Category Archives: Travel & Tourism

Japan’s tourism industry to recover after tsunami and nuclear crisis

Japan’s tourism industry took a sharp downturn in the aftermath of the tsunami and nuclear crisis that hit the country in 2011. A new report from Timetric suggests a solid recovery for the country’s tourism industry although fears of natural disasters and the strong yen could limit the expansion. 

Over the past few years, Japan’s tourism industry has faced numerous challenges. In March 2011 Japan’s tourism industry took its steepest downturn to date when the earthquake, subsequent tsunami and nuclear crisis hit the country. The earthquake and tsunami caused severe damage to the transportation network, including road, rail and air transport infrastructure, disrupting services at several locations. With the cancellation of more than 560,000 room bookings in the month after the earthquake, the Japanese hotel, travel and tourism industry took a major hit. The strengthening of the Japanese yen, combined with concerns over the nuclear disaster, further reduced international travel to Japan.

Strong recovery towards 2017

New research from Timetric suggests a strong rebound, with international arrivals growing by 34.6% reaching 8.4 million at the end of 2012. By 2017 inbound tourist arrivals are expected to reach 11.0 million, expanding at a CAGR of 5.7%. The key drivers for this growth will be improved economic conditions and the government’s efforts to promote Japan as an attractive tourist destination. The volume of domestic tourists is also expected to grow, increasing at a CAGR of 1.68% reaching 330.9 million by 2017. Outbound tourism is expected to grow from 18.5 million outbound departures in 2012 to 21.9 million in 2017, rising at a CAGR of 3.77%

Fears of natural disasters and the strong yen could limit growth

Japan is situated on the intersection of various continental and oceanic plates causing risk of earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons. Negative travel advice, due to the risk of natural disasters, issued by the travel boards of several countries to their residents, could potentially damage the attractiveness of the country as a tourist destination. Furthermore, the rising value of the Japanese yen is a concern for the Japanese travel and tourism industry. The strong yen makes Japan an expensive destination for inbound tourists, and it also means that many Japanese people can afford to holiday abroad, making outbound travel more attractive than domestic travel.

The Timetric report; ‘Travel and Tourism in Japan to 2017 – Post Tsunami and Nuclear Crisis, Tourism Sector to Witness Steady Growth’ was published on the 30th April 2013.


Pilgrims drive tourism in Saudi Arabia

Each year millions of pilgrims from all around the world visit Saudi Arabia to perform the rituals of Hajj and Umrah at the country’s two major Islamic sites; Mecca and Medina. Last year 43.9% of country’s domestic trips were made to Mecca – making religious tourism the backbone of the travel industry in Saudi Arabia. 

Reflecting on the popularity of religious tourism, the government of Saudi Arabia has decided to invest in tourism as a means to reduce the economic dependence on oil. In recent years there have been investments in infrastructural improvements such as airports, railways and roads. In August 2012 the government announced its plans to improve the transport system in Mecca. The plan includes the construction of a metro system and a bus network and will comprise a total investment of SAR62 billion over a 10 year period.

The government has also recognised the need to look beyond religious tourism by investing in other domestic tourism facilities. Fronted by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquitites (SCTA), the government has authorised the development of 40 private museums, new roads to heritage sites and new airports. According to SCTA forecasts, domestic trips will grow to 128 million by 2019.

The latest figure from Timetric reveals a decline in inbound and domestic tourism, whereas total tourism expenditure increased. In 2011 the travel and tourism sector formed 2.3% of the nation’s GDP. The total number of domestic trips taken by residents decreased from 28.5 million in 2007 to 23.6 million in 2011 with a CAGR of -4.6%. While outbound trips increased at a CAGR of 16%, inbound tourism registered decline and posted a CAGR of 0.8%. The key reason for the decline in inbound tourism has been the effects of the Arab Spring, as visitors from North Africa and Middle East regions, who form a key component of the Haj pilgrims, took fewer trips. Despite a decline in both domestic and inbound tourism in 2011, total spending by inbound tourists increased with a CAGR of 23.08% due to a growing economy and higher disposable income.

Medical tourists flock to Spain

Each year Spain attracts a huge number of medical tourists due to low treatment costs and cheap airfares.

Spain’s healthcare system – ranked as the 7th best in the world by the World Health Organization – attracts an increasing number of medical tourists due to its advanced medical technology, low treatment costs and improved healthcare infrastructure. The country is particularly popular for cosmetic surgery, obesity surgery, eye surgery, dental care, organ transplants and neurosurgery. According to a new report from Timetric, medical tourism in Spain is expected to grow significantly towards 2016. The main drivers for the growth in medical tourism are the broad range of low cost yet efficient medical services, combined with the ease of obtaining a visa for medical treatment in the country. According to the report, Spain will emerge as a leading medical tourist destination, providing various options and alternatives for medical tourists in the future.

 Even though the economic instability in Europe has affected the country’s inbound tourism, Spain continues to be a popular tourist destination. According to Timetric the volume of domestic tourists is expected to increase at a CAGR of 2.87% by 2016. This trend is driven by the growth of low-cost airlines offering affordable flying options, discounts offered by tour operators, as well as the popularity of festivals such as La Tomatina and San Fermin. The most popular tourist destinations in the country include Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Ibiza and the Costa Brava, which are known for their natural beauty, architectural masterpieces, museums, festivals, events, beaches and nightlife. Besides medical tourism, other popular tourist markets on the rise include wine and culinary tourism as well as health and wellness tourism.

Investments paid off as tourism thrives in the United Arab Emirates

Tourism has been a key pillar in the UAE’s strategy to reduce its dependency on oil revenue in recent years. Due to investments in architecture and cultural events, tourism now forms 13.5% of the GDP.

The country’s tourism strategy works in partnership with its plan to develop cities, primarily Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as major airline hubs. As the UAE does not have an old history of cultural sights, tourism has been built around luxury living, shopping, exhibitions, sports and major architectural projects such as the Jumeirah Palm – an artificial palm-shaped archipelago.

Major events drive inbound tourism

In 2012 arrivals to the UAE rose to 11 million which confirms that the UAE continues to be a popular tourist destination. Growth in tourism has been fuelled by events such as the Formula 1, the Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, the Dubai Shopping Festival and the Dubai World Cup – the world’s most expensive horse race. Most people come from Europe, followed by Asia and the Middle East. To boost tourism further the country plans a number of big architectural projects. These include the MohammedBinRashidCity, which consists of 100 hotels, the world’s biggest shopping mall and a Universal Studios theme park, as well as the Jebel Ali complex, which will feature five theme parks and a replica of the Taj Mahal.

Domestic tourism on decline

According to new research from Timetric, domestic tourism fell from 6.7 million domestic trips in 2008 to 5.5 million in 2012, at a CAGR of -4.8%. This is due to a number of reasons. First, the UAE is home to a large expat population and many prefer to travel to their home country when they are on vacation. Secondly, most UAE citizens travel abroad to escape the heat during summer, which is also when schools are closed. Finally travel costs within the UAE are rising, due to high tolls and lack of budget accommodation.

Outbound tourism records marginal growth

Outbound tourism increased at a marginal CAGR of 0.7% from 2008 to 2012. The main reason is the continued economic uncertainty in Europe. As people from the UAE tend to spend more money when traveling abroad, outbound tourism expenditure rose at a CAGR of 2.45%, again making it much higher than inbound tourism expenditure in 2012.

Tourists To Czech Out UNESCO Sites

New research suggests that with effective marketing and investment, the Czech Republic has the potential to become one of Europe’s leading tourist destinations.

Following a decline in total tourism output between 2007 and 2010, economic recovery in major tourism source regions such as Europe and America contributed to a recovery of the Czech tourism sector in 2011, with direct tourism output increasing by 3%. Whilst this growth is healthy, it seems that the tourism sector of the Czech Republic is set to go from strength to strength, with new research released by Timetric suggesting that with effective marketing and investment, the Czech Republic has the potential to become one of Europe’s leading tourist destinations.

The country already boasts an established accommodation industry and a good transportation infrastructure, with the capital Prague standing as the focal point for tourism activity. Furthermore, its excellent overseas reputation of its health and wellness facilities has already contributed to the 2011 growth of the Czech tourism industry, having a positive impact on accommodation, entertainment and sightseeing, retail and transportation sectors.

Perhaps one of the most promising avenues for growth in the Czech tourism sector however, lies in its twelve historical monuments that are listed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) heritage list. These include chateaux and monuments, historical towns, spa towns, resorts, mountain ranges and national parks, and represent the excellent potential for the continued expansion of the tourist industry in the CzechRepublic, extending tourists’ horizons beyond Prague’s city limits, and ushering in a new wave of growth for the nation as a broader whole.


