Illusions to complete its first European acquisition

Illusions in European acquisition first

Dubai-headquartered company to buy Polish travel technology firm anixe

Illusions is poised to make its first ever acquisition, with advanced negotiations under way to purchase Polish travel technology firm anixe for an undisclosed sum.

The deal was announced on 23rd April at the FVW Travel Technology Day in Cologne, Germany, will give the Dubai head-quartered travel technology specialist access to exclusive technology, global hotel content and a brand new client base across Europe.

It’s an agreement that will see anixe, which specialises in distributing global hotel product to the European and UK travel trade, become integrated into the Illusions business.

Illusions Founder and CEO Faisal Memon said the acquisition allowed the technology firm to “cherry pick” the facets of the anixe business that would both complement and enhance its core product and its rapidly-expanding global travel marketplace, the i-World Travel eXchange (iWTX).

“It was anixe’s technology, customers, infrastructure, distribution strength and crucially, its team of technology experts, headed up by a very smart CEO, that clinched the deal and I believe we can grow this into a much bigger business,” he said.

“The product and distribution capabilities of anixe will grow iWTX’s hotel inventory to exponential proportions, with our combined offering amounting to a staggering half a million unique hotels.”

Memon has made no secret of his quest to be market leader in Germany, Europe’s biggest travel market in a short time frame, paving the way for the domination of the entire continent.

Illusions already counts Der Touristik, part of the REWE Group, as one its top clients and the anixe partnership brings another German heavyweight into its fold – the country’s fourth largest German tour operator and travel agency, FTI Touristik.

Under deal terms anixe’s current base in Wroclaw, known as the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Poland, will become Illusions’ first office in Eastern Europe and its second on the continent. Its first European office opened its doors in Lisbon, Portugal just last week.

“Setting up a satellite office in Poland demonstrates our commitment to the European market, in particular Germany, and brings us much closer to our key clients, allowing us to meet their needs more effectively,” said Memon

anixe is a technology firm that like Illusions, has spent 18 years creating customised solutions specifically for the travel industry.

The company’s Founder and CEO Piotr Zolnierek said he been looking for an opportunity to grow his business for some time but had rejected acquisition requests from several interested parties until Memon came along.

“We share the same attitude to management and business and there are huge synergies between our two businesses,” he said.

“At anixe we have some unique inventions that Illusions can market and sell and with the expertise of our two companies combined, we will create a technology firm like no other.”

anixe will give Illusions access to technology that maps the same hotel product across different sources to a room type level, refining searches to show the best deals by room category, which no other system can offer. These searches are also customisable by market.

What’s more, anixe also boasts the technology to generate the different cache file formats unique to the German, French and Dutch markets, plus its processing times are lightning fast.

Memon said anixe’s innovative hotel mapping, real-time caching and booking engine technology was one of the firm’s top assets.

“With this acquisition comes a number of enhancements to our platform, with functionality and out-of-the-box solutions for the global travel industry that will set us apart in this competitive market place,” he said.

via Tour Operator & DMC software – Illusions Online Travel Technology – News – Illusions in European acquisition first.

Are luxury specialists missing out on the Mena family market? | News | Travel Trade Gazette

Wealthy families in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region could be a lucrative market for the travel trade to tap into.

10 YouGov with Brand Line (Vertical)Research carried out by polling firm YouGov for Arabian Travel Market found that more than one-third of the region’s residents stayed in five-star hotels when going on holiday.

But currently more than half of these residents book all elements of luxury family trips themselves, although 72% said they would be willing to book an all-inclusive package if they were available.

Bahrain had the highest number of residents, 34%, who usually stay in luxury hotels.

This compares with an overall average of 27% for those living across the Gulf states, while only 17% of North Africa residents stayed at the most upmarket properties.

The most popular destinations for the Mena region’s residents are the United Arab Emirates (14%), Italy (10%) and Turkey (5%).

