RSS Tourism News

Europe’s Tourism Overload

Is mass tourism causing irreparable damage to some of Europe’s most beautiful locations?

Since the 1960s, when Europe’s middle classes first had the money and time to travel, tourism has shown no signs of slowing down.

Last year, international tourist arrivals increased by another six percent to 1.4 billion globally and the rise now seems exponential. It speaks of increasing prosperity and leisure time for some – still largely a developed-world phenomenon – and a boost for the economies of popular destinations.

But it also carries an environmental cost, particularly for Europe’s most picturesque locations, which are buckling under the weight of ever-growing numbers.

Mass tourism is increasingly fuelled by an exodus of travellers from China, numbers that are set to grow in the years ahead – and there is a growing concern over the price being paid by those living with the influx.

In tourist hotspots, such as Venice, things have become so burdensome for locals that demonstrations against visitors have taken place.

In Dubrovnik, fans of the Game of Thrones series are an increasing problem as they flock to visit locations where scenes of the TV show were filmed but pay little attention to genuine local culture and sensitivities.

On the Mediterranean holiday island of Mallorca, masked activists have smashed the windshields of tourist rental cars in protest against clogged roads and worn-out infrastructure.

In the tiny Austrian Alp town of Hallstatt, a World Heritage Site visited by a million tourists a year, the 800 inhabitants are split.

“A rift arises between those who profit a lot and those who believe they’re not profiting at all,” says Alexander Scheutz, Hallstatt’s mayor, “and that’s dangerous for a village where community is necessary.”

In Flam, a village nestled in the Norwegian fjords, cruise ships are a problem.

“If you worry just a little about the environment, it can’t be good. This is the worst type of travelling,” says Anders Fretheim, a local farmer and activist. He has taken to putting huge placards on his land by the sea, telling the ships and tourists exactly what he thinks of them.

Can these and other communities find their balance in the tide of tourists?

What damage is being caused by the millions of people snapping selfies in front of the pyramids, Buckingham Palace or the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

Can the economic benefits of tourism outweigh its negative effects?

In this episode of People & Power, Danish journalist Michael Reiter asks whether tourism is now out of control.

Source: https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/peopleandpower/2019/10/europe-tourism-overload-191009094716087.html

Collaboration Is Key: Why Tourism Boards Should Be Working With Airports

The expansion of route networks is always a key goal of any airline, but unless aircraft can be filled with passengers, that route will never be a success. We take a look at how airlines, airports and local tourism boards can and should be working together to develop healthy routes that really stimulate tourism.

Tourism and aviation are intrinsically linked

While the launch of a new route is often seen as a deal done between an airline and airport, there is a third even more important partner who needs to be involved. Tourism boards are responsible for stimulating visitor numbers and will have their own needs and strategies which airlines can look to support.

According to IATA, out of 1.4bn tourists crossing borders every year, more than half (57%) will arrive by air. Tourism stimulated by aviation is evaluated to have created approximately 37m jobs worldwide, and to contribute around $897bn a year to global GDP, a share of 10.4%. Between now and 2036, IATA expects this to rise by 3.7% annually.

IATA also point out that, if tourism is well managed with a strong support by air transport, it can reduce poverty levels through stimulated employment and associated benefits. It points to examples of Cabo Verde, Maldives and Samoa, nations which have graduated from Less Developed Countries (LDC) status, driven by the strong growth of aviation supported tourism.

Collaboration is the key to success

Airlines shouldn’t simply launch new services to random destinations. While noting gaps in service provision can be a good starting point, only through close collaboration can that route be assured of success.

By working in collaboration with local tourism boards and authorities, airlines and airports can develop strategies that not only meet the goals of the airline and its passengers but also stimulates tourism to the county in a measured, sustainable way.

Boosting tourist numbers won’t necessarily happen just by laying on a new route. By working alongside tourism boards, airlines can increase public engagement and awareness via well thought out campaigns. On the other side, tourism boards can ensure aviation is in line with economic development planning to drive growth.

Increased numbers of tourists require facilities and infrastructure equipped to handle additional footfall. This ranges from a plentiful supply of hotel rooms to decent airport road and rail networks, again something that will only come about through joined-up working and planning between stakeholders.

How tourism boards can connect with airlines

While tourism boards and airports have become increasingly sophisticated in terms of marketing and promotion, there is often still a gap in communication between them and the airlines which serve their countries. Airlines are more frequently looking to connect beyond the airports alone when considering new routes and are actively seeking to engage with tourism boards to inform and support their development.

One forthcoming event is aiming to take the hard work out of making and maintaining such connections. This months’ AviaDev Europe conference offers a chance for airlines to meet with both airports and their tourism boards to discuss future strategies and kick off route development for the future.

As part of the event, AviaDev will host a special Air Service Development Workshop for Tourism Boards on the first day of the event, 23rd October. Here, tourism boards can develop a better understanding of the process involved in route planning, helping them to work more effectively with airports and to secure connectivity of their destinations.

Hosted by TURISMO VALENCIA, the workshop promises to provide a comprehensive starting point for tourism boards looking to develop their aviation know-how. TURISMO VALENCIA themselves are a prime, working example of how this strategy can pay off. AviaDev is hosting the workshop free of charge for tourism authorities. More information is available at the event website.

Source: https://simpleflying.com/tourism-board-airport-collaboration/

Can Saudi Arabia rebrand itself as a tourism hotspot?

It’s got year-round sunshine. It’s got incredible beaches. It’s got ancient historical sites. It’s got theme parks. It’s got luxury hotels. It’s got adventure. It’s got relaxation. So why isn’t this destination a hotspot for tourists?

