This report discusses the role of the sharing economy in city tourism. While it’s easy to see the sharing economy as a cluster of challenges, in reality it can be a useful tool for city authorities to manage destinations effectively, connect visitors with local experiences and bring economic benefits to local people. However it also has to be regulated in a way that is fair to all stakeholders.

The more the different segments of the tourism sector realize the dynamics of the sharing economy the more we expand the scope of our work on practical aspects and implications. TOPOSOPHY has produced this free discussion paper for DMOs to help understand their role, and plan the way ahead. The paper includes:

  • Analysis of recent trends in the sharing economy, and consumer motivations for using sharing economy services
  • Discussion of how DMOs can update their regulations on sharing economy activities
  • Practical tips on building a sharing economy impact assessment, and monitoring systems
  • Step-by-step guide to making the sharing economy work in favour of the destination and local residents

Visit our new website or Click here to download the full report (free)

International Tourism Trends 2013

UNWTO has just published the latest World Tourism Barometer, showing that international tourist arrivals grew by 4% in 2012 to reach 1.035 billion, a record number.

Emerging economies (+4.1%) regained the lead over advanced economies (+3.6%), with Asia and the Pacific showing the strongest results. Growth is expected to continue in 2013 only slightly below the 2012 level (+3% to +4%).

With an additional 39 million international tourists, up from 996 million in 2011, international tourist arrivals surpassed 1 billion (1.035 billion) for the first time in history in 2012. Demand held well throughout the year, with a stronger than expected fourth quarter.

UNWTO 2012

By region, Asia and the Pacific (+7%) was the best performer, while by sub-region South-East Asia, North Africa (both at +9%) and Central and Eastern Europe (+8%) topped the ranking.

“2012 saw continued economic volatility around the globe, particularly in the Eurozone. Yet international tourism managed to stay on course” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “The sector has shown its capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions and, although at a slightly more modest rate, is expected to continue expanding in 2013. Tourism is thus one of the pillars that should be supported by governments around the world as part of the solution to stimulating economic growth,” he added.

UNWTO forecasts international tourist arrivals to increase by 3% to 4% in 2013, much in line with its long term forecast for 2030: +3.8% a year on average between 2010 and 2020. This outlook is confirmed by the UNWTO Confidence Index. Compiled among over 300 experts worldwide, the Index shows that prospects for 2013 are similar to the evaluation of last year (124 points for 2013 against 122 for 2012).

By region, prospects for 2013 are stronger for Asia and the Pacific (+5% to +6%), followed by Africa (+4% to +6%), the Americas (+3% to +4%), Europe (+2% to +3%) and the Middle East (0% to +5%).

Emerging economies regain the lead

In 2012, growth was stronger in emerging economies (+4.1%) as compared to advanced economies (+3.6%), a trend which has marked the sector for many years now.

International tourist arrivals to Europe, the most visited region in the world, were up by 3%; a very positive result in view of the economic situation, and following a strong 2011 (+6%). Total arrivals reached 535 million, 17 million more than in 2011. By sub-region, Central and Eastern Europe destinations (+8%) experienced the best results, followed by Western Europe (+3%). Destinations in Southern Mediterranean Europe (+2%) consolidated their excellent performance of 2011 and returned in 2012 to their normal growth rates.

Asia and the Pacific (+7%) was up by 15 million arrivals in 2012, reaching a total 233 million international tourists. South-East Asia (+9%) was the best performing sub-region much due to the implementation of policies that foster intraregional cooperation and coordination in tourism. Growth was also strong in North-East Asia (+6%), as Japanese inbound and outbound tourism recovered, while it was comparatively weaker in South Asia (+4%) and in Oceania (+4%).

The Americas (+4%) saw an increase of 6 million arrivals, reaching 162 million in total. Leading the growth were destinations in Central America (+6%), while South America, up by 4%, showed some slowdown as compared to the double-digit growth of 2010 and 2011. The Caribbean (+4%), on the other hand, is performing above the previous two years, while North America (+3%) consolidated its 2011 growth.

Africa (+6%) recovered well from its setback in 2011 when arrivals declined by 1% due largely to the negative results of North Africa. Arrivals reached a new record (52 million) due to the rebound in North Africa (+9% as compared to a 9% decline in 2011) and to the continued growth of Sub-Saharan destinations (+5%). Results in the Middle East(-5%) improved after a 7% decline in 2011, yet the region recorded an estimated 3 million international tourist arrivals less in 2012 in spite of the clear recovery in Egypt.

Receipts confirm positive trend in arrivals

Available data on international tourism receipts and expenditure for 2012 covering at least the first nine months of the year confirm the positive trend in arrivals.

