Global Travel Trends 2013/2014

Despite ambivalent global economic development, international tourism reached a new record high in 2013, according to the recently released IPK International’s World Travel Monitor® report on Global Travel Trends 2013/14 .

IPK’s World Travel Monitor® recorded a +5% increase in outbound travel to 952 million for the 2013 international travel year. The number of foreign overnight accommodations increased by 4% (7.6 billion nights) and, at 989 billion Euro, international travel spending even rose +6%.

This positive development will continue on a world-wide scale in 2014 and now also extend to numerous “advanced economies.”

Europe – still positive

On the outbound travel of the Europeans in 2013, IPK’s study showed that they took more trips in 2013 than in 2012. Altogether the number of European outbound trips rose three percent in 2013 to 432 million, following a two percent growth figure for 2012. While the number of overnight accommodations remained stable at 3.5 billion nights, travel spending for outbound trips rose by two percent to 368 billion euros.

In terms of the types of holidays the Europeans took during the past year, beach holidays were the most frequent, chalking up +4% growth. In contrast, the number of tours only rose by 1% but, conversely, stronger growth (+5%) was noted for city trips and winter holidays.


According to IPK, in regards to Europe’s most important source markets in 2013, Russia again dominated the European growth figures with an increase of 13 percent.

The German market

The Germans took 335 million domestic and outbound trips in 2013 (+2 percent), and at 1.7 billion, the number of overnight stays also came in twi percent higher.

According to IPK, there was still no change with respect to the top holiday destinations of the Germans: Austria continued to hold first place in 2013 (17 percent market share), followed by Spain(16 percent) and Italy (12 percent). Austria and Spain were able to hold onto their market shares with single-digit growth rates while Italy’s negative growth resulted in the country losing one percent market share. Other popular German outbound holiday destinations last year were Turkey (eight percent), the Netherlands (six percent), France (six percent) and Greece (three percent).

Outlook for 2014

Although the global economy seems to be heading toward recession, IPK anticipates a five percent worldwide growth in tourism for 2014.

Social media will continue to gain more and more relevance, including for the tourism sector. Nearly every second European outbound traveler is part of the social media community and 16% of them already use social media as a source of information for planning and realizing their trips.

View the full report here

Social Media & a Conference Kick-off at 35.000 Feet?

Wondering in what new ways can social media, a conference and a plane be connected?

While the latest surveys show that about half of airline passengers are interested in booking destination-related services while flying,  the airlines’ ability to take advantage of the extended in-flight touchpoint with Wi-Fi implementation, provides even further marketing opportunities to reach flexible, spontaneous travelers and not only. Still, there are definitely more opportunities that remain untapped.

Take for example the case of the world’s first conference kick off on an airplane! 

The Social Media Tourism Symposium, known as #SoMeT14EU, is making its debut in Europe by aiming high – 35,000 feet above ground.


It will actually be very interesting to see if this could be the start of new perceptions in conference organization and the entire MICE industry.

On April 8, SoMeT and Finnair kick off the conference at Helsinki Airport and then take to the skies aboard a Finnair plane.

Conference delegates arrive at the Helsinki airport in time to connect with Finnair flight AY429 to Rovaniemi, where the conference continues on April 9 and 10.

Finland’s airport operator, Finavia hosts a welcome reception in the airport at ‘Wine & View’, where delegates can check in and collect their SoMeT name badges. The first keynote presentation begins on the inflight entertainment system once the plane reaches cruising altitude.

SoMeT is the only conference of its kind that provides an opportunity for destinations and tourism businesses to share ideas and learn more about how to leverage social media within the tourism industry.

“As an airline connecting Europe and Asia and seeking growth especially in the quickly growing Asian market, we’re constantly looking for new ways to utilize social media. We hope to learn from the speakers as well as provide inspiration for the attendees in return. I’m sure the airline conference will be a fun event, and we’ll make our outmost to make our guests feel welcome in Finland, the coolest destination there is at the moment,” Aku Varamäki, Social Media Manager from Finnair, says.

Rodney Payne, CEO of Think! Social Media, the digital marketing agency that produces the SoMeT conferences says: “We’re very excited about this world-first conference launch on a plane. SoMeT is already one of the most progressive marketing conferences for destinations around the world, and now we’re taking SoMeT to new heights.”

We cannot wait to experience this first hand, as abouTourism will be amongst the speakers at the #SoMeT14EU!

Learn more about SoMeT at: &

Tourism Meets Social Media at SoMeT14EU

On April 9-10, the Social Media Tourism Symposium (SoMeT) is coming to Europe for the first time. This is the premier event for tourism boards and destination marketers who are interested in how social media has created new marketing opportunities and challenges for destination marketing organizations.


