Airlines are canceling mistake fares faster but some errors still get through

Travelers love those insanely cheap fares that airlines sometimes post by mistake, such as when Cathay Pacific Airways in January sold $16,000 business-class tickets from Da Nang in Vietnam to New York for as little as $675 round trip.

But carriers have found a way to more quickly cancel those cheap mistake fares.

The Airline Tariff Publishing Co., an airline-owned clearinghouse that feeds fare information to more than 400 airlines, has upgraded its software to replace erroneous domestic fares within 15 minutes after they are distributed to online travel agencies, with international fares replaced within an hour.

Before the upgrade, the Virginia-based company, known as ATPCO, took an hour or longer to replace mistaken domestic fares and as long as a day to replace erroneous international fares.

ATPCO began installing the software upgrades to fix erroneous domestic fares last year and started addressing international fares in March.

The ultra-low fares are usually the result of human error when the prices are punched into the system by hand or when they are converted into foreign currency prices, experts say.

Airfare mistakes are rare — occurring only a few times each month among the hundreds of millions of fares posted daily by all the world’s airlines. But when mistakes happen, sharp-eyed travelers are quick to book the deals before the error gets fixed.

“The problem is less about how often it happens and more about the magnitude of the error,” said David Mark Smith, head of standards and industry relations for ATPCO, noting that word about a fare error can be spread across social media as fast as it takes to tap a keyboard button.

In fact, several websites now specialize in identifying mistakes and notifying travelers about the deals. The founders of such sites say the number of mistake fares hasn’t declined dramatically in the past year or so but they do disappear more quickly.

“The new ATPCO technology is an interesting step forward but not entirely foolproof, still allowing for the occasional error to slip through,” said Shahab Siddiqui, who founded Cheapflightsfinder.com.

Scott Keyes, the founder of Scottscheapflights.com, said he has identified 31 mistake fares in 2019 alone, including a $396 round-trip fare from Los Angeles to Fiji on Fiji Airways and a $377 round-trip fare from New York to Kenya on Kenya Airways.

To take advantage of erroneous fares, Keyes said, travelers have to be quick to buy the tickets and flexible about when they can take the flight.

“The more flexibility, the greater your ability to book a mistake fare,” he said.

Airlines in the U.S. are forbidden from raising the price of a ticket after it has been booked but federal law does not require airlines to honor fares that are published by mistake.

In the past few years, airlines haven’t been consistent about responding to mistaken fares, by honoring the erroneous fares on some occasions and other times canceling reservations on them.

Even with ATPCO’s new software fix, Smith said, airlines can lose tens of millions of dollars in the 15 minutes that erroneous fares are published.

“It’s constantly being evaluated for how big an issue it is in the market,” he said of mistake fares.

Among the biggest fare errors was the round-trip tickets that Hong Kong Airlines offered last year for a business-class seat from Los Angeles or San Francisco to several Asian cities for $561 — a fraction of the usual price.

Delta Air Lines mistakenly published one-way tickets in 2013 from Minneapolis to Baton Rouge, La., for $51, and tickets from Raleigh, N.C., to Philadelphia for $35, about one-tenth the normal price. Delta honored only those tickets that were paid for before the error was discovered.

In 2012, United Airlines published fares from the U.S. to Hong Kong for about $35. The carrier canceled all the reservations made for the mistake fare.

Keyes got the idea to launch his travel website in 2013 when he stumbled upon a nonstop, round-trip fare from New York to Milan, Italy, for only $130 — clearly a mistake.

Once his friends heard about the deal, they asked to be notified about the next ultra-cheap fare he found. Eventually, he launched a website that employs 40 people and searches for mistake fares and unadvertised, bargain tickets.

“They are still popping up quite a bit,” he said. “It’s really exciting. It’s the holy grail for travelers.”

Source:https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-airline-error-fares-20190522-story.html

Rethinking tourism so the locals actually benefit from hosting visitors

Tourism today has a problem and needs an entire rethink. Pundits are debating overtourismpeak tourism and tourismphobia. Cities such as BarcelonaVenice and Dubrovnik are witnessing a backlash against imposed forms of tourism. 

