India rises to 39th place on World Economic Forum’s tourist destination index

India has ascended to 39th spot on the World Economic Forum Travel & Tourist Development Index 2024 as global tourist activities have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, according to an annual study released recently.

Ranked highest in South Asia and among lower-middle-income economies, India’s climb to the 39th position underscores its growing prominence in the global tourism landscape, despite the US topping the list. In the 2021 ranking, India held the 54th position; however, the index’s comparability to prior years was limited due to modifications made to its standards.

India’s impressive price competitiveness (18th), along with its competitive ground and port infrastructure (25th) and air transport infrastructure (26th), highlights its attractiveness to travellers, as revealed by the index, which was developed in partnership with the University of Surrey. The nation’s robust Natural (6th), Cultural (9th), and Non-Leisure (9th) Resources further enhance its appeal for travellers, positioning India as one of only three countries to rank in the top 10 across all resource pillars, according to the WEF.

India continues to score highly for the sustainability of travel and tourism demand, albeit slightly lower than in 2019, largely attributed to incoming tourists’ longer and more sustainable stays.

India’s travel and tourism sector has faced challenges from global inflationary supply-side trends, resulting in a decline in price competitiveness and a slower recovery of air travel and tourist services infrastructure to 2019 levels. As a consequence, India’s total TTDI (Travel and Tourism Development Index) score is 2.1 percent lower than in 2019.

The index, led by high-income economies in Asia-Pacific and Europe, forecasts a return to pre-pandemic levels for international tourist arrivals and the travel and tourism sector’s contribution to global GDP this year, driven by the lifting of COVID-19-related travel restrictions and strong demand.

International visitor arrivals saw the fastest recovery in the Middle East (20 percent over 2019 levels), with recoveries of about 90 percent in 2023 for the Americas, Europe, and Africa.

Examining the travel and tourism industries of 119 countries using various criteria and regulations, the biennial index showcased US at number one, with the UK amongst the top 10.

VisitBritain’s ‘Showcase Britain 2024’ to host international travel trade educational visits

VisitBritain, the UK tourism agency, is set to host over 120 international travel buyers for educational visits across Britain as part of its flagship event, ‘Showcase Britain 2024.’

The three-to-five-day itineraries, starting from January 27, will span destinations in England, Wales, and Scotland, providing international buyers with firsthand experiences of the latest tourism products and offerings.

Buyers from 18 international markets, including the USA, Australia, China, France, Germany, India, and others, will participate in the educational visits. The initiative aims to showcase the diverse experiences available for visitors across Britain, encouraging the creation of unique travel itineraries and driving bookings.

VisitBritain CEO Patricia Yates said: ‘We are delighted to be showcasing Britain’s outstanding destinations, tourism products and experiences to international buyers, highlighting the very best of our nations and regions to broaden travel itineraries and drive bookings. From the beauty of our coast and countryside, the vibrancy of our cities and cultural attractions to our world-class dining and accommodation, buyers will experience first-hand the quality of our tourism offer alongside the warmest of British welcomes.

‘I know that the international buyers will return home in no doubt about the outstanding quality of tourism products and experiences available right across Britain.’

The ‘Showcase Britain’ trade mission kicks off with a networking event on January 25 at The Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London. International buyers and media will be welcomed by VisitBritain Chairman Nick de Bois CBE and CEO Patricia Yates, providing updates on the latest tourism products, experiences, and accommodations.

VisitBritain’s 2024 international campaigns, including its ‘GREAT Britain’ marketing efforts, will be highlighted during the educational visits. The campaigns aim to inspire visitors to ‘See Things Differently’ by showcasing fresh and exciting experiences alongside a warm British welcome. The buyers will also participate in the ‘Britain & Ireland Marketplace’ (BIM) trade event on January 26 before embarking on their educational tours.

VisitBritain’s forecast for 2024 predicts 39.5 million visits to the UK, a five percent increase from 2023, with anticipated spending reaching £34.1bn, a seven percent increase from the previous year and a 20 percent increase from 2019 levels.

London retains position as a top global travel destination for North American travellers in 2022

London continues to be one of the top destinations for global travellers, particularly North American travellers, with the UK capital reporting its strongest hotel occupancy numbers and flight bookings since the pandemic, London & Partners has said.

The destination celebrated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this past spring with record crowds, entertainment and royal family sightings. Visitors from North America continue to outdo other international markets, ranking London among the top destinations on their travel bucket list.

According to the latest Traveler Insights Report from Expedia Group Media Solutions, London was the third most booked destination globally in the second quarter of 2022 and the second most booked international destination by North American travellers. London also ranked as the number one booked destination for travellers from the Asia Pacific and Europe, Middle East and Africa regions.

Separate research from ForwardKeys reports that North American travellers are showing a strong appetite for visiting London this Autumn, with flight bookings up by 227 percent compared with the same time period last year.

Laura Citron, CEO at London & Partners, which runs Visit London, said: ‘London has been brimming with energy and excitement and it’s fantastic to see visitors from all around the world returning to our city. So far, 2022 has been a massive year for London which saw us celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, as well as the return of major sporting events, festivals, theatre shows and our world-class museums and galleries. We’re seeing a huge pent-up demand for North American travellers to visit London this fall and winter, with lots of opportunities for visitors to enjoy some of our world leading cultural and festive activities for the rest of this year.’

A number of airlines have recently launched new air routes to London making it an easier trip to plan for many. In June, British Airways became the first airline to offer a direct route to London from Portland adding a new route for visitors from the west coast. British Airways also resumed flights from Pittsburgh and San Jose to cater to increased demand. In the first week of August, JetBlue commences flight from Boston to London.

In addition, United Airlines also launched a new Boston to London route in March while increasing frequency of flights to London from Newark, Denver and San Francisco after data showed that London was one of the most booked international destinations, particularly amongst business clientele. In November 2022 Virgin Atlantic will launch its new Tampa to London route for the holiday season. According to latest flight data, on average there are over 100 flights a day from the US to London.

Scotland to promote wellness tourism

Scotland is planning to promote the global movement in the travel industry known as ‘wellness tourism,’ according to VisitScotland.

Valued globally at $639bn in 2017, wellness tourism has grown more than twice as fast as tourism overall with visitors looking for immersive experiences or ways to improve self-development. The annual Trends paper published by the tourism agency examined the ‘global consumer phenomena,’ highlighting a range of micro-trends that can help visitors enhance and maintain their personal wellbeing.

The potential trends for 2019 include: Restorative Recreation, which focuses on Scotland’s beautiful landscapes and scenery highlighting the emotional benefits of ‘ecotherapy’ and long-term, physical health improvements associated with time spent in green spaces; and Creative Retreats, which enables travellers to create lifelong memories – focusing on the role of hobbies, skills development and unique opportunities. The paper suggests ‘writing workshops, artists retreats, outdoor survival schools and cookery courses could all enhance the popularity of a destination.

The other trends include: Trav-agogy, which focuses on the journey of visitors rather than the overall destination. More visitors are looking to learn about the destination, immersing themselves in the local culture or learning about history and heritage; and Green Getaways as more visitors today appreciate the impact travel can have on the environment.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: ‘2019 looks to be another exciting year for tourism with this new paper highlighting the potential for businesses to invest in experiences which are beneficial for people’s health and wellbeing.

‘Whether it’s our fantastic scenery which is encouraging people to experience our great outdoors, or activities like cookery workshops or outdoor retreats which are helping to develop people’s skills, it’s clear that Scotland really does have something for everyone.’

Chris Greenwood, VisitScotland Senior Insights Manager, said: ‘Our annual trends paper is designed to help the tourism sector, showing them what consumers want and inspiring businesses to adapt or develop their products accordingly.

‘Wellness tourism is a trend that’s not going away and is expected to continue growing. With wellness travellers found to be very high-spending, high-yield tourists, there is huge potential for businesses who want to appeal to this market, creating experiences that enlighten the sense and feed the soul. Fortunately, Scotland’s ability to embrace wellness within our visitor economy is embedded within our tourism industry DNA.

‘Tourism is more than a holiday experiences- it is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy and touches every community, generating income, jobs and social change.’

