Truth-in-Travel: ITB Berlin mis-counts.

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FOXTROTS

Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

 

TinT rides again!

Truth-in-Travel: ITB Berlin mis-counts.

That’s not the way I see it.

 

Back in November I rewrote the headline the organisers wrote to review their World Travel Market travel exhibition in London. They said “WTM London Again Attracts 50,000 Participants”. I gave data to show my point, and rewrote the headline to “WTM London attendance falls 2%”.

 

Sadly, I have had to do the same for ITB Berlin travel exhibition, staged earlier this month. The organisers wrote “Fully-booked exhibition halls, more trade visitors than ever before, and record sales”. My heading would read “Flat exhibitor count, business, and public attendance, and sizeable fall in media attendance”.

 

The biggest positive was for the ITB Convention segment of ITBB. Not only did attendance grow 13% but I calculate that the share of trade visitors also did – from 20% in 2015 to 22% in 2016. This achievement is partially devalued, however, by the fact that ITBC attendance for ITBB attendants is free.

 

 

My reasons for the headline rewrite:

[] The ITBB exhibitor count fell this year, even if only 1%.

 

[] I augment ITBB’s financial data (on business conducted at ITBB), even if I never quite believe that total figure (the question to attendees is something similar to “how much business did you conduct at the exhibition?”). Business-conducted-per-trade-visitor was flat (+0.1%), although business-conducted-per-exhibitor grew 5.5% – partly because the exhibitor count fell.

 

[] Public attendance appears to have reached a ceiling – 60,000 (precisely) has been reported for the past four years.

 

[] ITBB’s media count has fallen substantially. I do not have annual data, but this year it is 33% below what I have as its peak – 8000 in 2008. Is this related to a general fall in the number of media outlets (and/or their profitability), or a fall in the importance of attending ITBB, or ITBB’s ending of its support for many journalists?

 

 

My other TinTs:

[] ITBB has always claimed that visitor arrivals increase for ‘partner countries’ after their year. Latest data: Indonesia grew 6.8% in the year it was partner country, +3.3% after. Maldives, which finished its year with the March ITBB, +7.1% in 2014, +2.4% in 2015.

 

[] When Messe Berlin launched its second attempt at staging an ITB in Asia (in Singapore in 2008; the first, in Hong Kong, was stopped in 1999), an MB senior director told me that China had wanted ITBA to be based in Beijing, not Singapore. But MB chose Singapore because of all advantages – such as no-visa access for most attendees, absence of interference (accepting Taiwan etc), freedom in choosing names on conference badges (yes, China sets rules on this!). I presume MB’s decision to launch ITB China* in Shanghai from 2017 means that it believes the revenue potential is now more important that those other concerns – which are still there.

 

*In partnership with Travel Daily China, a publisher. ITB’s first venture in Asia was also with a publisher partner.

 

The Fox

Remember, I’ll be famous after I’m dead.

 

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Asia Pacific outbound, France’s failing, Japan rising.

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FOXTROTS

Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

 

Asia Pacific outbound, France’s failing, Japan rising.

Reports on these topics in our Travel Business Analyst newsletter contain some important additional information and analysis.

 

Asia Pacific outbound

Our calculation of AsPac resident departures for latest-month December, in the current editions of the Travel Business Analyst newsletter, shows +9.1%. Boosted by big growth from Korea +25%, Taiwan, and the fact that Japan’s fall -4% was less than it was in most 2015 months.

 

 

France’s failing

You want proof that France’s visitor business is not doing as well as all those administering the industry think?

 

Take the top-5 visitor destinations:

 

-Since 2000 France has added 9mn visitors, US 27mn, Spain 22mn, China 26mn, Italy 20mn.

-Since 2010, France +7mn, US +18mn, Spain +16mn, China +1mn (sic), Italy +7mn.

 

(I’ve based this on WTO data.)

 

 

Japan rising!

Outbound travel from Japan grew 3% in January. If that does not seem impressive, note that it is only the third month in 25 that it has not fallen. And those other months it was +0.3% and +1.2% – and so +3.3% feels boomy.

 

And then there are arrivals – +52%! But that’s not the fastest in recent times; that was +64%. The lowest monthly growth in the past 25 has been +17%.

 

The Fox

Remember, I’ll be famous after I’m dead.

 

Fox On Friday: China outbound shock.

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FOXTROTS

Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

 

Fox On Friday: China outbound shock.