Because it’s Saudi Arabia, and until now, unless they were making a religious pilgrimage to Mecca or were in town for business, tourists weren’t exactly lining up to visit. The country’s international reputation as a human rights black spot, its conservative laws that restrict the freedoms of women and the regional tensions that recently resulted in attacks on its oil industry, are not exactly travel brochure selling points. But Saudi Arabia wants all that to change. The Arabic kingdom is throwing its doors wide to international tourism in an attempt to rebrand itself as a travel destination to rival Gulf neighbors like Dubai, Oman and Abu Dhabi.

As of September 27th, travelers from 49 different countries will be able to enter Saudi through an e-visa and visa-on-arrival. Behind the move is a long-term plan to steer the country’s economy away from its reliance on the petrodollars that have flowed since the 1930s. If tourism matches Saudi dreams, millions will come, bringing new jobs, new wealth and, potentially, a whole new way of life.

The Saudis call this plan Vision 2030. In just over a decade, they expect annual visitors to reach 100 million – twice the number of people who currently travel to Italy each year, boosting the local economy to the tune of billions of dollars. “This is a game-changer for the Saudi tourism industry, which previously only catered for international tourists either for religious or corporate purposes,” says Imad Damrah, managing director of real estate agents Colliers International in Saudi Arabia. Will the tourists come though? Much stands between the kingdom and its dream of becoming a popular destination, not least its spotty human rights reputation, heightened after the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul.

Human rights groups like Amnesty International have, as recently as 2018, reported that “authorities severely restricted the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.” Recent drone and cruise missile strikes on Saudi oil facilities have raised new concerns about the security situation in the country, underscoring government travel advisories, like the US State Department’s, which warn visitors to be wary of terrorism and attacks on civilian targets. Saudi authorities won’t respond to direct questions about such issues, preferring to focus on the change ahead. “Saudi Arabia is at the beginning of its journey as a tourism destination,” a spokesperson for the Saudi Commission for Tourism told CNN.

To help pave the way, the country’s leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been enacting a series of cultural reforms, restricting the powers of its religious police, allowing mixed gender pop concerts and issuing driver’s licenses to women. The country is also throwing huge sums of money at “giga” developments like the Red Sea Project, a plan to transform a huge area of Saudi’s western coast into an uber luxurious desert, island and mountain resort with its own airport. “The Kingdom is investing heavily in tourism infrastructure,” says John Pagano, CEO of the Red Sea Development Company, which is overseeing the development. The 28,000 square kilometer Red Sea Project alone is projected to create 35,000 direct jobs and 35,000 indirect jobs, and contribute an estimated $5.8 billion per year to the kingdom’s economy, says Pagano.

Two other mega-developments are also in the works to draw leisure travelers. The vast $500 billion metropolis of Neom will span three countries and is intended as an automated tech paradise where people move around using self-driving cars and passenger drones. Qiddiya, under construction near Riyadh, is billed as the world’s biggest entertainment city. It has already lined up a Six Flags theme park that will feature what’s claimed to be the planet’s fastest roller coaster. The country can also capitalize on its extensive historic and geological attractions. Saudi Arabia is home to five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the 10,000-year-old Rock Art in Hail; Al-Ahsa, the largest oasis in the world; Al-Hijr Archeological Site; the citadel of At-Turaif District; and Jeddah Old Town. It also has experience in installing modern transport links, with recent upgrades to the network built to handle the Hajj, an annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia that attracts over two million people.

Comparisons to the dramatic transformation of Saudi’s UAE neighbours – now seen as well-established tourism destinations catering to a variety of budgets and interests – are inevitable, but experts say that while there will be some overlap, they’re not necessarily catering to the same markets. “Saudi Arabia will never outshine Dubai, but I don’t think it wants to,” says Kevin Newton, executive director of Newton Analytical, a company that provides analysis on the Islamic world. “It wants to focus on family-friendly activities. This helps build Saudi Arabia’s reputation with the Muslim world, but also shows that the country is so much more than oil and the Hajj.” Newton says Saudi officials know that their initial market will be other Muslim countries. “That does not mean that Westerners – or anyone else, for that matter – are being ignored,” he adds. “Because of the Hajj, many Saudis in the hospitality industry already have a number of skills that can quickly apply to more general tourism, principal among them proficiency in English.

“Given that the promotional material for Neom features women wearing Western workout and leisure attire, it is clear that Saudi Arabia is seeking to attract a professional class of tourist who would otherwise frequent Dubai.” Yet will all of Saudi Arabia’s recent controversies harm the country’s goal of becoming a tourist hub? “Yes and no,” says Newton. On the one hand, he adds, a controversial reputation is never good for tourism. “On the other hand, Saudi Arabia is aware that the world has a short memory.

“Right now, Saudi Arabia’s decision to list [Saudi national oil company] Aramco publicly is gaining much more traction than any lingering stories about the Khashoggi assassination.” Several major challenges stand in the way, Newton continues. This includes Saudi Arabia’s ban on alcohol, which other Gulf Cooperation Council states allow. “Also, while considerable progress has been made in the past two years, women’s rights are still not on par with international standards,” he adds. Tourism will be driven by more adventurous types, continues Newton. “Luckily they have the potential to be more likely to spend more, and Saudi Arabia still has a lot to offer them beyond another stamp in their passport.”

Laura Alho, a Finnish expat and travel influencer based in Saudi Arabia, is one of these adventurous travelers. Alho moved to Saudi Arabia in 2008, despite everyone telling her not to go, she says. “The image of KSA was not very positive back then, but I decided to go and find out for myself what it’s really like, instead of listening to the opinions of people who had never even been there,” she adds. “Saudi Arabia is one of the last unexplored regions on Earth. Full of history, unique culture, and diverse landscapes,” she says. “The fact it felt mysterious and unexplored appealed to me as well. From the very first day I arrived in Saudi, I began exploring, and haven’t stopped to this day.”Alho shares her Saudi-focused travels on social media to nearly 63,000 followers, and says that curiosity around KSA has been growing.”I get contacted almost daily by people interested in traveling to Saudi Arabia.”

Marc Nouss, a Paris-based travel photographer and social media influencer, has traveled to Saudi Arabia twice on sponsored press trips. “I was a bit full of stereotypes regarding the country, so I had only good surprises,” says Nouss, who shared his travels to 100k followers. Nouss visited the historic desert of Al-Ula and the mountains of Al-Soudah. “The kindness of the people living there was the most beautiful. I travel a lot but this country is on my top two for the kindness of its inhabitants,” he says. “Saudi Arabia is preparing to open tourism to visitors,” adds Nouss. “This is pretty obvious. And honestly they will do well, as this country is rich in culture and history.” 

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/saudi-arabia-rebrand-tourism/index.html

Thomas Cook: tourism experts explain the travel company’s collapse

The shock of Thomas Cook’s collapse may create reverberations that travel much further than the 150,000 holidaymakers who are reportedly stranded overseas or the many people who have already paid for travel with the company. The impact of Thomas Cook’s failure is even more stark because the company’s 19th-century founder was the father of package holidays, taking the first group of travellers abroad in 1855.

On the bright side there is a scheme in place to help them. When tourists buy their holiday as a package the law requires that it is protected. ATOL is a UK scheme, which was first introduced in 1973, that covers most air package holidays and some forward booked flights sold by UK operators. 

The ATOL scheme currently provides protection for more than 20m travellers each year. The benefits of ATOL are far reaching and include bringing stranded tourists back to the UK if the company they bought their package from goes into liquidation while they are overseas or will compensate or find alternative packages if the company fails before the traveller goes overseas. 

The term package is important because if a traveller purchases, say a flight only, from a travel agent or directly from an airline and is issued with a valid ticket, this is outside the scope of ATOL. So independent travellers (people who book the different components of their holidays would not be covered by ATOL unless the flight or hotel element explicitly states that it is ATOL protected). ATOL is funded through a levy on travel businesses of £2.50 per traveller and it is operated by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulator and the funds are held by an organisation called the Air Travel Trust.

The ATOL protection was introduced in response to several major travel business failures, which left British travellers stranded overseas, but to date has not had to cope with a failure on the scale of this Thomas Cook one. The major task of organising the repatriation of so many people, code name “Operation Matterhorn”, has meant that the government (through the CAA) has had to hire planes from as far away as Malaysia to help transport not just the holidaymakers but also the thousands of staff who are also stranded overseas. This is the largest peacetime repatriation the UK has ever undertaken, and it is inevitable that there will be delays and problems during the operation that is being hastily put together.

Although the company’s products are ATOL protected there are limits to the cover and to many people who had planned their vacations, the financial costs are only a part of the problem. For instance, there are people who were travelling to get married, attend funerals or other significant functions who may not be able to easily make alternative arrangements and if events are cancelled there will be costs not covered by ATOL.

As with most things, there is rarely a single cause for such a big failure. This can be seen as a perfect storm for Thomas Cook. It was already stretched from earlier operational changes, some of which can be taken back to its merger with MyTravel Group in 2007 and others that demonstrate the changing nature of travel throughout the 21st century. 

This changing nature also includes the growing intensity of competition in the travel-related sector. Tourism businesses operate on high volume sales with small profit margins – that is to say they need to fill seats on planes and rooms in hotels to make a profit. One empty seat is dead weight and eats into whatever slim profits are derived from all the other seats and rooms sold. 

While the ultimate responsibility for the business failure of Thomas Cook must rest with the hands of its management, they faced a number of factors outside their control. The effects of the Brexit discussions, together with a poor economic growth rate, have resulted in a much weaker pound. This has meant higher costs for the overseas travel industry, putting even greater pressure on their already slender profit margins. 

The size of Thomas Cook brings the obvious advantages of economies of large-scale production. But while it may prosper in growing business environments, with a declining market and increased competition from the rapid growth of AirBnB and numerous specialist travel agencies and tour operators, size can become a burden. The vagaries of the UK’s weather also played a part, with record temperatures fuelling a rise in staycations and curtailing demand in a market with ever-increasing sources of supply.

Source: http://theconversation.com/thomas-cook-tourism-experts-explain-the-travel-companys-collapse-124054

Too Many People Want to Travel

Late in May, the Louvre closed. The museum’s workers walked out, arguing that overcrowding at the home of the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo had made the place dangerous and unmanageable. “The Louvre suffocates,” the workers’ union said in a statement written in French, citing the “total inadequacy” of the museum’s facilities to manage the high volume of visitors.

Half a world away, a conga line of mountaineers waited to approach the summit of Mount Everest, queued up on a knife’s-edge ridge, looking as if they had chosen to hit the DMV at lunchtime. A photograph of the pileup went viral; nearly a dozen climbers died, with guides and survivors arguing that overcrowding at the world’s highest peak was a primary cause, if not the only one.

Such incidents are not isolated. Crowds of Instagrammers caused a public-safety debacle during a California poppy super bloom. An “extreme environmental crisis” fomented a “summer of action” against visitors to the Spanish island of Mallorca. Barcelona and Venice and Reykjavik and Dubrovnik, inundated. Beaches in Thailand and Mexico and the Philippines, destroyed. Natural wonders from the Sierra Nevadas to the Andes, jeopardized. Religious sites from Cambodia to India to Rome, damaged.

This phenomenon is known as overtourism, and like breakfast margaritas on an all-inclusive cruise, it is suddenly everywhere. A confluence of macroeconomic factors and changing business trends have led more tourists crowding to popular destinations. That has led to environmental degradation, dangerous conditions, and the immiseration and pricing-out of locals in many places. And it has cities around the world asking one question: Is there anything to be done about being too popular?

Locals have, of course, complained about tourists since time immemorial, and the masses have disrespected, thronged, and vandalized wonders natural and fabricated for as long as they have been visiting them. But tourism as we know it was a much more limited affair until recent decades. Through the early 19th century, travel for personal fulfillment was the provenance of “wealthy nobles and educated professionals” only, people for whom it was a “demonstrative expression of their social class, which communicated power, status, money and leisure,” as one history of tourism notes. It was only in the 1840s that commercialized mass tourism developed, growing as the middle class grew.

If tourism is a capitalist phenomenon, overtourism is its demented late-capitalist cousin: selfie-stick deaths, all-you-can-eat ships docking at historic ports, stag nights that end in property crimes, the live-streaming of the ruination of fragile natural habitats, et cetera. There are just too many people thronging popular destinations—30 million visitors a year to Barcelona, population 1.6 million; 20 million visitors to Venice, population 50,000. La Rambla and the Piazza San Marco fit only so many people, and the summertime now seems like a test to find out just how many that is.

The root cause of this surge in tourism is macroeconomic. The middle class is global now, and tens of millions of people have acquired the means to travel over the past few decades. China is responsible for much of this growth, with the number of overseas trips made by its citizens rising from 10.5 million in 2000 to an estimated 156 million last year. But it is not solely responsible. International-tourist arrivals around the world have gone from a little less than 70 million as of 1960 to 1.4 billion today: Mass tourism, again, is a very new thing and a very big thing.

Business trends have also contributed to turning paradise to paradise lost. Cruise vacations are vastly more popular than they once were, with the diesel-belching vessels disgorging thousands of passengers at a time onto port towns. Supercheap airlines using satellite airports have dramatically cut the cost of hopscotching around Europe, the Americas, and Asia, encouraging travelers to take 1 billion flights on budget airlines every year. And platforms such as Airbnb have increased the supply of rentable rooms in cities from Rio to Delhi, reducing search friction for travelers, boosting cities’ carrying capacity, and bumping up rents for existing residents—an estimated 4 percent in Barcelona, for instance.Social media are at work, too, with apps such as Instagram leading tourists to pitch over cliffs and clog vital roadways in search of the perfect pic, and sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor making restaurants, museums, and beaches discoverable and thus ruinable. Overtourism itself is a media phenomenon as much as it is anything else. The word catapulted into common use in 2017, with wall-to-wall coverage of the problems in Venice, Bali, and elsewhere helping to drive the global backlash against tourists as well as the backlash to the backlash.

As for the backlash to the backlash: Some concerns about overtourism seem enormously overblown, and many local complaints about visitors are shot through with classism and racism. The majority of tourist destinations have no problem with the number of visitors they receive—would it even be possible for Orlando or Vegas to be over-touristed, logistically or spiritually? Travelers and their foreign direct investment remain a vital lifeblood for tiny Italian towns and big American parks and thousands of places in between. And while many sites are inarguably overcrowded, very few cities and towns are; the problem is mostly one of beaches and blocks and buildings, not of neighborhoods or regions.

There’s too much of a good thing in some of these spots, and mayors and city councils are doing their part to take it away. A number of places have implemented or expanded or proposed tourist taxes, among them Amsterdam, Bali, Edinburgh, Ireland, Rome, and Venice. These levies on hotels and day trips both reduce the number of visitors to a given place and provide it with revenue to improve infrastructure and defray the damage that tourists inevitably cause. Governments are also rolling out regulations, such as bans on tour buses in Rome and gating-and-ticketing in Barcelona. Those kinds of measures stand to become more important in the coming years, as the global middle class gets bigger, social media more ubiquitous, and travel cheaper.

These phenomena inevitably mean more complaints from locals, and more damage and lines and selfies and bad behavior. But they also mean more cross-cultural exposure, more investment, more global connection, more democratization of travel, and perhaps more awe and wonder. Even overtourism has its upsides.

Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/crowds-tourists-are-ruining-popular-destinations/590767/

Russia Considers Ways To Boost Tourism – OpEd

On the eve of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF-2019), government officials and tourism experts have been looking at systematic ways to remove barriers, adopt marketing strategies to improve the current inbound tourism figures and get effective institutional organizations to promote Russia’s image.

The SPIEF-2019, which has the theme ‘Creating a Sustainable Development Agenda,’ will take place on June 6-8 in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city after Moscow, with 5 million inhabitants in 2012.

The official opening ceremony of the Forum on June 6 will be attended by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Eurasian Economic Commission Chairman of the Board Tigran Sargsyan, President of Moldova Igor Dodon, and Russian First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov. The meeting will be moderated by NBC News correspondent Keir Simmons.

According to Olga Golodets, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, each year, the tourism industry adds points of interest. There was an up of almost 15 percent in 2018. The domestic tourism flows totalled 60 million people. Inbound tourism to the Russian Federation was just over 24 million.

Golodets strongly believes that infrastructure development drives tourism. She gave the example of the improvement of infrastructure in the Crimea, Russia’s newly created autonomous region.

“Any infrastructural changes or transport changes immediately lead to an increase in the flow of tourism. With the construction of the Crimean Bridge, we see how much the flow of tourism has increased to the Republic of Crimea over the last year – by 29%. Crimea ranked the fifth region in the Russian Federation in terms of the number of winter visits, the flow of tourists is changing following changes in infrastructure,” says Golodets.

The industry’s development is primarily due to the public-private partnership scheme and better business climate that has encouraged and attracted foreign hotels. The number of hotels has increased by 40 times, the number of restaurants has also grown by 25 times, and the number of items on display has increased by several dozen times, observes Oleg Kuvshinnikov, Governor of Vologda Region and Chairman of the Healthy Cities, Districts, and Villages Association.

Some state officials argue that tourism infrastructure remained underdeveloped due to poor investment. Besides, there were shortcomings in the regulatory framework for investment control by the Russian government. Due to constraints, says Sergey Galkin, Deputy Minister of Economic Development, “there is a disastrous lack of investment in infrastructure”.

Increasing investment efficiency and enhancing the level of interagency and interregional collaboration are necessary for creating some models in the industry, according to the Deputy Minister.

“As for a model, it should include an interagency component because tourism is not actually a single industry, but an assembly of elements from various industries. And here, interagency collaboration is a key element of success,” Galkin points out.

One of the problems is the low profit margin of the tourism business. “The concessional lending program, unfortunately, is not working as we would like.” The figure stood at 6.5 percent, now it stands at 8.5 percent. Investments have been paying for about 10 years. But these are far form “entirely effective,” says Sergey Kirvonsov, Deputy Chairman, Committee of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on Physical Culture, Sport, Tourism, and Youth Affairs.

“Business has seen a catastrophic increase in costs, and we are all adding to the product. And we are becoming uncompetitive. As a result, Sochi and Crimea are starting to lose out to Turkey. The resort tax and its administration have been shifted onto the shoulders of business,” notes Aleksey Kozhevnikov, Senior Vice President, Russian Export Center (REC).

“We came up with the ‘Green Corridor for Tourists’ program. It’s a green corridor for business. We have developed a whole system of benefits: they include tax breaks, a reduction in the service delivery time, support for investment projects, and free connection to utilities,” says Alexander Drozdenko, Governor of Leningrad Region.

Expert research shows that foreign tourists are increasingly interested in luxury hotels and resorts with perfect service, well-trained and dedicated workforce with passion for service excellence, a charming and fascinating mixture of Russian culture and modern life, good infrastructure with wonderful road networks and airports.

The general lack of knowledge and information about Russia’s tourism destinations continues to be a major challenge. What seems to be important now is identifying priorities in the tourism sector. Russia is a huge country, but its resources are limited. There is no way to develop all 85 regions within a short period.

“You can create a tourism product from Russia that can satisfy any demand as a promising unique tourist destination. We must not miss-out on the wave of the 2018 World Cup legacy. These opportunities need to be used in the most concentrated way possible,” suggests Zarina Doguzova, Head of the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism.

The World Cup fans arrived from the United States, Europe and Asia to Russia. According to some statistics, about five million foreigners visited the country over this period from June 14 through July 15, 2018 – the highest number among foreigners were fans from the United States, Brazil and Germany.

Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, during her weekly media briefing, expressed great satisfaction and added that the Ministry continued receiving messages about the enthusiasm regarding the organization of the World Cup, the atmosphere surrounding the event, infrastructure and the country in general.

According to official reports released by the Presidential Press Service and the Presidential Executive Office, the initiative was crafted to promote public diplomacy and raise Russia’s image abroad.

Referring to the opening of the World Cup, President Vladimir Putin said: “We prepared responsibly for this major event and did our best so that fans could immerse themselves in the atmosphere of a magnificent football festival and, of course, enjoy their stay in Russia – open, hospitable, friendly Russia – and find new friends, new like-minded people.”

As a further step, the Russian Foreign Ministry has also signed bilateral visa-free travel agreements with Asian countries, for example, China, Japan and South Korea, and with more than ten Latin American countries to promote the tourism industry.

According to officials, it “opens wide possibilities for the development of business, cultural, humanitarian and tourist contacts” and Moscow plans to take further steps to expand the geography of visa-free travel for Russian nationals and foreigners.

Source:https://www.eurasiareview.com/04062019-russia-considers-ways-to-boost-tourism-oped/

As Tourism Booms, Amsterdam Shifts to Damage Control

Earlier this month, a report from the Netherlands Tourist Board announced a remarkable policy change: Acknowledging that “more is not always better,” the board will no longer actively promote its country as a tourist destination. Instead, straining under the pressure of a booming tourism scene, the board will focus on redistributing the visitors it already has, operating as a sort of tourism damage control for popular vacation hotspots.

It seems that barely a week goes by in Amsterdam without some new push to contain the travel industry. Also this month, the city announced a ban on tour groups in the Red Light District, where they have been causing frustration by coming solely to gawp. After a previous ban on beer bikes, the city considered (but then rejected) banning drinking on boats to prevent noise and nuisance on the canals. And things have reached such a head that, last winter, the city removed the famous “I Amsterdam” sign from outside the Rijksmuseum because people were sick of the gridlock it created as tourists flocked to get a good selfie.

These smaller fights have some heftier policies backing them up, too.

In 2016, Amsterdam imposed a “hotel stop,” which barred approval for more hotel rooms in the city. It also tightened the reins on Airbnb, reducing its 60-night-a-year cap for Airbnb rentals down to 30 nights. Last winter, it introduced an €8 charge for cruise passengers arriving in the harbor.

Amsterdam, it might appear, has reached a tipping point, and is trying hard to bring tourism under control. Look more closely, however, and a paradox emerges.

Amsterdam and the Netherlands may be frantically trying to limit tourist excesses and preserve livability for locals, but they’re also pursuing policies that make further tourist growth ever easier. Greater Amsterdam is in fact going through a hotel boom, including in the city itself. Meanwhile, airports in the region are due for substantial expansion, and a vast new cruise terminal nearby is on the way.

The desire for control is there, but it’s warring with a push for growth that can only serve to further inflate the tourist bubble. Zoom in on the issues and a complex picture emerges of one step forward, one step back.

The wrong crowd

Amsterdam’s charm has long attracted visitors, but the city’s popularity has recently spiked. After a 13 percent increase in overnight stays in 2017, and 7 percent in 2018, the city saw just under 17 million visitors last year. That’s no small number for a city of 830,000 residents.“The new tourists are the status seekers, who travel because it’s good for the way other people perceive them.”

The crowds that flock to Amsterdam can be rowdier than most. Easily available weed, throbbing bars, and a high-profile sex industry have long attracted a bachelor party crowd to Amsterdam, especially from the British Isles. Not all these visitors are that bad, but many still seem intent on turning the Oudezijds Voorburgwal canal into a torrent of spew. Amsterdam is traditionally a laid-back place, but tolerance has thinned. People who think terminal drunkenness is standard local behavior need a reality check, says Geerte Udo, director of amsterdam&partners, a public-private non-profit that functions as the city’s main marketing body.

“If you respect the city’s rituals and you’re really interested in what it has to show, there’s a huge way for you to participate in our whole system,” Udo told CityLab. “For the rest, it doesn’t necessarily matter whether you visit Amsterdam, Barcelona, or a Thai island—you should respect local tradition, and clean up behind your ass, so to speak. Walking the streets beer-in-hand is not what [Amsterdam] locals do, nor is smoking pot on the street or a terrace. We have coffee shops for that.”

To spread the message, amsterdam&partners launched a high-profile “Enjoy and Respect” campaign last year, informing visitors of local customs, rules, and penalties. For many, however, there’s more amiss with contemporary tourism than rowdiness alone.

“You could say quality tourism people travel because they’re inquisitive and want to learn,” says Stephen Hodes, founder of local tourism think tank Amsterdam in Progress. “Unfortunately, that kind of tourism is on the downward trend. The new tourists are the status seekers, who travel because it’s good for the way other people perceive them. They’re people who go to sites, take a selfie first to show they’ve have been there, and otherwise aren’t interested.”

This might be annoying, but you can’t legislate against disinterest. What you can do, Udo says, is channel and distribute people more effectively. Even people who say they want an authentic local experience can fall unwittingly into a tourist rut. People who want to be responsible can, for example, cause hold-ups by riding bikes during morning rush hour.“There isn’t a hope in hell of our problems being solved in the near future.”

“If you look at factual data, people behave very much alike,” she says. “Many people go to the Van Gogh Museum in the morning, and on a canal boat in the afternoon. That puts pressure on the city at certain places in certain moments, which can end up creating collisions with the locals.”

The city is thus in the process of tailoring its “I Amsterdam” app to match suggestions to visitors’ tastes, and recommend activities at times when they’re not normally full of people.O

This seems sensible, but is this focus on visitor behavior realistic, or entirely fair? While Amsterdam attempts to manage tourist flows, some aspects of both national and local government policy serve to pump ever more visitors into the city. In 2020, Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport will expand to host a further 50,000 flights a year, making yet more room by shunting low-cost carriers to tiny Lelystad Airport,which is currently closed but set to reopen on a far larger scale in 2020.

This revamped overflow airport, of which the city of Amsterdam owns 20 percent, will also host some new flights, something that is required by E.U. competition law. Meanwhile, cruise ships will soon be able to dock at a vastly expanded cruise terminal (probably 24 miles away at IJmuiden, although the location has not yet been confirmed) one that’s capable of hosting ships containing 6,000 or more passengers. This new terminal may save inner Amsterdam some pollution, but could also increase cruise passenger numbers to 770,000 annually by 2030, almost three times the 2015 figure of 280,000 a year. Hodes says he can’t believe that this could be seen as a benefit to the city.

“[Cruise ships] pollute the environment, their passengers spend the lowest amount of any kind of tourists coming to Amsterdam, and they travel in large groups,” he says. “What’s the idea behind encouraging this?”

Meanwhile, despite the hotel stop, new hotel room construction in the city continues apace, with a total of 8,133 new rooms still due in the coming years. These rooms aren’t limited by the hotel stop because their licenses were granted before it was introduced. With a further 14,000 rooms currently in planning for the outer suburbs, Greater Amsterdam’s overnight accommodation will ultimately rise by 63 percent. Amsterdam has seen a modest drop of 5 percent in Airbnb bookings, but its difficulties in ensuring listings obey the rules means that the city’s control of tourist accommodation is tenuous at best.

The forces pumping up the city’s tourist industry are so great that some campaigners are beginning to despair. Since talking to CityLab, Stephen Hode of Amsterdam in Progress has announced that he is closing the think tank down, discouraged by what he sees as a lack of municipal will to actually improve things.

“I’ve had meetings with the mayor and with city aldermen and civil servants focused on tourism,” he says. “I’ve come to the conclusion that the degree of denial is so unbelievable that there isn’t a hope in hell of our problems being solved in the near future—and that no one has any real intention of doing anything about it.”

Amsterdam isn’t alone in facing these issues, and while the measures it has tried may not be enough, it has still tried much harder than many other cities to alleviate the situation. A time will still come when both the city and its country may have to make some tough choices in order to reconcile a desire for livability with a desire for growth. And if that time isn’t now, it’s probably soon.

Source: https://www.citylab.com/life/2019/05/amsterdam-tourism-travel-tips-vacation-cruise-hotels-airbnb/590221/

As Tourism Booms, Amsterdam Shifts to Damage Control

Earlier this month, a report from the Netherlands Tourist Board announced a remarkable policy change: Acknowledging that “more is not always better,” the board will no longer actively promote its country as a tourist destination. Instead, straining under the pressure of a booming tourism scene, the board will focus on redistributing the visitors it already has, operating as a sort of tourism damage control for popular vacation hotspots.

It seems that barely a week goes by in Amsterdam without some new push to contain the travel industry. Also this month, the city announced a ban on tour groups in the Red Light District, where they have been causing frustration by coming solely to gawp. After a previous ban on beer bikes, the city considered (but then rejected) banning drinking on boats to prevent noise and nuisance on the canals. And things have reached such a head that, last winter, the city removed the famous “I Amsterdam” sign from outside the Rijksmuseum because people were sick of the gridlock it created as tourists flocked to get a good selfie.

These smaller fights have some heftier policies backing them up, too.

In 2016, Amsterdam imposed a “hotel stop,” which barred approval for more hotel rooms in the city. It also tightened the reins on Airbnb, reducing its 60-night-a-year cap for Airbnb rentals down to 30 nights. Last winter, it introduced an €8 charge for cruise passengers arriving in the harbor.

Amsterdam, it might appear, has reached a tipping point, and is trying hard to bring tourism under control. Look more closely, however, and a paradox emerges.

Amsterdam and the Netherlands may be frantically trying to limit tourist excesses and preserve livability for locals, but they’re also pursuing policies that make further tourist growth ever easier. Greater Amsterdam is in fact going through a hotel boom, including in the city itself. Meanwhile, airports in the region are due for substantial expansion, and a vast new cruise terminal nearby is on the way.
The desire for control is there, but it’s warring with a push for growth that can only serve to further inflate the tourist bubble. Zoom in on the issues and a complex picture emerges of one step forward, one step back.

The wrong crowd

Amsterdam’s charm has long attracted visitors, but the city’s popularity has recently spiked. After a 13 percent increase in overnight stays in 2017, and 7 percent in 2018, the city saw just under 17 million visitors last year. That’s no small number for a city of 830,000 residents.“The new tourists are the status seekers, who travel because it’s good for the way other people perceive them.”

The crowds that flock to Amsterdam can be rowdier than most. Easily available weed, throbbing bars, and a high-profile sex industry have long attracted a bachelor party crowd to Amsterdam, especially from the British Isles. Not all these visitors are that bad, but many still seem intent on turning the Oudezijds Voorburgwal canal into a torrent of spew. Amsterdam is traditionally a laid-back place, but tolerance has thinned. People who think terminal drunkenness is standard local behavior need a reality check, says Geerte Udo, director of amsterdam&partners,a public-private non-profit that functions as the city’s main marketing body.

“If you respect the city’s rituals and you’re really interested in what it has to show, there’s a huge way for you to participate in our whole system,” Udo told CityLab. “For the rest, it doesn’t necessarily matter whether you visit Amsterdam, Barcelona, or a Thai island—you should respect local tradition, and clean up behind your ass, so to speak. Walking the streets beer-in-hand is not what [Amsterdam] locals do, nor is smoking pot on the street or a terrace. We have coffee shops for that.”

To spread the message, amsterdam&partners launched a high-profile “Enjoy and Respect” campaign last year, informing visitors of local customs, rules, and penalties. For many, however, there’s more amiss with contemporary tourism than rowdiness alone.

“You could say quality tourism people travel because they’re inquisitive and want to learn,” says Stephen Hodes, founder of local tourism think tank Amsterdam in Progress. “Unfortunately, that kind of tourism is on the downward trend. The new tourists are the status seekers, who travel because it’s good for the way other people perceive them. They’re people who go to sites, take a selfie first to show they’ve have been there, and otherwise aren’t interested.”

This might be annoying, but you can’t legislate against disinterest. What you can do, Udo says, is channel and distribute people more effectively. Even people who say they want an authentic local experience can fall unwittingly into a tourist rut. People who want to be responsible can, for example, cause hold-ups by riding bikes during morning rush hour.“There isn’t a hope in hell of our problems being solved in the near future.”

“If you look at factual data, people behave very much alike,” she says. “Many people go to the Van Gogh Museum in the morning, and on a canal boat in the afternoon. That puts pressure on the city at certain places in certain moments, which can end up creating collisions with the locals.”

The city is thus in the process of tailoring its “I Amsterdam” app to match suggestions to visitors’ tastes, and recommend activities at times when they’re not normally full of people.

Opening the gates

This seems sensible, but is this focus on visitor behavior realistic, or entirely fair? While Amsterdam attempts to manage tourist flows, some aspects of both national and local government policy serve to pump ever more visitors into the city. In 2020, Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport will expand to host a further 50,000 flights a year, making yet more room by shunting low-cost carriers to tiny Lelystad Airport,which is currently closed but set to reopen on a far larger scale in 2020.

This revamped overflow airport, of which the city of Amsterdam owns 20 percent, will also host some new flights, something that is required by E.U. competition law. Meanwhile, cruise ships will soon be able to dock at a vastly expanded cruise terminal (probably 24 miles away at IJmuiden, although the location has not yet been confirmed) one that’s capable of hosting ships containing 6,000 or more passengers. This new terminal may save inner Amsterdam some pollution, but could also increase cruise passenger numbers to 770,000 annually by 2030, almost three times the 2015 figure of 280,000 a year. Hodes says he can’t believe that this could be seen as a benefit to the city.

“[Cruise ships] pollute the environment, their passengers spend the lowest amount of any kind of tourists coming to Amsterdam, and they travel in large groups,” he says. “What’s the idea behind encouraging this?”

Meanwhile, despite the hotel stop, new hotel room construction in the city continues apace, with a total of 8,133 new rooms still due in the coming years. These rooms aren’t limited by the hotel stop because their licenses were granted before it was introduced. With a further 14,000 rooms currently in planning for the outer suburbs, Greater Amsterdam’s overnight accommodation will ultimately rise by 63 percent. Amsterdam has seen a modest drop of 5 percent in Airbnb bookings, but its difficulties in ensuring listings obey the rules means that the city’s control of tourist accommodation is tenuous at best.

The forces pumping up the city’s tourist industry are so great that some campaigners are beginning to despair. Since talking to CityLab, Stephen Hode of Amsterdam in Progress has announced that he is closing the think tank down, discouraged by what he sees as a lack of municipal will to actually improve things.
“I’ve had meetings with the mayor and with city aldermen and civil servants focused on tourism,” he says. “I’ve come to the conclusion that the degree of denial is so unbelievable that there isn’t a hope in hell of our problems being solved in the near future—and that no one has any real intention of doing anything about it.”
Amsterdam isn’t alone in facing these issues, and while the measures it has tried may not be enough, it has still tried much harder than many other cities to alleviate the situation. A time will still come when both the city and its country may have to make some tough choices in order to reconcile a desire for livability with a desire for growth. And if that time isn’t now, it’s probably soon.