London and Paris launch new campaign to end US vacation procrastination

London and Paris have come together for the first time in tourism history in a bid to end US millennial vacation procrastination, according to a release by London and Partners.

The move comes as a new research found that US millennials are putting off activities compared to any other generation. From getting up in the morning to checking something off their bucket list, American 18-34 year olds are hitting the ‘snooze’ button on their life more than their Generation X and baby boomer counterparts, it said. The most common things that millennials put off include getting up when the alarm goes off as well as calling parents.

More significantly, more millennials are reportedly putting off taking a vacation from work (43 percent) and doing something on their bucket list (55 percent) than any other generation. For 35 years+, 36 percent put off taking a vacation from work and 49 percent put off pursuing things on their bucket list respectively, it said.

Following the findings of the research, London and Paris have come together to encourage people to travel, as only 1 in 10 millennial Americans (eight percent) having visited both cities, while over seven out of 10 (72 percent) have expressed a desire to visit both destinations as part of one vacation. Visit London, Paris Tourist Office and Eurostar are now promoting a campaign which urges US travellers to make #oneepictrip now to discover over 177 Michelin restaurants, 325 museums and galleries, 371 theatres and over 490 nightclubs across the two European capitals, separated by a short rail journey of just over two hours.

Laura Citron, chief executive of Visit London said: ‘Vacation procrastination seems to be a very real problem, with more people than ever putting off taking a break to check experiences off their bucket lists. We want to change that.

‘We know that once people experience London and Paris, they fall in love and want to visit again and again to discover more. Just over 2 hours apart, whether it’s enjoying an Instagrammable afternoon tea at Sketch in central London or hovering over Paris in Ballon Generali; riding down the Champs Elysees in a sidecar with Retro Tour Paris, or zipping up the Thames in a speedboat rib, visitors can flit easily between the two European capitals and uncover all they have to offer.

‘These are destinations that have inspired some of the most prolific minds in the world, from Shakespeare to Monet and that passion and vitality can be felt by all that make the journey.’

Pierre Schapira, Chairman of Paris Tourist Office said: ‘Let’s keep things simple: 2 incredible cities, 2 different cultures, a little more than 2 hours apart by Eurostar. If you’re someone who wants to get the most out of life, why pass up the opportunity to experience London and Paris in one go? With so many experiences on offer, you’ll need a whole lifetime. So, don’t wait! Start checking off those bucket list must-dos now.’

London’s visitor accommodation registers record overnight stays

London’s hotels and other accommodation recorded over 56 million overnight stays last year, more than any other city in Europe, London & Partners has reported citing new research by European Cities Marketing.

London has a flourishing hotel sector with over 140,000 rooms, which is expected to grow over the next few years. According to European Cities Marketing (ECM), London’s visitor accommodation recorded over 41 million overnight stays from international tourists, revealing that the city remains open to visitors from all over the world. Overall London grew seven per cent year-on-year. Paris had the second most number of overnight stays followed by Berlin, Rome, Barcelona, Madrid, Prague, Vienna, Munich and Amsterdam.

For international overnight stays, the list of the cities is the same as compared to 2015. London (+1.3 percent) and Paris (-12.9 percent) are the top two cities with highest number of international bed-nights. The Spanish cities of Barcelona (+8.5 percent) and Madrid (+9.4 percent) had the highest growth in the top 10 list.

Visitors from the USA (11 percent), Germany (nine percent), and UK (nine percent) make up approximately 30 percent of the source markets to European cities. The ECM research reports that that overall European city tourism is growing, with the growth mostly coming from European markets.

Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor of London for Business, said: ‘These sensational figures show London’s enduring appeal as one of the most popular international destinations.

‘With our world-class sport, culture, art, history and architecture, it is not surprising that visitors continue to flock to the capital, proving that London is open to people from all four corners of the world.’

Ignasi de Delas, ECM President, explains: ‘We saw another exceptionally successful year for city tourism in Europe. London and Paris remain by far the two most popular cities in Europe, although there is very strong growth from many other cities. Europe offers tourists an unrivalled array of culture, history and food experiences which, coupled with a diverse accommodation sector, means cities across the continent are hosting more and more travellers.’

VisitBritain and Turkish Airlines partner to attract visitors to Britain

UK tourism board VisitBritain and Turkish Airlines have announced a new global partnership to attract more international visitors to Britain, with a focus across the airline’s five regional airports in the UK including Birmingham.

As part of the partnership, VisitBritain and Turkish Airlines will launch an international marketing campaign over the next 12 months, which will initially focus on Indian, Saudi Arabian and other Gulf markets. Showing aspects that make Britain a much sought-for destination, the campaign is aimed at inspiring global tourists ad travellers to explore all the nations and regions of Britain through the airline’s current gateways.

VisitBritain Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said: ‘We are very pleased to be the first national tourist body to develop a global partnership marketing campaign with Turkish Airlines. There are significant growth opportunities in the markets served by Turkish Airlines, including the emerging market of Saudi Arabia, using the airline’s global connectivity and rapidly expanding network. This partnership will also allow us to target our marketing to inspire more international visitors to come and explore all the nations and regions of Britain, so we can continue to create jobs and deliver our ambitious plans for growth.’

Turkish Airlines Chief Marketing Officer Mr Ahmet Olmustur said: ‘This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for Turkish Airlines and we are delighted to be teaming up with such an acknowledged and reputable brand as VisitBritain. The travel market in the UK continues to go from strength-to-strength and therefore we strongly believe this partnership will further enhance visitor numbers in the UK in the coming year. Turkish Airlines is always investing in the UK and, along with partnerships such as this, we hope to see big inroads being made in terms of visitor numbers.’

It is the first time that Turkish Airlines is partnering with a national tourist board for a tourism promotion campaign. Turkish Airlines is set to move to its new hub at Istanbul New Airport in 2018 with nearly 20 million passengers a year expected to be flying through the new airport by 2020. Turkish Airlines was recently chosen as the Best Airline in Europe for the fifth year running by the Skytrax Passenger survey.

 

UK urged to focus on development of tourism experience

Following an increase in visitor numbers to the UK in the last year, both the UK’s government and tourism associations are calling increased focus on supporting the development of engaging and competitive tourism experiences.

The move comes as Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), which comprise 57 members and over 2,200 tourist sites, announced its members’ visitor figures for 2014.

More than 123 million visitors reportedly passed through the doors of top UK museums, galleries and other attractions in 2014, a 6.5 percent increase on the 2013 visitor numbers. The Commonwealth Games saw Scottish attractions register the greatest increase of almost a 10 percent increase, followed by London with an increase of 7.11 percent.

The British Museum remained the most popular visitor attraction overall for the eighth straight year with 6.7 million visitors, followed by the National Gallery, which saw a 6.4 percent increase to 6.4 million visitors.

Bernard Donoghue, Director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, has urged politicians to recognise the importance of tourism in their election manifestos. Donoghue said: ‘As we approach the general election we want to remind all political parties that no party mentioned tourism in their last general election manifesto, however these figures clearly demonstrate the popularity of our best loved attractions and the importance of tourism to the UK – it’s the fifth biggest industry and the third largest employer, generating £127bn per year.

‘I look forward to seeing all political parties spell out their strong support and ambitions for tourism, heritage, and arts and culture in their forthcoming manifestos.’

Meantime, the UK government’s Triennial Review of tourism bodies VisitEngland and VisitBritain also recommended a new focus for VisitEngland on supporting the development of competitive and attractive tourism experiences. The Review, which was put before Parliament by Helen Grant MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Sport and Tourism), also called for the formal separation of VisitEngland, to create a truly independent body for England.

VistEngland’s chief executive, James Berresford, welcomed the new direction: ‘England has amazing tourism assets but they must be made available and presented in a way that meets people’s aspirations and to a standard that is comparable with other leading overseas tourism markets. This is essential to make sure people choose our country over others.

‘Our concentration of support for developing new tourism experiences will be a catalyst for the next generation of world class leisure and business tourism offerings.’

 

VisitBritain prepares for ExploreGB – the world’s largest B2B tourism event

VisitBritain is preparing for its new annual flagship international event, ExploreGB, which will debut at Ascot Racecourse from February 25-26, 2015.

