sample of some of those jobs currently listed.
—AVIAREPS tourism, the marketing and promotion firm known worldwide, has an opening for a Market Manager USA, located in the NYC area. More details here.
—The New York office of luxury travel agency Travel Edge is searching for a travel contract manager – Europe (contract). More details here.
—Morristown, N.J.-based CIE Tours International is searching for a director of marketing. More details here
—The Walt Disney Company has posted an opening for an executive assistant in San Francisco. More details here.
Have a job to offer in the travel and tourism industry? Let us know and we’ll post your notice—no cost to you.