By: Feargus O’Sullivan – Source:
https://www.citylab.com/life/2019/05/amsterdam-tourism-travel-tips-vacation-cruise-hotels-airbnb/590221/

Climate change can cause problems for ranchers, farmers, and tourism Climate change can cause problems for ranchers, farmers, and tourism

Climate change affects everyone, and in the Black Hills it can cause problems for ranchers, farmers, and the tourism industry.

Scientists have to look at trends over many years to see how the global temperature increases. School of Mines professor Bill Capehart says just because we don’t always see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. USDA growing zones are slowly shifting north, which can cause big changes for what crops can be grown and when. Tourism also plays a large role in the economy of the Black Hills. Warmer summer temperatures might cause people to stay in the area longer, but Capehart warns that climate change could have a negative impact on this industry too.

“The mountain pine beetle is a major concern for us here in the Black Hills. It is harder and harder to freeze them out as the temperatures get higher and higher. That is a huge issue for our tourism economy and also for the safety of our region in respect to wild land fire,” says Capehart.

He also says that small changes from one person won’t solve the problem. He insists that to truly make a difference, large scale changes to energy infrastructure are needed.

Source: https://www.kotatv.com/content/news/Climate-change-can-cause-problems-for-ranchers-farmers-and-tourism-510595591.html

The Mauritian Standard on Sustainable Tourism is now a GSTC-recognized standard

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) announced that the Mauritian Standard on Sustainable Tourism has achieved the ‘GSTC-Recognized Standard’ status.

The Mauritian Standard on Sustainable Tourism (MS 165:2019) was developed to guide the sustainable development of the tourism industry in Mauritius. It is meant for any tourism business or any tourism-related activity to enhance its sustainability performance.

The focus of the Sustainability Tourism Standard is to address requirements of the environmental impacts and its effect on land, air, water and other organism and ecosystem of the island. The social-cultural impacts that affect local communities, social structure and cultures as well as economic impacts categorised as direct, indirect or induced. These requirements to be measured, monitored and evaluated for continual improvement of the sustainability of the tourism industry in Mauritius.

“We are proud to welcome Mauritius as a destination that adopts an integrated approach to sustainable tourism development through comprehensive standards that include all aspects of sustainability: management, social/community, cultural, and environmental,” says Luigi Cabrini, Chair, GSTC. “This is especially important for an island that possesses and offers to their tourists an incredible variety of resources and attractions.”

“This GSTC recognition of our local standard is a testimony of the professional work undertook by the team from the Mauritius Standards Bureau and officers from the Ministry of Tourism and Tourism Authority,” says Khoudijah Boodoo, Director, Mauritius Tourism Authority. “We strongly believe that through this international recognition, the local stakeholders would take the best of advantages to levelling up their operations to meet best sustainability practices. In line with the ‘Sustainable Island – Mauritius Project’, the MS165:2019 has an ever prominent role to play, consolidating our positioning as a high-level tourist destination while ensuring the sustainability of the Industry.”

Yusuf Foondun, Head of Quality Assurance Unit, Mauritius Standards Bureau, says that the Tourism sector has been one of the major economic pillars of Mauritius for a long time. “We believe that adopting the Sustainable Tourism Standard – MS 165:2019 will revamp our image on the international arena as one of the most prestigious tourism destinations which takes care at protecting the biodiversity of the island and preserving its ecological balance, thus ensuring sustainable development of the tourism sector.”

Achieving the GSTC-Recognized status means that a sustainable tourism standard has been reviewed by GSTC technical experts and the GSTC Accreditation Panel and deemed equivalent to the GSTC Criteria for sustainable tourism. Additionally, an organization that meets GSTC requirements must administer the standard. GSTC Recognition does not ensure that the certification process is reliable, only that the set of standards used to certify includes the minimum elements to ensure sustainability. The purpose of the GSTC programs is to use a common and clear definition of what ‘sustainable tourism’ means, as well as to reward genuine practitioners of sustainable tourism, which in turn builds confidence and credibility with consumers.

“Mauritius is a destination of pleasure with the Mauritian hospitality composing of the rainbow and peaceful population originating from India, China, Africa, and Europe. The Sun, Sand, Sea and Pure Air is the strength of our Island, situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean.”

The Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Authority in Mauritius have already endorsed a pilot project for the implementation of the Sustainable Tourism Standard in hotels and tours its certification by the Mauritius Standards Bureau: “The Certification of tourism operators to MS 165:2019 can take a better position in the tourism market to distinguish them from any tourist operators that may be guilty of destroying the environment, society, culture, and economy of the island and the globe.”

To date, 11 destination standards, and 32 hotels and tour operators standards have achieved GSTC-Recognized status. The completion of these step-wise programs rewards standard owners for their commitment to sustainability while offering the market a proof that these standards adhere to international norms.

The GSTC will continue to work with organizations around the world to provide GSTC Recognition of standards for sustainability in travel and tourism. GSTC Recognition does not ensure that a certification process is reliable, only that the set of standards used to certify are equivalent to the GSTC Criteria. GSTC-Recognized standard owners are encouraged to complete the Accreditation process which relates to the quality and neutrality of their certification process. Achieving a GSTC-Accredited status affirms that their certification process follows the highest international standards while further distinguishing their standards and processes amongst other certification programs.

By: Vicky Karantzavelou – Source:
https://www.traveldailynews.com/post/the-mauritian-standard-on-sustainable-tourism-is-now-a-gstc-recognized-standard