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International tourism developments 

International tourist arrivals grew by over 4% in 2011 to 980 million, according to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer (January 2012). With growth expected to continue in 2012, at a somewhat slower rate, international tourist arrivals are on track to reach the milestone one billion mark later this year.

International tourist arrivals grew by 4.4% in 2011 to a total 980 million, up from 939 million in 2010, in a year characterized by a stalled global economic recovery, major political changes in the Middle East and North Africa and natural disasters in Japan. By region, Europe (+6%) was the best performer, while by subregion South-America (+10%) topped the ranking. Contrary to previous years, growth was higher in advanced economies (+5.0%) than in emerging ones (+3.8%), due largely to the strong results in Europe, and the setbacks in the Middle East and North Africa.

Despite persistent economic uncertainty, tourist arrivals to Europe reached 503 million in 2011, accounting for 28 million of the 41 million additional international arrivals recorded worldwide. Central and Eastern Europe and Southern Mediterranean destinations (+8% each) experienced the best results. Although part of the growth in Southern Mediterranean Europe resulted from a shift in traffic away from the Middle East and North Africa, destinations in the Mediterranean also profited from improved outbound flows from markets such as Scandinavia, Germany and the Russian Federation.


Until mid-2009, global warming and climate change received worldwide attention, since then, however, this attention seems to have waned. In other words, the attention for climate-related issues is overshadowed by the attention for the economic crisis. All over the world, entrepreneurs are adopting a wait-and-see approach because of the economic crisis, and as a result, fewer initiatives in the areas of climate compensation and climate-neutral facilities are being developed. However, climate issues have already led to a change in thinking and they will regain importance once the economy recovers. Governments are developing policies to reduce CO2-emissions, leading to increased airfares and a reduced appeal of faraway destinations. In the long run, this situation may produce opportunities for the Dutch holiday market.

Apps are rising

Digital applications (apps) are developing rapidly and today’s leisure industry can no longer be imagined without them. The free Internet via wifi-accesses is also booming and has a catalyzing effect on the development of digital applications. Next to the Internet, mobile applications on smartphones will reform the tourist landscape, there is already a growing phenomenon usch as, for example, which attracts 1,263 million visitors to its mobile site on a monthly basis. Moreover, the use of telephones increasingly takes hold and telephones become more advanced by the day. Also here we see that senior citizens are following the developments and will continue to do so. Half of the travellers with smartphones was forty years or older. Greatly improved systems of payment and a growing information delivery in combination with the possibility for geolocalization make it possible to search and book accommodation for the night when you have arrived at your destination, something on which the first application manufacturers already zero in. The travel branch still seems reluctant to apply apps but little by little entrepreneurs are taking the initiative to zero in on this trend. Mobile travel marketing will change the tourist industry for good.

User-friendly websites are a must

Internet is becoming more an more important in the orientation phase; 52% of the potential travellers visit three or more websites before making a booking. Via all sorts of websites the hunt on the cheapest trip is opened and more and more people book their own custom-made trip (dynamic packaging). But despite the growing dexterity in using the Internet, many people still have problems to book their holidays online. No less than half of the visitors to 100 investigated accommodation sites stated that they were unable to book and/or pay the desired  product via Internet due to customer-unfriendly sites and applications. So there is a lot at stake for accommodation suppliers –but also all other suppliers with an online facility to reserve, book and pay. Investing in customer-friendliness is therefore a must.

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