China, India, Iceland and Cuba are tipped as hot spots for travel in 2017 – and have been dubbed the ‘ChIIC’ new destinations by World Travel Market London, in a report released today (Monday 7 November) at the event. Surveys of 2,000+ WTM London exhibitors and 1,145 UK consumers highlighted how these disparate destinations are rapidly rising in popularity, thanks to new airline services, publicity and geopolitical changes.
The industry survey found that 55% of travel firms expect to do more business in China next year, and 49% expect to conduct more business in India. Meanwhile, 40% said they hoped to conduct more business in Cuba, and 37% expect to see levels of business rise in Iceland. With the consumer survey, the ‘ChIIC’ countries were among the most popular when respondents were asked which destinations they are interested in visiting. Almost two fifths (39%) said Iceland, followed by Cuba (24%), China (21%) and India (20%).
The market to China was buoyed by an agreement signed in October between the UK and Chinese governments, allowing more than double the number of flights to operate between the two countries. Links between the countries had already been boosted this year with new services from Manchester and Gatwick. Also, from 1 October, 2016, foreign tourists arriving in Shanghai on a cruise are allowed up to 15 days of visa-free stays. Passengers may remain in Shanghai or travel to Beijing, the northeastern port city of Tianjin, and coastal provinces where ships often berth.
India – WTM London 2016’s Premier Partner – has spent more than US$300m developing its tourism infrastructure as it aims for more than 13 million visitors a year by 2020. There were 870,000 UK visitors to India last year and the UK market is seeing strong growth – numbers over the past three years have risen by almost 100,000.
Its most popular destinations are the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra and Jaipur); Rajasthan; Goa; Kerala; Kashmir and the North East, but other “hidden gems” and sectors are also being developed. These include coastal and beach tourism, luxury, cruise and eco-tourism.
Next year, India expects more success with its e-Tourist Visa (eTV), which was introduced to 113 countries in August 2015. The country will also mark the 70th anniversary of independence in 2017 and plans for celebrations will be revealed at WTM London.
Also helping promote India during WTM London will be Harry Potter movie and TV actor Miriam Margolyes, of hit BBC series The Real Marigold Hotel.
Iceland is forecast to welcome two million tourists in 2017 – about five times the number it received in 2010. It has seen its profile in the UK rise thanks to the outstanding performances of its football team and fans during the Euro 2016 tournament – and increased sightings of the Northern Lights, during a peak in solar activity.
In October, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced an historic formal agreement between VisitScotland and the Icelandic Tourist Board, which will see the two organisations sharing information and best practice. The agreement follows the launch of new air routes between Iceland and Scotland.
The Icelandic Tourist Board works with Promote Iceland, a public-private partnership which will be exhibiting at WTM London with 23 other companies including Icelandair and WOW Air.
One of the key themes for 2017 will be balancing responsible tourism and its fragile environment in the wake of a huge increase in demand from tourists worldwide.
Meanwhile, Cuba is on the cusp of a tourism boom as President Obama has eased restrictions on US travellers heading to the Caribbean destination. Eight US airlines won the green light to start scheduled flights to Cuba this autumn. Cuba is already popular with British holidaymakers, especially those seeking all-inclusive resorts, and is featured by mainstream tour operators such as Thomas Cook, Saga and Thomson.
Thomson parent TUI Group is adding new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft to its Cuba route, while Thomas Cook Group has reported strong growth in summer 2017 bookings to Cuba.
Figures from the Caribbean Tourism Organisation show Cuba received 14% of the region’s UK visitors (199,000), and Gold Medal said its bookings to Cuba have risen 71% year-on-year in 2017.
The island is also in Condé Nast Traveller Top 10 ‘destinations to watch’ in 2016.
However, agents report that Brits are keen to go soon, before the influx of American tourists mean that Cuba opens up too much and changes its character.
WTM London, Senior Director, Simon Press, said: “It was fascinating to see such as diverse range of destinations emerge as hotspots for 2017 from our research of travel companies and consumers.
“From the geysers of Iceland to the architecture of Havana, and from the Great Wall of China to the Taj Mahal in India, these countries have some of the most iconic sights in the world.
“And thanks to the efforts of the travel trade and tourist boards, there are increasing numbers of British holidaymakers flying out to see these marvellous destinations – and the exhibitors at WTM London are in the best place to make the most of these trends.”
WTM London is the event where the travel and tourism industry conducts its business deals. Buyers from the WTM Buyers’ Club have a combined purchasing responsibility of $22.6 billion (£15.8bn) and sign deals at the event worth $3.6 billion (£2.5bn). The annual gathering of 50,000 senior travel industry professionals takes place at ExCeL – London from Monday 7 to Wednesday 9 November 2016.
World Travel Market London
WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry.
Almost 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press, embark on ExCeL – London every November to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry opinion and trends at WTM London.
WTM London is the event where the travel industry conducts and concludes its deals. WTM London will generate around £2.5 billion of travel industry contracts.
WTM London is part of Reed Travel Exhibition’s World Travel Market events, which also includes Arabian Travel Market, World Travel Market Latin America and World Travel Market Africa. www.wtmworld.com
Reed Travel Exhibitions
Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) is the world’s leading provider of exhibitions in the travel and tourism industry. Its wide-ranging portfolio of events around the globe covers leisure travel, luxury travel, meetings, incentives and business travel, as well as golf, ski and spa travel.
RTE, which organises more than 22 events around the world, includes three divisions; World Travel Market, IBTM Events and International Luxury Travel Market.
RTE is a business unit of Reed Exhibitions.
About Reed Exhibitions
Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading events organiser, with more than 500 events in 43 countries. In 2014 Reed brought together more than seven million event participants from around the world generating billions of dollars in business. Today Reed events are held throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa and organised by 41 fully staffed offices. Reed Exhibitions serves 43 industry sectors with trade and consumer events. It is part of the RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries.