OK, So It’s Time to Cheer:
USA-bound travel from the EU and the UK OK’d.
(IPW COVERAGE 1) The long, year-and-a-half slide backwards should finally be over. The process officially began on Sept. 20 when the Administration of U.S. President Joe Biden announced that it would revoke its travel ban on visitors from 33 countries, which was implemented to check and reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which has resulted in the deaths of more than 685,000 people in the United States.
Specifically, beginning in November, fully vaccinated travelers from 33 nations (the UK and the European Union, as well as a few other countries) will be able to travel to the United States. Vaccinated travelers will also have to test negative for the virus within three days of departure, and unvaccinated Americans returning to the United States will be required to test negative within one day of leaving and again after arriving. Europe is the source for about 40 percent of all overseas visitors to the U.S.
There were other measures under discussion that could change the criteria travel to the United States and other countries. Most notable among these was the possibility that borders between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico, closed for a year-and-a-half to almost all travelers—the latest extension of the closed borders lasts until Oct. 21—might be opened. This possibility is given some credence, as the U.S. Travel Association has been working intensely with the Administration to end this ban.
What one can derive from the opening of borders, both overseas and in North America, is that it is linked primarily to the number of COVID 19 vaccinations in a country.
The Reaction? As One Might Expect—Jubilation: The announcement enjoyed maximum notice among and throughout the inbound tourism industry, released at it was on the first day of business appointments at the U.S. Travel’s IPW, the USA’s largest international travel marketplace, held this year at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Shortly after the big announcement, Roger Dow, president and CEO of U.S. Travel issued these brief remarks: “The U.S. Travel Association applauds the Biden administration’s announcement of a roadmap to reopen air travel to vaccinated individuals from around the world, which will help revive the American economy and protect public health.
“This is a major turning point in the management of the virus and will accelerate the recovery of the millions of travel-related jobs that have been lost due to international travel restrictions.
“The U.S. Travel Association expresses its deep appreciation to the President and his advisors – in particular Commerce Secretary Raimondo, who has been a tireless advocate – for working with the industry to develop a plan to restart international travel and safely reconnect America with the world.”
Acknowledging Dow’s key role in securing an end to the COVID-90 travel ban, Will Seccombe, President, Connect Travel, which was holding its own eTourism Summit at the same Las Vegas Convention Center site, called for “a huge thanks to the U.S. Travel Association for all their hard work in achieving this milestone. This is the best news for the travel industry for a long time.”
At Last, Visit USA Pitch Gets an Audience
(IPW COVERAGE 2) A 2022 Recovery Just Might be Attainable
Prior to the White House announcement that the Biden Administration was opening up travel to the United States from the EU and England, it was—to put it plainly—a tough sell, even to one’s self, to suggest to wholesale travel buyers in these countries that Visit USA traffic was what they should buy.
The No-Market Indicators: From March 2020 onward, the market has been below flat. Period. And it kept declining. Cancelled contracts. Job layoffs. Budget reductions. Smaller staffs. Bans on visitor traffic from every Top 20 overseas source market. Fear of travel on the part of consumers.
Such was the environment as buyers, suppliers and journalists gathered last week at the new extension of the massive Las Vegas Convention Center for the occasion of IPW. The emptiness of so many rooms and the smaller-than-usual numbers generated by the trade show (the last edition was held in May 2019) only contributed to the barrenness of the setting. There were no crowded aisles and no queues of delegates waiting for doors to open for lunch and, because tables were distanced and luncheon times were staggered, no one was waiting for lunch, either. Indeed, many took their boxed lunches with them, opting for sunnier atmosphere outside.
Some numbers gleaned from presentations and discussions include the following:
It seemed that just about every measure of IPW 2021 was about one-third of what it was in 2019 at IPW in Anaheim, California:
—As for the overall number of delegates, it was about 2,600.
—There were 700 international delegates from 52 countries.
—The number of journalists totaled about 300.
—Number of journalists from the UK/Ireland market in 2019: 52
—Number of journalists from the UK/Ireland market this year: 17
What the Outlook Was as IPW Convened: At the outset of IPW, on Sunday, as suppliers worked on their booths and as international delegates and journalists enjoyed fam tours of Las Vegas, and prior to the news that the White House had opened up international travel, the consensus outlook from U.S. travel sellers and destinations that we heard was something like this:
—There is no prospect that travel sellers and destinations will have any success whatsoever in Q4 this year.
—There is a chance, as more countries increase the number of its residents who have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, that there will be some first quarter recovery early next year. Meanwhile, there was not enough demand for winter product to make a difference.
