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Record year for tourism to Toronto in 2007
Toronto took another step forward as a global tourism destination in 2007, welcoming a record 10,660,000 overnight visitors.
Tourism Toronto's marketing and sales programs focused on attracting high-value customers, including overseas travellers and major conventions, helping offset formidable challenges such as new passport rules and the rising Canadian dollar.
"Toronto is showing its resilience as a global destination," said David Whitaker, President and CEO of Tourism Toronto. "In a year when the forecasts started out rather dire, in the end more visitors came, hotel occupancy rose and our convention business continued to be a bedrock for today and the future."
In 2007 visitors to Toronto spent more than $4.5 billion on hotels, restaurants, attractions, performing arts, shopping, taxis and meeting facilities, illustrating the continued importance of tourism as an economic driver across the region. Tourism to Toronto supports the employment of nearly 100,000 people.
Hotel occupancy in 2007 across the Toronto region rose to 68.3 per cent, the highest level since 2000. Among the top 30 U.S. and Canadian cities, Toronto moved up three spots to 13th in hotel occupancy and was the seventh-fastest growing destination in 2007 in occupancy.
Overseas visitors remain an important area of growth for Toronto. Mexico and China were the fastest-growing international markets at approximately 15 per cent annual growth each. Toronto's largest overseas market is the U.K., which grew by two per cent in 2007 to approximately 280,000 visitors. Tourism Toronto has active sales programs in all three of those markets, along with other target international markets such as Germany, South Korea and Japan.
"We continue to reach more and more high-value travellers who come to Toronto to enjoy the finer things. In marketing our destination we play to Toronto's great strengths - above all its diversity of experiences found in festivals, cuisine, arts and hotels," said Mr. Whitaker.
Strong convention business
Toronto's meeting and convention business continued to grow in 2007 as Tourism Toronto's sales programs extended deeper into the Canadian, U.S. and international markets. Tourism Toronto's sales team booked 470,000 future room nights in convention business that will produce direct visitor spending in Toronto of more than $250 million. Tourism Toronto and its partners booked 46 future meetings with more than 1,000 room nights each, including 14 "city-wide" meetings. Some of the largest conventions booked for Toronto in the past year include:
* American Bar Association in 2020 (20,000 delegates, 30,000 room nights, $16 million in spending)
* North American Roller Hockey Championships in 2009 (12,500 delegates, 13,000 hotel room nights, $4.4 million in spending in Mississauga and West Toronto)
* International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis in 2015 (7,000 delegates, 30,000 hotel room nights, $16 million in spending)
* National Society for College Admission Counselling in 2013 (4,250 delegates, 10,000 hotel room nights, $5.3 million in spending)
* Canadian Cardiovascular Society in 2012 (3,750 delegates, 7,550 hotel room nights, $4 million in spending)
* International Continence Society in 2010 (3,500 delegates, 9,500 hotel room nights, $5 million in spending)
"Toronto's position among global meeting destinations is on the rise," said Mr. Whitaker. "This year Toronto opened its first overseas sales office, with a bureau in London that, along with offices in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Ottawa, is already driving business to Toronto."
"Looking ahead, 2008 presents new opportunities alongside sustained challenges. Our festival line-up is strong and cultural institutions continue their revitalization, while some hard new realities in global currencies, passport rules and greater competition force us to be more creative and more aggressive. The momentum of a stronger-than-expected 2007 puts us in a solid position to start the new year," said Mr. Whitaker.
Victoria: Canadian tourists offset city's international losses
The Times Colonist's Andrew A. Duffy reports that while Canadians travelled outside the country in record numbers last November, the trend isn't ruffling too many feathers in tourism hotbeds like Victoria.
According to Tourism Victoria's interim CEO Melissa McLean, the strong Canadian dollar spurred domestic travel as well, keeping Victoria on track to have another record year of tourism revenues. "It doesn't come as a surprise. We have said all along that with the shift of Canadian currency more Canadians than ever would travel internationally," she said. "But where we have been very fortunate is that with a buoyant Canadian economy they have also been travelling domestically, and that has helped us out in replacing what has been, we hope, a temporary loss of American visitation."
