Saturday snippets: 7th March 2015

By | Category: Travel news
Egypt, where more tourists are needed to visit the cultural heart of the country

Egypt, where more tourists are needed to visit the cultural heart of the country

Coinciding with my trip to Berlin for the biggest travel trade show I the world this week came a spate of announcements of how well and, occasionally, how poorly some destinations fared last year. Las Vegas had a bumper year attracting 41.1 million people by Tunisia and Egypt had reduced numbers. Hardly had the Egyptian tourism minister told us that he was optimistic about the future than his own future came to abrupt end when he was replaced as tourism minister the very next day!

More of us are visiting Germany. Last year, according to the latest figures from IPK International’s World Travel Monitor, Germany was the destination for 50 million intra-European trips last year, in second place behind Spain (55 million trips). With a 4 per cent gain on 2013, Germany extended its lead over its nearest rivals France (up by just 1 per cent to 37 million trips), Italy (up by 2 per cent to 34 million trips) and Austria (up by 1 per cent to 25 million trips). But the head of the German tourist board, Petra Hedorfer announced that younger people (aged 15-34) were visiting the country in greater numbers as that figure rose almost three times as much as the average gain. Those using the internet to research and then book their trips grew by a further 10 per cent, with a consolidation of the trend from using the internet purely as a source of information towards actual online booking.

Last year, UK travellers to Germany made a total of 5.2 million overnight stays the highest UK figure recorded to date, surpassing even that of the 2006 world cup. The largest source of visitors to Germany though remained Switzerland with nearly 378,000 additional overnight stays bringing the total for the country up to 5.9 million.

The Swiss Alps. Will the high costs now deter us from visiting the country?

The Swiss Alps. Will the high costs now deter us from visiting the country?

One of the features highlighted at ITB was how conflict affects tourism numbers. Egypt has suffered over the last couple of years and noticeable this year are the drops in booking for Ukraine and Russia. It is difficult to travel to the Crimea which has affected not only visitor numbers to the resorts but cruise ship stays. Switzerland has also been hit, not by conflict but by the revaluation in the Swiss franc. Despite the fact that the country is perceived as an expensive destination even before the increase in the value of the mark against both the pound and the euro, travel agents and the country are hoping visitors will not be deterred.  Nonetheless, realistically there will probably be a drop but look out for bargains as the hoteliers fight back.

Another feature was the growth in the cruise market. In the UK – the leader for the European market – some people might feel that the cruise business has peaked. Not in Germany where cruising is nowhere near as big as it is here. That may change as, more ships will now be based there and Hamburg strides to become the cruise capital of firstly, Germany and then Europe. There are now 421 cruise ships in the world with 22 more being launched this year. What it means is that cruise fares will hardly increase and may actually be lower than last year as cruise companies compete for our business.

Florida has had a bumper year. As has Disney

Florida has had a bumper year. As has Disney

Last year it is calculated that tourism rose by 4% so, on average, each destination should have seen a rise of that amount. Florida revealed that 97.3 million visitors came to the state in 2014, an increase of 3.9 percent over 2013 so that was quite close to the average figure, But given the high number from which it starts and increase of 3.6 million was a big achievement. This is the fourth consecutive record year for visitation to Florida, exceeding the previous high of 93.7 million in 2013.  And people are spending more. That figure rose by 7% so either people feel confident about the economy to want to spend more or prices have risen in the places that many stayed. Canada was the largest provider of visitors to the state followed by Brazil and then the UK which was only about 143,000 short of the Brazilian number. The number four country – Argentina – was about a million people behind us reinforcing how important the British tourist is to Florida.

Montenegro which only has 620,000 people managed to persuade over twice that number – 1.350,297 to visit the country last year. The country hasn’t even been an independent nation for ten years yet but it still manages to attract more tourists than places like Sri Lanka, Mauritius, the Maldives or Bolivia and not far short of the number who visit Malta.  Yet who from the UK or Ireland has it regularly on the “to-visit” list? There are two big resort developments under way which should allow, by the end of the decade, for that figure to double.

Another place that isn’t widely known is Bursa in Turkey, the fourth largest city on the country. Only 761,000 people visit the city last year and of those, only about a third came from overseas. One of the cities with thermal springs like Bath, Vichy or Bade-Baden where people traditionally went to take the waters, don’t be surprised if you travel agent starts talking to you more about the city as the year progresses.

But to travel to any of these places, you need to have air links and neither Montenegro nor Bursa are blessed with good connectivity from the UK or Ireland. It works both ways and new links are to be welcomed, Cambridge, for example, has a new flight which started last Monday that links the city with Gothenburg in Sweden every Monday till Thursday which should appeal to those looking for a longer weekend break.

Now more of us may be flying from Cardiff since eight new routes have been announced

Now more of us may be flying from Cardiff since eight new routes have been announced

Although it is flown by Sun-Air, the flights will be badged as British Airways so one-world loyalty members will still be able to attract and redeem points.

It was Cardiff that announced the greatest number of new connections. Flybe will open a new base there and an additional eight destinations will be linked to the Welsh capital. The new destinations are Cork, Dublin, Edinburgh, Faro, Glasgow, Munich, Milan and Paris. Those are in addition to the three services currently being from Cardiff by Flybe to Belfast, Dusseldorf and Jersey. A ten year agreement has been signed between the airport and the airline so the services – or at least a presence by Flybe – should help some long term continuity at the airport which leaks passengers to Bristol and Birmingham where there is better connectivity for passengers.

 

 

 

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,