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Marriott International is replacing small amenity bottles with re-usable Paul Mitchell Tea Tree dispensers at five of its properties. Credit: Marriott International

The hospitality industry no longer is being hospitable to plastic waste.

Momentum is growing to minimize the use of single-use plastic among hotels, airlines, airports and cruise lines. That means plastic straws, cups, bottles, laundry bags and even packaging for hotel guestroom slippers are starting to disappear.

Plastic waste has wreaked havoc on tourist destinations around the world. Late last year, authorities in Bali, Indonesia, declared a “garbage emergency” because of the amount of plastic washing up on a nearly 4-mile stretch of beach on the island’s west coast.

Read the full article to learn more about some recent industry efforts to reduce plastic here.

By  for USA Today.

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Credit: Eco Warrior Princess

 

As environmental awareness grows, so does the number of phrases used to describe ‘green’ consumer choices. With everything from ‘biodegradable’ to ‘biodynamic’, the sheer amount of jargon can get more than a little confusing.

This is particularly true of the travel industry, where ‘ecotourism’ and ‘sustainable tourism’ are often used interchangeably. But is this accurate?

 

Travel is a fairly big deal. Billions of people travel internationally every year, and the industry is only predicted to grow in years to come. What’s encouraging is to see that as we become increasingly environmentally conscious, we’re moving towards a global landscape where more and more people make green travel choices. But with so many different environmentally friendly travel options available, and a lot of terminology to sift through, things can get a little muddled.

 

Read the full article to learn about the difference between Ecotourism and Sustainable Travel. 

 

By James Hale for Eco Warrior Princess. 

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Some of the Principal Issues Facing the Travel Industry – Part 2

Categories: Tourism Resilience
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Principal Issues Facing: Tourism and more

March 2016 – Last month we examined some of the challenges facing the tourism industry in 2016.  This month we examine some of the other challenges with which tourism leaders may have to contend in 2016.  It should be noted that although the material in both the February and March editions is treated as separate challenges, there is often an interaction between them and these challenges are not stand alones but rather part of a total whole.

