Tourism delivers 4.7% growth: 1,138 million arrivals recorded for 2014, UNWTO

UNWTO logoInternational tourist arrivals reached 1,138 million in 2014, a 4.7% increase over the previous year, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. For 2015, UNWTO forecasts international tourism to grow by 3% to 4%, further contributing to the global economic recovery.

The number of international tourists (overnight visitors) reached 1,138 million in 2014, 51 million more than in 2013. With an increase of 4.7%, this is the fifth consecutive year of above average growth since the 2009 economic crisis.

“Over the past years, tourism has proven to be a surprisingly strong and resilient economic activity and a fundamental contributor to the economic recovery by generating billions of dollars in exports and creating millions of jobs. This has been true for destinations all around the world, but particularly for Europe, as the region struggles to consolidate its way out of one of the worst economic periods in its history,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, opening the Spain Global Tourism Forum in Madrid.

By region, the Americas (+7%) and Asia and the Pacific (+5%) registered the strongest growth, while Europe (+4%), the Middle East (+4%) and Africa (+2%) grew at a slightly more modest pace. By subregion, North America (+8%) saw the best results, followed by North-East Asia, South Asia, Southern and Mediterranean Europe, Northern Europe and the Caribbean, all increasing by 7%.

As in recent years, the growth in international tourism receipts in 2014 is expected to have followed that of arrivals fairly close (the 2014 results for international tourism receipts will be released in April 2015). In 2013, international tourism receipts reached US$ 1,197 billion, US$ 230 billion more than in the pre-crisis year of 2008.

Positive outlook for 2015

For 2015, UNWTO forecasts international tourist arrivals to grow between 3% and 4%. By region, growth is expected to be stronger in Asia and the Pacific (+4% to +5%) and the Americas (+4% to +5%), followed by  Europe (+3% to +4%). Arrivals are expected to increase by +3% to +5% in Africa and by +2% to +5% in the Middle East.

“We expect demand to continue growing in 2015 as the global economic situation improves even though there are still plenty of challenges ahead. On the positive side, oil prices have declined to a level not seen since 2009. This will lower transport costs and boost economic growth by lifting purchasing power and private demand in oil importing economies. Yet, it could also negatively impact some of the oil exporting countries which have emerged as strong tourism source markets,” added Mr Rifai.

The positive outlook for 2015 is confirmed by the UNWTO Confidence Index. According to the 300 tourism experts consulted worldwide for the Index, tourism performance is expected to improve in 2015, though expectations are less upbeat than a year ago.

Europe consolidates its position as the most visited region in the world

Europe (+4%), the most visited region with over half of the world’s international tourists, saw an increase of 22 million arrivals in 2014, reaching a total of 588 million. Thanks to these results, tourism has been a major contributor to the European economic recovery. Northern Europe and Southern and Mediterranean Europe led growth (both +7%), while results were more modest in Western Europe (+2%). Arrivals in Central and Eastern Europe (0%) stagnated after three years of strong growth.

International tourist arrivals in Asia and the Pacific (+5%) increased by 13 million to 263 million. The best performance was recorded in North-East Asia and South Asia (both +7%). Arrivals in Oceania grew by 6%, while growth slowed down in South-East Asia (+2%) as compared to previous years.

The Americas was the best performing region in relative terms with growth of 7%, welcoming an additional 13 million international tourists and raising the total to 181 million. Growth was driven by North America (+8%), where Mexico posted a double-digit increase, and the Caribbean (+7%). Arrivals to Central America and South America (both +6%) grew at double the rate recorded in 2013 and well above the world average.

International tourism in the Middle East (+4%) shows signs of rebound with good results in most destinations. The region attracted an additional 2 million arrivals, bringing the total to 50 million. Africa’s international tourist numbers grew by an estimated 2%, equivalent to an increase of one million arrivals. The region reached 56 million tourists. While arrivals to North Africa were weak (+1%), Sub-Saharan Africa saw international tourist numbers rise by 3% despite the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in a few West African countries. Data for Africa and the Middle East should be read with caution as it is based on limited and volatile data.

Demand from traditional source markets picks up

A pickup in expenditure on international tourism from traditional source markets compensated for the slowdown of the large emerging markets, which had been driving tourism growth in previous years.

The total number of trips abroad from China is estimated to have increased by 11 million to 109 million in 2014. Expenditure was up by 17% in the first three quarters of 2014, a strong result but slower than in previous years (40% in 2012 and 26% in 2013, respectively). China is the world’s largest outbound market since 2012 with a total expenditure of US$ 129 billion in 2013.

Among the other two main emerging markets, the Russian Federation (-6%) clearly lost strength in 2014, while Brazil still grew by 2%, despite the appreciation of the US dollar against the Brazilian real and slower economic growth. Beyond the top ten, some smaller emerging markets saw expenditure grow substantially, with Saudi Arabia, India, the Philippines and Qatar all reporting increases of 30% or over.

