Biggest Tourism Winners and Losers in Europe and The Americas for 2015
PHOTO: Miami Beach. (TravelPulse file photo)
The Western Hemisphere definitely had a good year in travel over the last 12 months. There have been reports from multiple locations that visitor numbers were off the charts, breaking records. Throughout the region, planned investment and development was booming.
Some examples include Florida, where in just the first part of the year, the state was experiencing 6.2 percent growth, a trend that continued throughout the year with Miami and Fort Lauderdale in particular noting tourism booms and planning for future growth with hotels and attractions scheduled to debut in 2016 and beyond.
Farther afield, Mexico was a big winner this year. The country, which had to deal with the devastating effects of Hurricane Odile in late 2014, dodged a bullet this year. Hurricane Patricia roared to a Category 5 hurricane and was one of the largest storms to ever be recorded – and it was headed straight for the tourist mecca of Puerto Vallarta. Just before landfall, the storm headed slightly sout,h missing most of the tourist destinations and heavily inhabited areas.
Another win for Mexico was a year of reduced violence, allowing tourists to return to popular destinations such as Mazatlan and Acapulco. Mazatlan expects to welcome even more cruises this year, and Acapulco celebrated occupancy rates over a holiday weekend that returned to the 90th percentile.
It’s hard to go a day right now without hearing about another tourism success story coming from the Caribbean. Many islands saw significant growth over the last few months. One of the places that is getting the most buzz right now is Jamaica, with a slew of hotel openings, impressive tourism numbers and the recently announced plans by the government and Palace Resorts to sink even more cash into tourism development around the island.
The United Kingdom
Across the pond, the U.K. has found success with its GREAT campaigns and visitors are feeling twice as welcome in the country as before. The U.K. has capitalized on several events to drive tourism to its country – the Olympic Games were a big driver over the last couple of years as well as the birth of a prince and a princess. The country is now capitalizing on the most recent Bond movies to drive tourism in the region, which is proving to be a winning combination.
While the global population as a whole has found a passion for travel that has seen tourism numbers climb around the globe, some destinations have experienced a bit of bad luck over the past 12 months.
Two terrorist attacks have rocked Paris over the last year and, for each incident, there was a tragic loss of life and a feeling of fear weighed on the city. Paris has rallied back – twice – but it remains to be seen what lasting damage will come to tourism within the city, which is one of the most popular destinations in the world.
California endured a terrorist attack as well as yet another year of drought, causing turmoil in the state and dragging down tourism. Also, while El Nino might wipe out the effects of the drought, it may have the potential to wreak havoc on travel in the state during the coming year. An epic ski season could lead to a short boom, but a series of bad storms have the potential to generate a string of bad publicity for the state, with devastating mudslides and images of flooding affecting visitor numbers into the summer months when the snow has melted away.
Worldwide Travel Alert
Although, right now, things look extremely positive for tourism in the Western Hemishphere with the majority of countries making great strides in growth over the year and dodging catastrophic events, the worldwide travel alert declared by the U.S. could have a dampening effect on people’s enthusiasm for travel.
Already, nations in Africa are feeling the pain of the alert and many Middle Eastern countries where tourism is a large driver of the economy are experiencing crushing effects from the threat of ISIS. Were attacks to spread further out, beyond the region and become more frequent in cities such as Paris and the Greater Los Angeles Area, travelers might decide to stay closer to home, or worse, not travel at all. Which is why it is important that we remain vigilant and look out for our fellow citizens around the world to continue to keep the globe safe for a generation determined to explore.
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