—There is the possibility of some Q2 recovery, possibly anchored by the travelers from those markets which observe the Easter holiday, which falls on April 17, 2022.
—A similar scenario plays out for the all-important-but-inactive Chinese market, where the national holiday, Labor Day, May 1st, falls on a Sunday.
—April will also be important for the dormant market of Japan, where there is a Japanese Golden Week that runs from Friday, April 29, and ends on Thursday, May 5—suggesting that some Japanese might expand the week even further.
—The summary outlook answer, then, is that the beginning of some meaningful, yet tepid, industry recovery—the opening of borders is a must—is possible in mid-to-late Q2.
What the Outlook Was as After the News: The first person we talked to after the news came out on Monday morning that the Biden Administration was allowing vaccinated people from England and the EU to travel to the USA, was Jason Hackett, senior vice president, sales and marketing, SUMMIT One Vanderbilt, in New York City. A frequent speaker and panel discussion moderator at industry events, Hackett, a New Yorker, was quick to tell us in a New York Minute that yes, if nothing “wonky” happens, the numbers, elements and consumer indicators are there for the beginning of a modest recovery in Q1-Q2.
Like others, though, he was a little tentative about predicting, in hard numbers, what a recovery might look like vs. 2019 (which, by the way, was a record year for more than half of the Top 20 overseas source markets for travel to the U.S.). Because they expected that the 18-month COVID-19 crisis would continue, he suggested, some suppliers were going to be short in personnel and would have to restock their product shelves with missing inventories and itineraries.
But Hackett was keen to the possibility of how British and other European markets are ready to explode in order to satisfy a pent-up demand for their holiday in the USA. If so, he reasoned, we should begin to see and feel the impact of recovery in the second quarter of the year.
Peter van Berkel is as knowledgeable as anyone in the United States when it comes to discussing major European markets and the state of inbound tourism in America. Fluent in Dutch, English, French and German, he has led TRAVALCO, a major Southeast receptive tour operator, for 36 years. And for nearly six years, he has served as chairman of the International Inbound Travel Association (IITA).
He likened the difference between “before” and “after” the news that Visit USA travel will be accessible to the difference portrayed in the “Tale of Two Cities.”
“The industry is elated,” he said, noting that the reopening of the U.S. on a date certain (early November) will help the industry gear up in order to “work through the logistics” required to: meet, greet, transport, house, entertain, conduct tours for, and feed (a difficult challenge because many restaurants shut down or went out of business during the pandemic?) visitors.
However, van Berkel (as have his colleagues in IITA) sounded a warning about an issue that seems to have been pushed into the shadow, yet will represent a serious challenge once international travel to the United States from abroad returns to a “new normal.” And that is the serious backlog in the processing of application for a visa required to visit the USA.
The visa issue has not been an issue while there has been no travel to the United States, van Berkel explained. But he pointed out, there is a backlog of thousands of visa applications in both China and India—both are Top 10 overseas source markets for the USA—that will have to be processed. Other nations will also have to face the challenge. If not, he said, many, many thousands of potential visitors will not make it to the United States.
Voices from the IPW Floor
(IPW COVERAGE 3) What IPW Delegates Had to Say: Suddenly, there was a lot to talk about, and to do. In the wake of the news on Monday morning that the U.S. ban on inbound travel from the UK and most EU countries, booths were busier than anyone had anticipated.
INBOUND tried to get reactions from our booth holders and others—making sure not to interrupt business discussions, which were intense—when we could ask those who had more than a few seconds to do so what they thought about the lifting of the travel ban, but it was usually an epigrammatic reaction few in words but accented by a tone of relief and happiness. Some delegates, however, who had a minute or two, chatted economically.
And, sometimes, there was some group interaction, as when Christopher Heywood, executive vice president, global communications, for New York City & Company, who was nearing the conclusion of a news conference on what was new, said that “Broadway has returned to New York City.”
The room erupted into cheers and applause—something INBOUND had never witnessed in an information news conference. But it was like that in 2021 in Las Vegas. It seemed like everyone wanted a reason to cheer, as suggested by the sampler of reactions to the week’s news.
Meeting up on the IPW exhibit floor are Tom Garzilli, chief marketing officer of Brand USA; and Shari Bailey, vice president, Connect Travel. The news from the White House that travelers from the UK and most EU countries has created a spike in interest in the upcoming Brand USA Travel Week Oct. 25-28 in London. Meanwhile, Bailey is already experience in next year’s series of Connect Travel RTO Summits in Southern California, New York and Florida.
