Oman benefiting from instability in Middle East

Oman is benefiting from instability in the Middle East.

Figures indicate that regional instability has helped the nation expand income from its tourism industry by more than 15 per cent in the first four months of 2013.

Data released by STR Global, said, ‘Due to various reasons, tourists do not prefer Egypt and Syria. When compared to these places, Oman is safe and calm. It can be termed a relaxed destination. When compared to other tourist spots in the region, the locations in Oman are still virgin.’

Omanese tourism authorities said that the nation had a lot to offer tourists, which is a big reason for developing this revenue stream in the nation. Muscat is believed to have reported the strongest growth in the region.

Elizabeth Winkle, managing director of STR Global, a firm that offers statistics on the tourism industry, said, ‘The factors for performance include strong occupancy growth of 14.0 per cent to 77.3 per cent, while an already solid ADR increased 1.1 per cent to USD248. Oman has benefited from tremendous interest from the corporate sector with significant infrastructure investment and projects, such as Duqm Port. The corporate demand is coupled with strong leisure business, which is up 25.0 per cent.’

Data compiled by STR Global also showed that the Middle East and Africa region reported positive performance during April 2013.

Analysts also said that Oman has gained from the instability in Syria, Lebanon and other nations which have seen unsurprisingly negative effects from the Arab Spring.

Winkle said, ‘Beirut has struggled during the first four months of the year with RevPAR declines of (-31.0 per cent). Lebanon’s tourism industry continues to suffer because of the political instability in Syria and has recently appealed to its Gulf Cooperation Council neighbours to lift the travel advisory to Gulf nationals.’


UK rode tourist wave in 2012

The UK’s national tourism agency has released figures indicating that inbound tourism experienced a boom during 2012.

The tourism increase that the UK has benefited from in recent years continued into last year, as the nation’s popularity with foreign tourists showed no sign of abating. The Olympic affect was much in evidence, with London being the main beneficiary of its staging of the games. 15.5 million visitors passed through the city in a year when it also staged the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. This accounted for 50 percent of all visits to the UK, confirming London’s draw as a major global attraction.

Scotland also proved popular with overseas visitors, with Edinburgh coming second only to London for visits with a total of 1.3 million. Glasgow’s visitor figure grew by nearly 10 percent on the previous year to register a total of 521,000 visits.

Of the other English cities, Manchester led the way by attracting 932,000 visitors, Birmingham was not far behind with its total of 713,000, and Liverpool also saw an increase to 550,000. Meanwhile, Wales also enjoyed the knock-on effect of a boom year, with Cardiff predictably its best performer as it received 41,000 more visits than it did in 2010, for a total of 301,000.

Hugh Robertson, minister for tourism, commented, ‘We showcased the very best of Britain last year encouraging overseas visitors to come and see for themselves what our great country has to offer. I am encouraged that destinations across Britain have seen visitor numbers rise and we will do all we can to keep up that momentum.

‘Tourism spend is up and I am confident that the industry can continue to grow and increase its contribution to the economy further.’

VisitBritain undertakes new tourism strategy

VisitBritain, the operational name of the British Tourism Authority, has launched a new tourism partnership strategy, which has been heralded by Maria Miller, the government’s culture secretary.

The new initiative is intended to pool the resources of the travel industry, the government and major organisations in the public and private sectors, with the intention of achieving long-term growth in tourism. The project is targeting the arrival of 40 million overseas visitors by 2020, with the expectation that they will spend in the region of £31.5 billion and, as a consequence, create 200,000 new jobs. These new jobs will build on the 8.3 percent of the population that is already employed in the UK’s tourism industry. If successful, the new initiative will see 9 million more visitors arriving by 2020 than arrived in 2012, and an increase in the amount that they spend that amounts to £12.9 billion.

To achieve these results, the partnership intends to build on Britain’s improved international image, increase engagement with the travel trade, broaden the product range on offer to inbound tourists and make Britain more accessible to overseas visitors. It specifically intends to build on the global awareness and image that was fostered by last year’s successful London Olympic Games.

The fast developing BRIC nations, Brazil, Russia, India and China, as well as the Gulf nations and the UK’s traditional tourism markets, including the USA, France and Germany, will receive the project’s prime focus.

VisitBritain hopes that this latest initiative will build on the success that it has achieved in directly contributing £900 million to the tourism industry in the UK and generating £24 million in funding from the private sector.

UK performs well in CNN’s travel survey

The UK might still be labouring under debt and financial restrictions, but the results of a recent tourism survey have shown that British citizens can be proud of their nation’s international profile as a safe and secure place to visit.

CNN’s Global Tourism Research survey canvassed the views of 3,106 respondents from over 70 countries around the world in order to identify the key influencing factors when deciding on leisure and business travel destinations. 67 percent cited security and safety as the most important factor, followed by price with 60 percent, and reputation with 58 percent.