A report on this topic in our Travel Business Analyst newsletter contains some important additional information and analysis.

 

Our estimates indicate that outbound travel from China grew only 5.55% in 2015. That is one of the weakest years since we started tracking China’s outbound market in 1990.

 

There was a fractional fall in 1994, and possibly growth of just 3% in 1998. (The uncertainty is caused by a restatement of figures by China’s DMO.) Since 2000, growth has been in double-digits.

 

But, like Houston, we have a problem.

 

Our tracking includes the quasi-domestic travel into Hong Kong and Macau. Because these numbers are so big (nearing 50mn into HK), a change there can cause sizeable change to the overall totals.

 

And there have been sizeable changes. Hong Kong residents have expressed in some ways their unhappiness with visitors from the mainland. And Macau has been hit by China’s now-lengthy campaign against corruption. Even if the gambling money being spent in Macau was not corruptly earned, many travellers and would-be travellers are simply ‘laying-low’ – to reduce the risk of attracting attention.

 

As a result, Hong Kong counted 1.4mn fewer visitors from China in 2015 and Macau 0.8mn fewer. That almost equals the additional 2.5mn visitors from China that Japan counted. Overall, then, growth in three of the top-5 destinations-from-China was neutralised. (Of the others, Thailand was +70%, Taiwan +5%.)

 

Because of all this, we are now reviewing our policy of including Hong Kong and Macau in our totals – as much of this travel is even ‘less’ than excursion travel. For many it is the same as travelling from one city to another in the same country.

 

The Fox

Remember, I’ll be famous after I’m dead.

 

wow – ow – ouch – oh

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FOXTROTS

Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

 

wow – ow – ouch – oh

China’s airlines – wow

Although it was a Lunar New Year month (compared with non-LNY in 2015), growth in seat sales for China’s big-3 is impressive nevertheless.

 

In January on international routes (by size), China Southern was +29%, Air China +43% (!), China Eastern +30%.

 

(Numbers: 1.14mn 1.10mn 0.88mn.)

 

 

Macau – ow

I presume y’all follow Macau’s RCT (ok, it’s Rolling Chip Turnover; ok, I don’t really understand either but treat it as money spent on gambling).

 

I have just seen the 2015 results for IKGH, a company operating certain high-rollers rooms in four casinos in Macau.

 

Well, its RCT in 2015 fell an enormous 61%, and it is not getting much better – Q4 RCT was down 57% and Jan-Feb this year -44%. (Dollar amounts need additional explanation that I am not capable of giving – but those interested, the figures were US$6.4bn in 2015, and US$1.2bn in Q4.)

 

If those results are an indicator for all-Macau, will Las Vegas take back its title as the world’s biggest gambling centre?

Big Mac’s big gambling loss

We follow RCT in Macau (Rolling Chip Turnover; can be considered as money spent on gambling). The 2015 results for IKGH, a company operating certain high-rollers rooms in four casinos in Macau, show big falls.

 

IKGH’s RCT in 2015 fell an enormous 61%, and it is not getting much better – Q4 RCT was down 57% and Jan-Feb this year -44%. (Dollar amounts were US$6.4bn in 2015, and US$1.2bn in Q4.)

 

If those results are an indicator for all-Macau, will Las Vegas take back its title as the world’s biggest gambling centre?

 

 

Malaysia Airlines – ouch

I estimate that Malaysia Airlines’ international seat sales fell even further in 2015, possibly to under 10mn. Was it only two years earlier in 2013 that its count soared passed that 10mn with 30% growth?

 

Unsurprisingly, traffic fell in 2014 after it lost two aircraft, but it is surprising that monthly traffic is still falling.

 

We thought there would be a Dead Cat Bounce for the last three months of 2015. Not only did that not happen, by a long way, but also the fall seems to have been greater – down around 25% in Q4.

 

Of course, these falls are not entirely the result of those two 2014 tragedies. There is still hard competition from the Air Asia group (although AA is not doing as well as it was). And Malaysia’s current governmental turmoil and currency fall may be slowing traffic in and out of the country – possibly more business- than leisure-travel.

 

Also, we think MA should have changed its name last year (it did, but from its formal abbreviation MAS to MAB; most did not notice). At least to Air Malaysia.

 

Those aforementioned political spats may be reducing the pressure on MA to explain and reverse its continued fall. But expect political demands for a return to better times to happen soon – however unrealistic. In the next 4-6 months?

