Δευτέρα, 29 Φεβρουαρίου 2016

Read how travel industry experts reacted post the Union Budget 2016-17

Finance Minister of India, Arun Jaitley tabled the Union Budget 2016 and the Finance Bill. Here is what the travel industry leaders had to share post the budget session.

Sharat Dhall, President, Yatra.com says, “The much awaited budget has turned out to be very friendly for the Aam-Aadmi but there could have been a bit more in it for the corporate sector. The proposal to increase the tax on ATF will result in increase in airfares and dampen air passenger growth which could have been a catalyst for economic growth. However, the focus on revamping roads and airports across the country is a positive move that should provide a fillip to infrastructure and the tourism sector as it will enhance connectivity to the smaller cities and encourage people to travel to unexplored destinations. Liberalisation in public transport and the government’s plea for private investors to contribute in refurbishing highways is also expected to create a positive ripple in the travel industry.”

Manmeet Ahluwalia, Marketing Head, Expedia India (1)Mr. Manmeet Ahluwalia, Marketing Head, Expedia India.

“This budget has specifically focussed on infrastructure across the country with a huge outlay for roads & highways, railways and reviving the unserved and underserved airports and airstrips in the country. The government realises that as the global economy wavers, domestic demand will be the key to tourism growth, especially to untapped regions like the North-east. We see a specific focus on enhancing regional and last mile connectivity with sops for starts-ups and innovation in the passenger transport segment. In fact, increased regional connectivity will also give a fillip to outbound tourism from Tier II and III cities due to higher accessibility. The government is adopting measures from some of the thriving global tourist destinations, where-in public transport is critical not only for daily commuters but also the backbone for tourist traffic. Strengthening the infrastructure across levels will definitely strengthen India as an attractive tourist destination in the global ranks.”

Samarjeet Singh, CEO and Founder, Iksula Services Pvt. Ltd. also commented on post budget discussion.
He said,” The Union Budget 2016 unveiled by Honourable Minister Arun Jaitley is a mixed bag for the retail/eCommerce sector. The biggest move was the allowance of 100% FDI in multi-brand retail for food products. Having worked with Tesco (the only foreign multi-brand retail firm in India), we’re confident this new policy will create new opportunities in the retail industry, particularly the eRetail space. However, major policy announcements for the eCommerce space and the GST clarity were missing. Having said that, the Budget will be lauded for having a clear focus on developing the rural sector, which will contribute to a healthier economy in the long-run”said Samarjeet Singh, CEO and Founder, Iksula Services Pvt. Ltd.

Jaideep Ghosh (1)Jaideep Ghosh , Partner and Head – Transport and Leisure, KPMG in India

Continuing on the reform agenda, Union Budget 2016 is built on sharp forward-looking themes towards achieving economic growth. I expect a positive impact of various initiatives announced on the tourism & hospitality sector.

Significant investment allocation of Rs. 97,000 crore to expedite expansion of highways & rural roads will be one of the strongest boosts to our economy and thereby facilitate rapid growth of the tourism sector. Significant funds allocated in Rail Budget in improving passenger amenities, technology enabled travel, catering and overall customer experience enhancement initiatives will boost passenger growth. Cruise tourism is also expected to be augments, though at a slower pace, once Sagarmala is under implementation.

Development of under-served airports and airstrips will facilitate deeper connectivity has the potential to augment passengers traffic including tourists. Enabling a seamless ecosystem for road travel for passenger across states has been a long-standing ask and will reinforce public transport, provided relevant states quickly agree to a common framework. Proposed simplification of customs procedure for international passengers’, in addition to already-existing e-visa for several countries, is expected to result in faster achievement of international travellers. Tourism sector is among the highest employment generation and skill development and rural development steps announced will benefit the sector over a longer period of time. Besides, overall initiatives announced for rural & social sectors, investments in physical infrastructure, job creation, tax reforms, technology reforms, and enhancements in Ease of Doing Business will have a positive impact on the tourism & hospitality sector.”

UNWTO confident in Egypt’s tourism recovery

UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, has expressed the Organizations’ full confidence in the recovery of tourism in Egypt during a recent visit to the country. On the occasion, Mr. Rifai met with Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in the presence of the Egyptian Minister of Tourism, Hisham Zaazou. The President reiterated his full support to the tourism sector and its utmost determination in ensuring that Egypt is a safe, attractive and leading tourism destination saying “if tourism recovers, Egypt will recover”.

Meeting with Prime Minister Sherif Ismail Mohamed, Secretary-General discussed measures to accelerate the recovery of tourism to Egypt and praised the support being given to the sector. Both representatives welcomed the actions undertaken by Egypt to promote the highest political support for the sector, regain the confidence of source markets, enhance tourism safety and security and successfully integrate the sector into risk and emergency management structures, both at national and local levels.