“We’re very excited with the change,” said Greg Brennan, deputy director, Alabama Tourism Department, noting that the action changes the environment for doing business, adding, “now we can look forward to some actual business. Brennan was enthusiastic about the prospect for the quadrennial World Games next July in Birmingham. The World Games showcase sports and games not featured in the Olympic Games, such as tumbling, sumo and power lifting.
Carylann Assante, CEO of SYTA (Student & Youth Travel Association), told us that the pandemic has resulting in an interesting development: overseas families are beginning to look for family tour-and-student-oriented products in the USA.
Margaret Fuqua, director of sales, Tennessee Department of Tourism, was decidedly upbeat about the prospect of European and British visitors coming to her state, explaining that “it’s going to help everyone.”
“It’s great. It’s going to help everyone!”—Dawn Hopper, director of tour and travel, Dutchess Tourism.
Familiar faces from Pennsylvania: Audrey Bialas, director of sales, Visit Hershey & Harrisburg, and Julie Payne, group sales consultant for Hershey. Both reported increased interest from international buyers—both at IPW and in calls and e-mails. Payne pointed out that her company was able to use the pandemic to take a close look at the strengths of the Hershey brand, which is known globally.
Toni Bastian, group tour manager for Richmond Region Tourism in Virginia, suggested that, in addition to being a benefit to everyone in U.S. travel and tourism, the lifting of travel restrictions will help her destination because it features both a blend of an urban experience plus less populated areas and open spaces for visitors to enjoy.
From her perspective, Estela Martinez-Stuart, director of tourism for Visit Fort Worth, her destination will benefit from interest in a considerable expansion of Fort Worth’s tourism infrastructure. “Tour operators are very excited about it. We’re already receiving phone calls from them.”
Lilliana Rivera, senior director of tourism for Visit Dallas, sounded very much her colleague in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex, as she spoke of the enthusiasm that is shared by everyone in the destination. Yes, she told us, it the change in restrictions on travel to the USA will benefit everyone in their region.
julie p. heizer, deputy director of the U.S. National Travel & Tourism Office (NTTO), has been attending IPW for more than 30 years. She is joined her by Christina Gay, a policy analyst at the agency. heizer told INBOUND that it was important that federal agencies show up and “fly the flag” at IPW in order to show international delegates that the U.S. industry has both private and public sector support.
Question: “Are you pleased with the news that travelers from the UK and the EU will soon be able to visit the United States?” Answer, from Lenni Neimeyer, longtime (17 years) for Branson Missouri—a popular domestic and international U.S. destination: “Oh my God, yes! I’m excited about it!”
Jonathan Elkoubi, chief commercial officer/co-founder at Places., had this to say: “IPW 2021 in Las Vegas wasn’t perfect, but somehow it still felt right: it was an excellent opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones. The organizers worked extremely hard to insure the safety of everyone in attendance and it showed.”
UK is a Study in Defiant Optimism
● Get ready for Blue Monday on January 20, 2022 and, we trust, a crush of holiday bookings by British travelers, with many of the purchases designated for international travel.
First, an explanation of the concept from Simplexity Travel, a well-known bespoke travel management company: “The third Monday in January is a date often touted as harboring particularly low spirits in the UK, as Christmas spending, short days and cold temperatures dent British cheer. But the time is also known as an important yearly turning point in the travel industry. The idea is that the third week of January marks the point when fed up holiday-makers have had enough of the UK’s cold weather and start booking spring and summer vacations.”
Of course, consumers are ready and willing to make their holiday plans for 2022 any time between now and the hot August days of Florida. But it is “Blue Monday” to which Brits can relate. And now that the United States is telling Great Britain to “give me your tired, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” by allowing vaccinated travelers to visit the United States, unbridled optimism seems to be the subject, predicate and object of Brits who’ve missed their Orlando (or elsewhere in the USA) holiday in 2020 and 2021.
News media channels online, over radio and on television are reporting huge spikes in inquiries about, or bookings for, international travel and travel to the United States.
And, deprived of their traditional summer holiday because of the COVID-19 virus for the past 20 months or so, British holiday makers are digging even deeper and spending more on their upcoming 2022 holiday.
According to research from Forbes Advisor, nearly 40 percent of Britons are planning luxury holidays next year. And in order to cover costs, they or reaching into their savings and spending £2,000-£3,000 ($2,7300-$4,100) per person, the research says. Meanwhile, it tells us that the cost of international holidays has increased by 27 percent since 2018. Some other findings follow:
—A long-haul trip for two will cost holidaymakers £2,396 ($3,276) this year, while figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show it cost £1,894 ($2,590) three years ago.