Nadege Noblet, exhibition manager for ATM, said: “This trend for luxury family travel offers opportunities for tour operators to create tailor-made packages that take into account not only family needs, but also the cultural considerations unique to the Mena region, and this opens up tremendous marketing opportunities.”

Luxury family travel will be discussed at two ILTM@ATM in two seminars: Biting into Gourmet Travel and Luxury Family Travel.

via Are luxury specialists missing out on the Mena family market? | News | Travel Trade Gazette.

MMGY Global grows travel business landing three new international accounts

MMGY Global grows travel business landing three new international accounts: by Theodore Koumelis 

The Leading Hotels of the World, Occidental Hotels & Resorts and NH Hotel Group has appointed MMGY as its marketing and public relations agency.

mmgy logoLeading integrated travel marketing firm, MMGY Global, has added three new global hospitality clients to its esteemed portfolio of tourism accounts, including Leading Hotels of the World, Occidental Hotels & Resorts and NH Hotel Group.

The Leading Hotels of the World has appointed MMGY as its integrated marketing and public relations agency for the prestigious brand. MMGY PR has been selected to collaborate on strategic planning and media relations efforts as the brand’s agency of record. Comprised of more than 400 hotels in 80 countries, the collection represents some of the world’s most exceptional hotels.

MMGY has also been selected as the U.S. public relations agency of record for NH Hotel Group, Europe’s third-ranked business hotel chain. MMGY will help raise awareness of the brand in the U.S. market with specific focus on its NH Collection portfolio. The hotel group boasts nearly 400 hotels and 60,000 rooms in 29 markets across Europe, the Americas and Africa, including top city destinations such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Bogota, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Mexico City, Milan, Munich, New York, Rome and Vienna.

Spain-based Occidental Hotels & Resorts has chosen MMGY for brand strategy for the company’s portfolio of resorts throughout Mexico and the Caribbean. MMGY will consult on brand strategy, structure and positioning for all of the company’s brands including Royal Hideaway, Occidental Grand, and Allegro Resorts. Occidental Hotels & Resorts manages 14 properties in six countries: Aruba, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Mexico. In addition to welcoming over 400,000 guests annually, the company’s timeshare concept, Occidental Vacation Club, includes more than 23,000 loyal travelers who have expanded their all-inclusive experiences through vacation ownership.

“It is exciting to be working with these great international brands,” said Clayton Reid, CEO of MMGY Global. “As we have grown our capabilities outside of the United States, it has permitted us to develop new client relationships that would have not otherwise been possible.”

via MMGY Global grows travel business landing three new international accounts.

China DIY travel site Directons smashes crowdinvesting goal

Premium DIY travel site for Chinese going overseas smashes equity crowdfunding goal,  Paul Bischoff

Up until a few years ago, most travellers from China were relegated to group tours – packed onto planes and buses with at least a dozen other tourists, led around on a strict schedule by a guide with a flag and loudspeaker.

But China’s younger generations, with their growing incomes and fewer travel restrictions, are quickly shifting to DIY travel, which offers more flexibility and freedom than group tours. As a result, a huge wave of startups have cropped up to serve their needs. Now the highly-fragmented market is nearing its saturation point.

“It is true that China’s DIY market is already very hot and is trending towards over-saturation,” says Robin Shao, CEO and founder of Directions Travel. “But we believe that this is more of a ‘quantity’ over-saturation, rather than a ‘quality’ saturation. There are a lot of companies out there doing this, but they are not necessarily meeting the needs of consumers.”

Directions has two core competitive strengths, Shao says. The first is that the start-up reaches out to people who have unique experiences and hobbyists in certain fields to introduce unique attractions, restaurants, and accommodation. “We source our trip ideas from individuals who have on the ground experience,” he explains. “On our site, users can learn about these people and their background to pick out the one that best matches their interests.”

Secondly, Directions uses these human resources to cater to customers who want unique experiences. “Though the independent travel market is hot, there are very few companies that are willing to put in the effort to create products that meet specific needs,” Shao says.