“Egypt has undertaken strong initiatives in terms of communications with the competent authorities and public opinion in source markets on safety and security issues, unlocking the support of airlines and tour operators, incentivising demand and engaging key players in Egypt in these concerted efforts. I trust these actions will herald results in restoring confidence and accelerating the recovery of tourism to Egypt”, said Mr. Rifai.

Mr Rifai also met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sameh Hassan Shoukry, to discuss the cooperation between the Ministries of Tourism and Foreign Affairs and UNWTO, including Egypt’s chairmanship of the UNWTO Executive Council and the forthcoming UNWTO City Tourism Summit taking place in Egypt later this year.

The future of tourism in Egypt
Opening Egypt/s Tourism 2016 Conference ‘Planning for Growth’, Mr Rifai recalled that there is a strong pent up demand for tourism to Egypt, from source markets, both within and outside the region.

“We should never forget that Egypt is one of the world’s most remarkable tourism success stories. Over the last decade, the number of visitors to Egypt practically tripled and so did the exports generated by international tourism. Egypt is, and will continue to be, despite all challenges, a leading tourism destination.” 

Tourism is a critical contributor to Egypt’s GDP, employment, foreign currency earnings and investment. Mr. Rifai called upon the international community to support Egypt’s tourism saying that “supporting the recovery of tourism to Egypt is supporting the future of Egypt and that of its people; supporting tourism to Egypt is promoting peace and stability”.

Travel safety at your fingertips

TREVOSE, PA. - International SOS, the world's leading medical and travel security risk services company, launched a fully upgraded eLearning platform for their travel health and safety courses.

  • 80% of travelers have at some point perceived a threat to their personal safety while abroad 1, however less than half of organizations provide any personal security training 2.
  • Only 23% consider road conditions before travel abroad 1, despite road accidents being one of the most common dangers to travelers 3.
  • 71% of senior executive travelers experience medical concerns abroad; many issues are preventable.

Developed for the organization with a global workforce, the International SOS Training Hub hosts a series of eLearning modules to help travelers and expats mitigate their exposure to risks during their travels.

Suzy Bell, Group Product Director of Training Services at International SOS, said: "We develop courses where we can provide the most value and impact to the traveler's well-being. Our clients are going further afield, and their employee demographics are changing. Therefore, we are producing educational content to meet the specific needs of their workforce."

Travelers can learn how to mitigate their exposure to risk through courses on Travel Risk Awareness, Road Safety, Women Security Awareness, Malaria Awareness and Pandemic Preparedness. 

Organizations can use the International SOS Training Hub to support their Duty of Care efforts, as well as incorporate the training in their pre-travel processes.

The course content is developed by International SOS' experts with supporting content from the world's leading organizations in the related subject. The Road Safety eLearning was developed in coordination with the Global Road Safety Partnership, a non-profit organization focused on road safety, and the Travel Security modules were developed in collaboration with Control Risks, the world's leading global risk consultancy.

The traveler health modules leverage International SOS' more than thirty years of experience advising clients on occupational health, safety, and travel health. Traveler education is an integral part of an organization's overall risk mitigation efforts and the Duty of Care they provide their employees.     

Training modules are available in multiple languages to support a global organization's diverse staff.

The new platform and user-friendly functionality was developed in partnership with the expertise of Atlas Knowledge, a leader in innovative, learning, compliance and best-in-class competency solutions. 

Travel buyers have more success negotiating desired amenities into hotel and ground transportation contracts than airline contracts

ALEXANDRIA, VA – A new GBTA Foundation survey found when it comes to airline contracts, the add-ons and amenities most valued by companies are often not included in the final contract. The report, Valuable Vendor Contract Add-ons: Prioritizing + Communicating = Saving, surveyed over 100 travel buyers across North America and is sponsored by Amadeus.

When considering which airline add-ons to negotiate into contracts, travel buyers most commonly report eliminating fees for cancelled or changed itineraries (99 percent), receiving name change waivers for tickets and ticket credits (97 percent) and removing checked-bag fees (91 percent) as valuable. However, these valued add-ons frequently don’t make it into the final contract. These three are “always” or “often” included 25 percent, 61 percent and 15 percent of the time, respectively.

For hotel contracts, the most valuable add-ons for travel managers and their companies include free Wi-Fi (99 percent), last room availability (97 percent) and free breakfast (96 percent). The final contracts more often than not contain these valued add-ons (89 percent, 82 percent and 82 percent, respectively). Similarly, ground transportation contracts frequently incorporate the add-ons travel buyers value as bringing the greatest savings to their company, including expedited rentals (94 percent), vehicle-class upgrades (88 percent) and vehicle choice (82 percent). These “always” or “often” appear in the final contract 80 percent, 70 percent and 69 percent of the time, respectively. 

