TORONTO — Agents got a chance to connect with and learn from tourist boards representing Germany, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and Italy, as well as hear the latest product updates from Collette, at last night’s European Travel Commission event co-hosted by Collette at The Glass Factory in Toronto.
1. Tourism by the numbers
In 2015 Europe saw a 5% increase in international tourism arrivals, with 609 million travellers. In 2014 tourism equated to receipts of US$509 billion and supports 5% of the European Union workforce.
It seems 2016 will be even bigger. “We know that seat capacity to Europe is higher this summer is higher than last year,” said Laura Pena in her dual role as Director of Spanish Tourist Board in Toronto and head of the ETC in Canada.
2. More air capacity than ever
Canadian airlines are embracing Europe like never before. Air Canada rouge’s upcoming new service to Prague, Warsaw, Budapest, Glasgow and Gatwick out of Toronto is just the beginning. Low-cost carriers making their way into North America means it has never been easier for Canadians to head to Europe.
“For Ireland, being an island, access is crucial for us,” said Dana Welsh, Manager, Canada at Tourism Ireland. Increased air capacity to Ireland is one of the main reasons for a 56% increase in traffic over the past two years, said Welsh.
William Deldago from Visit Portugal was also pleased to announce new seasonal service with Air Canada rogue starting May 30 and running until Oct 12, plus existing services with Transat, and Azores Airlines (formerly SITA).
Collette also wanted to remind agents that it offers 5% commission on the air portion of its tours.
3. Value for time
Country size was a major focal point for many of the tourism boards. Germany can fit into Ontario four times, Portugal boasts ‘concentrated diversity’ with its landscapes and experiences, and Madrid is just a one-hour flight to other main cities such as Barcelona (North East), Valencia (East), Malaga (South) and Santiago de Compostela (North West).
This combined with the ease of jumping from country to country thanks to distance and train connectivity makes it easy to check off several bucket list locations in a week or two, and is one of Europe’s biggest selling points.
4. One big tunnel
Speaking of convenience, the world’s biggest tunnel in the world will be opening next month in Switzerland. The 56-kilometre NEAT Gottgard Base Tunnel will help connect the hubs such as Zurich, Milan and Turin, making travel by train in Europe even easier.
5. Travel styles
With so many destinations and attractions in close vicinity, it makes sense that clients are booking tours based more on travel style than destinations. Many tour operators have turned to branded styles and Collette was promoting four styles last night: Classic, Explorations, Spotlights and River Cruises.
Brett Walker, General Manager, Canada for Collette, says the Spotlights and Explorations have been particularly popular. Spotlights’ main feature is single-stay accommodation, allowing clients to stay in one hotel in a city with tours around that destination. The new style has appealed to clients who want to go to a city, but might be nervous about going to a new destination and want the security of a tour operator. Collette Explorations is a small group offering with tours capped at 18 people. “It’s for people who want a concept of a tour, but more boutique,” says Walker.
6. Movie magic
Both Italy and Ireland have aligned their promotional efforts with movie and TV productions. Ireland gets the privilege of Game of Thrones and Star Wars filmed on its shores, while Italy is promoting destinations featured in movies like The Tourist, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Somewhere and Gladiator.
7. Spain’s most visited region is…
For Canadian citizens, it’s Catalonia (54%), followed by Andalucía (18%), and then Madrid (15%).
8. Port of call for Portugal
Portugal boasts ports of call for many of the world’s leading cruise lines, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity, Holland America Line, MSC and Crystal Cruises. The location is ideal for cruise ships with the Atlantic to the west, and the Mediterranean to the south, and the Madeira and Azores archipelagos.