  • Be prepared for economic instability. We are now seeing the stock market on a roller coaster and coupled with low gas prices, there is a sense of ennui and foreboding.  Last year’s feel good combination has now changed to one of wait-and-see in the United States, Latin America and Europe.  Experts indicate that there are multiple clouds on the horizon.  These include an unstable European economy, recession in countries such as Brazil and low employment rates, and a slowing down of the Chinese economy.  It is essential to remember that although unemployment is low in the US, this figure does not necessarily reflect a strong economy, but rather that millions of people have ceased looking for work. In this world of false recoveries, low unemployment does not translate into the willingness on the part of the public to travel more.
  • View the world carefully. The political world will continue to be unstable and when instability hits people are less likely to spend money on luxury items such as travel.  Political instability is now a major concern in Africa and Latin America, with the Middle East, Europe, and North America open to terrorism attacks and Latin America still suffering from high levels of crime and drug trafficking.  Furthermore, no one knows how Europe’s refugee crisis will play out and what the consequences of increased crime will be on European tourism. Brazil, along with much of Latin America, is suffering from both issues of crime and issues of health and sanitation.
  • Be aware of the lack of trained personnel. Because many tourism areas have grown rapidly there are too many location where there is a dearth of skilled labor.  Tourism needs people who are both inspired and well trained.  Yet, too few people in the tourism industry speak multiple languages, are proficient in high tech computer skills or have a good knowledge of statistics and how to utilize them.  This lack of education and training creates not only numerous financial losses but also creates lost opportunities and the inability to adapt to new challenges.
  • Low Salaries, recruitment and retention. Many on line and front line workers receive low salaries, have low levels of job loyalty, and change jobs with high level of rapidity.  This high turnover level makes training difficult and often each time a person leaves, the information is lost.  T o make matters even more challenging these are often the person with whom visitors come in contact.  The formula tends to guarantee low job satisfaction and low levels of customer satisfaction. This situation has resulted in the lack of availability of skilled manpower by the travel and tourism industry, one of the largest if not the largest employment generators in the world. If tourism is to be a sustainable product then it needs to turn part-time jobs into careers without pricing itself out of the market. If the travel and tourism industry hopes to continue to grow it will need trained personnel, and a willing and enthusiastic workforce at every level from the  managerial, to  skilled workers to the semi-skilled worker.
  • Nonsensical regulations and over regulations. No one is arguing that tourism should be an unregulated industry, but often governments’ desires to regulate trumps common sense. All too often decisions are made so as to avoid a law suite or negative media coverage.  Too many regulations are reactive to problems that are minimal while refusing to be proactive regarding growing problems. Often the desire to over-regulate puts tourism businesses in jeopardy and fail to help the consumer.
  • The lack of adequate and truthful marketing. Too many locations tend to either exaggerate or simply fabricate. The lack of truth in marketing means that the public not only loses confidence in the industry but investors fear being burnt.  Marketing has to be both innovative and true.  Tourism is a highly competitive industry and requires good and innovative marketing that captures a place’s essence while making people aware of the locale’s tourism offerings.
  • The lack of amenities or the over charging for the use of amenities. In too many locations around the world there is a lack of simple amenities.  From clean and potable water at hotels to well maintained public rest rooms. In all too many locations finding simple public services is a constant challenge. Signage is often unintelligible to the foreign tourist, parking turns an outing into a nightmare, and as hard as it seems to believe there are all too many “good” quality hotels that charge for internet service.   In many locations the hotel’s in-room phone service is outrageously expensive even for local calls.  The lack of amenities or the over charging for their usage destroys the sense of hospitality and turns guests into mere customers.
  • The need to develop or update tourism infrastructure. Around the world tourism suffers from poor infrastructure. These infrastructure challenges range from substandard docks and ports of entry to modes of transport to urban infrastructure such as access roads, electricity, water supply, sewerage and telecommunication. As airplanes begin to carry more people airports will face not only the problems of handling large numbers of arriving passengers but also will need to find ways to unload luggage faster, and transit people through immigration and customs lines. The lack of infrastructure will also impact issues of security as governments attempt to ferret out potential terrorists while creating a warm and welcoming arrival experience.
  • The airline industry will continue to be the part of tourism that visitors love to hate. Air travel has gone from elegant to pedestrian. Today passengers are crowded onto planes as of they were cattle and treated as if they were criminals rather than honored guests. Airfares are so complicated that passengers need a college course to understand them and the once popular airline loyalty programs continue to degenerate. Service is often so bad that when flight attendants smile, passengers actually thank them.  Unfortunately the “getting there” has become part of the “being there”, and unless the tourism industry can work with the airline industry to change attitudes, be less mercenary and more flexible the entire industry may suffer.  When poor air service is combined with infrastructure problems the combination may in the long run be deadly and “staycations” may over take vacations.
  • Nothing works if visitors are afraid and not secure. The spread of terrorist groups throughout the world is a major threat to tourism.  Tourism must learn to create not merely security and safety but ‘surety”: the interaction between the two. That means that locations without TOPPs (tourism policing) programs will suffer and eventually decline.  Private security and public security will need to learn to interact and work well not only with each other but with the media and marketers.   The old and outdates adage that security scares visitors is more and more being replaced with the adage that the lack of security provokes fear among visitors.  Cyber crime will continue to be another major challenge the travel industry faces.  Tourism cannot merely hobble from pandemics and health crisis to the next.  Also, unless the travel and tourism industry can protect visitor privacy and lower the incidents of fraud, it will face an ever greater and daunting challenge during 2016.

By Dr. Peter Tarlow. You can find the original article Tourism & More, Inc.

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Some of the Principal Issues Facing the Travel Industry – Part 1

Categories: Tourism Resilience
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Principal Issues Facing: Tourism and more

February 2016 – Scholars of tourism know that the travel and tourism industry are far from static.  New challenges seem to arise as quickly as mushrooms sprout up after a warm rain.  Despite the constant changes, however, there have been a number of issues that have become constant problems for the industry and with which it has had to learn to live.  Here are some of these issues and a few suggestions on how to begin to handle them.  The recent stock market ups and downs are a real indication of the turbulence that may impact tourism in 2016 and present new challenges to tourism professionals around the world.