In response, new tactics have been tried, ranging from tourist “police” and tourist taxes to entry fees and crowd control. Cities are having to rethink their engagement with tourism if they want to keep the locals from rioting.

Fundamental concerns are being raised. If tourism is to have a sustainable future, we need to reorient our focus and put the well-being and interests of local residents at the forefront.

Understanding tourism

Tourism is typically understood from two angles. On the one hand, the focus is on the tourists and the nature of their motivations and demand, in the hope of enticing more. On the other is the business side, focused on developing products and services to provide to tourists. 

The industry seeks to grow tourism for profits. Governments support the industry for the jobs and revenues it provides. The result has been a relentless growth in tourism in forms that locals have often not appreciated. 

Developments like Airbnb are placing tourists in the heart of local neighbourhoods, disrupting the rhythms of daily life. Events are imposed on communities, driving out locals or blighting their quality of life. A case in point is the Newcastle 500 Supercars event, which some locals claim has harmed local businesses and disrupted residents’ lives. 

Public assets like the Adelaide Parklands and Australian national parks and World Heritage areas are being commercialised and privatised for tourism developments. 


Shifting the focus to the local community

We could create a different future for tourism if it was reoriented to be centred on the local community. Our recently published research paper redefined tourism as:

The process of local communities inviting, receiving and hosting visitors in their local community, for a limited time duration, with the intention of receiving benefits from such actions.

Such forms of tourism may be offered by commercial businesses or made possible by non-profit organisations. But in this restructure of tourism, tourism operators would be allowed access to the local community’s assets only under their authorisation and stewardship. 

The seeds of such a transition to more sustainable forms of tourism are already growing.

Respect and fairness go a long way

Venice provides a good example. In 2017, the authorities launched a #EnjoyRespectVeneziacampaign to overcome problems of poor tourist behaviour. 

In 2019, Venetian authorities have gone even further by introducing an entry fee this year and, later, a booking system. Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said:

We intend to guarantee a better liveability for citizens and, above all, for the residents.


Read more: Cruise lines promise big payouts, but the tourist money stays at sea


But local communities and organisations are not waiting for authorities to act. Community activists are organising to take control of tourism for themselves.

A grassroots initiative from Amsterdam and Venice has resulted in Fairbnb. It’s a social cooperative designed to challenge the damaging and disruptive model of Airbnb. The new platform “provides a community-centred alternative to current vacation rental platforms that prioritises people over profit and offers the potential for authentic, sustainable and intimate travel experiences”. 

Like Airbnb, Fairbnb offers a platform to book vacation rentals. The difference is that 50% of revenues will be directed to local community projects. It also has a “one host, one home” policy – only one property on the market for each host – to limit negative impacts on local residential housing markets.

Meanwhile in Australia …

Australia does not have the same level of overtourism that places in Europe are suffering. But pressures are building right around the country from Byron Bay and the Great Ocean Road to our bigger cities like Sydney and Melbourne. Locals are complaining about housing affordability, congested roads and badly behaved tourists. 


Australia would benefit from strategies to reorient tourism to local well-being and control. Some promising examples already exist. 

Lirrwi Tourism in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, stands out. The Yolngu Aboriginal operators have embraced tourism access but only under a visionary set of guiding principles. These declare “Yolngu have a responsibility to care for country” and “Tourism should never control what happens on country”. It’s an example of tourism on the local community’s terms.

Melbourne’s laneways strategy has demonstrated one way CBD revitalisation, resident well-being and visitor experiences can be brought together for great outcomes.

Tourists can play their part by meeting local communities halfway. In a resource-constrained world the pleasures of tourism must be balanced with some basic responsibilities. 

Tourists must gain some basic understanding of local living conditions and shape their travel plans accordingly. The focus must be to give locals the maximum benefits from the visit with the minimum negative impacts. The recent campaign “Helpful or harmful: what sort of traveller are you?” provides a place to start.

