Global tourism revenues set record in 2012

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Tourists from Asia exploring Hallstatt, Austria.

Travel and tourism a key driver in world economy

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The global tourism economy hummed along at a record pace in 2012, growing by 4 percent and generating a total of $1.3 trillion when international passenger transit revenues are included in the equation.

“It is encouraging to see that the growth in international tourist arrivals was equalled by a comparable increase in spending in spite of continued economic challenges,” said United Nations World Tourism Organization secretary-general Taleb Rifai. “Considering that tourism is a key export for many economies around the world, this result is good news as it provides foreign reserves to destinations, and contributes to job creation in tourism as well as in related economic sectors,” he added.

By regions, the Americas recorded the largest increase in receipts, plus 7 percent, followed by Asia and the Pacific ( plus 6 percent), Africa ( plus 5 percent) and Europe (plus 2 percent). Receipts in the Middle East were down about 2 percent but improving compared to the double-digit decline recorded in 2011. Continue reading

Travel: Popular Grand Canyon trailhead gets a makeover

National Park Service touts expanded parking, better visitor service

The Bright Angel trailhead at the Grand Canyon has had a big makeover, with more parking and an expanded view area

The Bright Angel trailhead at the Grand Canyon has had a big makeover, with more parking and an expanded seating area.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — One of the most storied trails in the country has seen a partial makeover, and the National Park Service will celebrate the new look of Grand Canyon National Park’s Bright Angel Trail with a May 18 ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The renovation encompasses a 3.5 acre area at and surrounding the Bright Angel Trailhead. The work focused on creating an accessible and comfortable area for visitors that complements existing historic buildings including the Bright Angel Lodge and Rim Cabins designed by Grand Canyon architect Mary E. J. Colter.

With little work on the trailhead in the past 100 years, the National Park Service said visitors were having a hard time finding the trailhead, and there was no convenient or comfortable place for people to sit to either enjoy the view or prepare for hikes.  The renovation will greatly improve conditions at and around the trailhead, providing a much better experience for park visitors. Continue reading

Travel: U.S. Senate acts to avert more airport delays

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The U.S. Senate wants to keep air traffic moving.

Budget shuffle could enable FAA to avoid furloughs

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With the busy summer travel season already winding up, the U.S. Senate acted to try and prevent more delays at U.S. Airports. The bipartisan deal to give the FAA more budget flexibility was led by Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

The Reducing Flight Delays Act gives the U.S. Secretary of Transportation the flexibility to transfer discretionary funds into the FAA’s operations budget to prevent essential employees, such as air traffic controllers, from being furloughed.  Continue reading

Travel: National Parks visitation surges in 2012

Rocky Mountain National Park is fifth-most visited

Great Sand Dunes National Park may not be one of the most-visited, but it's definitely one of the most intriguing. Bob Berwyn photo.

Great Sand Dunes National Park may not be one of the most-visited, but it’s definitely one of the most intriguing. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Even though Hurricane Sandy forced the closure of some popular national parks in the Northeast late in the year, overall visitation to national parks surged to 282 million in 2012. National Park Service officials said it was the sixth-highest total ever, even though the agency estimated 2 million fewer visitors as a result of park closures caused by Hurricane Sandy. Continue reading

New tourism policy to boost outbound Chinese travel

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Tourism destinations around the world could benefit from a new policy encouraging Chinese people to travel.

Government wants to encourage both domestic and foreign travel

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Chinese travelers are already boosting tourism economies around the world, but a new national policy that specifically encourages travel abroad could lead to an increase surge of business at popular destinations, according to the World Tourism Organization.

The Outline for National Tourism and Leisure (2013-2020), issued by the State Council of China, the country´s highest level of government, presents a roadmap for restructuring the current paid leave system across China. Continue reading

Travel: Statue of Liberty to reopen for July 4th holiday

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Down, but not out. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to be repaired in time for the busy summer season

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Along with inundating residential areas in the Northeast, Hurricane Sandy also caused extensive damage to the Statue of Liberty, destroying  docks, crippling the energy infrastructure on Ellis Island and wiping out the security screening system.

But Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today said this week that the National Park Service expects to reopen the Statue of Liberty to visitors in time for Independence Day.

 

“[W]e are fully committed to reopening this crown jewel as soon as it’s safe for visitors and not a second later,”  Salazar said. “Based on the tremendous progress we have made, Lady Liberty will be open to the public in time for the July 4th celebration.” Continue reading

Morning photo: Fountain festival in Munich

Serendipity in the Viktualienmarkt

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Playing with the big boys!

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Finding a bustling market packed with fresh fruit and veggies is always a treat, and when it’s located in the heart of a major urban area, it’s a real score. Such is the case with the Viktualienmarkt in Munich, Germany, where city residents mingle with tourists for shopping and even sit-down meals amidst the many vendor stalls.

Offerings at the market include mushrooms from near and far, wild forest strawberries from the Balkans, Greek cheeses and locally made sausages. Some locals bring their own white and blue-checked table cloths to decorate the tables under the shade of old chestnut trees. Sausages and pretzels are close at hand and big-handled liter steins of beer are ubiquitous.

