Saturday snippets: 11th November 2017

By | Category: Travel news
map of the Sinai

and Egyptians would welcome Britons back to Sharm

As readers are aware this has been World Travel Market (WTM) week so a lot of the news this week has come from press conferences and snatches of conversation. The industry is bullish about continued growth in tourism but then when was it ever not? Brexit worries and instability in some countries, safety concerns in others and internal issues are largely ignored since attendees all put a confident face on matters.

Occasionally, though, some feelings erupt and such was the case at the Egyptian press conference. Travellers want to know when Britons can travel to Sharm El Sheikh again and the Egyptians made it plain that a British security advisor has passed the new arrangements there, millions have been spent on training (largely by Britons) and yet the British government has yet to lift the travel advisory which effectively bans Britons from travelling there.  There was more than a touch of frustration in their voices especially as the Germans, Russians and Scandinavians are returning after accepting the new security arrangements.

Cart driver in Tunisia waving

Is the wave to British tourists returning to Tunisia?

The representatives of the tourist board from Tunisia were sporting large smiles on their faces at WTM this year. It is all due to the lifting of the ban on Britons holidaying there and with Thomson (sorry, TUI-old habits are hard to break) and Thomas Cook selling holidays to the country again, the country is expecting a large increase in numbers. That positive attitude may be justified as a survey says that about one in five of us would consider holidaying there. The Tunisian National Tourist Office in the UK estimates that numbers will reach 30,000 in 2017, and will more than double in 2018 to 65,000. Frankly I think that 100,000 is on the cards for 2019 but that would still only be a quarter of the numbers that holidayed there in 2015 before the terrorist attack.

the harbour at Mandraki

Mandraki harbour in Rhodes

Greece is another country that will be cheering its tourism numbers this year. Almost half of all responders questioned in a WTM survey say that they would consider a holiday in Greece. The Greek National Tourism Organisation expects a record-breaking 30 million international visitors to Greece for 2017 – up 7% year-on-year – because, it says, the destination has invested in its tourism industry and improved its image overseas. For the last two years, Greece’s growth has been nearly twice the global industry average of 3.9%. The WTM document also says that the Greek city of Heraklion will be the strongest performing city in Europe in 2017, as visitor arrivals are forecast rise by more than 11%, while Athens will see arrivals increase by 10%.

You can tell winter is upon us when I receive news that ski slopes are opening. Some ski resorts are opening slightly earlier than planned because there is sufficient snow on the summits of the mountains or the temperatures are sufficiently low enough to allow the artificial snow making machines to be used.. Yesterday, for example, the Swiss resort of Verbier opened. It has had more than 40cm of fresh snow on Les Attelas, allowing Téléverbier to open its ski area. The Lac des Vaux has opened and others are expected to come into use subject to more snow. But for the rest of the month it will only be open at weekends.

Dubai is on track for another record year in terms of tourist volumes. A total of 11.58 million international overnight visitors arrived at the destination during the first nine months of 2017, up 7.5% over the same period last year. The UK is in third place as a provider of overseas tourists after India and Saudi Arabia but their residents have a smaller distance to travel. 905,000 Brits travelled there in the first nine months which is a 2% rise over the same period in 2016. This small rise is attributed to the sterling depreciation and the effects of Brexit which may have deterred a greater number from holidaying in Dubai.

a new tourism slogan, “A World of its Own.”

Although the new promotion encouraging us to holiday in Mexico was launched in New York just before WTM, the campaign was shown to people in London as well. Called “A World of its Own,” this part of a multi-year strategy portrays the diversity of Mexican tourism offerings, and arrives at a time when Mexico has gone from being the 15th most-visited nation in 2012 in the world to eighth place according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization. According to Hector Flores Santana, MD of Mexico’s Tourist Board,the idea of this part of the campaign is “to immerse ourselves in everything that is Mexico,”  especially as he says that visitors tell Mexico that it is different from what they have seen and experienced.

Germany is probably the biggest destination that doesn’t take exhibition space at WTM having pulled out after 2015 saying that the cost was high. (That’s true – many stands cost six figures and some seven!) But it still arranged a press briefing. The new boss in London, Beatrix Haun, said: “The UK is the 3rd most important source market for Germany in Europe and 4th worldwide. Germany is the No. 1 Cultural Destination for Europeans and the British, in particular, travel to Germany for its culture, but also for its young, vibrant cities.” Overnight stays by holidaymakers from the UK increased by 5.9% in August (compared to August 2016), the UK remains the 3rd most important source market in Europe. Leipzig is a standout area this August where there has been a growth of nearly a third in overnight stays by Brits compared to August 2016.

The Gate of India in Mumbai

Lots of destinations use the opportunity of WTM to announce what promotional tag they will use for the following year. India has decided that 2018 will be the year of adventure travel. The tourist board says that “the focus has shifted from a generic to market-specific and thematic promotion.” In addition India is also promoting Homestay tourism, with a focus on the standardisation of accommodation in the sector across numerous states, in line with the increasing desire for authentic and off-the-beaten-track tourism experiences.

The strapline chosen by Peru is ‘Peru, the richest country in the world.’ The idea behind this approach is to explain what being rich really means. To quote the tourist board,  it is about “…the new perception that being rich is based on experiences, including travel, not acquiring more material possessions.” The UK will be one of twenty countries in which the new promotion will take place.

How cruisehips dwarf the landscape in Venice. In future the largest will dock in Maghera

Coinciding with WTM, Venice announced that large cruise ships would be permanently banned from the centre of Venice under new rules to be introduced within the next four years. Those ships weighing 100,000 tonnes or more will have to use the less glamorous industrial port of Marghera, which is a long way from Venice’s famous Grand Canal. There has long been a debate in the city about the polluting impact of larger cruise ships on the canals and the lagoon bed. Ships weighing more than 96,000 tonnes were banned from the Giudecca canal in 2013.

As a conclusion to some of the stories from WTM, Guy Verhofstadt – who negotiates on Brexit on behalf of the European parliament – said that he is looking at the possibility of UK citizens being able to apply for EU citizenship after Brexit, to enable them to retain the rights they currently enjoy. If a hard Brexit occurs and holidaymakers require visas to holiday in the EU then acquiring citizenship may be a useful shopping list item for Brits.

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