The long-term sustainability of tourism depends on ensuring visitors do not wear out their welcome. Reorienting tourism to enhance local well-being is the way forward.

Source:http://theconversation.com/rethinking-tourism-so-the-locals-actually-benefit-from-hosting-visitors-116066

Find The Human-Technology Balance To Champion Your Customers

It doesn’t take long today to come across headlines focusing on the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation and its potential impact on jobs in the finance industry. In fact, a study from McKinsey finds that by 2030, up to an estimated 800 million jobs could be lost worldwide to automation, with data-centric roles like accounting being the most susceptible. Technology is introducing new tensions as well as opportunities for the finance industry to transform the way business is done.

While the industry navigates through disruption, I believe there is a way to strike a balance between adopting innovation and maintaining a human approach to doing business. Rather than resisting technological change, companies can control how they respond and take advantage of it in a way that doesn’t lose sight of the customer. For companies that are unsure of how to approach these changes without risking customer backlash, there are several things to consider to ensure these values coexist. 

Use tech to improve human relationships.

Today, companies need to evaluate how they can adopt technological innovations, while ensuring that doing so is in the name of solving real human problems. Making a conscious choice to balance the promise of technology with human benefits also allows organizations to take a more strategic approach to running a business. For instance, customer service is seen as a key area of focus for many companies in financial services. Adobe’s 2018 Digital Trends in Financial Services report found that 36% of those surveyed in the financial services and insurance sectors said customer experience is the main way they’ll differentiate from competitors over the next five years.

The importance of customer service to financial organizations shows exactly how the human-technology balance can help you come out ahead. Take the example of customer service agents using AI and machine learning to respond to customer requests. These technologies can allow them to quickly identify customer needs and spend more time solving problems and maintaining a human touch. Before these technologies were created, many agents struggled with the volume of requests or understanding issues at hand and lost critical time addressing this instead of customer concerns. By enhancing the human elements with their customers through technology, companies can strategically approach areas that impact their bottom line.

Refocus on becoming people-centric.

While many businesses consider themselves customer-centric, I challenge them to become people-centric. This means putting people first — including not just your customers, but employees — and placing them at the heart of your company’s mission and strategy. When people are placed at the center of your organization, adopting innovations will always focus on solving real human problems. 

This is the approach my company takes as it delivers accounting industry technology, while partnering with accountants. Accounting is often viewed as an industry that will lose jobs due to advances in AI and machine learning. And while new technology is changing the way accountants work, these developments are also evolving the role of accountants and providing new opportunities for them and their clients to thrive. This is the true power of “human technology” — taking advantage of the latest technological advances, while still prioritizing the unique things that only human interactions can deliver. 

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Find ways for tech to complement what you do.

When faced with disruption, technology does not have to be the only solution — instead, organizations should uncover ways that tech complements what humans do. James Bessen outlines a clear example of this in his book “Learning by Doing: The Real Connection between Innovation, Wages, and Wealth.” In the mid-1990s, when ATMs started becoming widespread in the United States, many people assumed this would be the end of the bank teller job. However, Bessen shows that was far from the case. Even though people could use ATMs to deposit a check or withdraw cash without the help of a human, the number of teller jobs actually increased. 

Bessen explains that the rise of ATMs cut the average number of bank tellers from about 21 down to 13 per branch, so it became cheaper to operate a branch and open up more of them. Soon after, the demand for bank tellers increased, signaling how this labor-saving technology was actually creating more jobs. Aside from banking, this has happened across other industries — including the rise of e-discovery software in the legal profession and scanning technology in grocery store cash registers — where new technology comes in and seemingly threatens the human aspect in these jobs. However, it’s far from the case, and these examples show that technology can, in fact, enrich the human elements, which is especially relevant in today’s age of AI and machine learning. 

Advances in technology will continue to rewrite the rules for how business is done across all industries. Faced with these changes, companies should choose to champion their people and strike a balance between the human and technology elements that will let their business flourish in new ways.  

Source:https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2019/05/22/find-the-human-technology-balance-to-champion-your-customers/

3 Ways Independent European Hotels Can Increase Direct Bookings

Reliance on online booking agencies (OTAs) increasingly affects the bottom line of small, independent European hotels. The room rate offered via an OTA’s advertised rate is less than a direct booking rate. As well as absorbing this loss, the hotel also pays a commission to the OTA for every booking (ranging from 18 percent to 25 percent). So, how can the hotelier increase direct bookings and sidestep an OTA?

The task here is to suggest ways independent European hoteliers can entice potential clients to book directly with their hotels. So, the first click from the OTA to your hotel website must bring you to an appealing, dynamic and easy-to-use site.

1. Hire a webmaster.

The chance to increase direct bookings will only be effective if hotels have a well-maintained and smartphone-friendly website. This advice is not only obvious; it’s mission critical! When travelers choose a hotel on an OTA, the next thing they do is visit the hotel’s site. The challenge is to ensure that the potential customer does not return to the OTA to complete the room reservation. Enthusiastic, active web managers can maintain and update your web space. You can then concentrate on the day-to-day business of running a hotel.

Web techs can interact with any platforms or software that are used by your hotel to keep the website up-to-date. They can make sure the special offers constantly change. And they can use the business smarts of any hotel platform that you use. Keeping track of conversions to your site is essential — that is, which offerings made the most converts. Maybe it was your easy-to-use smartphone app for check-in and out. Or maybe it was the pop-up ad offering a “free night for booking now” that made a potential client switch to direct booking.

2. Subscribe to a hotel network platform.

One solid way to have your webmasters stay on top of the latest innovations for direct booking: Join a network of small hoteliers such as The Hotels Network. This platform claims to offer state-of-the-art software and marketing for every hotel. Just click on its site to test drive services for conversion to direct booking. It boasts a rousing 32 percent conversion rate upon using its service.

The offering of predictive analytics sounds imposing, but it’s not really. Predictive analytics simply uses an algorithm to sift through tons of data. These data can help with the success of your business. You might need to know what a customer likes in a hotel choice. Or you might need to know if a guest returns directly to your website to book a room.

The Hotels Network tools also allow you to add a comparison of hotel prices directly to your own website. And it can suggest tips to assure customers that they are signing up for exactly what they want. They may request two queen-sized beds (chocolates and a teddy bear on the pillow). Or they may want a first-floor entrance to the room and pool. Then these guests’ requirements can be saved for their next visit to your hotel site. Web techs can monitor these and relay both positive and negative gains for an increase in direct bookings.

Another offering is to display the reviews of your hotel that are presented on major OTA platforms (TripAdvisor, Booking, Expedia, etc.). The Hotels Network tools allow hotels to automatically display these positive and reassuring reviews directly on your site. Specific review elements of your hotel (location, food, service) are tailored to each web space visitor. Sometimes it’s a review by language or type of customers, such as family or business. You choose, and your web gurus can add these to your web presence.

3. Leverage social media

Let’s dig deeper into what else can be offered on your hotel website. TravelClick can suggest travel rewards programs to attract return customers. Check out this site for a demonstration of what it says will “turn shoppers into bookers.” The reward could be displayed in a pop-up ad. “Leaving so soon? Book now and get a 10 percent discount on our summer rates.” Or “Five people have booked in the last 30 minutes.”

Another enticement might be an appealing take on a familiar social media platform. One hotel offers guest access to personalized social media stations. Indeed, I chose this hotel from an OTA and then opened the hotel site to book. What drew me to book directly was its offering to log on to my personal social media station by using a digital fingerprint. I enjoyed the novelty of posting my adventures at the hotel and its surroundings. My posts looked very professional (instead of my usual smartphone attempts). And the hotel got a big free ad that went out to all of my followers and their followers.

These suggestions for conversion from OTAs to direct booking are not a miracle cure. They are a start for the financial wellness of the independent hotelier. Celebrate the competition with the OTAs. Embrace your ability to directly reach prospective customers without million dollar TV ads and OTA fees. Grab your fair share of the booking revenue now!

Source:https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/331779

Human Trafficking in the Hospitality Industry: What Industry Participants Should Do to Protect Themselves and Their Customers

In 2016 alone, 4.8 million people were victims of forced sexual exploitation worldwide. Nearly 200,000 were trafficked in the Americas, and more than one million were children. Moreover, data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline shows that at least 7.7 percent of human trafficking cases reported in 2016 were based in hotels or motels, the most common “location” for the abuse to occur. Indeed, hotels and motels are common sites of human trafficking—they not only offer an affordable and easily accessible location for commercial sex acts, but they also provide privacy and anonymity for both traffickers and trafficked individuals.

There is no doubt that members of the hospitality industry do not want their legitimate services abused by traffickers, nor the safety of their guests jeopardized in this manner. As federal and state authorities, the plaintiffs’ bar, and public sentiment increasingly place pressure on corporations to join global anti-trafficking efforts, the hospitality industry can take proactive compliance-related measures to ensure trafficking does not happen at their hotels.

This Jones Day White Paper touches on key aspects of the fast developing law addressing the scourge of human trafficking. More specifically, it sets forth: (i) the laws governing the hospitality industry’s obligations to detect or eradicate human trafficking at their establishments; (ii) examples of lawsuits filed against members of the hospitality industry; and (iii) suggestions for members of the hospitality industry to best protect their customers and position themselves in this climate of heightened obligations.

Source:https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/human-trafficking-in-the-hospitality-18413/

How a Scotch whisky producer is setting up for a sustainable future

For Chivas Brothers, the Scotch whisky business of Pernod Ricard group – the world’s second-largest wine and spirits company – sustainability is a way of life.

The Dalmunach Distillery near Aberlour, Moray, is the company’s most energy-efficient distillery, and uses 38 per cent less energy than the industry average for sites of a similar size.

Commitment to specific targets, and resources to achieve them, is key to ensuring we end up with the right technologies for a sustainable whisky industry that remains a core part of the local community.

Ronald Daalmans

“We believe sustainable business should be at the core of any enterprise that takes a long-term approach and expects their product to have a purpose and role in society,” says Ronald Daalmans, environmental sustainability manager for Chivas Brothers.

“To me, personally, this means making sure we can say we are using resources responsibly, and reducing or treating emissions. Although many environmental challenges have been met, we still have significantly more to do, especially when it comes to carbon emissions, fossil fuels and heat.

“Commitment to specific targets, and resources to achieve them, is key to ensuring we end up with the right technologies for a sustainable whisky industry that remains a core part of the local community.”

As headline sponsor of VIBES: Scottish Environment Business Awards, Chivas Brothers is helping champion environmental sustainability for businesses.

Since they were established in 1999, the VIBES awards have recognised more than 150 businesses in Scotland that are taking significant steps to reduce their impact on the environment, typically making significant savings in the process.

Earlier this month, Scottish environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham confirmed that Scotland was setting an ambitious new target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 – meaning the country will stop contributing to climate change within a generation.

“There is a global climate emergency and people across Scotland have been calling for more ambition to tackle it and safeguard our planet for future generations,” Cunningham said. “Every single one of us now needs to take more action – not just the Scottish Government but also all businesses, schools, communities, individuals and organisations.”

VIBES is run in a strategic partnership between the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), the Scottish Government, Scottish Water, Scottish Enterprise, Highland and Islands Enterprise, Zero Waste Scotland, Energy Saving Trust and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Terry A’Hearn, SEPA chief executive, says: “The scale of environmental challenge facing humanity is enormous, with a real urgency to act. If everyone lived as we do in Scotland, we would need three planets to sustain our current living. Yet we only have one.

“This underpins One Planet Prosperity – SEPA’s regulatory strategy for tackling the challenges facing Scotland’s environment.

“A key premise is that only those businesses, societies and nations that have developed ways to reduce their water, materials and carbon-based energy consumption, as well as creating little waste, will thrive.