A pickup in demand from traditional source markets compensated for the slowdown of the large emerging markets. Expenditure from the United States, the second largest outbound market in the world, grew by 6%. Noteworthy is also the rebound of France (+11%), Italy (+6%) and the United Kingdom (+4%).


World Marketing Group to lead business development for Destination Asia in North America

Destination_AsiaDestination Asia announces, effective 1 February 2015, World Marketing Group will lead its North American incentive travel and event business development for the Asian region. The new alliance offers customers access to highly skilled Asian operations, backed by in-market sales and marketing support and expertise.

“We are honored to have World Marketing Group represent the growing incentives and events business to Asia from North America, their specialty for over three decades,” stated Jim Reed, CEO Destination Asia Group. “Our dedicated meetings and events divisions are at the heart of the Destination Asia Group, aligning our services with the growing demand of business group travel to Asia. Our shared legacy of market knowledge and customer service in incentive travel and event management elevates our offering to effectively meet the growing customer expectations of this region.”

“Our 35 years of working with North American clients on their Asian programs aligns with Destination Asia’s superbly delivered customer experience,” said Jane Schuldt, CIS, CITE, President, World Marketing Group. “We believe Destination Asia’s laser focus on Asia-only operations positions them to deliver unparalleled value to customers seeking unique experiences. We look forward to putting the force of our expertise behind their initiatives.”

via World Marketing Group to lead business development for Destination Asia in North America.

Global travel sites target fast-growing China market – TRAVEL –

Hotels onlineOne of the worlds largest online travel booking sites released their official Chinese website and app earlier this month.”We hope to show our determination on developing the Chinese market by offering online hotel booking services of high quality,” said Zhuang Peifu, marketing director in China of, at the press conference.

Hotel booking site HRS also entered the China market in July last year, offering Chinese language pages and a booking system on websites and mobile terminals. Its listings include castles and those with special services or designs, especially European destinations.China has become the largest tourism spender in the world, according to China Tourism Academy statistics released last August. With about 98 million person-time Chinese mainland tourists traveling overseas last year, the market has potential.

The prediction for this year is 16 percent growth to 114 million.  Chinese online travel booking sites are also growing rapidly. Two domestic online travel booking sites – and – ranked 10th and 15th globally on last October. Customized for Chinese”There are a lot of foreign websites offering hotel booking services with different promotion styles, but some of them set up their Chinese language pages early, which means it will be easier for them to habituate Chinese customers,” said Li Peng, a freelance overseas travel consultant.

Li recommended two sites under Priceline Group, and as his first choices when booking foreign hotels for his customers.Cooperating with Chinas largest online booking site, has explored the Chinese market since 2012. With its customer services and Chinese language pages, the site has gained wide praise from Chinese users. Of course another reason is preferred by many Chinese customers is that most bookings can be canceled for free. The site can also automatically form an itinerary list with details of all the hotels customers are booking, a very necessary tool for Chinese people applying for travel visas in other countries, such as the Schengen visa for European countries. Most places can be changed or canceled for free later if they want to change their destinations or schedules. has taught a lesson to new arrivals. Both HRS and announced it was free to cancel or change a booking.  “These international websites have their strong database of hotels, which means many hotels can be found on all of these sites and the discounts they offer always make a difference over time,” Li said.HRS customized services for Chinese tourists. “China friendly” listed hotels offer special services for Chinese customers and “HRS Deals” promote half-price hotels attracts members with its personal purchase points. “We can get the discount back by adding up the purchase points which means that the more we book,%

via Global travel sites target fast-growing China market – TRAVEL –

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WTM 2014 launches wellness tourism programme | Conference News

World Travel Market WTM is launching a wellness tourism programme for its November 2014 edition.   It is a sector reportedly growing at a rate of nine per cent annually, compared to the travel and tourism industry’s six per cent.The WTM Wellness Tourism programme, organised by Spafinder Wellness 365 in association with the Global Wellness Tourism Congress, will take place across three days of the show, 4-6 November. The first session on 4 November will explore why wellness tourism is growing faster than the wider travel and tourism industry. The latest research from the sector will also be examined.  The second session will aim to define both medical tourism and wellness tourism, which are often confused. And the third session, on 6 November, will look at how national and regional governments and private sector businesses have integrated wellness tourism into their marketing campaigns.Spafinder Wellness 365 Managing Director John Bevan said: “The sector offers a wide range of opportunities for the travel and tourism industry to benefit from and World Travel Market, with more than 50,000 senior industry executives in attendance agreeing more than £2bn in business deals, is the perfect platform to help grow the sector further.”via WTM 2014 launches wellness tourism programme | Conference News.