Though the final tourism revenue totals for 2007 have not yet been tallied, Tourism Victoria reported a 5% increase in hotel tax revenue through November. "And we will definitely meet the goal set for 2007," McLean added, noting the destination marketing organization had originally projected a 4% increase in tourism revenues to $1.23 billion. Next year, that goal has been set at a 3% increase for revenues of $1.59 billion.
PROPEL to help skilled-labour-starved hospitality industry
go2, the B.C. tourism industry's human resource association, officially announced the launch of PROPEL, a new division of go2.
Recently branded as PROPEL, this division of go2 was sanctioned by the Industry Training Authority (ITA) to take on an industry-driven training mandate for British Columbia's tourism sector. The apprenticeship programs for cook, baker and meatcutter currently fall under the jurisdiction of PROPEL.
Labour shortages in the food service sector are at a crisis point and there is a severe lack of trained workers in the cooking field and other foodservice occupations.
With an ultimate goal of easing the labour crunch through increasing credential completion, PROPEL is gathering input from the industry on the program standards and delivery models to ensure the programs are designed to meet the needs of employers.
"We've done extensive research and employers have told us they want workers with more practical experience as part of their entry-level and apprenticeship training programs," says Kate Dodd, chair of go2's industry training advisory committee. "They want people who know what's involved in the trade, and can hit the ground running."
She adds that the students are looking for more on-the-job experience so they can understand the realities of the trade, earn while they learn, and complete the training faster so they can start their careers."
PROPEL was launched at the B.C. Food service Expo at B.C. Place as part of a black box cooking competition dubbed "The Culinary Face Off". Working closely with the B.C. Chefs' Association, the contest was designed to show the value of the practical experience that comes from on-the-job coaching and the industry working together to achieve results.
It pitted Kirk McLean, Vancouver Canucks Alumnus and co-owner of So.Cial at Le Magasin Restaurant against Colin Hansen, B.C. Minister of Economic Development, with coaching from prominent local chefs Jeffrey Van Geest, chef/owner of Aurora Bistro in east Vancouver, Robert Belcham, chef/owner of Fuel Restaurant on Vancouver's west side and hands-on assistance of young chefs from the junior chapter of the B.C. Chefs' Association, Max Wang (president) and Rachel Webster (incoming president).
Kirk McLean won the face off by one point. Hansen made an excellent showing and had much praise for PROPEL.
"We need a training culture in B.C. in order to be successful and that requires active involvement from industry," said Colin Hansen, Minister of Economic Development. "By forming PROPEL, the tourism industry's success can only continue to grow and the programs they offer will expand accordingly."
"Industry leadership like what we're seeing from PROPEL is critical to the success of B.C.'s industry training system," says Kevin Evans, ITA chief executive officer. "Apprenticeship is predominantly work-based, with about 80 per cent of training done on- the-job. Giving tourism and hospitality employers the opportunity to define the skills needed for success and productivity in today's workplace will ensure that they get a positive return on their training investment."
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A majority of businesses that have used pay-per-click advertising over the past two years to drive traffic to their company website have noticed a deterioration in return on investment (ROI).
This finding came from a survey commissioned by Dutch firm Toading and conducted by Pulstracker. It was found that 71% of surveyed companies in Europe claimed some deterioration, with 21% of the total complaining of a major drop in performance.
The principle cause for this decline, according to the surveyed companies, was likely to be increased competition within their own industry sector, as more pay-per-click advertisers in their space had pushed up the bidding for keywords (63%). Nearly a quarter of the companies complained that they were unable or could not afford to bring in outside expertise to fine-tune their performance (24%). Only 3% believed that the change was down to fluctuating market conditions in their sector, resulting in less demand for their product or service.