“This is about businesses not just complying with environmental legislation – but going beyond – to help us leave behind a better world than the one we inherited.”

“Scottish Enterprise believes tackling climate change is critically important in a 21st-century economy and works with businesses and sector bodies to promote sustainable business.

“Our team works with companies to identify, develop and deliver projects which lead to improved business efficiency,” explains Ken Maxwell, sustainability specialist at Scottish Enterprise.

“The aim of our support is to improve the efficiency of premises, products and processes – leading to reduced costs and improved environmental performance.

“We also help to ‘future proof’ business practices by encouraging discussion on the impacts of climate change and identifying opportunities arising from increased awareness of sustainability issues and the circular economy.”

Source: https://www.scotsman.com/news/how-a-scotch-whisky-producer-is-setting-up-for-a-sustainable-future-1-4930509

8 chefs share the red flags that a restaurant isn’t worth eating in

Going out to eat should be an enjoyable experience full of brilliant food and lovely wine, that you can’t stop thinking about for days after. Sadly, though, that’s not always the case, and the chances are you’ve been victim to a bad meal at one time or another.

Thankfully, chefs of Reddit have been sharing the red flags they look out for in restaurants, that might indicate that you don’t want to eat there. And from oversized menus to dirty bathrooms, these are definitely things to consider next time you step out for dinner.

‘If they have a really big menu’

“If a restaurant has a giant, multi-page menu that’s a gigantic red flag. The longer the menu, the better the odds that you’re paying to eat a boiled bag frozen meal. Conversely, if a restaurant has a one-page menu that’s usually a pretty good sign, it means their line cooks have become specialists and can usually nail all the dishes listed.”

‘If the staff don’t seem to like each other’

“I always [base a good restaurant on] how the staff interact with each other. If they all seem to enjoy being there, and coordinate well, more often than not it’s because everything is running smoothly and they have a good system, which usually means they know what they’re doing and you can expect good food. That’s how it always is for the smaller, family run restaurants I frequent anyway, which I believe always have the best food.”

‘If your food arrives too quickly’

“If you order a meal that should take a long time to cook and it comes out very quickly. It’s been pre-cooked. This applies mostly to quiet nights. If it’s quiet and it comes out immediately it’s just been sitting there. But if it’s busy than there’s enough turnover that it’s likely alright and chefs are just being prepared.”

‘If the presentation isn’t nice’

“Presentation is a big thing. Even the cheapest greasy spoon should be taking a couple seconds to make it look nice. If you see your meal look like utter dog crap, the kitchen crew doesn’t care about the little things, which means they likely don’t care about the bigger things like food safety.”

‘If the bathroom isn’t clean’

“Not a chef but a friend of mine is a health inspector and he says if the bathroom isn’t clean, the kitchen is invariably not clean as well. The first place he checks is the bathroom in every restaurant he eats in, and if it’s dirty he walks right back out. I guess it’s just something that is easily overlooked by restaurant staff and indicative of lenient management in regards to cleaning.”

‘If there aren’t enough staff’

“Pay attention to the size of the seating area versus how many servers are on the floor. If it’s a large busy restaurant with lots of tables and only a couple of people serving, don’t bother eating there. That’s your first clue that the owners are cheap, and will happily sacrifice quality for a couple extra bucks.”

‘If it’s open 24/7’

“If the restaurant is open seven days a week, chances are your food is being negligently prepared by a burnt out chef, your vegetables are not being washed properly and more than likely everything is old because it was prepared in huge batches that are then frozen.”

‘If all the food looks uniform and identical’

“Food items that look uniform in size, shape and consistency are not made on site, but ordered in, frozen, and then thawed and heated. It’s somewhat usual in places that serve large quantities of food in a short period of time, like lunch buffet places, but shouldn’t be in a la carte places. A decent restaurant takes pride in actually cooking everything they serve and try to avoid processed crap as much as possible.”

Source: https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/worklife/a27542106/chefs-share-red-flags-restaurant/

Summer 2019 will break airline travel records, experts predict

The airline industry’s U.S. trade group is predicting another record for summer travel.

