World Tourism Day Promotes Energy Awareness With Photo Contest

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:

Australia floods leave tourist industry in peril

The terrible floods in Queensland, Australia, have destroyed thousands of homes, done billions of dollars of damage, and have left at least a dozen people dead. Queensland is a major coal exporter, and with the rising waters hampering shipments and flooding mines, world coal prices have risen. A major consumer of Queensland coal are Asian steel mills, which are already feeling the pinch. This has led to a rise in steel prices. That’s a double dose of bad news for the economic recovery.

Another Queensland industry has also been hard hit–tourism. The tourists have fled along with the residents, but it’s the long-term effects that are more harmful. If rising coal and steel prices hurt the economic recovery, that’s bound to hurt the tourism industry pretty much everywhere. Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city, is the center for Australia’s Gold Coast, a major draw for Australia’s $32 billion tourist industry. Floods are damaging popular beaches and will require costly repairs. Coastal and riverside hotels and shops are being destroyed. The Brisbane Times reports that toxic materials washed into the sea could have an effect on delicate coral reefs and fish populations. With snorkeling and scuba diving such popular activities on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, this could do long-term damage to tourism.

Meanwhile, airlines are worried about how this will affect them. Virgin Blue has already seen its shares drop by 3.4 percent today because investors fear there will be a drop in bookings. Qantas shares also dipped slightly. Airlines are issuing fee waivers for passengers who want to change their flights to, from, or through Brisbane.

It looks like Queensland residents will suffer from the flood long after the waters recede.

[Photo of Brisbane sunset courtesy user t i m m a y via Gadling’s flickr pool]

Deloitte says business travel up for 2011, 80% to hit the road more

Business travelers are back in 2011. At least, that’s what global professional services firm Deloitte is saying. After two years of corporate austerity, the business traveler is taking to the skies and road again, and this has to be great news for airlines and hotels, as it’s the corporate set that really brings in the cash they count on. The numbers look good for next year, according to this survey, which means a little more elbow room for the beleaguered tourism and travel industry.

The company surveyed 1,001 business travelers and found that 80 percent are expecting to take more trips than they did in 2010, with 79 percent forecasting that spending will be the same or higher. This follows gains in 2010, in which only 29 percent said they expected the full year to net out to a decline relative to 2009.

According to Adam Weissenberg, vice chairman and tourism, hospitality and leisure sector leader, Deloitte LLP, “The travel industry was not immune to the economic slowdown, but the confidence demonstrated by business travelers who responded to our survey suggests a brighter outlook for the industry as a whole.”
This follows a tough period for business travel. Deloitte noted in a statement:

Due to the recession, 72 percent of survey respondents had monitored their business travel expenses in various ways this past year. In particular, business travelers said they had cut back on overall travel costs (37 percent), reduced the duration of their trips (33 percent), or spent less on food/restaurants (32 percent). More than one in five (21 percent) booked less expensive hotel rooms.

Not only were belts tightening, but people were watching. Deloitte found that 59 percent of respondents indicated their companies were enforcing corporate travel policies more strictly. Fifty percent revealed that they have to get pre-trip approval for business travel, with 42 percent saying that “their company guidelines currently covered booking accommodations in advance.” Close to a third reported dollar limits on accommodations.

New York, Miami and Los Angeles dominant U.S. ports of entry

How do people get to the United States? Well, most of them seem to come in through the same places, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The top 15 ports of entry handled 83 percent of all arrivals in July 2010. This is a 2 percentage-point drop from July 2009, but it’s still a substantial concentration.

Three spots were responsible for 38 percent of all incoming visitors from outside the United States: New York JFK Airport, Miami and Los Angeles. This is off a percentage point from July 2009. Meanwhile, 13 of the top 15 ports of entry in the United States sustained traffic growth from July 2009 to July 2010, seven of them in double digits.

[photo by ToreLo via Flickr]

Five signs people are traveling to the U.S. from overseas, recovery in progress

Travel to the United States from overseas is up drastically from last year. For the first seven months of 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, foreign visitation is up 12 percent relative to the same period in 2009. In July alone, 6.3 million people came to the country, a whopping 15 percent gain from July 2009, making it the tenth month in a row in which arrivals increased.

And, finally, these folks are spending more.

From January through July, foreign visitors dropped $76.7 billion into the U.S. economy, a 10 percent jump from last year. They spent $11.6 billion in July 2010, a surge of 18 percent and an indication of a pleasant financial trajectory. Spending by overseas visitors to the United States has grown year-over-year every month in 2010.

So, what do the details look like? There’s a lot of good news, the U.S. Department of Commerce reveals. Here are five stats that are sure to delight the U.S. tourism and travel industry:
1. Seventeen of the top 20 countries for U.S. visitation registered increases in people traveling here for the first seven months of the year – the only declines were from the United Kingdom, Venezuela and Ireland.

2. Twelve of these countries experienced double-digit increases, including Canada, Mexico, Brazil, China and Australia.

3. In July this year, 19 of the top 20 countries posted year-over-year gains, with Venezuela the lone holdout (down a modest 1 percent).

4. Double-digit gains came in July for 15 of the top 20 countries.

5. Arrivals from overseas locations (i.e., not Canada or Mexico) increased 15 percent from July to July and 12 percent from the first seven months of 2009 to the first seven months of 2010.

And, Canada has been busy. Air arrivals from our northern neighbor shot up 20 percent in July 2010, with land arrivals up 16 percent. For the year, air is up 15 percent, and land is up 12 percent. Mexico posted double-digit growth for both forms of arrival for both the month of July and the first seven months of 2010.

Of course, you don’t learn much by comparing 2009 to 2010, because 2009 was such a disaster. The effects of the financial crisis lingered, squeezing wallets shut and keeping people at home. So, you have to look back to 2008 to see if we’ve made any real progress.

Well, the news is positive. Visits from overseas increased 1 percent from the first seven months of 2009 to the first seven months of 2010. From July 2009 to July 2010, we experienced a 7 percent increase.

People are getting on planes again, and they’re visiting us. The travel market is coming back, but we’re still early in the process.

[photo by pheezy via Flickr]