Among the top ten tourist destinations, receipts were up significantly in Hong Kong (China) (+16%), the USA (+10%), the UK (+6%) and Germany (+5%). At the same time, a significant number of destinations around the world saw receipts from international tourism increase by 15% or more – Japan (+37%), India and South Africa (both +22%), Sweden and the Republic of Korea (both +19%), Thailand (+18%) and Poland (+16%).

Traditional source markets show renewed dynamism 

Although the highest growth rates in expenditure abroad among the ten top markets came from emerging economies – China (+42%) and Russia (+31%) – important traditional source markets, showed particularly good results. In Europe, and despite economic pressures, expenditure on international tourism by Germany held well at +3%, while the UK (+5%) returned to growth after two flat years. In the Americas, both the USA and Canada grew at 7%. On the other hand, France (-7%) and Italy (-2%) registered declines in travel expenditure.

Smaller markets with significant growth were Venezuela (+31%), Poland (+19%), Philippines (+17%), Malaysia (+15%), Saudi Arabia (+14%), Belgium (+13%), Norway and Argentina (both +12%), Switzerland and Indonesia (both +10%).

More infoUNWTO

More Trends? Check out the latest Tourism & Travel Trends in TrendSpotting 2013!

Top 5 AbouTourism Posts for 2012!

As we get ready to welcome 2013, we take a look back at some of our favorite and most read articles for 2012!

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

Let’s take a look at the abouTourism blog posts that you found the most useful in 2012!

1. Developing a Social Media Strategy for Tourism Destinations

An overview of the Social Media Strategy for Slovenia,  which the Slovenian Tourism Board commissioned us to develop in 2011, in order to take its marketing activity to the next level, broadening the range of channels through which the Slovenian tourism product could be accessed and exceed the expectations of today’s online travel consumer.

2. Local Destination Marketing – Take a Look “Inside”

A selection of marketing initiatives from England, Scotland and France aimed at promoting domestic tourism and ‘staycations‘, local collaboration and product development as well as manage domestic issues affecting their reputation and tourism flows.

3. Greece: Online Reputation Management & Destination Marketing

For an online reputation management program to be successful at a destination level, it is clear that Tourism Boards and DMOs need to follow an organized and methodical approach. Setting clear objectives, communicating it to all stakeholders and coordinating their activity while having integrated the program with existing marketing and operational activities are the basic steps to success.

4. Destination Marketing & Sport Tourism

Sport tourism is much more than just one-off sport activities. It can form a unique culture at the destination, enhance long term tourism development and certainly has great economic benefits as one of the fastest growing and more profitable tourism sectors; that is if planned and developed appropriately.

5. In Partnerships We Trust- Collaborative Destination Marketing

This article focuses on the most recent collaboration and tourism partnerships at a destination level, this time especially focusing on examples of tight market segmentation profiling such as in the cases of France and Holland.

Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to our new Blog  to receive new updates & articles straight to your email!

Tourism Trends & Tools to Reach Destination Target Markets

Social networking is growing fast and is taken further by smartphone and tablet rising usage which allows to connect on-the-go and interact in real-time. Mobile web browsing has been growing fast in the six months since August 2011 showing a significant shift away from browsing on traditional PCs (Nucleus). Since online conversion is key especially for travel and tourism brands mobile websites are becoming a requirement for many brands, in order to provide a mobile friendly browsing experience and engage their target audience.

At the same time that mobile social networking is becoming the wave of the future, video is definitely considered to be the highest ranking and most engaging content with YouTube considered the top content network for videos. Latest statistics show a dramatic rise in video activity with the U.S. online video audience reportedly cracking 100 million in December, 43 %  higher than one year ago (

For destination marketing organizations to reach and engage their target markets effectively, they need to go where their audience is, using what they use. Let’s see some new destination marketing initiatives responding to the latest trends, utilizing the appropriate tools.

It’s You…Vancouver with Music Video

Tourism Vancouver’s new destination film uses multiple platforms to send its message. Incorporating a local band and original song, It’s You… Vancouver is a professionally produced destination film in music video format.

Regardless the various music tastes, the song is performed by a Vancouver-based duo, Watasun, whose music fuses urban beats with traditional folk sounds. Throughout the three-minute video, the duo perform their catchy tune while making appearances in, near or atop of iconic Vancouver attractions.


Costa Rica Targets Mobile with iPAd app

Following the “Million Dollar Gift of Happiness” marketing campaign and tapping the opportunity of the rising mobile devices and tablets usage, the Costa Rican Tourism Board has just launched an iPad application that mixes sounds from Costa Rican nature to create musical tunes.