Our visit this summer coincided with a festival held to celebrate the heritage of the many fountains in the market, erected to honor some of Munich’s cultural heros — poets, musicians and storytellers. At the peak of the summer harvest season, each fountain is lovingly decorated with bright flowers, and local singers and bands perform traditional songs nearby. It’s not really marketed as s big-time tourist event. We found out about the festival by reading the local newspaper, and for many market visitors, the event simply added a nice backdrop to their daily shopping or lunch routine. Continue reading

Global tourism continues steady growth

Tourists take photos at the Golden Gate Bridge overlook in Marin County, California.

Tourists take photos at the Golden Gate Bridge overlook in Marin County, California. Bob Berwyn photo.

UN officials see tourism as an economic pillar

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Now that the World Tourism Organization has counted every last airline traveler, cruise passenger and backpacker, it’s official — international tourist arrivals grew by 4 percent in 2012 to surpass 1 billion for the first time ever, according to the latest update of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.

Emerging economies led the way, showing growth of 4.1 percent, compared to 3.6 percent growth among advanced economies, with Asia and the Pacific showing the strongest results. By region, Asia and the Pacific showed 7.1 percent growth. By sub-region, South-East Asia, North Africa (both at  plus 9 percent) and Central and Eastern Europe (plus 8 percent) topped the rankings.

Tourism officials say they expect growth to continue in 2013 at a slightly slower pace between 3 and 4 percent, continuing the trend from the last quarter of 2012, when demand was stronger than expected. Continue reading

Tourism: 1 billion travelers take to the road in 2012

Travel continues to boost economies around the world

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Europe still accounts for more than half of the global tourism market, but Asia is catching up.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — As expected, global tourism hit a significant milestone late this year, with more than 1 billion travelers taking to the skies, seas and highways to visit destinations near and far, according to the World Tourism Organization, which closely monitors world travel statistics.

Tourism growth continued in 2012 despite continued economic challenges. The WTO said the relative strength of sector underscores the economic importance of tourism, accounting for 9 percent of global GDP (direct, indirect and induced impact), one in every 12 jobs and up to 8 percent of the total exports of the world’s least developed countries.

“Today, we welcome the symbolic arrival of the one-billionth tourist” UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai said Dec. 13 at a ceremony in Madrid.

Rifai emphasized travel and tourism as a potentially powerful force for good:

“Your actions count. That is our message to the one billion tourists. Through the right actions and choices, each tourist represents an opportunity for a fairer, more inclusive and more sustainable future,” he said.

As it is impossible to know exactly where the one-billionth tourist arrived, so many countries  celebrated the the occasion by welcoming tourists arriving on 13 December.

To coincide with the milestone, the WTO launched a new One Billion Tourists: One Billion Opportunities campaign, showing tourists that respecting local culture, preserving heritage or buying local goods when travelling can make a big difference. The public was asked to vote for the Travel Tip that would have the greatest benefit for the people and places they visit and to pledge to follow that tip when traveling.

The winning tip, revealed on the arrival date of the one-billionth tourist, was “buy local,” encouraging tourists to buy food and souvenirs locally, or hire local guides, to ensure their spending translates into jobs and income for host communities. A close second, “respect local culture,” calls on tourists to learn more about their destination’s traditions, or some words in the local language, before leaving home.

 

Vail Resorts dials back earnings expectations

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Will the early season snow drought affect Vail’s bottom line? Only time will tell. Bob Berwyn photo.

Colorado’s second consecutive early season snow drought may be affecting pass sales and advance bookings

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Vail Resorts stock swooned a bit, but then started to recover, after   CEO and chairman Rob Katz, said this week that it may be a challenge for his company to achieve its previously stated earnings goals.

MTN dropped as much as 12 percent and ended the day down 8 percent, at about $52 per share, after Katz said that early season booking trends are not as strong as they could be. The stock price started to recover Wednesday, climbing back up about 2.5 percent, perhaps with investors, just like skiers, taking a wait and see attitude.

That was Katz’s line, too, as he told investors that the holiday season will likely tell the tale.

“We will know more about the season after the holidays and intend to address our fiscal 2013 guidance when we release our ski season metrics in mid-January,” Katz said in the earning statements released to investors early Tuesday morning.

For the first quarter of fiscal year 2013, the company reported a net loss of $60.6 million compared to a net loss of $55.7 million in the same period in the prior year, a decline of 8.7 percent.

Season passes helped drive revenue in the quarter, with sales to-date (including 4-Packs) up about 5 percent in units and approximately 8 percent in revenue compared to the same period in the prior year, and adjusted as if Kirkwood were owned in both periods.

But lack of early season snowfall in Colorado may be affecting overall sales. Katz said current weather conditions are a concern for skiers who have delayed their pass-purchasing decisions.

“The total growth of the (pass) program is slightly below our expectations, as we believe that the amount of sales that we pulled forward to earlier selling periods was somewhat larger than expected,” he said. “Sales in Tahoe and international markets continued to show the most strength. We expect the final results of the program will be generally consistent with these percentage increases as final sales conclude in the coming weeks,” he added.

Overall,  lodging reservations are slightly down from last year, but a kids-ski-free with lodging program at Keystone has helped drive strong early bookings at that Summit County resort. Based on historical averages, less than half the winter season reservations are on the books this time of year.

With the ski season just ramping up, Katz said the earnings figures from the first fiscal quarter generally reflect late summer activity at the company’s properties, and that there were “positive trends” in summer mountain and lodging operations, with improved visitation driving increased revenue from summer activities and dining.

The company sold four luxury condos at the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Vail and reported a positive net real estate cash flow of $5.5 million for the quarter.

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