  • High Taxation on the Tourism Industry. There is a mistaken belief that visitors and tourists do not pay taxes.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Instead tourists are some of the highest taxed and under represented people in the world.  We only have to examine am airline ticket, rent a car, or stay at a hotel to realize how much we spend on travel.  These taxes not only add a great deal to the cost of travel, but they also have become nuisances.  For example, leaving too many places requires and exit payment and in all too many other locations visas is nothing more than an additional way to victimize tourists.  Because tourists are generally not citizens of the places that they are visiting, they have no political voice.  However, the local members of the tourism industry can act as their voice.  Tourism, just as any other product has an economic saturation limit and if taxes become overly burdensome local tourism business will see a diminution in their profits.
  • Increase of mass tourism resulting in straining the tourism infrastructure. Many places around the world have seen large numbers of tourist arrivals but are simply not prepared to handle the influx.  Tourism is much more than merely selling or marketing.  There has to be a product and the product must be composed not only of the attraction and or activity but also the personnel who deliver the product.  This means that if the number of visitors is greater than the capacity of a location to absorb these visitors, the locale will suffer numerous problems.  Often too many visitors to a place that is ill prepared for non-sustainable numbers creates a sense of tourism euphoria in the short run, but introduces long term tourism problems that may become deadly to the sustained health of a tourism industry.  An easy check on if a particular tourism product’s infrastructure is over extended is to determine the percentage of visitors wish to return.  If few visitors desire to return, then this may be an indication that the price-tourism structure continuum is reaching unsustainable limits.
  • Physical plants that are no longer adept for modern tourism. Perhaps the biggest problem exists in the realm of airports.  Many airports are simply not equipped to handle a large number of passengers arriving at the same time.  This lack of infrastructure combined with often poorly trained personnel (or personnel who simply do not care) creates long lines and unpleasant memories.  Tourism officials need to remember that first and last impressions are key components in their marketing efforts.
  • Local Infrastructure problems. Too many tourism destinations are not prepared for the visitors. They lack good sanitation facilities and water treatment plants. Likewise both roads and sidewalks are not well maintained creating hazards not only for the local population but also for the visitor population.  It is essential that local governments take into consideration that a good tourism environment also impacts the local culture and environment.  Heavy taxes with poor road and street quality are sure not only to upset citizens but are a warning sign that tourism may be headed toward future problems.
  • Customer service is the key to a healthy tourism industry. The least expensive and most important part of the tourism experience is the customer –visitor interaction.  Smiles and a friendly handshake or nod of the head cost nothing and can change a negative impression into a negative one. Unfortunately tourism personnel often forget that the visitor is their employer and that when visitations cease so do their jobs.  Too many people who work in tourism are civil servants who cannot be fired.. Job protection needs to be a reward and not a right.  When there are no consequences for bad behavior or rudeness on the part of tourism personnel not only is the product’s reputation diminished but so too the quality of the tourism offering.  Providing quality customer service is an ongoing challenge for many parts of the tourism industry.  Although it is the lease expense challenge to face, it has proven to be one of the hardest challenges to meet and overcome.

Below here are some suggestions to help face these problems:

  • Develop a tourism vision. You cannot begin to create an infrastructure if you do not know what form of tourism your locale desires. Not every form of tourism is correct for every locale, and no locale can be all things to all people.  Think through what forms of tourism best meet your community’s needs and how tourism will add to the quality of life for your community, Once you have the vision of what type of tourism you desire, you can then begin to analyze if the vision is realistic and obtainable and finally what obstacles stand in the way of creating this vision.
  • Buddle taxes. Do everything possible to ease the taxation burden and to make payments as easy as possible.  For example, include airport, bus station or seaport entrance and exit fees in the cost of a ticket.  Forcing visitors to go from one line to the next in order to depart wins the local tourism industry few friends and creates a negative final image of the locale.
  • Simplify currency exchange laws and procedures. Tourism can produce a great deal of hard currency for any particular location. However, when exchange centers such as banks and hotels overcharge for the purchase of local currency, there is a tendency to go to the black market, not to respect local laws, or put oneself in danger.  Post rates of exchange and where currency can be exchanged legally and at what times.  Post prices whenever possible in both the local currency and in an international currency such as dollars or euros, and Chinese yuan.
  • Seek out of the box solutions. The bottom line is that no matter what the problem may be do not give up. Be creative, smile and remember that tourism is all about turning challenges into new and exciting opportunities

By Dr. Peter Tarlow. You can find the original article Tourism & More, Inc.

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