But what constitutes a “unique” experience is rather subjective, and Directions doesn’t seem to tackle the most empirical deciding factor for most travellers: cost. Whether the promise of quality can outweigh customers’ budget concerns in this highly competitive market will be critical to the startup’s success.

The company focuses on mid- to high-end customers travelling overseas. Some of Directions’ destinations include the US, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Latin America. Competing travel sites include Lvmama, LY.com, ByeCity, Ctrip, Qunar, Aoliday, Woqu, Tuniu, and many, many more.

An invested crowd

Directions was chosen as one of the 11 inaugural startups to raise funding through ecommerce site JD’s new equity crowdfunding platform. In equity crowdfunding, backers actually take a slice of equity in the company they support in contrast to the rewards-based Kickstarter model. The crowdinvesting site just launched earlier this week, and Directions has already doubled its RMB 2.5 million (US$403,000) goal, surpassing it within the first 24 hours.

“We believed that it would be a fast, efficient way to raise money,” Shao says. “For an early startup, the first fund is the most important one, but you cannot spend too much time raising it or you might run out of money before you make it.”

Venture capital is no longer the exclusive right of big organizations, Shao says. The equity crowdfunding model also helps attract early supporters. ” If they are willing to invest some funds into us, then they will certainly be willing to help us promote and improve our products.”

On top of that, it also just announced an RMB 1.5 million (US$242,000) seed investment from Gobi VC. Gobi’s Shanghai-based venture partner Michael Zhu says the firm is enthusiastic about the equity crowdfunding model. “As an early stage VC, Gobi believes that the industry should embrace this type of innovative crowdfunding model. It empowers society, it helps startups grow and improves transparency within the VC industry.”

Gobi also invested in another startup that successfully raised funds on JD, spicy seafood delivery company Jacky’s Shrimp. Zhu says the exposure a startup gets through this sort of platform is a huge bonus.

“Usually, a seed stage investment may experience difficulty in getting the word out, especially with how active China’s early stage investment scene is these days. It really builds momentum,” he says. “We are also able to raise more money for the company than we would normally be able to at this stage of growth.”

Zhu says the the results exceeded his expectations as both companies surpassed their investment goals by over 150 percent in under 24 hours, each with a couple months remaining.

Directions will put the fresh funds toward new products, optimizing existing products, and conducting on-the-ground inspections of its trip packages. It will also spend some cash on improving its IT system and on marketing.

Editing by Malavika Velayanikal

via China DIY travel site Directons smashes crowdinvesting goal.

Why the Chinese are choosing Dubai over London, Paris – Emirates 24|7

Why the Chinese are choosing Dubai over London, Paris.  Tourist arrivals to Dubai set to double to 540,000 By Waheed Abbas

An average stay of Chinese tourists in Dubai will be approximately 3.2 nights during the 2013-23 period (File)

Dubai will be a hot destination for Chinese tourists in the coming decade, preferring the emirate over London, Paris and Sydney, according to a new study by a global hotel chain.

Favourable economic and demographic trends shaping the Chinese travel market are set to fuel huge increases in the number of Chinese travellers visiting the UAE over the next decade, said ‘The Future of Chinese Travel’ report published by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) in partnership with Oxford Economics.

The emirate will remain the most popular choice for Chinese travellers in the Middle East and Africa region (Mena) as tourist arrivals are set to almost double (up by 97 per cent) to more than 540,000 travellers by 2023 as compared to 276,000 in 2013, it said.

The travel, retail and entertainment centres of Dubai and Abu Dhabi have led the region, attracting an increasing number of Chinese tourists on leisure trips and cruises.

“Over the next decade, growth in arrivals to and nights spent in Dubai and Abu Dhabi is expected to top that of other major city destinations throughout the world, such as London and Paris in Europe and Sydney in the Asia Pacific region,” the report noted.

Total spending by Chinese tourists is estimated to jump by 60 per cent in 10 years, from $488 million (Dh1.8 billion) in 2013 to $781 million (Dh2.86 billion) in 2023. An average stay will be approximately 3.2 nights during the 2013-23 period.