SoMeT has run for four years in the USA and after recently expanding to Australia, SoMeT is coming to Europe in April, 2014 too. This is an amazing opportunity for destination marketing professionals to attend a world-class event.

At ENTER2014, we caught up with the CEO of Think!, the company behind the event. Apparently, there’s a very big development in the works for this year’s event.

This year, we’re excited to be holding SoMeT Europe in Rovaniemi. We’ve got a very exciting development in the works, that’s going to be a world-first involving an airplane and a lot of social media!’

AbouTourism will be there, as Manolis Psarros is one of the SoMeT14EU speakers and we look forward to seeing you there as well.

Stay tuned for more information in the next few days.

Past Event Snapshots:

Naamloos  SoMeTWed-0128 copy

More information can be found on the website:

and the SoMeT fan page:

Top 5 AbouTourism Articles for 2013!

As we wrap up 2013, it is time to take a look at some of your favorite and most read articles from this past year.

During this past year, abouTourism offered insights on destination marketing and the latest developments, highlighted the latest trends to shape the industry and shared best practice cases showcasing successful destination development, management and marketing strategies.

It’s been an amazing year and we want to thank each and everyone for your trust and support as we are getting ready for an even more exciting 2014!

These are the Top 5 abouTourism blog posts that we loved most in 2013!

1. Destination Marketing: Social Media Campaigns that Work


Slovenia, through the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB) has a well developed digital presence promoting the country as a tourism destination. In order to raise awareness of Slovenia as a high class and attractive winter destination, STB launched an innovative winter campaign with the support of abouTourism and Mindworks, and we are excited with the results!

A simple and to the point campaign with easily spreadable content, creating word of mouth, while involving multiple user segments, including locals, professionals, potential travelers and social media influencers.

2. A New Kid on the Block: Black Sea Region & Cruise Tourism


What does it take for emerging sea cruise destinations to establish themselves in a highly competitive market?

A response provided by abouTourism consultants, as part of a report prepared for the ‘United Nations Development Programme – Black Sea Trade and Investment Programme’ (UNDP BSTIP), is that individual destinations, physically coupled in a large geographical zone, are not going to benefit from cruise passengers visiting these localities unless they set common targets and coordinate their efforts.

3. Integrated, Multichannel Tourism Marketing: Gadgets, Books, Films & more

VF realityshows

When content is king and there are multiple channels to distribute various types of content, how can we make sure that the right message appears at the right people at the right time?

Today that travelers are using a combination of offline/online sources and platforms throughout the travel buying cycle, it is crucial to develop integrated, multichannel marketing campaigns as a result of proper strategic planning. Right content at the right time means appropriate messaging per channel, smartly using available tools which will all come together to complement the overall destination brand.

DMOs are called to utilize any given opportunity to pull their audience deeper into the destination’s brand, by being active content distributors, combining traditional promotional tools and marketing activities in smart ways which place excellent content where their target market is.

4. Destination Marketing: Use Your Babies, Bananas & more

VL page

As a fact, major events can have a major impact on the visitor economy of their host destinations, but it is up to the destination tourism authorities to set how much. It is also up to the destination to think outside the box and try to capitalize on every single – or set of- strength and assets it has to support its tourism marketing efforts. In a few words….Go bananas…

When the royal baby was born, we took a look at how UK tourism agencies approached this special event to capitalize on the world wide interest, marketing the royal birth and the whole destination at the same time.

5. Effective B2B Destination Marketing-Travel Trade Workshops


A case study of destination-focused travel trade Workshops organization for the City of Athens.

Within the framework of the City of Athens’ development and tourism promotion action plan aiming to highlight Athens in the international tourism market, the Athens Development & Destination Management Agency (ADDMA) reached a cooperation agreement of strategic importance with the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA)The agreement sees to the establishment of a series of annual B2B workshops under the name Travel Trade Athens.

The agreement signed with ETOA, has a dual purpose for the tourism product of Metropolitan Athens and the destination’s efforts to strengthen the international image of Athens in the global tourism community. Firstly, this is the first intervention of such scale and importance after many years and with partner one of the most dynamic institutions in the European market, who trusts the city and its formal structures, such as the ADDMA. Secondly, it makes evident that Athens, as a city break and business destination, continues to be a very interesting and attractive option with promising growth prospects.

Stay tuned for more!

International Tourism & Travel Trends

The WTM Global Trends Report 2013 was just launched during London’s WTM 2013, in association with Euromonitor International and highlights the emerging trends from around the world.