 

 

Virgin Australia – oh

It was not supposed to be like this.

 

When Virgin Australia launched, it started fortuitously – its big would-be rival, Ansett, shut down the following year, in 2001. It continued to go well until, encouraged by an adoring crowd, it started international flights. Some are still there, but international expansion was not as easy as it seemed to think.

 

Then Qantas launched Jetstar in Australia, and VA felt the competition heat more warmly. Worse, Singapore Airlines (which actually got burned badly in the Ansett collapse – but let’s not bring that up again) cheekily started a Tiger Air division in Australia.

 

That went sort-of reasonably, until the authorities shut it down temporarily in 2011 for safety reasons. 18 months later Singapore Airlines – which left the impression it did not know what it was doing with Tiger, in Australia and Asia – sold the Australia company to VA.

 

VA smugly said it was pleased to get back into the no-frills-airline business. Smug because its original businessplan was for a no-frills-airline (even though that did not fit the overall Virgin strategy). When Ansett collapsed, Virgin steadily ditched the NFA model.

 

So here we are with 2015 results – our counts from Virgin data, because it has a different financial year.

 

Seat sales down for Virgin international and down for Virgin domestic Australia. Ironically, only Tiger grew, and that because it can be considered a newish airline that had lost its direction, and is now under more-determined direction.

 

VA’s total count is down. If this continues, watch for another change in direction soon – from CEO change to change in strategy on domestic, international and Tiger. Will Tiger’s name go?

 

(Numbers: domestic -3%, international -2%, Tiger +9%; overall -1%.)

 

The Fox

Remember, I’ll be famous after I’m dead.

Fox On Friday: Faure for France

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FOX ON FRIDAY

 

Fox On Friday: Faure for France

An extract from the current issue of the People-in-Travel (PinT) monthly-report.

 

Philippe Faure has been named head of France’s DMO – France Atout* – for a 3-year term. Faure is a politician, not a trade professional. He even studied at the Paris school ENA – which is primarily for would-be politicians.

 

He has worked at the foreign ministry, which included a period as press secretary in Washington 1981-7. After that he was in the private sector, in insurance, before returning to politics as ambassador to Mexico in 2000, then Morocco and Japan.

 

This is his task: visitor growth in 2015 was about 2%; below its competitors (all our estimates) – Germany +6%, Spain +5%, UK +4%.

 

Officials in France often repeat that the destination counts more visitors than any other – so why worry? Faure needs to look a little deeper – France’s market share has fallen every year for 10 years, and its revenue-per-visitor is one third that of visitors into the US, for instance.

 

*France Atout is the newish (bad) name for the destination’s tourism marketing office. Think of it as Tourisme France – which is the name it should have chosen.

 

The Fox

Remember, I’ll be famous after I’m dead.

Europe outbound, Eurotunnel, France’s faults, UK travel counts

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FOXTROTS

Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

 

Europe outbound, Eurotunnel, France’s faults, UK travel counts

Europe outbound 2015

Our estimates on outbound travel from leading Europe markets in 2015. Not all data is in (actually, Eurostat is still a long way from getting all 2014 counts) – Germany +2%, UK +6%, Russia -32%, France -3%, Italy +2%.

 

Eurotunnel down

We presume the November terrorist attacks in Paris were largely responsible for the Q4 falls in Eurotunnel traffic. That Q4 result means for all-2015 car traffic was down 1%, Eurostar passengers flat. Actually ET is not responsible for Eurostar sales.

 

Will Faure find France’s faults?

Philippe Faure has been named head of France’s DMO – the (badly-named) France Atout – for a 3-year term.

 

This is his task: visitor growth in France in 2015 was about 2%; below its competitors (all our estimates) – Germany +6%, Spain +5%, UK +4%.

 

Officials in France often repeat that the destination counts more visitors than any other – so why worry? Yet if it looked harder, it would see that its market share has fallen every year for 10 years, and its revenue-per-visitor is one third that of visitors in the US, for instance.

 

UK travel counts out

UK 2015 visitors +4%, UK outbound travel an impressive +12%.

 

(Our figures are slightly different from official ones because we add up the monthly totals. But the official ones use some adjusted figures from past months, but do not always tell the wide world – in which we live.)

 

The Fox

Remember, I’ll be famous after I’m dead.