“Dubai is among the top destinations in [the number of nights spent per visit], despite the average number of Chinese arrivals to Middle Eastern cities falling behind that of destinations in the other regions,” said the report.

Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) earlier this month said Dubai’s hotel establishments received 11.63 million guests in 2014, registering a 5.6 per cent increase over guest arrivals in 2013.

According to DTCM, China moved from tenth position to seventh, experiencing 24.9 per cent growth in the last 12 months with 344,329 hotel guests compared to 275,675 in 2013.

Pascal Gauvin, Chief Operating Office, India, Middle East and Africa, IHG, said the UAE is a key growth market in the Middle East.

“As the volume of Chinese travellers grow in key cities such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the country, we must also ensure we are ready to cater to their and we are pleased to share that today nearly 40 per cent of our hotels in the UAE are now China Ready accredited. In the years ahead we will work towards growing this number alongside the growth that we can expect from Chinese guests.”

Globally, 90 million Chinese households will be travelling overseas by 2023.

Abu Dhabi is expected to receive more than 177,000 Chinese travellers by 2023, a huge increase of more than 300 per cent from just over 44,000 in 2013.

The report also reveals the opportunities this forecast growth will present, as Chinese traveller preferences evolve towards long-haul, leisure-driven travel. The study reports that increases in leisure and retail spend will contribute to significant increases in the value of Chinese travellers to local economies.

via Why the Chinese are choosing Dubai over London, Paris – Emirates 24|7.

One in five apps ‘get forgotten’ | Netimperative – latest digital marketing news

One in five apps ‘get forgotten’

Speed and simplicity top reasons for using apps, but one in five are installed and forgotten, according to new UK research.

The study, suggests that Brits are a nation of ‘app-nesiacs’ according to new research Google has conducted with Ipsos.

The survey of 1,200 UK app users, spanning three categories – shopping, restaurants and takeaways and travel and holidays – found that one in five installed apps are then forgotten.

Despite this ‘app-nesia’, apps still play an important part in our digital existence. Nearly a half of people surveyed (47%) said they use an app when they want information quickly, compared to 17% who prefer a mobile site. Apps are seen as simpler, quicker, more personalised and useful for fast transactional tasks, for example:

• For simplicity of navigation, 50% prefer an app, but 31% prefer a mobile website

• In terms of speed of loading, 46% believe an app is quicker, while 29% say a mobile site would win

• When it comes to ease of use, 51% prefer installed apps because logins are pre-entered

People tend to turn to mobile websites when they want more in-depth information, with 49% of those surveyed admitting they prefer a mobile site for this reason.

Cross-sector app behaviour

When it comes to app user behaviour across different sectors, travel and holiday apps are the most likely to be installed and then forgotten (33%), followed by shopping apps (18%) and restaurants and takeaway apps (17%).

Motivations for downloading apps also differ across categories. Restaurant and takeaway apps are chiefly downloaded to get access to discounts and rewards. The leading reason people download travel apps is because they’ve been recommended by others. And shopping apps are mostly downloaded when people have regular interaction with the company or brand.

Max Macintosh, Agency Head, Google UK, comments: “A great app encourages brand interaction, is easy to navigate and is quick to load. But as our research shows, this won’t necessarily guarantee that customers will keep coming back. For successful ongoing app engagement, businesses can use push notifications, ensure apps appear in organic search results and link search ads and results to relevant pages in apps.

Of course an app is a complement to, and not a substitute for, an optimised mobile site. When users want to compare options, gather information or go into greater depth, a mobile website comes into its own and should remain a top priority.”

Key charts:

via One in five apps ‘get forgotten’ | Netimperative – latest digital marketing news.

Vayant and ArrivalGuides team up to inspire travel shoppers

vayantVayant brings its FastSearch, the inspirational sub-second airfare shopping product that precomputes large datasets of customer-defined flight search results and keeps them fresh and easily available for marketing purposes via API.