“EnviroMixer” is the final segment of Costa Rica’s “Million Dollar Gift of Happiness”, which directly targets the growing mobile and tablet audience, inspiring and engaging.

EnviroMixer allows users to create music by dragging animal sounds to a screen, where they can be personalized by changing duration and volume. The result is a mix of sounds that users can share through social media networks like Facebook and Twitter.

EnviroMixer has nine animal sounds, including toucans, humpback whales and howler monkeys. The sounds can be mixed with melodies from the sea, from waterfalls and from an erupting volcano.

“Our target market for the Gift of Happiness campaign is both the U.S. and Canada, [where] mobile technologies like iPads and smartphones [are popular],” ICT Marketing Director Ireth Rodríguez said. “This app is a way of closely relating with our target market, because they are more aware of the aspects that make Costa Rica different.”


Top 5 abouTourism Articles for 2011

Right when the year is ready to come to a close, we take a look back at some of our favorite and most read articles in 2011.

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

Let’s take a look at the articles that you found the most useful in 2011!

1. Destination Marketing on the Web: Trends, Challenges & Best Practices

2011 is the year that large travel suppliers strengthen their position on the web which means that destination bodies will need to catch up with them and stay relevant. DMOs have already started to swift their attention to online media, largely due to budget cuts and increasing pressure for result measurement. Even though many DMOs want to incorporate social media in their marketing efforts, many face difficulties in determining the best way to proceed, while facing challenges in providing quality information online.

2.DMO Best Practices – Innovative Uses of Social Media

Destination Marketing Organizations around the world have realised the added value of using social media channels to market their destinations and increase awareness. There are certain examples though of DMOs that seem to have “broken the code” coming up with innovative campaigns and other uses of social media channels. A look at a selection of best practices of DMO social media use.

3.Top 20 Vintage Tourism Ads (Parts I & II)

Looking at these vintage posters from destinations all over the world we wonder how much things have actually changed over these past 100 years. Even today, during the online revolution and with the availability of affordable and wide spreading media, you will still find tourism campaigns that rely  just on an inspiring photo and logo to attract international tourists.

4.Tourism Campaigns on Facebook. Like this!

Tourism Ireland was one of the first to get on the travel gamification train, hoping to exploit the phenomenal popularity of social networks by convincing more than 100,000 people to play an Irish-themed Facebook game which it launched on St Patrick’s Day. Tourism Ireland was hoping that playing the game will bring the Irish holiday experience to life for potential visitors – albeit without the rain – and they will be tempted to swap the virtual for the real and come to Ireland to spend hard cash.

5. Top Factors Influencing Destination Choice

We have all realized by now the power of reviews. It is probably a natural shift driven by the information overload that modern consumers have increasingly been facing for the past decades. Reviews and online opinions are essential to consumers in the travel-planning process and recent studies continue to show the trend that wants active social and mobile consumers preferring peer, independent reviews over the traditional channels and marketing campaigns.

European Tourism 2011 – Trends & Prospects, Q1/2011

The European Travel Commission (ETC) has published its first quarterly report on European Tourism in 2011 – Trends & Prospects.

Destination and industry data indicate a positive start to 2011. Foreign visitor arrivals were reported higher through the beginning months of the year by most destinations.

Both airline and hotel industry data confirm the continuation of travel growth to Europe, however at a more measured pace than experienced during the peak growth periods of 2010.

International passenger traffic to Europe outpaced global growth over the first two months of the year. European airlines also report growth in traffic over the first 14 weeks of 2011, but growth has slowed over recent weeks.

Hotel occupancy has improved further, but appears to have peaked. Average Daily Rates continue to push up across Europe in response to demand.

We expect the overall growth trend to slow in 2011 as comparisons are made to stronger performance in 2010 and high energy prices affect both disposable income and transportation costs.

Wage spiral inflation is unlikely in the developed economies as unemployment and spare capacity persist. Capacity utilisation is higher in emerging markets where food and energy prices are also having a bigger impact, thus more monetary tightening is expected.

The aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake will affect the Japanese economy and consequently outbound travel considerably in the short run. Japan is likely to briefly re-enter recession in 2011 with a 10% drop in outbound travel. A considerable rebound is expected on both fronts in 2012.

Capacity of European airlines continues to expand, carrying on the trend from late 2010. Capacity surged between late 2010 and early 2011, averaging a 7.8% increase in Available Seat Kilometres (ASK) over the first 14 weeks of 2011. This should translate into competitive fares and act as a driver to travel demand over the next 6-8 months.

2011 Tourism Performance Summary
Of those countries which have reported 2011 performance, the majority are experiencing a positive start to the year. Not only are arrivals generally up, but length of stay appears on the rise as well. These trends are confirmed by hotel industry data which indicate at least modest growth in occupancy in the first months of the year.

Read More at:

Check out the latest Tourism & Travel Trends at:

Competitiveness survey: TRAVELSAT formulates 5 recommendations to Euromed destinations for better meeting Russian Tourists’ expectations.

Brussels, Belgium, 9/12/2010.

The TRAVELSAT pilot survey measures competitive strengths and weaknesses of Euromed destinations benchmarking international tourists’ satisfaction. TCI Research reports five key recommendations to better meet specific needs of the strategic Russian market:

1. Mind the word-of-mouth! Beyond promising advertising, competitiveness is driven first by visitors’ experience at destination. Almost 1 Russian tourist of 2 chose its destination under friends or relatives’ recommendation vs 1 of 3 in average for other markets. Travel agencies also play a greater prescription role in decision making (29% vs 10%) despite the growth of Internet usage.

2. Promote your local food: Russians advocate quality and diversity of the Euromediterranean food and remains one of the few markets not complaining about value for money in this area. However service in restaurants does not fully meet their expectations as complaint level is twice higher than for other markets…a critical challenge for destinations as food widely impacts their reputation and intention to repeat visit amongst Russian visitors.

3. Russians spent more…but demand more too! Coming generally from higher social classes, Russian tourists tend to spend more (+12% min. vs other markets), often travelling with families and in organized groups. Compared with other markets they “over consume” in cultural, gastronomic and shopping activities. They prefer middle and top class hotels which overall quality usually meets their expectations…though some lack of hospitality perceived.

4. Improve experience in public transportation, often perceived by Russian as difficult to access and too expensive.

5. Provide a visit experience based on environmental qualities which Russian tourists are very sensitive to and appreciate in particular enjoying landscape beauty, pleasant climate and cleanliness in and outside cities.Olivier Henry-Biabaud, CEO at TCI Research adds «Benchmarking visitors’ satisfaction is essential for destinations who wish to gain competitiveness towards an over-consuming but very demanding and viral Russian market.”(Note: Results based on a pilot survey achieved from June to September 2010 amongst 1500 international tourists in 35 destinations).

About TRAVELSAT Competitive Index©:

TRAVELSAT© Competitive Index is the reference global and independent survey benchmarking international tourists’ satisfaction in a standard way for all destinations, markets and traveller segments. It monitors 80 satisfaction and quality indexes for countries, regions and cities, based on representative opinions of tourists who experienced the destination. TRAVELSAT© data are collected, controlled and provided by TCI Research, an independent research agency headquartered in Brussels specializing in survey-based tourism competitive intelligence.

More information on

Contact information: Olivier Henry-BiabaudTCI Research Ldt18 rue Mareyde – 1150 Brussels (Belgium)+32 476 70 11


International Survey: feeling of security ranked this summer amongst top (dis)satisfaction drivers by international tourists

TRAVELSAT© reveals that feeling of security has become one of the criteria impacting the most international tourist’s satisfaction, rivalling other expected drivers (accommodation, beauty of landscape, food, climate…).
Commenting on these results, Olivier Henry-Biabaud analyses: “Tourists are consumers but also citizens who travel with their concerns. Beside unemployment, violence and terrorism threats chiefly worry the global opinion today. If DMOs wish to improve their competitiveness and reputation they must sell dreams but also ensure a visitor experience that maximizes feeling of security…which does not mean one policeman behind each tourist, but a slightly different way to provide hospitality. Specific segments like Spa/Welness or Senior travellers are particularly sensitive to this quality criteria”.
Commenting further on provisional results per destination, he adds: “With less than 3% of complaints related to safety issue, Europe is lived by tourists as a safe destination but variations between individual regions or cities remain very high.”
(Results based on a pilot survey amongst 2000 international tourists from 50 markets visiting worldwide destinations during summer 2010).

About TRAVELSAT© Competitive Index:
TRAVELSAT© Competitive Index is the reference global and independent survey benchmarking international tourists’ satisfaction and trip quality in a standard way for all destinations, markets and traveller segments. It monitors 80 satisfaction and quality indexes for countries, regions and cities, based on representative opinions of tourists who experienced the destination. TRAVELSAT© is commercialised by TCI Research, an independent company based in Brussels specializing in survey-based research and evaluation in the public and private tourism sectors. More information on
Contact information:
Olivier Henry-Biabaud
TCI Research Ldt
18 rue Mareyde – 1150 Brussels (Belgium)
+32 476 70 11 25