A global overview presents the following key findings:

  • The global economy is expected to record 3.1% growth in 2013, a stable performance compared to 2012.
  • The IMF predicts global GDP to grow by 3.8% in 2014, thanks to positive growth in the Eurozone, the economy picking up in the US and a further increase in emerging markets.
  • The long-term economic potential of the BRICs and other emerging markets remains solid and is expected to drive positive performance of the global economy over 2015-2017.
  • Global tourist arrivals and inbound spending are predicted to continue to be vital over the 2012-2017 period, boosted by increasing demand from emerging markets.
  • Advanced markets are recovering after the difficulties experienced since the crisis with tourism flows and spending from the US, Japan and Europe returning to growth. 
  • Online travel agencies are growing in importance, with Expedia and Priceline dominating this space. Players from emerging markets are also gaining ground, like the Chinese online travel agency Ctrip.
  • Mobile travel bookings are becoming significant globally, reaching double-digit shares of online sales for some key players in the online travel agency and hotel categories in 2012.

WTM 13

The Global Trends Report 2013 reveals how travel players are differentiating and innovating their products and services, all while embracing social media.

Non-traditional demographic groups are emerging with PANKs ‘Professional Aunt, No Kids,’ a new target market in the US, while child friendly and multi-generational safaris in Africa are growing more popular.

We see that business models are adapting to suit customers’ needs, where low-cost carriers are going upmarket in the Middle East and hotels offer microstays. Peer-to-peer continues to make inroads despite legislative hurdles. The lure of the East grows apace with cruise operators diving into the Chinese market.

Social media channels are important to improving the customer experience, as seen with the emergence of the mobile concierge, while in India, social channels are giving online travel companies’ sales a welcome boost.

Here are the main identified trends per region:

  • AmericasPANKs – A New Demographic

The travel industry is starting to cater to the ‘Professional Aunt, No Kids’  demographic.

  • UK: Travel Happiness Index provides a unique measurement of customer satisfaction via its happiness scores for airlines.

  • Europe: Next Generation Peer-to-Peer Travel

Peer-to-peer travel services are recording strong growth in Europe,  offering authentic experiences at affordable prices.

  • Middle East: Low-Cost Goes Upmarket

Middle Eastern consumers have a penchant for luxury, which has led LCCs to introduce business class-style services.

  • Africa: The Big Five with Your Little One

Child-focused safaris in Africa are becoming more popular, driven by demand for multi-generational holidays.

  • Asia: Fight for Cruise Control in China

China is set to become a key market for cruise companies as this new type of holiday rises in popularity.

  • India: The Travel Social Shake-Up

Indian online travel players are using social media more effectively to target young urban consumers.

  • Global Village: Vacancy on Demand – Chasing the 24-hour Traveller 

Microstays have emerged as an attractive means of boosting hotel revenues, by targeting business travellers on the move.

  • Travel Technology: Mobile Concierge

Travel companies are increasingly using mobile channels to satisfy customers’ needs before, during and after the trip.

You can find the Full WTM Global Trends 2013 report here

and check out TrendSpotting 2013 for all the latest Tourism & Travel Reports

A New Kid on the Block: Black Sea Region & Cruise Tourism

Having concluded the Black Sea Tourism Forum & Workshop which took place in Athens on 10-11 October 2013 offering great insights by top international and regional tourism experts on Black Sea Region tourism developments and international trends, we would like to share with you the key insights from the study on Cruise Tourism in the Black Sea Region prepared by abouTourism on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme – ‘Black Sea Trade and Investment Programme’ (UNDP BSTIP).

What does it take for emerging sea cruise destinations to establish themselves in a highly competitive market?

That was a key debate during the 2nd Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum, especially with respect to the Black Sea Region (BSR) which has only lately appeared in the geography of cruise industry.

A response provided by abouTourism consultants, as part of a report prepared for the ‘United Nations Development Programme – Black Sea Trade and Investment Programme’ (UNDP BSTIP), is that individual destinations, physically coupled in a large geographical zone, are not going to benefit from cruise passengers visiting these localities unless they set common targets and coordinate their efforts.


A straight explanation is that cruise lines do not only examine the local availability of adequate infrastructure, low tariffs, or a plethora of on-shore activities for their clients while building a destination portfolio. Much depends as well on security terms, reinforcement facilities, and the combination of different types of attractions. The latter factors are assessed by cruise lines at a regional scale, which explains why the cruise industry is usually divided into large zones, among which the Caribbean and the Mediterranean have traditionally had the lion’s share in port calls and cruise passengers.