ExploreGB aims to present and promote Britain and the island of Ireland to the largest possible audience of international buyers. British and Irish tourism suppliers and destinations attending the event will have the opportunity to meet and do business with up to 250 select international travel buyers from over 37 countries, including Germany, Brazil, China and the US.

VisitBritain’s acting CEO, Keith Beecham, said: ‘Our goal is to make ExploreGB the world’s largest and most influential B2B tourism event promoting Britain and the island of Ireland. Tourism Ireland will be an important strategic partner for this task, adding value in multiple ways.

Working together will allow us to maximise opportunities and having Irish suppliers in attendance further strengthens the quality of our international buyers, providing a wider offering.’

Niall Gibbons, CEO for Tourism Ireland, a partner for ExploreGB, added: ‘We are delighted to be part of the inaugural ExploreGB in 2015, which will provide another important platform for Tourism Ireland and our Irish industry partners to showcase and sell Ireland to key international travel buyers. We already work closely with VisitBritain, particularly in long-haul markets like China and India, to target people travelling to Britain and encourage them to visit the island of Ireland as part of their trip, and vice versa.’

In its first year, ExploreGB will be held in London – and subsequently will alternate annually between London and other regions within Britain. The event will be followed by extensive familiarisation trips around Britain for international delegates.

More than 150 British tourism suppliers have already registered for ExploreGB 2015, including hotel groups, transport companies, visitor attractions and retail outlets. Prices start from £795 for the two-day workshop.

VisitBritain is UK’s national tourism agency, responsible for marketing Britain worldwide and developing Britain’s visitor economy. VisitBritain’s ExploreGB partners include the tourism trade association UKinbound, as well as regional tourist boards VisitEngland, VisitWales, VisitScotland, London & Partners as well as Tourism Ireland.

 

Scottish beaches recognised as seaside holidays increase

As Scotland’s often bracing beaches are becoming increasingly attractive for international tourists, independent environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful has recognised the country’s beaches for environmental quality and seaside experience, with its 2014 Scottish Seaside Awards.

The awards come as visitor figures show that in 2013, the Year of Natural Scotland, there was an increase in the share of seaside holidays to 17% (from 14%) of all holiday trips. With Scotland set to welcome the world in 2014, the recognition for quality and exceptional experience is expected to attract visitors to the country’s stunning coastlines more than ever.

A record-breaking 61 beaches have been recognised this year for their good water quality and excellent litter, safety, and environmental management procedures. Besides the regular winners like St Andrews West Sands in Fife and Gullane Bents in East Lothian, the awardees include Dornoch Beach in the north east to Maidens Beach in South Ayrshire, which has won the award for the first time.

Announcing the awards, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, Fergus Ewing MSP, said: ‘Our natural environment is an important reason as to why people visit Scotland, which we celebrated last year during Year of Natural Scotland. Our beaches play a large part in this, and it is fantastic to see so many gain accolades through the Seaside Awards, and the work that beach managers and Keep Scotland Beautiful do in ensuring this.’

Mark Bevan, Head of Campaigns at Keep Scotland Beautiful, said, ‘Scotland’s beaches have something for everyone to enjoy – excellent environmental quality, bustling promenades, secluded bays and biodiversity rich shores, therefore, maintaining standards is vitally important.’

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, said: ‘Recent figures suggested an increase in seaside holidays in Scotland in 2013, so it is clear that visitors really do love to beside the seaside. This is great news for Scottish tourism and coastal communities and comes on the back of a growing trend towards seaside and rural locations following the success of the Year of Natural Scotland. In this year, when Scotland welcomes the world, it is more important than ever to have our stunning coastlines in tip top condition if we want to continue attracting visitors. I applaud the award winners and Keep Scotland Beautiful for its hard work in ensuring that our beaches offer a great day out.’

A map showing all the award-winning beaches with descriptions, directions, facilities and pictures can be found at www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/coastal. A new facility also allows people to choose the type of beach they wish to visit and an option for rating their favourite beaches, VisitScotland said in a release.