—The research by Forbes Advisor – a price comparison and financial guidance platform —The US was the most popular destination for Brits’ “dream holiday,” with 20 percent saying they would want to head over the Atlantic for 2022.
—The Caribbean was in second place, followed by Canada, Dubai, Maldives, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, China and South America.
—More than a third (35 percent) said they would use “long-term savings or investments” while 32 percent indicated that they would fall back on funds “saved by not going on holiday since pre-pandemic.”
—Asked what type of “dream holiday” they were planning to book, nearly two-fifths of respondents (38 percent) selected “luxury” and almost a third (30 percent) chose beach holidays.
—“Safari/wildlife” holidays were the third most selected option, with 20 percent of Brits choosing this type of trip.
● Meanwhile, a report from Abta (formerly the Association of British Travel Agencies) said that
seven in 10 travel companies plan redundancies after furlough ends this month. As many travel companies over jubilant over the news that travel by most Brits to the U.S. will be possible in early November, the figures released by Abta provide a sobering counterpoint to the news that travel to the USA will launch in another month or so. Some of those numbers follow:
—According to Abta’s research, which was based on a survey of Abta’s 4,300 members, summer 2021 bookings were 83 percent down on 2019.
—Almost half of travel companies reported no increase in 2021 bookings compared to last year, despite vaccine rollout.
—58 percent of bookings with departure dates in July or August this year had to be postponed or cancelled.
In the meantime, the government is due to review the requirements for international travel by October 1 and furlough is to end tomorrow, September 30.
A Follow-Up: How Does Brazil Do It?
The latest country market profile from U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) shows how Brazil has repeatedly regrouped and re-started after setbacks. In its latest collection of country market profiles—INBOUND has focused thus far on Germany and the UK—one is able to take a look at how Brazil has fared over the first 20 years of this century.
While there are enough fall-flat-on-your-face bad years, the country’s outbound overseas tourism industry has enough strength that it should come back, again—probably next year. (A note: for purposes of meaningful comparisons, one should use 2019 as a base year, and ignore 2020 and 2021.)
Take a look at what has happened in a recent five-year window, just as Brazil was headed at what looked like permanent inclusion in the Top Ten, even Five, country source markets for the USA.
Brazil has been in recession five times in the past 20 years. Before a 2020 recession, the last one beforehand, in 2015-16, was one of the worst recessions in the country’s history. And the impact of the 2020 recession was intensified by COVID 19-driven global pandemic. Even so, there have been enough economic signals, as well as scattered reports of activity in the tourism industry, coming out of Brazil that a hoped-for recovery in 2022 just might occur.
If so, sales and marketing professionals might want to take a look at what the 20-year window highlighted in “Market Profile: Brazil” and see what it tells them.
● For instance, in survey data contained in the Market Profile, one will find that, when given the opportunity to provide multiple answers to a query, about four out of every five Brazilians said that they want to take a trip for a vacation or holiday.
● When leisure and VFR markets are combined into a single market, it tells us that nearly nine out of every 10 (88.8 percent) Brazilians visit the USA for leisure or VFR purposes.
● Also—and this is very important for travel marketers eager to host high-spend visitors, one will see right below that, in terms of total travel spending—Brazil spend less that than the UK, but substantially more than Germany.
HODGE PODGE: Appointments, Openings and Changes
Edison Rivas was recently named executive content manager at Trip.com Group. He joined Trip.com from Secret Escapes, where he was a regional market manager. Rivas has also worked at Jac Travel, GTA and Tourico Holidays
The Nevada Division of Tourism (Travel Nevada) has selected global tourism marketer Antonette Eckert as its chief industry development officer, leading the agency’s strategic initiatives, including its visitor experience and destination development programs. Eckert has extensive experience in global tourism marketing international brand building, destination development and integrated marketing strategies. She comes to Nevada from the San Francisco Travel Association, where she was the senior director of global tourism development. Before her tenure with the San Francisco Travel Association, Eckert was at the California Travel & Tourism Commission (Visit California), first as its advertising and co-op marketing manager, and later as its director of Asia marketing. She also served as executive director of Visit Vacaville (California)
Tony Lyle has recently been promoted to the position of chief marketing officer at the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. Lyle has been with organization for nine years, starting as director of tourism. Previously, he was director of marketing and sales for Aramark. His résumé also includes a tenure as corporate head of international marketing and sales for Vail Resorts.
David McDowell has been appointed as the new head of strategic partnerships for Attraction World, the UK-headquartered global ticket provider. McDowell will join head of product Phillipa Standley, head of marketing Neil Langdon and Laura Ayleward-Eade, who is head of finance, as part of a new leadership team at Attraction World. McDowell was previously director of strategic partnerships for the Zinc Media Group, which is based in London.