“Companies may see cost savings if the amenities and add-ons identified as valuable are more often negotiated into the final contract, particularly when it comes to airlines,” said Kate Vasiloff, GBTA director of research. “The study also reveals that while travel buyers appear confident in their efforts to successfully communicate travel policies and negotiated add-ons with their employees, very few companies collect data to support this. Collecting data around compliance rates presents a huge opportunity for companies to identify areas where communication efforts can be improved and money can be saved.”

“While cost savings is generally the driver for contract add-on services and amenities, improving the traveler’s experience throughout the journey is also critical in maintaining employee productivity and satisfaction,” said Jay Richmond, Head of Amadeus North America’s Business Travel Group. “Negotiating the right amenities aligned to particular traveler needs and evolving them as those needs change is a great way for travel managers to continue delivering value to their organizations.”

Communicating with Business Travelers
Two-thirds of travel buyers (67 percent) feel they successfully communicate negotiated travel add-ons to their travelers. Among that group, the most prevalent methods of relaying the information is updating the employee handbook once a year (52 percent), sending quarterly emails (36 percent) and holding meetings with travelers on an annual basis (31 percent).

While few companies track whether or not travelers pay for add-ons or services already factored into the negotiated rate (17 percent), travel buyers feel the majority of travelers are not incorrectly paying for already-included add-ons. They estimate only about one out of every five trips involving a hotel stay include an erroneous expense (19 percent), compared to 15 percent involving ground transportation and even fewer involving airlines (8 percent). 

Ministers of Culture of SE Europe discussed protection and management of cultural heritage

Sarajevo Vjecnica

The Council of Ministers of Culture of South-East Europe ‘Enhancing Culture for Sustainable Development’ gathered on 24-25 February 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey. The main purpose of this second CoMoCoSEE meeting wss to discuss the further enhancement of the regional cooperation in the field of culture and development, with a special focus on supporting the implementation of the “Ohrid Regional Strategy for Cultural Cooperation in South-East Europe”.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey is organising the second meeting of the leading regional cooperation platform in the field of culture, since the revision of its format in 2014. As proposed by the Council of Ministers of Culture of South-East Europe (CoMoCoSEE) rotating presidency, currently held by the Republic of Turkey, the meeting will focus on the “Protection and Sustainable Management of Cultural Heritage in South-East Europe: priorities, challenges and opportunities for reinforcing regional cooperation on culture within the CoMoCoSEE ”.

Participating delegations will share ideas and proposals to advance their common efforts for the enhancement of cultural heritage as a driver for sustainable development, in the wake of the recent approval of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The programme and working documents of the meeting in Istanbul are the results of the preparatory meeting of the CoMoCoSEE Committee of Officials – at the initiative of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice (Italy), in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey – which took place on 10 December last in Venice.

Among the expected outputs, the meeting is foreseen to approve joint action lines to strengthen regional cooperation in 2016, according to the “Ohrid Regional Strategy for Cultural Cooperation in South-East Europe”. The document, also known as the “Ohrid Strategy”, was approved by CoMoCoSEE in June 2014 during the first meeting of the new, unified platform for ministerial cooperation in the region; it outlines priority areas for regional cooperation to enhance culture as a driver for sustainable development, as well as relevant action strategies and monitoring mechanisms.

A special focus for discussion of the joint declaration to be adopted by the Ministers on 25 February, will be put on the sustainable use of cultural heritage, disaster risk reduction, and the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property.

Participants will include ministers and high representatives of the CoMoCoSEE Member States: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Montenegro, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey. Observers (Austria, Italy, UNESCO, European Commission, Council of Europe) will also attend the meeting.

H.E. Mr Mahir Ünal, Minister of Culture and Tourism of Turkey will welcome the participants. Will follow a plenary session with speeches by the Ministers and heads of delegations of the CoMoCoSEE Member States. The Director-General of UNESCO will be represented by Francesco Bandarin, Assistant Director-General for Culture a.i., who will be accompanied by Ana Luiza Thompson-Flores, Director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and in Culture in Europe.

Ryanair Calls On UK Government To Scrap Apd For All

Ryanair, the UK’s favourite airline, today (29 Feb) called on the UK Government to scrap Air Passenger Duty (APD) for all customers in order to stimulate job and tourism growth, ahead of the removal of the travel tax for all under-16 customers fromtomorrow (1 March).

Ryanair urged Chancellor George Osborne to follow the example of the Irish Government, which abolished APD in April 2014, and as a direct result sparked a major boost in passenger numbers at all Irish airports in 2015, which was a year of record growth for Irish tourism, with traffic rising by 3.3m to 29.8m annual customers. Indeed, 70% of this growth was delivered by Ryanair (an extra 2.2m customers) adding more routes and flights, while bringing more high spending tourists to Ireland.

An independent Pricewaterhouse Coopers study has offered compelling evidence of the damage caused by APD in the UK and confirmed that:

  • The abolition of APD would yield 0.46% of the UK GDP in the first year and at least £16bn within 3 years
  • New flights and 60,000 new jobs would be created
  • APD is one of the 3 most destructive taxes, alongside Corporation Tax and Fuel Duty
  • Aviation is an engine of economic growth for international commerce and tourism

Ryanair again called on the UK Government to ‘axe the tax’ for all and allow UK airports to become competitive once more, while stimulating jobs and tourism growth.