The UK figured well on all three of these key factors, featuring in the top five destinations that are ‘attractive for business investment opportunities’. Its perception internationally is that of a developed, hospitable nation, with 46 percent of global respondents saying that they would expect a trouble-free stay, and 43 percent citing the UK’s reputation as being, ‘most established and welcoming’ for tourists. With a vote of 38 percent, the UK was second only to the USA on CNN’s list of the 25 countries that respondents would most like to visit in the next 12 months.

Didier Mormesse, senior vice president, Ad Sales Research, Development & Audience Insight at CNN International, said, ‘Destination branding has become one of the most competitive aspects of today’s tourism industry and these insights are valuable for countries looking to market themselves as the destination of choice for travellers.

‘That safety and security is significantly more important for respondents than the cost of travel, even in austere times, is an indicator that, in times of regional unrest, the pendulum has swung. With reputation also a key factor, tourist boards will clearly continue to have a vital role to play in shaping international perceptions of their country to encourage tourism growth.’

UK benefits from tourism boom in February

Despite persistent wintry weather throughout the month, the UK registered a substantial increase in its tourism figures for the month of February.

Figures from the International Passenger Survey have revealed that the UK benefited from a 14 percent increase in visitor numbers compared with February last year, and the increased visitor volume also contributed to a 9 percent increase in visitor spend, taking the total to over £1 billion for the first time ever in February. The figures were even more encouraging as February 2012 was a day longer than February this year, due to it having a leap day.

Breaking the figures down further, the three main motivations for travellers to visit the UK, which are holiday, business and visiting friends or relatives, saw growth of 10 percent, 15 percent and 19 percent respectively. Visits from overseas nationals topped 1.97 million for the month, with visitors from EU countries up by 22 percent and those from non-EU European countries up by 12 percent. Visits from the rest of the world increased by 6 percent.

VisitBritain, the UK agency responsible for promoting tourism, has welcomed the positive figures, and its chief executive, Sandie Dawe, said, ‘These are an encouraging set of figures and show sustained growth in the number of inbound visitors and more importantly in the amount they are spending in Britain. They underline that inbound tourism is an industry in which Britain competes globally and has the potential to grow faster than other sectors of the economy.

‘It is already the case that tourism was responsible for a third of all jobs created in the past couple of years and continued growth will be a driver to creating more jobs across Britain.

‘We are continuing to roll out our promotion of Britain as a great place to visit around the world and these results are a consequence of the hard work that has already been done by VisitBritain in our key markets.’

UK climbs up the tourist destination table

The UK has climbed two places up the world tourist destination table for 2012, to achieve 5th position.

The table is compiled from a study of travel and tourism competitiveness by the World Economic Forum (WEF), and the UK’s rise from 7th position last year now puts it one place ahead of the USA, which took 6th place. However, the UK still lags behind its European competitors Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Spain, which took the first four places respectively.

140 countries are assessed by the WEF when it compiles the list, with tourism development and contribution of the tourism sector to the countries’ economies being prime considerations. The UK’s improvement is considered to be partly due to the effect of last year’s Olympic and Paralympic games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, both of which provided the nation with an impressive stage to promote itself to travellers around the world. The report also cited the nation’s ‘excellent cultural resources’ as part of its attraction.

The table for price competitiveness showed the UK in a less impressive light, however, with its 138th place being partly blamed on its high tax rate on airline tickets and airport charges.

While the UK was improving its position on the overall table, other nations were doing less well. The USA clung on to the 6th place rating that it achieved last year, but France dropped from 3rd to 7th, and Sweden dropped from 5th to 9th.

Switzerland retained its first place from last year due to the quality of its infrastructure, hotels and natural resources.

Survey reveals worldwide price anomalies for hotel peripherals

A survey has reported large anomalies in the charges that hotels around the world levy for peripheral services.

The survey, which was carried out by Tripadvisor, a website that assists customers in gathering travel information, has revealed that hotels in certain locations around the world will charge considerably more for items such as mini bar purchases, than hotels in other destinations.

One of the largest disparities was between hotels in Moscow, Russia, and those in Cape Town, South Africa, with the former charging as much as four times more than the latter for a packet of mini bar peanuts; GBP7.96 compared to GBP1.20.

In addition to mini bar sundries, the survey also looked at items including room service orders and dry cleaning services, and massive price variations were discovered there too. A club sandwich that costs GBP4.11 in Cape Town was GBP13.95 in Moscow, but hotels in Zurich Switzerland charge even more, at GBP18.67.

Along with Cape Town, Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt and Mumbai in India offered the best value for money, with their prices for a selection of items that included a bottle of water, a can of coke, a mini bottle of vodka and dry cleaning coming in at GBP12.61, GBP15.27 and GBP16.27 respectively. At the other end of the scale, hotels in Moscow, Paris – France, and Stockholm – Sweden were the most expensive for the same items, charging GBP53.05, GBP44.17 and GBP43.97 respectively.

At GBP19.36 for the same list of items, four-star hotels in London were the eleventh most expensive to be surveyed.

