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North America lags behind global results
Global tourism hit a record high last year, with France, Spain and China at the top of the world's most popular destinations, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
The UNWTO reports a 4.5% global rise in tourist numbers, pushing the 2006 figure to a record 842 million, with a forecasted 4% increase in 2007.
In the Americas, growth was sluggish at 2.1% - and just 0.5% in North America.
The changing profile of tourists
More and more people are 'cash-rich' and 'time-poor' today. They have less time to travel for leisure purposes, but they want to ensure that their trips create a memorable experience - one they can savour for a long time.
While today's consumers increasingly demand better quality tourism products, it is paradoxical that the majority are still constantly on the look-out for 'price deals'. Pricing clearly remains key.
Today's leisure travellers, who comprise more singles, more female travellers, more grandparents travelling with their grandchildren, and more large family units (several generations), are much less concerned about which destination they visit, which means they tend to be less loyal to destinations than they ever were in the past.
The increased desire for healthy living and the need to escape highly pressured working environments have stimulated the demand for niche products such as spa/wellness tourism, outdoor activities, cruises, educational trips, etc.
In this age of environmental changes and the increasingly widespread awareness of the need to be more 'green', authenticity is also of growing importance to holidaymakers than ever before. They want more interaction with local people and a more emotional and cultural link to the people and communities they visit.
The growth of broadband and mobile devices is also stimulating new consumer interaction and lets travellers share their experiences of destinations and suppliers with other internet users.
In addition, consumers now want more control in organizing their trips, especially when travelling for leisure, and technology has provided them with the means to assume this control and customize their own travel plans. This trend is even apparent in China, where young, educated Chinese demand more flexibility instead of ready-made, organized package holidays.
Wanted: travellers from China
Canada's ailing tourism industry wants more Chinese travellers and is pushing Trade Minister David Emerson to make the issue a priority.
The president of the Hotel Association of Canada, Anthony Pollard, said he wrote to Emerson and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, asking them to push for approved destination status (ADS) from China. The federal Conservative government has vowed to revive its stalled relationship with China, promising new money and staff to reinforce Canada's trade offices in the world's most populous country.
Until Canada receives the new status, it will be difficult for Chinese leisure travellers to come here, Pollard said. At the moment, only Chinese government workers and people travelling on business are easily able to visit Canada. "About a year and a half ago, there was preliminary approval, but not final approval for ADS," he said. "And we're saying to the government of Canada, 'Please, please, please finalize this as soon as you possibly can.'"
Travel from China to Australia has risen 80% since Australia received approved destination status, Pollard added.
Brooke Grantham, spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, said "issues related to ADS are complex, with implications for China's domestic legal framework as well as Canadian immigration regulations. Best efforts are being made to achieve a satisfactory result. Canada remains very much committed to bringing these negotiations to a successful conclusion."
Andrew Weir, spokesman for Tourism Toronto, said "we're not waiting" for the new status. The group has already launched a Chinese-language version of its website and hired the former Canadian manager for the Chinese tourism industry, in anticipation.
Latest lodging report (week ending January 27th) from the Canadian hotel industry showing 'revenue per available room' (RevPAR).
|Newfoundland & Labrador||$43.89|
|Prince Edward Island||$24.68|
RevPAR is typically defined as room revenue divided by rooms available.
Villas and apartments
Travel to U.S. off 17% since 9/11
A 17% drop in overseas travellers to the United States since the September 11 attacks has cost the country more than $15 billion in lost taxes and nearly 200,000 jobs.
Since the September 11 attacks, the U.S. has tightened security measures and toughened its visa and entry requirements. As a result, the country was ranked as the world's most unfriendly to visitors in a survey conducted last year of travellers from 16 nations. "Our economic security is suffering from a drastic decline in overseas travellers and we are missing an extraordinary opportunity to strengthen America's image around the globe," said Stevan Porter, president of Intercontinental Hotels Group and chairman of the association's Discover America Partnership. "We are in the midst of a travel crisis."
Are Americans ready for new passport laws?
On January 23, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative took effect, requiring Americans to travel with a passport to many international destinations where one was previously not required and many U.S. travellers who don't have the official document are preparing to get one.
According to a new survey of more than 1,000 respondents, 32% plan to apply for a passport now that it will be mandatory for U.S. citizens returning by air from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Though fewer than one-in-20 have started the application process, nearly one-in-five of those polled say their travel plans this year will change because of the new legislation.
Exclusive London hotel sued over bedbug attack
One of London's most expensive hotels is facing an embarrassing multimillion-dollar compensation claim after an American lawyer and his wife were attacked by bedbugs during a recent stay.
Sidney Bluming, a prominent New York celebrity lawyer, and his wife, Cynthia, are suing the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, after staying at the fashionable London hotel last May. According to the lawsuit, which is seeking several million dollars in damages, the Blumings were bitten hundreds of times during their five-night stay leaving their skin red, swollen and itchy.
A spokesman for Mr Bluming, whose clients include Elizabeth Taylor and Claudia Schiffer, said: "People associate bed bugs with more of a lower-end class of hotel. Clearly that's not the case here; the Mandarin is as premier and luxurious as any hotel could make themselves out to be."
The Mandarin Oriental claims to occupy "one of the most prestigious addresses" in London and offer "opulent" rooms. According to the hotel's website, such opulence starts at £464 per night, rising to £934 per night for a suite overlooking Knightsbridge. A spokeswoman for the hotel confirmed that there had been "a regrettable but isolated incident of infestation within one guest room. There have been no subsequent incidents and the matter has been referred to our insurers".
According to the lawsuit, the bedbugs nested in the Blumings' clothes and luggage, travelling back with them to New York where the attacks continued until they fumigated their apartment and threw away clothes, bed sheets and other personal items. They claim they were humiliated by the ugly red marks the bites left on their skin and were haunted by fears of further bites, causing them to wake up in the middle of the night with real or imagined itching. The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan last month, accuses the hotel group of fraud, deceptive trade practice, negligence, recklessness, intentional infliction of emotional distress and nuisance.
The Blumings are not the first people to sue a prominent hotel group over unwelcome bed guests.
Recently Alison Trainer, an American opera singer, sued Hilton Hotels for unspecified damages claiming that she was bitten by bedbugs at one of its hotels in Arizona. "She looks like a piece of wood that has been attacked by termites," Ms Trainer's lawyer said after her six-night stay.
Visitor traffic to holiday homes.canada (www.frbo.ca) & For Rent By Owner in Canada (www.FRBO.ca) web sites for the month of January 2005:
Total 'hits' for the month = 161,172 hits (5,199 per day)
Total 'unique visits' for the month = 12,122 (391 per day)
Visitors came from 80+ countries.
For more information, including an independent audit of our site performance, and to view the countries of origin for visitors click here.
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