MANAGING in the

NEW WORLD

2015 was an eventful year in the world of tourism in Africa. Several business innovations got flagged off while certain fails were also registered. The Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) has set up tourism information desks at strategic airports. Nigerian tourists are being also being courted by Kenya. The country has also witnessed launch of several travel apps by Google. The famous George Boutique Hotel opened up this year in Lagos. A tourism consulting body in South Africa conducted a workshop to battle xenophobia and to educate guests regarding the same.

Tourism retail giants such as TUI, Thomas Cook and Monarch are revamping their packaged tours to cater to newer trends and demands. TUI for example has started a flight cum tourism package for Iceland which is really trending these days. In addition, they have launched packages for Costa Rica where British Airways has launched flights. Thomas Cook has finalized packages for long trips to the US mainly from Manchester. Tourism consulting provided by OnePoll suggests that holidays have reduced in duration of days but increased in terms of number of times taken. Cuba, Sri Lanka and the Caribbean region are expected to do well this year. Dubai as a market will stagnate. Security fears have meant that traditional biggies Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey will struggle this year paving the way for Greece to grab the Mediterranean segment.

A top tourism consulting publication has recognized seven safari trails in Africa as being the best from the vast continent. The Central Kalahari Game Reserve in South Africa tops the list followed by the Mindulea Reserve in Namibia. The legendary Maasai Mara in Kenya comes next in the list. The next two entries are occupied by Gorillas in Rwanda and the Duba in Botswana. South Africa gets a second mention with Kruger. Completing the list is the Zambezi Valley from Zambia.

Several exciting new trends are emerging in tourism. Iceland has repositioned itself as a premier tourist destination thanks to recovering from both the economic crisis as well as the major volcano. They are leading in sustainable tourism innovations. Another new concept that has emerged is norm-trekker. This kind of traveler remains part of tour packages which are instead customized to suit individual needs. So while a trend had emerged on rubbishing vacation packages, those have reemerged in new avatar. Europe remains the top tourist destination, yet its share is plummeting with Asia being the biggest gainer. This has fuelled substantial number oftourism jobs across the continent. The Chinese meanwhile have displaced Germans from the top of outbound tourists but many of them return home from Europe disappointed as they seek more personalized packages.

Investors might get turned off by prospects of pouring money in to Greece, however the tourism industry in the country is quite an ideal destination for investment. Greece has seen double digit growth in inbound tourist numbers over the last few years and things can get better with investment. Taking cue from Spain, which is one of the world’s leading tourism destinations, three-fifths of hotel properties are consolidated under leading brands. The figure is only 5% for Greece. With consolidation, tourists would be ready to pay more due to brand value, while hoteliers can reduce operational costs due to combined synergies and economies of scale. Greece is generally a country with lower labour costs that has spawned en number of travel jobs of late, but in addition the government has become more cooperative now and recognizes the importance of tourism. With such structural changes, greater number of tourists from markets such as India, China and Russia may be experienced.

Iceland was amongst the first countries to be severely hit by the recession towards the end of the previous decade, yet has been quick to recover thanks mainly to the booming tourism industry. The Strokkur geyser for example is one of the top attractions. Number of cruise ships arrive at regular intervals to visit Iceland. Thus boom has fuelled numerous tourism jobs making this the top money spinner ahead of fishing. However, sustainability is a concern grappling environmentalists as well as tourism planners.

The China National Tourism Administration has shortlisted ten news stories which it feels are the most significant for the year 2015. The first one of them says that a tenth of global GDP and nearly that much of global employment figures will be filled up by the tourism industry. The year 2017 will now be seen as the year of sustainable tourism. The 21st round of the UNWTO meet was held at Medellin in Columbia this year. To develop tourism across China, construction of toilets has started in the country. Outbound tourism from China to the USA will get easier thus boosting tourism jobs. Spain has been lauded as the best country overall within the industry for the year. However, terrorist attacks in neighbouring France have been condemned by the UNWTO. Tourism to Turkey may get adversely impacted due to the sanctions imposed on the same by Russia. On the more positive side, travel jobs in Africa recovered thanks to the end of the Ebola outbreak. Finally, China is set to co-host the World Conference on Tourism for Development in the year 2016.

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