Thus, there is much at stake for emerging destinations in the BSR not merely because of the industry’s capacity to sustain trends of positive growth throughout the emergence and escalation of the economic crisis and its potential to penetrate in new source markets, among which are included the countries of Russia and Turkey. In considering the industry’s consolidated structure, with four companies accounting for 86% of global market, the incorporation of the BSR in future deployment trends depends both on private sector strategy and the flexibility of authorities at a regional and local level to upgrade their territories, promote them in a consistent manner, and effectively negotiate partnership terms with cruise lines.

This argument is consistent with the recent experience of a series of regional practices from the Southeast Asia, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean discussed in the report. In terms of developing new itineraries, investing in port facilities, undertaking place marketing, and assessing the visitors’ impact, these examples illustrate the usefulness of supranational bodies and international associations as flexible networks with a clear agenda and a visionary mission founded on shared values. Without ignoring challenges that arise from the current economic climate, geopolitical conditions and the lack of a well-established brand for the whole area, intra-regional collaboration in the case of the BSR is examined as a means to foster sound policies aimed at enhancing cruise tourism product quality, competing for market share, and increasing mutual benefits for all countries and parties involved.

The countries that surround the inland sea and compose a cultural mosaic of various traditions have had their own distinctive approaches to policy-making for mass and alternative tourism, with some of them recording substantial, if not drastic in some cases increases of international tourist arrivals over the last decade. It is a fact, however, that the BSR has not yet capitalized on its proximity and close relationships with Mediterranean destinations, maintaining a cruise tourism market share consistently less than one per cent within the whole Mediterranean.

It can also be said that partnership building may be difficult, when territorial variations shape the ways in which each member state of the BSTIP tackles the debate of cruise tourism. Most of the member countries of UNDP BSTIP are basically preoccupied with the expansion of their sea cruise destinations (Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Greece), some countries are gradually making their path to the market of river cruises (Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, and Ukraine), while others can only examine how they can gain secondary benefits from the expansion of cruises in the BSR (Armenia and Azerbaijan).

Nevertheless, there have also been encouraging signs. From an institutional perspective, this report has come at a time of ongoing deliberations among the Black Sea port authorities and other stakeholders, especially with respect to a recently established project under the brand name ‘Cruise Black Sea’ (CBS). With the explicit aim of strengthening cooperation between the participants in the field of cruises development in the BSR and promoting the regional ports internationally as a united cruise destination, the CBS project appears to provide an adequate framework for conducting marketing research with a regional focus and playing an industry-specific, yet by no means negligible role in cultivating or stabilizing bilateral relationships.

Interestingly, the CBS initiative has not only been associated with an increasing awareness across the BSR of the importance of multiculturalism as a term that captures conceptually both the essence of the region’s history and the major source of tourist attraction for cruise passengers. More importantly, it has also coincided with a pattern of growth for 2013, with more cruise lines arriving at the BSR in order to take advantage of ongoing improvements in port infrastructure, the relatively short sailing distances among the Black Sea ports, and the wealth of cultural and natural attractions allocated among 20 destinations.

Undertaking a detailed analysis of these issues, the report has set a thematic agenda for a vivid dialogue between UNDP-BSTIP and the main parties involved in cruise tourism, basically including port authorities and cruise lines. The time is appropriate for such a dialogue because of late signs of growth in the region’s overall tourism sector and particularly in cruise tourism. Multiculturalism is not merely a concept that summarizes what makes the BSR a composition of attractive tourist destinations. People in cruise industry need to deal with this condition in a daily routine, because doing regional business means doing regional partnerships. Port authorities are right to believe that a unified brand will help the cruise industry regionally, but this could be part of a greater strategy incorporating in a systematic manner the concerns and interests of various localities and stakeholders .

What the examples of other regions show is that complex problems can rarely be understood without collaboration, let alone solved. On these grounds, the report also draws the industry’s attention to a few more issues that will shape the future of cruise tourism in the BSR.

  • The special role of Istanbul especially in the light of new infrastructure investments and the growing expansion of Turkish Airlines;
  • Connection between ports and airports across the BSR; development of itineraries, fly-cruise operations, homeports, and the future role of Odessa;
  • Legislative framework and funding sources of the important investments that currently take place in many ports (e.g. Burgas, Sevastopol, Sochi, Batumi, etc); exchange of views over the experience of concessions;
  • Integration of infrastructure investments with urban regeneration plans;
  • Development of a common tariff policy;
  • Visa arrangements;
  • Development of shore activities on the basis of common quality standards and with the aim of promoting further the tourism product of each locality and country;
  • Influence of Mega-events such as the winter Olympics and the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Sochi in 2014;

Check out the Presentation below for full information: