The Adrian Loveridge Column – Six Month Tourism Review
With well over half the year over it’s probably about the right time to look carefully at our long stay visitor arrivals for the first six months of 2017, which at this stage are ‘preliminary’. Virtually every market is up with the two exceptions of Brazil and Germany which showed a decline of 47.8 per cent and 6.1 per cent respectively when compared with the same period last year. United States up 17.8 per cent, Canada up 12.6 per cent, United Kingdom up 0.8 per cent, Other Europe up 11.5 per cent, Trinidad and Tobago up 6.2 per cent, Other Caribbean up 4.1 per cent, Other Central and South America up 9.1 per cent and Other up 23.4 per cent. Overall, up 8 per cent with an increase of 25,549 visitors.
Kudos to all involved, in both the private and public sector.
Disappointing is the United Kingdom, but not surprisingly, considering the initial ramifications of Brexit especially in terms of currency devaluation, the erupting political chaos and a higher than anticipated inflation rate for this year.
As many of us believe, numbers are not everything and alongside the arrival numbers, I would like to see the average duration of stay and spend to put everyone’s efforts beyond a shadow of doubt. What really concerns me still is that we are getting further and further away from providing a truly value-for-money ‘product’ when compared to our competition and what appears, relentless emerging holiday destinations.
As an industry, our single biggest failure has been to convince Government (any) of the damaging effect piling on tax and after tax on the only sector that has proven its worth and capability to drag the economy out of its current calamitous situation.
Perhaps the biggest challenge this year is restoring the growth of the United Kingdom market. The largest percentage of Brits are forced to travel during summer school holiday times, when the cost of an identical holiday can cost double than during a normal term period.
Over 92,000 British parents were fined during the academic year 2013/2014 according to the bank group Santander, with fines levied by local authorities totalling almost GB pounds 6 million. Travel search site Kayak have reported a major decline in Brits travelling to the United States this year, or as they describe it ‘Brits are falling out of love with the USA in a major way’ an obvious partial result of Sterling/Dollar values, but my guess it goes further than that. Searches for flights to Tampa and Orlando are down 58 per cent, Fort Lauderdale down 57 per cent, Miami down 52 per cent, Las Vegas down 36 and Los Angeles down 32 per cent when compared with last year. While this does not bode well for inbound US tourism, it may just free some long haul airline capacity, allowing for increased flights to other destinations like the Caribbean.
With Norwegian Air finally getting greater route approval to operate flights from the UK to the United States, is this now the time to step up discussions with them?