Global Hotel Industry Trends 2013

‘Technology, Sustainability, Health and Wellness Tourism emerge as top trends for 2013′

LONDON –In a newly released report, global trends for the hotel industry showed environmental initiatives to be the most salient emerging trend in 2013. Technology followed, with social media and Health and Wellness gaining a fair amount of attention. The reigning ‘Environmentally-friendly’ trend, in conjunction with rising sustainable travel interests amongst tourists, continues to drive the reduction of environmental impact, promotion of sustainable business practices and green products and services offerings.

The use of eco-friendly cleaning products – a key sustainability measure for hotels in 2013

The use of eco-friendly cleaning products with an emphasis on locally sourced food and reduced environmental footprint is considered a key sustainability measure by both respondent categories. Low-flow water systems and the adoption of renewable energy for Asia-Pacific and energy-related staff education for global respondents, were identified as the key measures to be implemented in 2013. For senior level respondents, credentials and reputation surfaced as the key objectives with a focus on online presence.

Sustainable measures expected to translate into savings

According to Timetric’s report, 35% of respondent segments indicate that they may save less than 5% of total organizational expenditure over the next 12 months ensuing to the implementation of sustainability measures. The regional analysis of cost-saving targets reveals that 59% of respondents from companies primarily operating in Asia-Pacific expect to save 5–10% of their organizational expenditure.

Increased expenditure on technology and social media in 2013

Timetric’s report demonstrated that 35 % of luxury respondents expect expenditure increase to be 3–10%. Wi-Fi technology, online reservations, and high-speed internet access being the primary technological facilities provided to customers by luxury hotels. Correspondingly, flat-screen televisions, Wi-Fi technology, and online reservation are the key technological facilities expected by customers in luxury hotels. In addition to technology, investment on social media and networking sites, mobile, and online portals are expected to increase amply.

Growth of Health and wellness tourism in 2013

In total, 65% luxury hotels and 32% of other hotels expect health and wellness tourist volumes to grow in 2013. Respondents have already implemented items on their menus to meet the needs of health and wellness tourists. Gymnasiums and swimming pools are considered the key facilities offered by hotels, while free access to health and fitness facilities is a key complimentary facility.

Tunisia tourism springs back after uprisings

Tunisia’s total revenue increased at an annual rate of 12.7% in 2012 due to an increase in domestic and inbound tourist volumes. 

LONDON – Despite the decline in tourism Tunisia experienced following the Arab Spring Uprisings of 2011, total revenue has rebounded at a rate of 12.75% during 2012. This recovery was primarily due to an influx of domestic and inbound tourist volumes. Additionally, airline revenues have seen a 39% growth rate during 2012.

While tourism is still affected by political instability and terrorist concerns within the region, the government’s measure to improve tourism infrastructure and the creation of pro-tourism regulations has helped restore the country’s economic lifeblood.

Improved social and political climate

The ejection of Ben Ali’s repressive reign has lead to a newly elected constituent assembly that is likely to maintain a priority focus on tourism and continue initiatives to encourage foreign investment. Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Tunisia has already seen increase of 24.1% between 2011 and 2012 creating a total of 7,501 new jobs, mitigating social unrest.

Airline industry growth aided by regulatory reforms

Airlines saw a strong recovery with the end of the revolution, with a 39.7% growth rate over 2012, following a 29.5% decline in 2011. However, despite the recovery, airlines relied heavily on tour operators to generate flight bookings due to the high fares charged by international airlines. With minor social and political restoration and modified airline regulations, airline industry prospects are promising. Proposed open-skies agreement with the EU to bilateral air agreements with various nations in Europe, Africa and the Arab region, will act as important growth drivers for the Tunisian airlines industry.

Pressure from competitors prompts growth in Medical and Wellness Tourism

Egypt and Morocco, Tunisia’s neighboring tourism giants, are also in the midst of enticing tourists, pressuring Tunisia to explore new markets in order to refuel its inbound tourist deficit. The financial crisis had major impact on the tourism industry, affecting the primary European market. As a result, a new field of Medical Tourism has emerged and it’s expected to grow strongly by 2017, aiding the recovery of the stifled sector.

Driving Medical Tourism is a solid medical infrastructure, ensuring access to inexpensive yet high-quality medical services. Factored into costs, are luxury lodgings for family members with a broad range of treatments available to meet growing demands for health and wellness tourism. Treatments included spas, resorts and thalassic therapy centers, supplementing the appeal for cash-strapped Europeans. Adding to this growth, Tunisia aims to develop and promote its thalassotherapy centers, such as those in Hammamet.