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Tourism marketing – a passion for excellence –

By Dr. Peter Tarlow, President and Founder of Tourism & More Inc.

Although many tourism practitioners believe that they are marketing a destination, it might be more accurate to call travel and tourism: “marketing with a destination”. All too often, travel and tourism professionals are so businesslike that they forget that the basis of a great marketing program is \”a passion-for-excellence.\” Tourism marketing is dependent on four intangibles: good luck, hard work, a sense of integrity, and a passion for people.

via Tourism marketing – a passion for excellence –

TripAdvisor Roadmap: How it Wants to Own the Travel Cycle – Skift

Trip AdvisorTripAdvisor, which began as a place to read reviews and research a trip, and lately has morphed into hotel bookings through metasearch, has a new frontier: TripAdvisor wants to become an in-destination personal concierge.

This extension of TripAdvisor’s interest into another facet of the travel cycle comes because of the proliferation of mobile devices, and is great news for tours and activities startups, many of which have been struggling with business models or have died off.

Don’t be surprised if TripAdvisor, which often buys a handful of travel startups each year, comes knocking on the door of GetYourGuide, 18-year-old Viator (although it would be relatively expensive), or another tours and activities startup to further TripAdvisor’s in-destination ambitions.

Skift sat down with TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer earlier this week, and he described TripAdvisor’s vision of the future, which broke down into four areas: global growth, becoming an in-destination personal concierge, vacation rentals, and improving TripAdvisor search.

via TripAdvisor Roadmap: How it Wants to Own the Travel Cycle – Skift.

Ireland Trending as World’s Top Travel Bloggers Kick Off Global Forum in Dublin

Bloggers congregating for TBEX.

Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Marketing, John Concannon, this morning welcomed 600 travel bloggers to Ireland at the launch of TBEX 2013, the Travel Bloggers Exchange – the world’s largest conference and networking event for online travel journalists which takes place today and tomorrow.

Said Mr Concannon in a statement: “The future of travel and tourism is increasingly digital and the voice of bloggers is becoming more and more influential in helping travellers to decide which destinations to choose. I hope that while you are amongst us here in Ireland this week that you link, tweet, Facebook and ‘like’ all the great things to see and do here”.

TBEX 2013 arrives in Ireland following a competition which saw Fáilte Ireland’s bid win out over other international venues to bring the event here. Many of the delegates have taken the opportunity, while here, to tour Ireland on a number of Fáilte Ireland-organised tours and share their experiences with their followers.

via Ireland Trending as World’s Top Travel Bloggers Kick Off Global Forum in Dublin.

TripAdvisor Lets Renovated Hotels Erase Old Reviews – Skift

TripAdvisor Now Removing Old Negative Reviews After Hotels Renovate

In response to hotel owners’ request for a fresh start following major renovations, TripAdvisor added a review removal policy last October, and updated the policy for clarity in July 2013.

The odds are big for hotels: In exchange for proof of major renovations, a hotel’s old reviews are wiped clean — a fresh start.

Hotels must produce proof of structural changes including the installation of new guest rooms or bathrooms, alterations to hotel layout, or complete property overhauls. Cosmetic changes like new paint or curtains do not count.

According to TripAdvisor’s Help Center (screenshot embedded below), hotels need to provide building permits, materials invoices, or press releases to prove that the renovations were indeed structural and completed.

via TripAdvisor Lets Renovated Hotels Erase Old Reviews – Skift.

Attracting Tourists Beyond Gateway Cities: Marketing London Plus Example – Skift

Among the big travel marketing challenges every country faces is moving tourists beyond the gateway cities that they arrive in — to other parts of the country — and spread the economic benefit of tourism more equally instead of just the popular hubs. This is also the crux of the tension between national and state/regional tourism boards, as we wrote about here previously, citing the example of Tourism Australia and STOs in the country.

Another interesting and related new project comes from VisitBritain, on delivering more “regional spread” of tourists across the country beyond the gateway city of London. It recently commissioned research agency Olive Insight to conduct a study into why many visitors do not go beyond London, what the barriers are, and also what attracts those that do go beyond London to do so.

via Attracting Tourists Beyond Gateway Cities: Marketing London Plus Example – Skift.

Five Best Travel Ads: India, Peru, Peninsula Hotels, Hilton, Expedia – Skift

There’s only one place where ignoring the organization and logistics involved with travel really pays off. That’s in travel ads where people don’t want to think about renting a car or booking a tour, but want to imagine themselves steeped in culture in front of vistas they’ve only seen in their dreams.

Consequently, this week’s ad roundup looks at the romantic side of travel. It looks past business meetings to see face-to-face human connection, turns arguably irresponsible last-minute trips into a celebration of spontaneity, and highlights how ancient trails can become a modern-day action movie.

via Five Best Travel Ads: India, Peru, Peninsula Hotels, Hilton, Expedia – Skift.