The complexity of setting up account options was mentioned (22%), but a majority of unhappy respondents (52%) said the biggest practical hurdle for them was the `complicated’ keyword bidding process. 26% said that balancing the need for outside expertise and consultancy with the corresponding cost and impact on ROI was causing problems for them.
Businesses’ continued use of pay-per click advertising shows that they have benefited and still find it a valuable tool, but they find it an unpredictable and complex undertaking, as this study has found,” said Mathijs van Abbe, CEO, Toading.
“Keyword bidding in particular crops up as a frustration for advertisers. This is a sign that, as markets become more crowded, advertisers need to be more precise about their offerings, including pricing information. Not only is this helpful for potential customers, but it can dramatically improve conversion rates, and doesn’t have to be the complicated process many fear it to be.”
Have you heard about the "Long Tail" of tourism
The term "long tail" was coined (or first used) by Chris Anderson of Wired magazine in 2004 in his essay by the same title.
It tries to describe a new business phenomenon/model in the age of the Web 2.0 (new search engine algorithms, user reviews, recommendations, etc.) Anderson focused on entertainment products like books, films and cd's to illustrate the dramatic change that the Web has brought to the economics of selling audiovisual products and books. The model suggests that while there is a market dominated by "hits" the Web is creating large markets from the "misses"? This refers to out-of-print or obscure books that can be reprinted in limited runs based on online demand (Amazon) or eclectic music that bands can sell online, but cannot distribute through brick and mortar channels. When it comes to tourism, analysts and eTourism practitioners are using the term to describe how the overal tourism market can grow (the long tail) through Web 2.0 phenomena like user generated content, hotel reviews, recommendations, inexpensive online booking engines, etc.
But what does this mean to small tourism businesses and destinations? If Niagara, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are our "hits", what about places like Whitehorse or Sacacomie or Pictou? The model suggests that the Web 2.0 (social media, social networks, video and podcast websites, etc.) provide small businesses the opportunity to compete as the "misses" of the market. They can do this by not only SEO and SEM (search engine optimization and marketing), but also by participating in the Web 2.0 environment through social media and particularly the growing number of niche social networks. Small businesses (or destinations) that succeed in this will grow the market for the big players as well since travelers will still need to travel through the main gateway destinations to get to the small ones. For example, the Polar Bear Habitat and Village in Cochrane Ontario could work on a campaign to participate in relevant niche social networks keeping members informed about their bears with news and stories. This would attract some people to travel to Cochrane to see the polar bears there (but they would also need to visit other destinations in order to get there). While this may attract small numbers of visitors, the idea of the "long tail" is that if the numbers of niche small businesses and destinations doing this grows sufficiently then the total numbers can be significant and benefit the entire market. Another area that can add to the growth of the long tail of tourism is the use of technology like online reservation systems that more and more are becoming cost effective for small businesses allowing them to offer online bookings when they don't have the critical mass to partner with large online distributors.
The world's most dangerous places
People are opting for more unforgettable holidays but some countries can be risky even for the most adventurous travelers. Forbes.com has compiled a list of the most dangerous destinations.
9. Palestinian Territories
The region is caught in a brutal tug-of-war between pro-Fatah and pro-Hamas factions. Political and military battles with Israel, especially in the Gaza Strip, have made the security situation in this territory very unstable. Poverty and chronic violence add to the instability.
Anti-western sentiment prominently expressed by officials, out-of-control inflation and oppression employed by the government to silence dissenting voices are common in Zimbabwe.
Culminating in the 2005 assassination of Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, Lebanon is split by pro- and anti-Syrian forces vying for control of the government. Other risks include military battles in the south with neighboring Israel and civil unrest.
6. Democratic Republic of the Congo
A civil war that formally ended in 2003 still affects the country. As Rwandan and Ugandan troops pulled out of DRC towards the end of the war, rival militias have been fighting each other to fill the power vacuum this created. Crime is rampant in major cities and security conditions can fluctuate drastically even within minor distances.
Despite a peace agreement in 2005, areas of extreme danger due to battles between government troops and militias and local insurgent groups dot the country. Areas to avoid completely include the western region of Darfur, Ethiopian and Eritrean border regions and all of southern Sudan.