Airlines for America forecast Tuesday that 257.4 million people will fly on U.S. carriers between June 1 and Aug. 31.

That’s a 3.4 percent increase over last summer, and it works out to about 2.8 million travelers a day.

The trade group says airlines are adding 111,000 seats per day, more than the predicted 93,000 increase in daily passengers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the average inflation-adjusted price for a domestic ticket has dropped for four straight years to the lowest level since the agency began tracking the fare prices in 1995. But those numbers don’t include all the extra fees that airlines now charge.

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/travel/summer-2019-airline-travel-records-predict

Cherry blossom-seekers spur Japan tourism in April to record high

The number of foreign visitors to Japan in April rose 0.9 percent from a year earlier to 2,926,700, marking a record high for any month, government data showed Tuesday.

The increase was partly due to European, American and Australian tourists who took advantage of the Easter vacation, which started in April this year, as well as the result of effective promotion of the country’s cherry blossoms by the tourism industry, explained the Japan Tourism Agency.

But growth in the number of Asian visitors was dented by concerns over the surging cost of airplane tickets and over congestion in tourist spots by domestic travelers caused by the 10-day Golden Week vacation beginning in late April.

Golden Week was extended this year because of Emperor Naruhito’s ascension to the throne.

The total number of foreign travelers in the January to April period reached 10,980,500, up 4.4 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.

By country and region, the highest number of tourists came from China at 2,895,400, up 10.2 percent, on the back of the easing of visa restrictions in January.

The number of visitors from South Korea declined by 4.4 percent to 2,647,400, as did those from Taiwan by 1.0 percent to 1,593,200.

There was substantial growth in the number of visitors from Vietnam and Thailand, with rises of 30.3 percent and 19.4 percent, respectively.

The government has set a target of attracting 40 million foreign visitors in a year by 2020, when Japan hosts the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In order to achieve this goal the Japan Tourism Agency will “seriously analyze each market,” Hiroshi Tabata, commissioner of the agency, said at a news conference.

Source: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/05/21/national/cherry-blossom-seekers-spur-japan-tourism-april-record-high/#.XOT-OUiFPIU

Major drop in tourists’ expenditure

The large inflow of tourists from the Balkans and Eastern Europe in the last 15 years and the absence of an integrated strategic plan to attract higher-income visitors have led to a 30 percent decline in the per capita spending of holidaymakers in Greece over the last few years, according to figures compiled by the Institute of the Greek Tourism Confederation (INSETE). That decline is partly due to the reduction in the average stay by at least one day.

Last year the average per capital expenditure of visitors to Greece amounted to 519.6 euros: Compared to 2005, when average spending was 745.7 euros per trip, expenditure was down 226.1 euros or 30.3 percent.

Almost two-thirds of that reduction (63.2 percent or 143 euros) is attributed to the shortening of the average stay, and 29 percent, or 65.5 euros, to the change in the mix of markets that comprise Greek tourism (i.e. to the fact that Greece now has more visitors from countries with lower disposable incomes).

Considering that 100 euros buys less in 2018 than it did in 2005, due to inflation, the actual reduction of tourists’ spending is even greater.

In Spain, a country with a similar tourist profile, the average daily spending of visitors amounts to 600 euros (adjusted by INSETE for comparison purposes). The difference between Greece and Spain grew significantly from 2016 to 2018. These figures do not include the cost of traveling to the destination country.

INSETE’s general director Ilias Kikilias says that in order to increase tourists’ per capital spending, Greece requires “the creation of a more sophisticated product with higher-quality features that would upgrade the overall experience of the visitor and concern all links of the value chain that make up the tourism product.”

To that end, the country needs “a more efficient management of destinations with specific strategic planning, merging of forces and broader cooperation on a central and local level, along with the modernization of infrastructure for energy sufficiency, cleanliness, policing, healthcare etc so as to cover the requirements of the tourists as well as the inhabitants of this country,” Kikilias added.

Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com/240740/article/ekathimerini/business/major-drop-in-tourists-expenditure