The tour operator Scott Dunn USA Luxury Travel has appointed Bridget Lackie as its new general manager of U.S. operations. Lackie, who has two decades of experience in program management, sales enablement, client relations, marketing and sales operations servicing in a mix of B2B, was previously senior managing director of global sales and guest services for Geographic Expeditions. In addition, she has also traveled extensively around the world.
Pleasant Holidays and its luxury brand, Journese, have announced the appointments of Tamara Richard (left) and Leslie Marshall as new business development managers based in Boston and San Diego, respectively. The two bring together early 50 years of combined experience in the travel and hospitality industry. They will focus primarily on helping travel advisors identify new leisure business opportunities and develop strategies to increase commission income for FIT, wedding travel and groups/incentives package bookings.
The Brazilian tour operator Flytour has announced that Flávia Possani is the new marketing director of the company. Possani has17 years of experience in the areas of communication and marketing, in major brands in the telecommunications, tourism and fashion retail segments. In her most recent experience in the tourism segment, she was responsible for leading the repositioning and strategic direction of communication at Aviva, a tourism and entertainment company in Brazil.
Leroy Bridges is leaving his position as first vice president, digital & and communications at Visit St. Pete Clearwater to join ADARA Inc., a company that is headquartered in Palo Alto, California, and specializes which offers data-driven marketing solutions. It has a strong presence in the tourism industry. Bridges joined Visit St. Peter Clearwater more than nine years ago, following a two-year stint as a sports reporter at the Herald & Review in Decatur, Illinois, a job that was preceded by a nearly one-year tenure at another newspaper.
Jarrod Zurvas has been named by Variety Cruises to the newly-created role of global sales director. He joins the company from the polar specialist Quark Expeditions where he was most recently Asia Pacific sales director. Zurvas previously worked for Scenic Cruises and Tours and Carnival Corporation.
In Brazil, Rafael Ortiz has left the operator Diveras after less than a year, and Erivaldo Silva has taken over as a product manager at the company. Silva has been in tourism for over 30 years and his résumé includes tenures at Monark Turismo, Tam Viagens, MMTGapnet, Flytour and CVC.
In France, the sales team at Voyamar—a tour operator at the Marietton Développement group—is reinforcing itself, the company recently announced. As a result, Carine Rogé will be in charge of the country’s Grand Est region, which includes a dozen of the country’s departments. She will also represent Héliades, another tour operator of the Marietton group, in this geographic sector. Benoît Boutin is taking on responsibility for 17 other French departments.
From SearchWide Global:
—The City of Tacoma has an opening for a director of venue & events. More details here.
—Visit Dana Point is looking for an executive director. More details here.
—Visit Milwaukee is searching for a vice president of marketing and communications. More details here.
—Discover The Palm Beaches is looking for an associate vice president of group sales. More details here.
—Discover The Palm Beaches is searching for a director of events, tradeshow & strategic sales partnerships. More details here.
—The Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau, which represents an area of coastal communities in northwestern Michigan, has an opening for a new executive director. More details here.
—The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau is seeking a senior vice president of convention sales. More details here.
—The Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade is searching for a director of marketing and communications. More details here.
—In Arlington, Texas, there is an opening for president and CEO of the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau. More details here.
—Freeman is searching for a vice president, national graphics. More details here.
—Visit Dallas has an opening for a senior vice president/chief marketing officer. More details here.
—Destination Door County (Wisconsin) is looking for a president and CEO. More details here.
—There is an opening for a chief executive officer at Explore Skagit Valley in Washington State. More details 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 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.
—Sky Land and Ocean Travel in Philadelphia has an opening for a virtual travel coordinator. More details here.
—Barefoot Wanderlust Adventures has an opening for a travel specialist who can work from a remote location. More details here.
—New York City & Company has an opening for a coordinator, global communications. More details here.
—Delta Air Lines is searching for a specialist, reservations strategic initiatives. 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.
—The Grand Circle in Boston, Massachusetts, is searching for an inbound travel sales counselor. More details here.
—The Miles Partnership has an opening for a Travel Media Sales and Marketing Executive. Location: Remote. More details here.
—The city of Eustis, Florida is looking for an events & tourism manager. Salary range is $50,361 to $75,670 a year. More details here.
—The Philadelphia office of Tiquets, the global ticket booking company for attractions, is looking for a U.S.-based supply coordinator (the company is headquartered in the Netherlands). More details here.
—The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is looking for a vice president of guest experience. The salary range is $130,000 – $157,000 a year: 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. Email [email protected]