Europe’s Tourism Sector Says Innovate Off the Beaten Track

Published on : Monday, November 25, 2013

images (2)In order to remain top of the world’s tourism tree, Europe needs to think different, With innovations such as pitching pure Alpine air to the Chinese or teaching Americans petanque, Europe’s tourism experts say. According to the World Tourism Organization, Europe still earned the lion’s share of global tourism revenues in 2012 – a full 43%.

 
However, success should leave no room for self-satisfaction, professionals from the sector said last week during a congress in the picturesque Swiss city of Lucerne, the Alpine country’s top tourist destination. While the tourist business argues that it is also up to the authorities to make it easier for would-be visitors to get visas – a lack of bureaucratic headaches can be a selling point for a market – it is also planning a rethink.

 
Marketing campaigns devised from Europe have fallen short when it came to taking into account the real expectations of tourists before they leave home. The ETC, tasked with promoting the continent’s charms, has opted to poll potential tourists in their home countries. Especially, it is focusing on China; the world’s top growing market where the ranks of the middle class are swelling. ETC research in China underlined that residents of its megacities face a steady battle with pollution – a simple fact that enables Europe’s tourism industry to add pure-aired Alpine stops to group travel itineraries.

 
The study also revealed that Chinese travellers place great store in feeling at ease and safe, with language barriers a leading concern. Increasing use of social media in emerging markets makes it critical to understand what tourists want, because they are increasingly likely to write reviews of their experience online.
Industry officials emphasize that it is also important to understand the needs of Chinese tourists and counterparts from emerging powers India and Brazil, given that competition is getting tougher with destinations such as Florida, Las Vegas, or Dubai. When it comes to increasing its competitive advantage, the Gulf emirate has no space constraints for the construction of breathtaking hotels and other infrastructure that will pull in tourists.

 
On the contrary, travel agents in Europe often have to battle to find places for their customers to stay in major tourist draws such as Venice and Rome in Italy, and Paris in France. The problem affects travellers from both emerging markets and more traditional tourist source countries. Tim Fairhurst, head of strategy at the European Tour Operators Association, said, “We need to be rethinking tourist trails, beyond the big cities.”

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