Disney's Once-Futuristic Epcot Is Getting a Modern Overhaul - Destinations - 24 July 2017
There was a time when Epcot, the second piece of Florida’s sprawling Walt Disney World resort, functioned as a source for slow-paced education about energy, technology, farming, and world cultures. Speedy thrills were for other lands. In more recent years, the park, which opened in 1982, has added more adventurous (and crowd-generating) components: the speedy Test Track; the multi-sensory Soarin’; the blastoff-simulating Mission: Space; the wildly popular movie-based Frozen Ever After.

Singapore's Old-School Travel Agencies Struggle While Innovators Thrive - Destinations - 24 July 2017
While it may seem that travel agencies are dropping like flies in hot and humid Singapore, the trade is far from languishing, although it is not without challenges. Figures from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), which oversees the sector, show the total number of agencies has remained constant in the past few years at around 1,200, as has the rate of new agencies opening and exiting.

U.S. Issues Egypt Travel Warning Following Attack on Tourists - Destinations - 21 July 2017
Egypt has expressed “discontent” over the latest U.S. travel warning to the Mideast country, saying the notice makes a false distinction between terrorist groups and violent political organizations. Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ahmed Abu Zeid, said on Thursday that the wording of the travel advisory was dissatisfactory.

U.S. to Ban Tourist Visits to North Korea - Destinations - 21 July 2017
U.S. officials say the Trump administration will ban American citizens from traveling to North Korea following the death of university student Otto Warmbier who passed away after falling into a coma into a North Korean prison. The officials said Friday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had decided to impose “geographic travel restriction” for North Korea, which would make the use of U.S. passports to enter the country illegal.

U.S. Destinations Preparing For Overtourism Burst During Total Solar Eclipse - Destinations - 20 July 2017
On Monday morning, August 21, a 70-mile-wide swath of America from Oregon to South Carolina will plunge into darkness during daytime hours. The total solar eclipse—the first fully visible from the U.S. since 1979 and the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in 99 years—will reveal plasma flares on the sun visible from earth as the moon passes directly between them.

International Tourism to the United States Dropped in 2016 - Destinations - 20 July 2017
International tourism to the United States had been on an ascent over the past seven years as many economies recovered from the global recession of 2008 and 2009. But last year, that mountain of momentum hit a descent as nearly two million fewer international visitors traveled to the U.S. in 2016. Last year, 75.6 million international arrivals (Canada, Mexico, and overseas) visited U.S. destinations, a 2.4 percent (more than 1.8 million) decrease in such arrivals from 2015, according to data from the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office and U.S. Department of Commerce. The last year inbound tourism declined was 2009.

U.S. Destinations Aren't Seeing the Trump Slump Many Had Feared - Destinations - 19 July 2017
Last winter, the U.S. tourism industry fretted that Trump administration policies might lead to a “Trump slump” in travel. But those fears may have been premature. International arrivals and travel-related spending are up in 2017 compared with the same period in 2016. There might even be a “Trump bump,” says Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, a nonprofit representing the travel industry.

Opinion: U.S. State Travel Bans Are Counterproductive And Contradictory - Destinations - 19 July 2017
It’s now illegal to use California state funds to travel to eight other states: Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas. The travel ban, which went into effect Jan. 1 and expanded last month, punishes states with laws that run afoul of California’s anti-discrimination statute covering sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

Step by Step: Creating a Destination Guidebook using User Generated Content - Destinations - 18 July 2017
Digital media today is huge, however, it’s undeniable that people still love the feel of something solid in their hands. Printed collateral has the unique advantage of developing a deeper, more meaningful interaction with consumers—particularly if it is well-designed and feels authentic. With the breadth of organic destination content posted by both visitors and locals to social media on a daily basis, there’s no reason travel brands shouldn’t capitalize on existing, authentic, and up-to-date photos to demonstrate a destination’s unique appeal.

Tourism Boards Increasingly Worried About Politicians and Budget Cuts - Destinations - 18 July 2017
While both sparsely and highly funded tourism boards have seen their coffers grow over the past three years, there’s a general consensus that their budgets face threats from politicians, particularly in the United States. That’s based on a survey from Destinations International (formerly Destination Marketing Associations International), which surveyed 433 tourism board executives in 52 countries online in April 2017 about their outlook on funding, strategy and other trends playing out in the travel industry.

Thailand Switches Tourism Strategy to Drive Longer Stays and More Spending - Destinations - 17 July 2017
Thailand is now so popular for holidays that almost 35 million foreign tourists — equivalent to half the country’s population — are expected this year. As the influx gets harder to manage, the government is shifting strategy. It’s now targeting a minimum increase in tourism revenue of about 5 percent annually instead of a particular number of visitors, Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said. That means encouraging longer stays and higher daily spending, a mix the typical Australian holidaymaker exemplifies, she said.

Disney Reveals Park Plans To Maximize Marvel and Star Wars Brands - Destinations - 16 July 2017
Walt Disney Co. said it will build an immersive “Star Wars” hotel at its resort in Orlando, Florida, as part of a flurry of investments announced Saturday by the company’s theme-park division. Disney revealed the two “Star Wars” themed lands it is building will be called Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, with the one at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, set to open first in 2019 and the Orlando one opening later that same year.

Disney Teased Fans With Look at New Star Wars Lands - Destinations - 14 July 2017
Walt Disney Co. gave fans the first three-dimensional look at the new “Star Wars” lands it’s building in Florida and California, including its jagged mountains, metal-domed cantina and forest packed with scheming rebels. Disney unveiled the models at a preview to D23 Expo, a three-day, biennial fan event that begins Friday in Anaheim, California. “This is the most ambitious land we’ve built to date,” Bob Chapek, chairman of Disney’s parks division, said Thursday at the unveiling.

Brand USA Is Facing Declining Contributions From Travel Brands This Year - Destinations - 13 July 2017
After President Donald Trump released his proposed fiscal 2018 budget in May that called for the elimination of Brand USA, the United State’s national tourism marketing arm, president and CEO Christopher Thompson said that it was business as usual and that the organization wouldn’t get side-tracked. To that effect, Brand USA launched its “One Big Welcome” campaign last month, in part, to help combat the mixed messages many international travelers have heard from the Trump Administration.

Paris and Los Angeles on Track to Host the Next Summer Olympics Games - Destinations - 12 July 2017
There was no parade. No reports of delirious fans honking horns or dancing in the streets. No spontaneous flag-waving. Los Angeles was all but guaranteed to be awarded a future Olympic Games on Tuesday, most likely in 2028, but the public reaction in the sports-crazed city was, well, subdued. The privately run committee behind LA’s Olympic bid has organized dozens of flashy, celebrity-studded events to showcase public support for making Los Angeles a three-time Olympic city, after hosting the 1932 and 1984 Games.

Hawaii Travel Ban Motion Opposed by U.S. Lawyers - Destinations - 12 July 2017
U.S. Department of Justice attorneys are urging a judge to deny Hawaii’s renewed attempt to expand the list of relatives exempt from President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson last week denied Hawaii’s request to clarify which relatives are exempt from the ban. Hawaii appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which dismissed the appeal and said while the judge can’t clarify the Supreme Court’s order, he can interpret it.

Tech Investors Are Still in Love With London Despite Brexit - Destinations - 10 July 2017
Ever since the UK voted to leave the European Union, there has been an expectation that London’s position as the leading tech hub in Europe would come under threat. The country might be 18 months from the formal exit date, but at the moment, investors are showing no sign of losing their appetite for spending money in the capital.

China's Dalian Wanda Group Unloads $9.3 Billion in Tourism Projects - Destinations - 10 July 2017
Sunac China Holdings Ltd., the developer that has been on an aggressive acquisition spree, agreed to buy hotels and projects from Dalian Wanda Group Co. for 63.2 billion yuan ($9.3 billion), in one of China’s largest property transactions. Sunac will buy 76 hotels from Wanda, and will purchase a 91 percent stake of 13 cultural and tourism projects, according to a statement posted on Wanda’s website. Sunac halted trading of its shares in Hong Kong on Monday pending an announcement of a “very substantial” acquisition, it said in a statement. The developer had closed 6.9 percent lower on Friday.

Harlem Learning What Happens When an Iconic Neighborhood Gets Rebranded - Destinations - 8 July 2017
In Harlem, a furor has erupted over what was supposed to be a simple, catchy acronym: SoHa. An attempt by some businesses and real estate professionals to rebrand the southern part of the neighborhood as SoHa has been greeted by many residents as an affront to a capital of African-American culture and history. They say it smacks of gentrification that has increasingly seen different demographics coming into the area along with rising median rents, which have increased since 2000 from $710 a month to $1,050. That section of Harlem stretches from Central Park to 125th Street and includes such landmarks as the Hotel Theresa, which hosted such figures as Fidel Castro, Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

Trump Travel Ban Restrictions Remain in Place As Hawaii Loses Decision - Destinations - 7 July 2017
A U.S. judge in Hawaii denied the state’s request for clarification on the Trump administration’s temporary travel ban and said the matter should be taken up with the Supreme Court. The decision Thursday by U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu means the restrictions on entry for visa applicants from six mostly Muslim nations and refugees worldwide that were imposed June 30 will probably remain in place until the Supreme Court revisits the dispute in October.

Domestic Travel Became Even More Dominant for Americans Last Year - Destinations - 7 July 2017
Domestic trips have always had the largest slice of the U.S. leisure travel pie, and over the past year, that trend has been even more acute. U.S. travelers took nearly 14 million more trips in the United States than international trips during the 12-month stretch ending in February, according to MMGY Global’s 2017 Portrait of American Travelers report, citing concerns about political climates and safety abroad as likely reasons for the bump in domestic trips.

Chinese Travelers Turn to Messaging Apps To Make Payments - Destinations - 7 July 2017
The Chinese outbound market is booming yet travelers still find low acceptance of their typical payment methods. As travel becomes more accessible to the Chinese lower and middle class offering payment methods such as AliPay and WeChat Pay will be a definitive competitive advantage.-Dave

Destinations Struggle to Use Data to Manage Tourism Growth - Destinations - 6 July 2017
Many destinations want to keep up with their competitors and promote their respective plans to grow and better manage tourism as some cities’ tourist infrastructure can’t keep up with demand. Using data is key to putting those plans in motion but too often that data – even when available – doesn’t trickle down to local city and neighborhood decision makers. That’s the view of some tourism boards and researchers who spoke at the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) International Conference on Tourism Statistics last month in Manilla, the Philippines. Some of the discussions centered around creating a global framework for measuring tourism and how to use data to create sustainable growth plans.

Trump Slump Fears Are Not Coming True as International Tourism Grows - Destinations - 5 July 2017
International travel to the U.S. grew by more than 5 percent in May compared with data for May 2016, according to the Travel Trends Index report released Wednesday by the U.S. Travel Association. The strong showing contradicted fears that tourism from abroad would slow in reaction to U.S. policies and rhetoric, including President Donald Trump’s travel ban. The U.S. Travel Association also revised upward its data from April 2017 to a 6.6 percent increase over April 2016. Originally the association had said international travel to the U.S. grew 4 percent in April.

Travel Ban Has Arbitrary Restrictions Meant To Be as Exclusionary as Possible - Destinations - 29 June 2017
President Donald Trump’s administration has issued guidelines through the State Department for who will be exempt from the travel ban from six majority Muslim countries, which the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Monday to partly go into effect. The guidelines are highly arbitrary in defining what counts as a family relationship that merits exemption. For example, your mother-in-law is close enough to come into the U.S., but not your grandmother, a blood relative without whom you wouldn’t exist.

International Tourist Spending in U.S. at Record High Heading into Summer - Destinations - 28 June 2017
International travelers spent $20.8 billion on travel to and within the United States in April, more than a three percent increase over April 2016. The first four months of 2017 are the highest for foreign tourism spending on record. The National Travel & Tourism Office, which released the latest tallies, sought to politicize the numbers, highlighting them in a press release headline: “‘Trump Bump’ continues for fourth consecutive month with record-setting exports year to date.”


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