Emma Shaw of TripAdvisor was quoted in the Daily Mail, saying, ‘For those willing to shell out a bit more on flights, it seems there is money to be saved in south east Asia or Africa.

‘For Brits looking to stay a little closer to home in Europe, there is a price to pay and that price is on average more than four times as expensive.’


Intrepid British tourists not easily deterred

According to a recent survey, it takes more than local unrest or even a serious incident or crime to deter British tourists from visiting their chosen holiday destination.

The survey, which was carried out by Holiday Extras, a UK-based on-line company that provides pre-booked UK airport hotels and parking, quizzed respondents on how they would respond to negative news emanating from their forthcoming holiday destination. The results showed that gung-ho Brits have no problem with prioritising their vacation over almost anything, including their own safety.

More than half of men questioned for the survey said that news of local difficulties in their destination country would not deter them from travelling, with only 34 percent saying that they would change their plans on news of a serious incident or crime.

While women erred a little more towards caution, 49 percent of them would still join their male counterparts in thumbing their nose at possible problems, and board their airplane on schedule.

Those Holiday Extras customers that said they would be deterred had varying views on how long a troubled destination should be avoided for, with 15 percent declaring 1 year, 43 percent saying 6 months, and 11 percent saying that they would be permanently put off.

Head of insurance at Holiday Extras, Andrea Clayton, said, ‘The results of this poll show how positive British people feel about their travels in the world – and this is a really good thing. Keep in mind, wherever you go on holiday and however daring you intend to be that you should always follow advice from the Foreign Office. Make sure that you have adequate travel insurance and don’t underestimate the cover that you may require wherever you go.’

The survey followed incidents of violence in Borneo.


VisitEngland enters rural phase of promotional campaign

VisitEngland, the tourist board that is responsible for promoting tourism in England, has entered the next phase of its current marketing campaign.

The multi-channel campaign, which is intended to boost domestic tourism during the coming year by promoting short breaks, is now concentrating on England’s rural attractions. It is part of VisitEngland’s three-year, ‘Growing Tourism Locally’ project, and follows the previous segment of the campaign, which had the country’s beaches and coastline as its theme.

There will be six interlinked promotions during the campaign, which has been running since January and will come to an end in March. The key themes that are spread across the six segments are countryside, coast, heritage and culture. The message promoted during this ‘rural’ phase will be of England’s wealth of rural diversity. It will showcase the country’s chocolate box villages, historic country towns and the rolling hills and valleys that surround them.

Partnerships with newspapers The Guardian, Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday will form part of the campaign, along with promotions on network radio stations, digital and social media formats including Facebook competitions, video promotions, and promotion on the organisation’s website.

Funding for the ‘Growing Tourism Locally’ promotion, which is costing GBP19.8 million in total, is coming partly from the UK Government’s Regional Growth Fund. In return, it is expected that GBP420 million will be generated in additional domestic tourism between 2012 and 2015, due to a greater number of UK residents taking the lead in booking holidays and short breaks in England. It is also hoped that an additional 9,100 jobs will be created in the local tourism industry by March 2015, as a knock-on effect of the boost to the industry.

VisitEngland chief executive, James Berresford, said, ‘This exciting campaign is one of several launching this year with the aim of growing tourism in England. The campaign aims to inspire UK residents explore our green and pleasant land, and take a short break in one of England’s most beautiful rural destinations.’


Coronation Festival to sustain royal tourism boost

The boost to UK tourism last year from the celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is set to continue into this coming summer with the staging of the Coronation Festival in London.

The festival, which is to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation, is scheduled to take place in the gardens of Buckingham Palace over four days in July. Central to the event will be the coming together of over 200 companies that hold Royal Warrants of Appointment, for the first time on this scale.

Royal Warrants are only granted to companies that have supplied goods or services to the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, or the Prince of Wales for at least 5 years. Among those exhibiting at the event are: Roberts Radio, Royal Brierley Crystal, Halcyon Days, Milborrow Chimney Sweeps, Austin Reed, Clarins, Gieves & Hawkes, Mappin & Webb and many more.

The all-ticket festival takes place from July 11 to 14, but Thursday July 11 is a Royal preview for invited guests only, with the event opening to the public from July 12 to 14. It will celebrate innovation, excellence and industry through trade and craft, enabling members of the public to sample and buy from the wide range of products and services that will be presented by exhibitors.

There will be four individual showcase areas: Design and Technology; Food and Drink; Style Pursuits and Pastimes; and Homes and Gardens. In addition there will be a section for The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST), the charitable arm of the Royal Warrant Holders Association.

A Gala evening of entertainment will also be a feature of the event, and is intended to be a celebration of music and dance from over the past 60 years. Young talent from the UK and the Commonwealth will be included in the gala, which will showcase entertainers from a wide range of disciplines.

Buckingham Palace is expected to host 60,000 visitors during the celebration, with many more likely to come to London to experience the likely impromptu spin-offs of the main event.