Sharing the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with top vacation destination Dominican Republic, Haiti, the western hemisphere's poorest country, is plagued by civil unrest, police corruption and readily available firearms.
Even though the ruling Taliban regime was officially ousted in Afghanistan in 2001, attacks from those still loyal to it and to al Qaeda continue. Military personnel and civilians are killed by improvised explosive devices daily.
Military action, collateral damage, insurgency and suicide bombings are daily occurrences in the country. Security experts say unstable areas include Baghdad and stretch from Tikrit in the north to Hillah in the south and from Mandali in the east to Ramadi in the west.
This Horn of Africa country has been in the grip of warlords for the last decade, fighting for control of drug and weapon trafficking rights.
UNWTO: international tourism exceeds expectations in 2007
The year 2007 exceeded expectations for international tourism with arrivals reaching new record figures close to 900 million, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourism arrivals expanded by 6% in 2007, to 898 million international tourist arrivals, as compared to 2006.
"Economic and tourism growth are driven by emerging markets and developing economies. While mature markets remain the leading destinations in the world, the faster growth rate of new markets confirms UNWTO's main message of tourism's potential for the developing world," said UNWTO's Secretary-General, Francesco Frangialli.
Of the additional 52 million worldwide arrivals, Europe received some 19 million and Asia and the Pacific 17 million. The Americas was up by around six million, Africa by three million and the Middle East by five million.
The Middle East totalled 46 million international tourist arrivals and continues to be one of the tourism success stories of the decade so far, despite ongoing tensions and threats. The region is emerging as a strong destination with visitor numbers climbing much faster than the world total, with Saudi Arabia and Egypt among the leading destinations in growth in 2007.
Against the background of strong growth of above 7% per year since 2000, Asia and the Pacific is also pushing international tourism and attracted 185 million visitors. While Japan (+14%) has taken off as a destination, Malaysia (+20%) Cambodia (+19%), Vietnam (+16%), Indonesia (+15%), India (+13%) and China (+10%) keep improving their growth rates.
With an estimated total of 44 million international travellers, Africa confirmed its good momentum, sustaining the growth of 2006 and is now averaging a 7% growth a year since 2000. In 2007, North Africa (+8%) appears to have done slightly better than Sub-Saharan Africa (+7%), primarily due to Morocco's 14% rise. While in Sub-Saharan Africa a number of countries have turned in good results, awareness of South Africa has continued to grow in the build-up to the country's hosting of the FIFA Soccer World Cup in 2010.
The Americas region regained vigour and more than doubled its growth rate after the 2% growth of 2006. Backed by the rebound of the US inbound market (+10%) and the strong performance of Central and South American destinations which were favoured by the strong euro and a steady tourism flows from the USA.
The world's largest destination region with a share of over 50% of all international tourist arrivals, Europe is growing above average and totalled 480 million tourists in 2007. Destinations like Turkey (+18%), Greece (+12%) and Portugal (+10%) or Italy and Switzerland (both at +7%) are proof of the positive impact of the continued economic pick-up of the region in 2007.
World Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has experienced its longest period of sustained growth for 25 years, with figures around or above 5% since 2004. Particularly emerging markets and developing economies are driving the global GDP for the most part of this decade. This also correlates to their behaviour as emerging tourism destinations, which on average nearly double the growth of destinations in high income countries.
For 2008, confidence remains high, although this perception might deteriorate. Economies worldwide have shown increased volatility and confidence has weakened in some markets due to uncertainty about the sub prime mortgage crises and economic prospects, in particular for the USA, alongside with global imbalances and high oil prices.
International tourism might be affected by this global context. But based on past experience, the sector's proven resilience and given the current parameters, UNWTO does not expect that growth will come to a halt
The cheapest rooms in the world’s most expensive hotels
NEW YORK - Business Week magazine in the United States has compiled a list of the cheapest rooms at the world's most expensive hotels.
But the magazine cautions, "cheap" is a relative term when it comes to luxury hotels, especially in Moscow or New York - not to mention Dubai - and by comparison Hong Kong and Shanghai will seem like bargains.
Among Business Week's "bargains" are the following: Prices in US dollars.
Burj Al Arab
Most expensive room: $14,974. Cheapest: $2,314. With your own chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce, discreet in-suite check-in, private reception desk on every floor, and an army of butlers to provide around-the-clock service, you can understand why this has been described as the most luxurious hotel in the world.
Most expensive: $4,103. Cheapest: $339. Known locally as "Island Shang"—because there is another Shangri-La on Kowloon—this elliptically shaped building has become a Hong Kong icon. Located in the heart of the city's Central district, its 56 floors offer stunning views of The Peak, Victoria Harbour, and the distant mountains of China.
Most expensive: $10,642. Cheapest: $939. First opened in 1854, the current building was erected in 1898, but Claridge's acquired its title of the art deco jewel of Mayfair after a 1929 renovation by the pioneer of the style, Oswald Milne. Long the home to visiting royalty, in 1947, just before the wedding of then Princess Elizabeth, a harassed diplomat telephoned Claridge's and asked to speak to the King. "Certainly, sir," was the response. "Which one?"
Most expensive: $17,555. Cheapest: $1,370. Located on the edge of Red Square, the hotel is a classically inspired but totally modern building that opened in 2007. Featuring the most spacious guest room in Moscow, it is also home to three-star Michelin chef Heinz Winkler's new venture, Jeroboam.
Most expensive: $5,938. Cheapest: $283. These rates might seem cheap in comparison to other hotels in this slide show, but by Chinese standards they are astronomical. The recently opened Grand Tower contains 375 luxurious rooms and suites, with the Premier rooms, at 54 square metres, being the largest in Shanghai and offering panoramic, floor-to-ceiling views of the historic Bund.
Most expensive: $5,209. Cheapest: $830. Named for the famed adventurer Sir Stamford Raffles, who founded modern Singapore in 1819, the hotel is a nostalgic trip back in time, but one with all the modern comforts you might require. With its Bentwood furniture and rattan chairs it evokes images of tropical suits, solar topis, and Somerset Maugham. In fact, Maugham was a frequent guest and once remarked that Raffles represented "all the fables of the exotic East."
Most expensive: $18,773. Cheapest: $625. The Ritz-Carlton occupies the top nine floors of the 53-story Midtown Tower, the tallest building in Tokyo, and provides stunning views of the city. Opened in March 2007, the high point of Frank Nicholson's dramatic classic design is the magnificent 81-meter-high sky lobby on the 45th floor.
Continental Teaming Up with JetBlue for In-Flight WiFi
You know what? Why don't we just assume everyone except US Airways is going to test out in-flight WiFi this year? Continental is the latest carrier to jump on the bandwagon. The airline will partner with JetBlue's subsidiary LiveTV to offer, ahem, live TV and airborne email and IM.
Don't expect to be pecking away at the keys soon, though. The system will appear on Boeing 737s and 757s beginning in January 2009. Access will be free in first class; suckers in coach will pay $6 to watch TV.
Honestly, we're getting a little tired of these breathless announcements. It's cool that everyone's getting on-board with the concept, but so far the only real testing we've heard about was on Beta Blue. It didn't go so well. When one of these airlines finally manages to get us liveblogging from 35,000 feet, then we'll get excited.
Travel to Europe Great Vacation Rentals Database
Visitor traffic to holiday homes.ca (www.holidayhomes.ca) & For Rent By Owner in Canada (www.FRBO.ca) web sites for the month of December 2007:
Total 'hits' for the month = 1,274,153 hits (41,102 per day)
Total 'unique visits' for the month = 41,550 (1,340 per day)
Visitors came from 90+ countries.
For more information, including an independent audit of the site performance, and to view the countries of origin for visitors
Keeping a house book
Compile a house book with practical information and instructions...click here.
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