Two interesting documents arrived today. Both were brought to my attention via good old twitter (such a great source for getting news and views quickly).
Firstly, we have the ITB World Travel Trend Report 2010/2011 http://bit.ly/g7vXUF Good facts & figures on global arrival trends and particularly interesting to have quite a lot of up to date 2010 numbers. I do think that the 2011 and onwards forecast information lacks detail but does whet my whistle – good to read but overall there is nothing earth-shattering about the predictions.
In the Americas, it is the South that will continue to grow and have a good year welcoming visitors. The big spenders will continue to be the BRICs with Japanese travellers also showing good spending potential again. And overall, International tourism will see a growth of 3-5% (with Europe only seeing 1-3%).
Obviously good to see but we are still quite a way from where we were 3 or 4 years ago so it is an uphill climb.
Other interesting snippets include the fact that the Chinese far outspend Indians travellers (by over 20%). In the US, over 52% of the adult leisure travellers (a whopping 152 million!) use Social Media (music to my ears). And the newest customers to target in years to come are the ‘Lohas’ (“Lifestyles of health and sustainability”) or those who are well-off, well-educated, health-conscious and socially and environmentally aware.
Overall, a good report and highly recommend a read if you are in or interested in travel and tourism. Shame I can’t make ITB this year but good to have the research.
Then we have the long, anticipated UK Government’s Tourism Strategy http://bit.ly/dVo2Hg brought to us by the DCMS . Long, long awaited but having read through, wonder why it has taken this length of time – e.g. there is nothing in there that is rocket science or exciting.
Saying that, I am quite pleased to see a comprehensive report on the industry – note though I use the word ‘report’ rather than strategy. Admittedly I have only gotten through the document once so far but the proposals included will not thrill. I’m not sure in these tough economic times how anyone could have expected anything more – there isn’t the money to invest and thrill. So I suppose you can say this is making the best out of a bad situation and quite a lot is being left up to the tourism industry to make it happen themselves. I think we are screaming out for tough, business-minded leaders to help us get our act together and stop begging the government for more money and leadership which they just aren’t prepared to give.
I won’t go into too much detail now as I’d like another read and to consider the report in its entirety but there are a few areas/issues that come to the forefront for me. Firstly, the idea of having a bank holiday in October grabs me (better than March or April which will coincide with the Easter holiday break which moves between both months). What I am disappointed about is the part about moving the first May bank holiday. I have long heard that the actual proposal would entail adding another bank holiday not moving one. The UK does not have excessive bank holidays – I believe we lag behind in number of days against other European countries. What would help tourism is an extra bank holiday which extends the season, not just moving one.
I am also disappointed at the lack of mention of the British summertime year-round move – that extra hour which was going to be part of this strategy. Or have I missed something? There has been so much press recently and yet it has faded into the background.
Other notable points are the amount of money the government says they are giving to market the UK in the next 4 years – over £100m. Well, all of us know that is actually a significant drop in spend per year but the report tries hard to present this as a gift-wrapped present.
On a personal interest, it is a shame that not much is made of the contribution that the youth & student market brings to UK tourism. In the graph on page 51 of the report on ‘How the World Rates the UK compared to 50 nations’, the UK rated about the highest of all countries as a ‘good place to study for educational qualifications’. Shame there is no mention of this at all within the strategy as an area to exploit with lots of suppliers, organisations and operators so willing to work together with the government to take advantage. Stop ignoring or down-playing this sector – cutting Student Visa numbers without a detail understanding of the value of this market is just plain wrong.
There is much though that I am more positive about (seems more than others who are moaning) – many regional and local tourist boards needed a shake-up and VisitBritain needed to take back centrally the in-bound marketing campaigns (and I personally think they are doing a great job with Social Media!).
We have so much which is great about the UK and there is no end of willingness from the industry to help shout about it at home and around the world – but we clearly need to work together as an industry to make it happen and stop relying on the government who have taken a long time to say what is not so much a strategy but what is the obvious.