New York City welcomed 52 million visitors in 2012, up more than 2% over 2011 and Mayor Bloomberg has set a goal of hosting 55 million by 2015. Domestic visitors from within the U.S. tallied 41 million, while 11 million came from overseas. The numbers of tourists from Brazil and China have quintupled since 2006. The city sold 29 million hotel room nights, a new high, up nearly 7 % over 2011. NYC is the #1 attraction for the U.S. pulling in a third of the overseas tourist dollars. (EturboNews.com, 01/01/13)
Cuba hosted nearly 2.9 million foreign tourists in 2012 and expects to welcome 3 million in 2013, according to the Cuban Ministry of Tourism. The majority of visitors originate in Canada. The island nation faces a number of challenges to its tourism industry, #1 being the U.S. blockade in place since 1961. Although, Americans can only travel to Cuba under very strict conditions U.S. travel restrictions have been eased recently, with limits increasing on remittances and charter flights. Tourism is a major source of revenue to Cuba. (EturboNews.com, 12/27/12)
Every day Venice welcomes about 60,000 visitors, more than the city’s population, with an overwhelming number entering on cruise ships. The cruise ship traffic has increased by more than 400 percent since 2000 contributing to erosion of building foundations and pollution. Tourism is Venice’s economic lifeblood, at the same time tourism is damaging the city. A compromising balance must be reached before the city becomes a theme park like Disney World.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) predicts 2.7% growth for 2012 global travel and tourism, only slightly downgraded from the 2.8% that was expected at the beginning of the year. Behind the numbers are marginal downgrades in the U.S. and Eurozone since the start of the year, contrasting with upgrades in Japan and emerging markets, which have been boosted by strong growth and rising prosperity. International tourist arrivals have increased 4.9% this year from January to June, airline passenger traffic is up 6.8%, and hotel occupancy rates are up in many markets. wttc.org, 11/4/12
The Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Taleb Rifai, recently highlighted UN projections of international tourism surpassing the 2011 mark of 990 million and crossing the 1 billion mark in 2012. At the opening of the Global Tourism Economy Forum in Macau, he noted the importance of continued growth in international travel: “Amid the current economic uncertainty, tourism is one of the few economic sectors in the world growing strongly, driving economic progress in developing and developed countries alike and, most importantly, creating much needed jobs.” (UNWTO.org, 9/12/12)
Tourism has suffered greatly in Greece due to bad publicity surrounding the economic turmoil. The tourist office and major Greek businesses have developed an online interactive platform for visitors to share their travel experiences. TrueGreece.org will be a social media outlet where dedicated volunteers will hopefully counteract concerns about the economy and political unrest and spread the word on what a great place Greece is to visit. (TravelMole.com, June 15)
The Obama Administration announced a National Travel and Tourism Strategy acknowledging the value and contribution of the travel and tourism industry to our economy. The goal is to attract 100 million international visitors a year by; using technology to facilitate the entrance of foreign tourists, expanding the Trusted Traveler Program, improving customs staffing and expanding open skies agreements. The strength and growth of this sector drives job creation and has the potential to realize from visitors, double their current spend of $125 billion annually. (TravelMarketReport.com, May 11)
The Dutch government has incurred the ire of businesses dependent on “smoking” tourists. Many coffee houses in Amsterdam, legally allow marijuana smoking on premises, an activity regarded as a rite of passage for some young foreign tourists. Although The Hague Court has upheld the ban, due to take effect next year, there is no guarantee that a new Dutch government, scheduled to be elected this fall, will uphold it. (WashingtonPost.com, May 1)
The U.S. Travel Association will kick off a TV marketing campaign next month promoting the U.S. to foreign tourists worldwide. Congress approved this campaign as part of the Travel Promotion Act passed in 2010. Monies collected from foreign visitors who register for a visa and private business donations fund the project. Rosanne Cash sings the theme song “Land of Dreams” in the ad as Americans romp through fields of flowers, play on beaches and dance in the streets. (LATimes.com, April 23).
In efforts to promote the moto “It is more fun in the Philippines”, visitors originating from 166 countries may now enjoy free 30-day tourist visas upon arrival and retirees may stay for six months. The country’s DOT will also abolish the Common Carriers Tax and the Customs and Immigration Quarantine to remove impediments and restrictions for tourists. (Eturbonews.com, March 30)