Chinese Tourists Spend More Money Than Anyone Else

Chinese travelers have officially become the biggest contributors to the tourism industry, spending a whopping $102 billion on vacations and other travel in 2012.

Figures from the UN World Tourism Organization revealed the Asian country has dramatically upped its travel spending, with last year’s expenditure up 40 percent from the prior year.

The organization credits China’s increased spending to the growing numbers of people entering the middle class.

According to the BBC, not only are the Chinese dedicating more money to travel, they are also shifting their spending habits. Instead of taking organized tours and joining busloads of other tourists, more and more Chinese are hiring cars and traveling independently.

However, one thing hasn’t changed – the Chinese still love to shop. Purchasing souvenirs and luxury goods remains high on the list of favorite travel activities.

Other emerging countries have also shot up the list. Russia’s travel spending increased by more than 30 percent last year, boosting the country to fifth place.

The United States came in at third place behind Germany, with tourism spending totaling just under $84 billion dollars.

[Photo credit: Flickr user bigbirdz]

Haiti Bills Itself As The Next Caribbean Vacation Hotspot

The Caribbean nation of Haiti is launching an ambitious campaign to market the country as a vacation hotspot. Unlike other islands in the region, which draw huge numbers of leisure travelers seeking sun and surf, Haiti is largely overlooked by tourists.

The country is one of the poorest in the Western hemisphere with around 80 percent of its people living in extreme poverty. It was thrown under the spotlight three years ago when an earthquake measuring 7.0 shook the country to its core. The event was a devastating blow to a country already rife with political problems, corruption and natural disasters.

Haiti’s minister of tourism, Stephanie Villedrouin, told NPR that tourism could help locals rebuild their lives and boost the country’s economy.”These revenues for our economy will help us eradicate poverty, and take out people [earthquake victims] from the tents. That’s the message. Don’t just send money through a wire or through an NGO for us. Come and experience Haiti because we have so much to showcase.”

Some of the attraction on offer for visitors are a National Museum, a rum distillery, traditional art, voodoo ceremonies and, of course, miles of Caribbean beach.

Despite that, the country faces a lot of challenges when it comes to marketing itself as a vacation destination. Streets are overflowing with trash and sewage, medical facilities are few and far between, and travelers face a high risk of crime. The US State Department has even issued a travel warning for the country.

As a result, few tourists to Haiti ever leave the fenced-off beach resort built by a cruise company on the island’s north. Getting travelers to step out of the bubble and into the rest of the country will require a massive expansion of the country’s tourism infrastructure. The government hopes to do that by investing in new hotels, airports and a school to train workers in the hospitality industry.

Listen to the full story here:




[Photo credit: Flickr user MichelleWalz]

World Tourism Day Promotes Energy Awareness With Photo Contest

World Tourism Day

World Tourism Day is coming up on September 27 and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) hopes to raise awareness about the role of tourism within the international community. Showing how tourism affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide, this year’s theme puts a spotlight on the role of tourism in a brighter energy future.

If the United Nations has its way that will be a future in which the world’s entire population has access to modern, efficient and affordable energy services. To raise awareness, the UN hosted a photo contest looking for pictures that captured new ideas to increase energy efficiency, the use of renewable energy and photos showing how tourism is bringing modern and clean energy to local communities.

%Gallery-166318%With a record 467 million tourists traveling in the first half of 2012, international tourism is on track to reach one billion tourists by the end of the year. That means there are one billion reasons to focus on a tourism industry committed to using energy responsibly. On cruise vacations alone, a record 20 million people took a cruise last year, an increase of almost 2 million, according to the latest industry figures.

As much of an impact as the global tourism industry has on the environment, those visiting destinations around the world can have a huge impact by focusing on being eco-friendly travelers, as we see in this video:


The World’s Most Recommended Country To Visit

most recommended countryThe world’s most recommended country to visit is Canada, says a study measuring public perceptions of countries around the world. The ranking is a component of the best overall country reputation that also considers employment, living conditions, investment potential and more.

Beating out Australia, Sweden and Switzerland for the second year in a row for the number one spot, Canada is one of 50 nations that will directly contribute to the $2 trillion tourism industry in 2012.

The annual RepTrak study was conducted by the Reputation Institute, a consultancy that measures the trust, esteem, admiration and good feelings the public holds towards 50 countries, by polling an online panel of 36,000 people representing the G8 countries.


“Beyond maintaining its top position, Canada has also improved its score by more than three points. Normally we don’t see such a large increase in a score from a top 10 country but Canada now stands head and shoulders above the other leading countries,” said Nicolas Georges Trad, Executive Partner, Reputation Institute in a statement.

Rounding out the top ten countries with the best reputations were Norway, New Zealand, Finland, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands, all known for their stability, solid democracies, high GDP and strong social infrastructures.

The United States came in at number 23 but the study concluded that with a strong 5-10 point increase in the last four years, the reputation of the USA is trending towards more positive perceptions.



[Flickr photo by beaumontpete]

Kickstarter project wants to create a new tourism website for Washington State

Washington State has plenty to offer the tourist, including incredible natural wonders, such as Mount Rainier and Puget Sound, and one of the coolest cities in the country in Seattle. Despite this, Washington is unable to afford a state-funded tourism board. In July, Washington State became the only state in the nation without a statewide tourism office.

While this sad set of circumstances would deter many a Washington tourism booster from taking any action, one Kickstarter user has decided to use the opportunity to create a new website and interactive platform to promote tourism in Washington State. Travel writer, media startup pro, voluntourism advocate, and Seattle native Charyn Pfeuffer is hoping to launch GoWAState.com by spring 2012 with the funds she raises on Kickstarter. Pfeuffer’s funding request is for $50,000, all of which she must raise prior to the project’s October 8 deadline.

If funded, GoWAState.com would offer typical tourism website fare, such as city and regional profiles, a travel planning section, maps, and a blog. It would also incorporate social media, community boards, subscription web deals, and professional photography. GoWAState.com is not intended to replace the Washington State tourism office, Pfeuffer claims in her project description. Rather, Pfeuffer wants to “share [Washington State’s] diversity with visitors and local weekend warriors via an engaging new resource.”

Take a look at the GoWAState.com project’s introductory video below. Do you think it has what it takes to meet its goal?




[Photo credit: Flickr user nonsequiturlass]