Vayant Travel Technologies, a leading company in airfare search innovation, and ArrivalGuides, the destination content supplier, announced a partnership agreement for a joint marketing solution that allows travel companies to target flight offers alongside inspiring destination images and content.

By combining their respective strengths the partners aim to make it easier for airlines and travel agencies to provide rich content-driven experiences on their ecommerce websites. As the world’s leading network of high quality and up-to-date destination information and city guides, ArrivalGuides brings compelling destination content to inspire travellers to choose, book and plan their trip. Currently, this covers over 500 destinations and includes 35,000+ points of interest.Vayant brings its FastSearch, the inspirational sub-second airfare shopping product that precomputes large datasets of customer-defined flight search results and keeps them fresh and easily available for marketing purposes via API.

Offered as a one-stop-shop web solution, the combined destination and flight content API can be used by travel companies to power map displays, calendar displays, banner ads, email campaigns. Iskra Rasheva, Marketing Manager, Vayant Travel Technologies, said: “Today’s travellers expect to find inspiration when they shop online, with exciting travel choices accurately priced, attractively presented and available to book.

With ArrivalGuides we’re making it easy for all kinds of travel sellers to deploy this kind of quality content on their websites.”Ola Zetterlof, Director of Content Solutions, ArrivalGuides, said: “High quality destination content is key for inspiration and to trigger a booking – with Vayant, we add a new dimension with airfare pricing that’s fast and accurate.” –

See more at:

http://www.traveldailynews.com/news/article/64859/vayant-and-arrivalguides-team-up#sthash.U9GDR367.dpuf

via Vayant and ArrivalGuides team up to inspire travel shoppers.

The Travel Market Digest February 2015

The Travel Marketing Digest 11th February 2015 – Volume V, issue 2

Welcome to the latest edition of The Travel Marketing Digest and some of the top travel marketing stories over the last few weeks.

In this edition….

  • ReboundTAG’s innovative microchip baggage tracking solution: and a cool corporate giveaway…
  • Marriott’s GoPro marketing campaign
  • Hotelplan to buy Kuoni Switzerland?
  • City visitor rankings report by Euromonitor
  • How Google Now is improving travelUNWTO reports a 4.7% growth in travellers, 1,138 million arrivals in 2014
  • The survival of travel agents
  • World Marketing Group to promote Destination Asia in North America
  • Expedia acquires Travelocity
  • Marketing travel to US Affluent
  • iBeacon technology and travel marketing

The Travel Marketing Digest

Nobox Leads the Creation of Marriott’s Innovative Marketing Program with GoPro | Business Wire

marriott(BUSINESS WIRE)–Nobox, a leading social marketing agency, is the creative force behind the innovative marketing program between Marriott Hotels, Marriott International’s flagship brand, and GoPro. “Our creative goal is to engage Marriott’s guests and empower them to share richer, more immersive content,” said Jayson Fittipaldi, Chief Creative Officer of Nobox. “Ultimately, the surprise and delight that guests who participate experience and the amazing content that they are sharing with the world continues to elevate the Marriott Hotels brand among Millennial travelers. The alchemy of putting GoPro’s in the hands of eager guests have resulted in social marketing gold for Marriott.”

“Nobox’s continuous contribution to our success has transcended the scope of a social marketing agency to become Marriott’s creative agency for the region.”

This match made in “marketing heaven”, invites Marriott Hotels guests to take GoPro HERO4 cameras for a “test-drive” and capture their travel experiences in a richer, more immersive way. Guests are encouraged to share on social media using the hashtags #GoPro, #TravelBrilliantly, and #ViajeGenial for a chance to be featured on http://www.travelbrilliantly.com/gopro, Marriott’s social media profiles, and even on a dedicated TV channel in the in-room entertainment system of participating hotels. To celebrate the launch of the program, the most inspiring content submitted by guests will be selected to win prizes such as vacation stays, Marriott Rewards points and GoPro cameras.

“Travelers tend to be more active in social media during and after their trips because it elevates their profile. That said, smartphones will not capture our most adventurous travel experiences like parasailing, diving, etc. Combining Marriott and GoPro creates a perfect setting for Human-to-Human marketing; transforming happy customers into a brand ambassador,” said Carlos Garcia, CEO of Nobox.

“This program is a perfect example of how Marriott continues to innovate and attract the next generation of travelers,” said Craig S. Smith, President of the Caribbean and Latin America at Marriott International. “Nobox’s continuous contribution to our success has transcended the scope of a social marketing agency to become Marriott’s creative agency for the region.” The execution of this program spans across many touch-points beyond digital and social. Most notably, the program is embedded in the hotel experience and has dedicated Marriott associates at every participating hotel. Nobox even created a program management tool for Marriott associates to keep track of GoPro cameras and engage participating guests at the property level.

Watch the video: http://youtu.be/3IJd0OS6wE4

Visit the website: http://www.travelbrilliantly.com/gopro

Marriott press release: http://news.marriott.com/2015/01/gopro-marriott.html

via Nobox Leads the Creation of Marriott’s Innovative Marketing Program with GoPro | Business Wire.

New City Destination Ranking Released by Euromonitor International

EuromonitorMarket Research Company Euromonitor International released today a new ranking of the top 100 city destinations in terms of international tourist arrivals for 2013.

The top three cities on the list remained unchanged from 2012: Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok. These Asian mega-cities benefited from their locations in heavily populated areas, large economies and proximity to China.

While outbound travel from China is heavily influential for many of the cities listed, inbound tourism to China remains sluggish. China does remain the leading country for the number of cities featured in the top 100 with a total of eight. However, with the exceptions of Suzhou and Guilin, these cities experienced a decline in arrivals for 2013 due to an uncertain economic outlook, pollution concerns and tensions with Japan—a key source market.

Looking forward, city destinations may want to turn to the US market, the second largest source for outbound travel in 2013. The US has been a relatively mature market with outbound travel peaking in 2007, followed by yearly declines until recovery began in 2012. But a better economic environment, a stronger dollar and lower gas prices will likely boost outbound travel from the US.

“Cities in neighbouring countries to the US such as Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean will most likely see growth in US travellers,” according to Euromonitor’s Head of Travel and Tourism, Caroline Bremner. “Western European cities will likely benefit too, thanks to strong cultural positioning and historical ties to the US.”

Top Five Cities Destination Rankings Listed Below:

  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong (25,587.3 arrivals)
  • Singapore, Singapore (22,455.4 arrivals)
  • Bangkok, Thailand (17,467.8 arrivals)
  • London, United Kingdom (16,784.1 arrivals)
  • Paris, France (15,200.0 arrivals)

via New City Destination Ranking Released by Euromonitor International.

Asian cities account for a third of the most visited cities

Over a third of all destinations are located in the Asian Pacific region, illustrating strong regional travel trends within Asia, as well as the growing connections throughout the region. Within the top 10, six of the leading cities are from Asia, with the top three remaining unchanged from last year – Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok. These three Asian mega-cities serve as some of the top destinations for Chinese travellers as well as being air network hubs. Bangkok showed the strongest growth among the top 10 cities, up 10.4% from 2012 to reach 17.4 million arrivals, despite political unrest breaking out at the end of the year. Chinese visitors are key to Thailand’s booming arrivals, with close links between the countries as well as efficient and short transport connections. A new Asian arrival on the list is the South Korean city of Jeju with 1.77 million visitors, growing 46.3% in 2013.

Chinese visitors replaced Japanese arrivals as the most important source market for South Korea in 2013. About 70% of international visitors to Jeju Island are Chinese, aided by the no-visa policy as well as improved cruise facilities, direct flights from the Chinese mainland, and a plethora of duty-free shopping opportunities. While outbound Chinese tourism is hugely influential in many of the cities listed, inbound tourism remains sluggish. China does remain the leading country for the number of cities featured in the top 100, with a total of eight cities. However, with the exceptions of Suzhou and Guilin, all these cities experienced a decline in arrivals for 2013. Beijing in particular continues to be affected by the slowdown in the Chinese economy as well as pollution.