Ryanair’s Robin Kiely said:

“The continuous growth and success of Irish tourism since the total removal of APD, which is being driven by Ryanair, offers compelling evidence for Chancellor Osborne to take the same course in the UK. While we acknowledge that the removal of APD for under- 12s, and under-16s (from tomorrow), is a step in the right direction, we are again calling on the Government to scrap this damaging tax for all in order to promote economic, jobs and tourism growth.”

Asia Pacific Airlines Traffic Results – January 2016

Preliminary traffic figures for the month of January released today by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) showed robust growth in international air passenger demand, whereas soft conditions persisted for air cargo markets.

In aggregate, 24.5 million international passengers were carried by the region’s airlines in January, a strong 9.2% increase compared to the same month last year.  The availability of affordable airfares, coupled with the rise in leisure travel ahead of the Lunar New Year festive period helped boost passenger demand, which rose by 9.9% in revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) terms.  Growth in demand continued to exceed capacity expansion, with load factors climbing 2.1 percentage points higher to reach 79.6% in January in spite of a relatively firm 7.1% expansion in available seat capacity.

On the other hand, weakness in global trade continued to hamper international air cargo markets for the region’s carriers, as reflected in the 0.7% decline in demand as measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) for the month.  Freight load factors remained under pressure, with the average international freight load factor registering a 2.0 percentage point decline to 59.6%, after accounting for a 2.6% expansion in offered freight capacity.
Commenting on the results, Mr. Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General said, “For the region’s carriers, the continued strong growth in passenger demand was a very welcome start to the year, against a backdrop of volatile markets and an increase in global economic risks.  The usual lift in air cargo shipments seen ahead of the holiday season had been somewhat muted, as seen in the continued weakness in air cargo volumes.”

Looking ahead, Mr. Herdman concluded, “Whilst the travel demand outlook remains broadly positive for the coming year, airlines remain vigilant in closely monitoring regional economic developments, and carefully managing costs given still highly competitive market conditions.”

The EU Commission does not appeal the EU General Court’s judgment and MEUR 70.2 will be returned to SAS

On November 9, 2010, the European Commission decided to fine SAS Cargo and the SAS Group, alongside 11 other airlines, for participating in a global cartel in the cargo sector. SAS was fined MEUR 70.2, but appealed the decision to the European Court’s first instance, the General Court. In December 2015, the General Court annulled the European Commission’s decision including the fine of MEUR 70.2.

The European Commission has been able to appeal the EU General Court’s judgment made in December 2015 to the European Court’s court of highest instance, the Court of Justice of the European Union. The EU Commission has informed that it does not intend to appeal the judgment, which means that the fine from 2010 of MEUR 70.2 will be returned to SAS.

SAS will recognize the reversal as a non-recurring item in the second quarter of fiscal year 2015/2016.

The EU Commission has the ability to make a new decision in relation to this matter. SAS does not have any insight and cannot influence the timing and content of such possible new decision.

MSC Cruises Reduces Caribbean Rates

MSC Cruises has lowered rates on MSC Divina to $549 for a limited time. Book a 7 night Caribbean cruise and show your loved one or friends and family the Caribbean.  Kids 11 and under always sail free on MSC Cruises.
Launched in 2012, MSC Divina sails year-round seven night Caribbean voyages from Port Miami.


Royal Caribbean Unveils 2017 Summer Alaska Adventures

For the 28th season in a row, Royal Caribbean is returning to Alaska: the Great Frontier in 2017 to deliver the best vacation for adventure seekers.  Radiance and Explorer of the Seas will sail 7-night itineraries to the awe-inspiring Alaskan seascape and rugged interior for exciting explorations.  Explorer sails roundtrip from Seattle, and Radiance sails from Vancouver to Seward, Alaska, and then vice versa.  All 2017 itineraries are now open for sale.  Guests booking early will receive complimentary upgrades.
New for the 2017 season is two 12-night cruisetours where guests will be able to visit roads less traveled with overnight stays before or after their cruise.  The Kantishna Select Wilderness & Wildlife tour is for the adventurous traveler.  Guests will hike the Exit Glacier, go kayaking and biking at Eklutna Lake, and travel by train from the Denai National Park and Preserve to Fairbanks.  The cruisetour includes two nights at a Kantishna backcountry lodge, right after the cruise.  The Katmai Bear Trek & Kantishna Fly Over tour gives guests the ultimate Alaskan vacation experience.  They’ll be able to witness the American Brown Bear hunting in its natural habitat, with a close view in the Katmai Park and Preserve.  Guests will be able to stay two nights in Denali or Anchorage, before or after the cruise respectively.

