As reported in the World Travel Market 2011 Industry Report, this year “has seen the major global economies continue to struggle, putting pressure on the demand for travel and tourism products.”
Offering value for money works
Tour operators are responding to the downturn with value-added deals, including more all-inclusive packages, deals on lift passes and free child places.
And it appears to be working. For example, in September family skiing specialist Ski Famille reported a 20% increase in bookings thanks to offers such as free pre-dinner drinks, nappies and wipes for all infants, and a “Learn to Ski” package for families new to the mountains.
Skiers and snowboarders remain committed
A study by Denver-based Mountain Travel Research Program (MTRiP) showed bookings in the US for November 2011 to April 2012 were up 10.8 percent compared to the same time last year. It seems skiers and snowboarders, remain committed to their sport and are still willing to spend at mountain destinations.
The ‘Attenborough effect’
No-one could have predicted the impact that the latest landmark BBC TV nature programme Frozen Planet, presented by veteran documentary maker David Attenborough, has had on winter tourism.
The ‘Attenborough effect’ was trumpeted in British newspapers in early December, just as the series ended, with the Daily Mail reporting that the luxury cruise operator Abercrombie & Kent is planning an extra 15-night tour to Antarctica to cope with demand during the 2012-13 season.
This chimes with the growing trend for holidaymakers looking to get up close and personal with nature via expedition cruises and trips to locations where they can see animals in their natural habitats.
The Daily Mail article, quotes Hotels.com reporting massive increases in searches for holidays in Ecuador and Chile, to see penguins and fur seals (up 155% and 122%, respectively); in Canada, to see wolves and polar bears (up 119%); and in Iceland, to get a glimpse of killer whales (up 154%). Surges in interest were also reported for Australia and New Zealand (home to the Adelie penguin and albatross), as well as Norway and Sweden (wolves and Arctic foxes).
What are your thoughts on the upcoming winter tourism season?