India’s leading cities, Delhi and Mumbai, though, experienced growth of 27% and 22%, respectively, in 2013, with both of them receiving around 3.6 million visitors.  The depreciation of the rupee against the US dollar made it much cheaper to travel to India in comparison to previous years, aiding inbound tourism.

GCC countries are the shining stars of the Middle East

The GCC counties are well represented by four countries, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all having cities in the top 100. The latter is home to Dubai, the region’s starTweet-This city for arrivals with a total of 10.5 million visitors, up 7% on the previous year. The United Arab Emirates government has worked hard in recent years promoting the country as a safe family tourism destination, which has benefitted Dubai, and also neighbouring emirates Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, which also feature in the top 100. These cities have also picked up a lot of arrivals who previously would have opted for destinations such as Egypt before its recent instability.

Saudi Arabia features three cities in the top 100: Mecca, East Province and Riyadh. 2013 was a strong year for inbound tourists visiting Mecca for religious pilgrimage, with arrivals reaching 7.5 million due to massive expansions at the holy mosques as well as a growing number of hotels. This is in spite of concerns about the MERS virus, which was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Doha, in Qatar, was the Middle Eastern city showing the best growth in 2013, reaching 3.8 million arrivals, up by 21.2%. Business tourism is the mainstay of arrivals, due to Qatar’s substantial oil and gas industry, but leisure tourism is growing slowly with the country focusing largely on cultural and sporting attractions to entice visitors.

Europe courting Russian and Chinese visitors

London and Paris remain Western Europe’s leading cities for arrivals with 16.8 million and 15.2 million, respectively, in 2013. Turkey features strongly in the list, with Antalya, Istanbul and Artvin all showing good growth for the year. Russian arrivals were key to this growth, with Antalya hosting 75% of all visitors from Russia to Turkey. Visas are not required for Russians staying less than 60 days in Turkey, and Antalya provides beach locations such as Kemer, Alanya, Belek, Kas, and Side, which are popular with Russian tourists. Zurich in Switzerland has one of the highest growth rates for arrivals in Europe, at 23.6%, and it welcomed 2.26 million arrivals in 2013. Increasing numbers of tourists from China and Russia are visiting the city, aided by the fact that Switzerland is within the Schengen visa zone, and offers excellent transportation links and air connections.

A reshuffling of future source markets

The long-heralded rise of the Chinese outbound traveller is set to continue with China overtaking Germany as the number one source of outbound international travel in 2017. Nearby Asian cities, especially those located in countries with relaxed or no visa requirements, will benefit immensely. However, Chinese travellers are becoming more adventurous – travelling farther afield and exploring on their own as opposed to in a tour group. It is important for cities to understand the changing Chinese travellers’ desires and build a strong marketing message to court them.

The outlook for Russian travellers was equally bright just a year ago, but the deteriorating economic situation and the rapid decline of the rouble now call into question how strong a source market Russia will be, especially for city destinations in important sun destinations such as Turkey, Egypt and Thailand.

However, city destinations may want to turn their eyes to the US market, which was the second largest source market in 2013. The US has been a relatively mature market, with outbound travel peaking in 2007, followed by yearly declines until a recovery began in 2012. But a better economic environment, a stronger dollar and lower gas prices will likely boost outbound travel from the US. According to the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, outbound travel from the US was up by Tweet-This9.6% year-to-date in October 2014 – a significant increase for a mature market. The benefit, though, may mostly accrue in cities in neighbouring countries in Central America (including Mexico) and the Caribbean, but Western European cities will likely benefit too thanks to strong cultural positioning and historical ties.

Uncertainty is the only certainty

The shift towards a more connected world is both a positive and a negative for international travel. The opportunities to attract visitors from new source markets are vast, but can quickly turn into challenges, whether it is due to geopolitical unrest, economic decline or natural disasters. It is important for city destinations to be prepared to quickly respond to the constantly evolving global landscape to have their tourism industries thrive.