Alaska Adventure Collection

There’s no place quite like Alaska when it comes to the forests, gardens, glaciers, mountains, and lakes that the state offers.  Travelers have a wide variety of destinations and excursions to choose from with Royal Caribbean, including:
infographic courtesy of Royal Caribbeaninfographic courtesy of Royal Caribbean

About the Ships

Explorer of the Seas features 15 decks and 1,557 staterooms which holds 3,840 guests.  It went through a refurbishment last year which brought on the FlowRider surf simulator, virtual balconies for interior rooms, and a variety of new dining options onboard.
Radiance of the Seas boasts 13 decks, 1,071 staterooms, and can hold 2,466 guests.  It features a 220 sq. ft. poolside movie screen, rock climbing wall, spa, and multiple dining venues signature to Royal Caribbean.
See Royal Caribbean’s Alaskan itineraries by clicking here.

Featured photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Qantas customers to enjoy high-speed, free inflight wi-fi

From next year Qantas customers can enjoy world-leading inflight wi-fi. The new service will feature speeds up to 10 times faster than conventional on-board wi-fi, giving customers the ability to stream movies, TV shows, the latest news bulletins and live sports on domestic flights via the internet.
In-flight trials are expected to begin with a single Qantas Boeing 737 aircraft in late 2016, retrofitted with equipment to enable high-speed wi-fi. A full roll-out across Qantas Domestic’s fleet of A330s and B737s is planned from early 2017, with the aircraft to be fitted with modems and the advanced antenna that receives the satellite signal.
Qantas partners with global broadband services provider ViaSat. “Bringing high-speed wi-fi to the domestic aviation market has been an ambition of ours for a long time and we now have access to the right technology to make it happen,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said.
Under the deal, ViaSat will provide Qantas with connectivity between the aircraft and the high capacity KA-band satellite and ground stations, which will then provide a link to the internet.
The user-friendly speeds delivered by ViaSat to airlines in the U.S. have driven take-up rates among passengers that are four times higher than the industry average.
“This service will give Qantas customers download speeds in the air similar to what they’re used to on the ground,” Mr Joyce added.

Pacific World and Access Global Destination Index Report Identifies Top Destinations For Meeting,Incentives and Conference

Results from a recent global Destination Index, compiled by the leading Global DMC and Event Management Companies, Pacific World  and ACCESS Destination Services, have identified the top destinations in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States for meetings and incentives.
Patricia Silvio, Global Marketing Manager, Pacific World, commented, “The Pacific World global Destination Index report identifies each year the countries and cities most thriving within the meetings, incentives and conferences industries. This year overarching themes that led to an increase in popularity were improvements in transportation/flights, an increase in venues and hotels, investment in technology, attractive exchange rates, and safety and stability.”

Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore were recognised as the top countries in Asia for meetings and incentives, with Bangkok and Bali voted as the most popular cities, and meetings and incentives being the most requested event types in Singapore. Governmental stability, attractive exchange rates and improved flight connections were factors contributing to the increased attention from source markets including North America, Australia and other Asian regions.

In Europe, France and Italy were identified as the top countries for meetings and incentives. Improved transport links and investment in infrastructure resulting in the opening of a number of new hotels and venues were factors accountable for the fact that Milan and Paris have both been voted as the most popular European cities for Meetings and Incentives, with increased interest from source markets such as the Middle East, USA, UK, Germany, and Brazil.

The UAE was recognised as the most popular destination for incentives and conferences in the Middle East, with the UK, Saudi Arabia and India identified as the key source markets placing inbound business into the destination. Accessible flight routes, new hotels, and an investment of time and resources in the latest technology and set-ups to facilitate large-scale events have pushed the UAE to the top of the list.
Texas topped the list as the most popular destination for meeting and events in the USA, followed by Florida and Las Vegas. New venues, restaurants and an increase in international and regional flights have boosted the popularity of these destinations while the abundance of available VIP experiences have established Dallas, San Antonio, Miami, and Las Vegas as key cities for conference and incentives in the U.S.

CEIR Index results reflect strong finish in 2015

DALLAS – According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), the business-to-business exhibition industry ended 2015 with a big splash. The performance of the industry, as measured by the CEIR Total Index, posted a strong year-on-year gain of 3.7% in the fourth quarter (see Figure 1). This growth is the second highest rate since the second quarter of 2012. It also marked the 22nd consecutive quarter of year-on-year growth. Over the three years, 2012 through 2014, the exhibition industry growth generally lagged the pace of GDP, but the industry has now outperformed the macro economy for four quarters straight, and by a wide margin (see Figure 2).

“The strong momentum in the exhibition industry could carry forward into 2016 and offset weaker macro factors,” noted CEIR Economist Allen Shaw, Ph.D., Chief Economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates, Inc.

Figure 1: Quarterly CEIR Total Index for the Overall Exhibition Industry, Year-on-Year Growth, 2011Q1-2015Q4

Figure 2: Quarterly CEIR Total Index for the Overall Exhibition Industry vs. Quarterly Real GDP, Year-on-Year Growth, 2008Q1-2015Q4

All four exhibition metrics in the fourth quarter posted year-on-year gains. As was the case during the first three quarters of 2015, the strongest metric was Real Revenues (nominal revenues adjusted for inflation) – which rose an impressive 6.5% – followed by Attendees, increasing by 4.9%. Net Square Feet increased 2.6%, and Exhibitors rose 0.9% (see Figures 3 and 4).

Figure 3: Quarterly CEIR Metrics for the Overall Exhibition Industry,Year-on-Year Growth, 2015Q4

Figure 4: Quarterly CEIR Metrics for the Overall Exhibition Industry, Year-on-Year Growth, 2007-2015Q4

In line with expectations as presented at last year’s CEIR Predict Conference, the Total Index increased by a robust 3.7% for 2015 for the year as a whole, 1.8 percentage points higher than in 2014. Real Revenues had strongest growth among the four metrics, gaining 6.2% from 2014 (see Figure 5). Attendees continued its upward trend since the end of the recession in 2009. In 2015, attendees exceeded its previous peak in 2007, 33.4 million and 32.4 million, respectively. To a large extent, the gains in Attendees during the last few years has been propelled by a strengthening job market (see Figure 6). Since Attendees is a leading indicator of the exhibition industry, good news on attendance bodes well for business in coming years.

Figure 5: Annual CEIR Metrics for the Overall Exhibition Industry,Year-on-Year % Change, 2000-2015 

Figure 6: CEIR Attendees vs. Nonfarm Payroll Employment, 2003-2015

The overall exhibition industry’s performance varied by sector. The best performing sectors were (1) Industrial/Heavy Machinery and Finished Business Inputs (ID) and (2) Building, Construction, Home and Repair (HM), which gained 12.9% and 10.1%, respectively (see Figure 7). Both sectors benefited from rebounds in housing construction and robust auto sales. On the other end of the spectrum, the weakest sector was the Government sector, where the index declined by 1.3%. This is hardly a surprise as governments at all levels and functions continued to face tight budgets, especially for training, education and travel.

Figure 7: Ranking of the CEIR Total Index by Sector, Year-on-Year % Change, 2015

“We anticipated 2015 would deliver positive results and yet we were pleasantly surprised that the industry outperformed our original projections,”
 said CEIR President & CEO Brian Casey, CEM. “While there are varying perspectives on the future performance of the U.S. economy, we remain optimistic for the year ahead. Stay tuned for our full 2015 Index report scheduled for delivery on or around April 1st.”

As an objective measure of the annual performance of the exhibition industry, the CEIR Index measures year-over-year changes in four key metrics to determine overall performance: Net Square Feet of Exhibit Space Sold; Professional Attendance; Number of Exhibiting Companies; and Gross Revenue. The CEIR Index provides data on exhibition industry performance across 14 key industry sectors: Business Services; Consumer Goods; Discretionary Consumer Goods and Services; Education; Food; Financial, Legal and Real Estate; Government; Building, Construction, Home and Repair; Industrial/Heavy Machinery and Finished Business Outputs; Communications and Information Technology; Medical and Health Care; Raw Materials and Science; Sporting Goods, Travel and Entertainment; and Transportation.

ICCA launches new meeting for suppliers and associations in Stavanger

The Association Meetings Programme (AMP) is ICCA’s new annual event, where ICCA members and international association executives will learn from each other and from a top faculty of experts about key aspects of bidding and decision-making, organising, promoting, and designing international association meetings. It is replacing the old Research, Sales and Marketing Programme (RSMP), which was open to ICCA members only.

Mr. Per Morten Haarr, Convention Director of the Stavanger Convention Bureau: “We’re thrilled that ICCA has chosen Stavanger to host the first ever AMP! This will also be the first global ICCA event to be held in Scandinavia since the 2002 Congress, and we know that our ICCA friends from across the region and beyond will be eager to participate. Stavanger has built an excellent reputation in the international association meetings sector over the past 20 years, and we plan to use that experience and expertise to deliver a programme that the participating international association executives and ICCA members will remember for many years to come!”

ICCA CEO Martin Sirk on why ICCA created this new event: “Success in tomorrow’s meetings industry will increasingly depend on an ability to partner and collaborate with clients and with other suppliers. To avoid becoming caught up in a commoditised marketplace where low cost and standardised services are the norm, ICCA members need to learn new skills and adopt new business concepts. Likewise, to reach the often ambitious objectives of their meetings and deliver ROI to their delegates, international association executives need to learn how to build more constructive relationships with destination marketers, venues, PCOs, and airlines. AMP aims to bridge this gap: to build mutual understanding of objectives and business cultures; to identify practical new ways to work together; to generate ideas for improving the effectiveness and value of the meetings themselves.”

“The AMP is not a new meeting concept”, Martin Sirk continues. For many years we have been running an event linked to IMEX in Frankfurt called the ICCA Association Expert Seminar (AES). Enormously popular and always with a waiting list, this event brings together 20 association executives and 40 ICCA members, for a structured series of discussions on issues of mutual interest. AMP could be described as an “AES on steroids”!”

“There will be a larger faculty; more in-depth education sessions; tougher group exercises; more opportunities for private consultations and advice; extensive guidance on using all of ICCA’s research tools and business services; and inspirational meeting design concepts. It’s important to note that this is not a workshop or hard-sales event: the emphasis is strongly on education, mutual understanding and relationship building.”

The inaugural edition of the AMP aims to attract 150 participants: 120 members; 20 associations (hosted by the host destination) and 10 faculty members. These small numbers enable the delivery of highly personalised sessions and advice to every attendee. AMP will take place from 5-7 July for ICCA members, while associations will start a day earlier (4-7 July).

Why associations should attend ICCA’s Association Meeting Programme

Mireille Swakhoven, Congress Services Manager of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), explains how ICCA events helped her to organise better meetings and why associations should attend the AMP:

Shaping the future and value of international association meetings

ICCA -the International Congress and Convention Association- is the global community and knowledge hub for the international association meetings industry. As part of its new strategy plan launched at the 2015 ICCA Congress, ICCA aims to increase its relationship with associations and together with ICCA member-suppliers shape the future and value of international association meetings. As a result associations are invited to attend the annual ICCA Congress and the new AMP.

Green Meeting Industry Council strategically re-organizes in merge with Convention Industry Council

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Convention Industry Council (CIC) announced that the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) will become a council of CIC with specific charter & mandate to advocate and educate around sustainability in the MICE industry operating under the direction of its board.

In a bold move designed to demonstrate the importance of collaboration in a crowded marketplace, the merger will allow the GMIC to reach a wider audience and open its doors and assets to the full industry with the aim to have a deeper impact.

The Convention Industry Council is the preeminent organization representing all segments of the meetings and events industry. As such, GMIC, under the umbrella of CIC, will be the go-to source for neutral and credible resources, information, and community to advance sustainable practices for the broader event industry.

“GMIC is the meetings industry’s most respected authority on sustainability, and the Board of Directors has been working tirelessly over the last several months to finalize an exciting new partnership to take GMIC to new heights,” said Karen Kotowski,​ ​CMP,​ ​CEO of the Convention Industry Council. “CIC is looking forward to not only helping GMIC return to its roots as a council leading the conversation on sustainability in the meeting and events industry, but also to support it by expanding its reach through the CIC members and CMP communities to drive the industry towards these practices.”

The concept of sustainability is reaching a pivotal point in the general consumer landscape with businesses paying particular attention to the newly unveiled UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. In order to ensure that GMIC and CIC are driving the conversation through collaboration, a volunteer committee will be appointed to focus on the critical role of developing content, research, and education, and implementing initiatives to push the cause forward.

With the governance council under CIC, GMIC volunteers can be readily engaged to support the APEX/ASTM Sustainable Meetings Standards continued maintenance and development which both organizations were instrumental in developing.

The collaboration of the two organizations provides both CIC and GMIC with a greater ability to deliver information, tools and resources on sustainability standards and best practices.

The passionate supporters that provide much of GMIC’s current membership base will be a valuable asset in taking on local issues and offering educational opportunities for fellow supporters. GMIC individual and business members will transition to individual supporters and sponsors, and local GMIC Chapters will be invited to continue their local communities and supporter networks.  

“I’m deeply proud of our community of very dedicated individuals and this important step for sustainability in the events industry” said Roger Simons, CMP, Chair of the GMIC Board of Directors. “The evolution of the organization in hand with the CIC allows us to amplify our voice, to better advocate and educate for sustainability whilst ensuring that unwavering focus on our original founding mission.”

This text is based on sources from ECA - European Cockpit Association. 

More international tourists visiting English regions than ever before, and spending more

More international tourists are travelling across English regions than ever before with some areas showing double digit growth in visitor numbers. And they are spending more too.

In the first nine months of 2015 visits to English regions outside London were up 7% on the same period in 2014 with 11.7 million visits, setting a new record.

Spending by international visitors across the regions was up 4% to £5.8 billion compared to the same period in 2014.

Figures released this month by VisitBritain also show that July to September 2015 was a record breaker for a quarter three period, with 4.7m visits to the English regions, an 8% increase on the same period in 2014 and beating the previous record set in 2006.

The number of international visitors travelling to the North showed especially strong growth in the first nine months of 2015 with visits to the North East up 23% compared to the same period in 2014, and up 12% in the North West.

Tourism Minister David Evennett said: “We invested £10 million in 2015 to boost tourism in the North and these figures show that it is already making a huge difference, bringing more visitors to the area. 

“A booming tourism industry supports local economies, brings job growth to the regions and helps cement their reputation as must-visit destinations.”

VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said: “Inbound tourism is one of our fastest growing export industries and with five years of consecutive growth in visitor numbers and record-breaking figures for 2015, it is really encouraging to see that this growth is being spread across so many of our regions.”

The regional figures show that in the nine months from January to September 2015:

  • Inbound visits to the North East increased by 23% to 460,000 on 2014 figures.
  • The North West saw a 12% increase in visits to 2.1m on 2014 figures.
  • Visits to the West Midlands increased 8% to 1.6m and East Midlands up 15% to 880,000 visits.
  • The East of England saw visits grow 5% during the first nine months to 1.7m.
  • Visits to the South West grew 6% to 1.9m and the South East 9% to 4m.
  • Yorkshire saw a dip with 998,000 visitors in the first nine months of 2015 compared to 1.1m in 2014. However this comes on the back of its record-breaking figures and strong growth in quarter three in 2014 following the region’s hosting of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France.

In the first nine months of 2015 the top three markets for visits to the English regions, outside of London, were Germany, France and the Irish Republic. Looking at longer haul markets, visits from China to the regions were up 47% to 116,000 and Canada up 20% to 241,000.

The number of international visitors travelling to the Rest of England for business, and the amount they spent, rose 14% to 3m visits and £1.4m in the first nine months of 2015. Those visiting friends and relatives, and the amount they spent increased by 8%, to 4.4m visits and £1.8m spent compared to the same period in 2014. The number of holiday visits was on a par with the first nine months of 2014 at 3.2m.

The latest figures come as VisitBritain gets set to next week host its annual tourism event ExploreGB, this year being held in Liverpool, to attract even more international visitors to Britain.

More than 300 international buyers from 40 countries are set to do business with more than 300 travel trade suppliers from across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland at the event being held from Thursday 3 to Friday 4 March at the city’s Arena and Convention Centre.

Buyers from Britain’s largest and most valuable markets including the USA, Germany, France, Canada and Australia are attending as well as those from China, the world’s largest outbound market, as well as India, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore and South Korea to name a few.

More than 30,000 business meetings are expected to take place across the two day event with buyers also given the chance to try out tourism products and services with pre-and-post event trips organised across Britain, including for 30 journalists from 18 countries.

Last year set a record for inbound tourism to Britain with 35.8m visits overall, 4% up on 2014. Comparing growth over the last five years shows that there were six million more visits in 2015 than 2010, an increase of 20%. 

VisitBritain’s forecast for 2016 show that the growth in visitor numbers is set to continue with 36.7m visits expected. Spending by overseas visitors is predicted to reach almost £23 billion this year, a 4.2% increase on spending in 2015.

This puts VisitBritain on track to realise its ambition for growing international visits to Britain by more than 20% to 42m visits by 2020, which could see an additional £4.5 billion in visitor spend.

Tourism is Britain's seventh largest export industry and third largest service sector. The industry is also a major job creator, for example every 22 additional Chinese visitors that come to Britain create an additional job in the sector. Inbound tourism is worth more than £26 billion to the UK economy.

Australian Capital Territory’s best food and wine experiences

Home of Australia’s capital city, Canberra, this inland region is surrounded by a boutique cool climate wine making area, small enough to offer meet-the-maker experiences, as well as creative food producers and restaurateurs utilising fresh regional produce. The ACT serves up everything from biodynamic wine to smoked meats, coffee roasters and craft breweries.

The Canberra District wineries are small enough to have an intimate cellar door and meet-the-maker experience, yet large enough to find all the varieties of a premium wine-growing region.

The 140 vineyards are home to more than 30 premium cellar doors that produce distinctive award winning cool climate wines. Sprinkled in all directions around Canberra, the wineries are ideal for visiting on a self drive journey, taking you from Pialligo to the neighbouring wine districts of Hall, Murrumbateman, Bungendore, Wamboin and Lake George.

There’s a lot to love when you sample the ACT’s food scene. Relax in modern cafes and hip eateries, dine on fresh food among gorgeous rural surrounds with mountain views.
List of five best restaurants

1. Poachers Pantry, Hall – this picturesque rural working farm is renowned for its highly coveted smoked meat, the Smokehouse Cafe and its cellar door

2. Aubergine, Canberra – head chef Ben Willis creates celebrated classy, flavour-first food. Modern European in style, it has a good selection of local wine labels

3. Grazing, Gundaroo – using the best of the region’s food and wine, this award-winning venue offers an authentic produce to the plate experience

4. Sage, Canberra – the staff are involved with food production from paddock to plate to establish a real connection and passion for the extraordinary delicious offerings

5. Waters Edge, Canberra – chef Clement Chauvin draws on his extensive experience at Michelin starred restaurants to offer creative, contemporary Australian food