Good news out of Madrid, where the head of the United Nations World tourism Organisation is suggesting travel is rebounding better than expected.
Speaking at a news conference in the Spanish capital, UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai said global tourism should grow 3 to 4 per cent this year following a strong recovery in the final quarter of 2009. Growth was especially good in Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East in the final three months of last year, he said.
The global economic crisis and the H1NI flu pandemic "turned 2009 into one of the toughest years for the tourism sector," he said. "However, the results of recent months suggest that recovery is underway, and even somewhat earlier and at a stronger pace than initially expected."
Rifai said Europe and North America are lagging behind other regions. Europe tourism was down a full 6 per cent in 2009, compared to 2 per cent for the year for Asia and the Pacific, he said.
Other encouraging words were coming from Carnival Cruises, which said it's returning to Europe. The cruise giant abandoned Europe during the economic downturn of the past two years, USA Today was reporting.
But Gene Sloan wrote on his cruise blog that "Carnival will announce today that its next ship, the 3,690-passenger Carnival Magic, will be based in Barcelona afer it debuts in May, 2011." It's said that the Magic will sail seven, nine and 12-night cruises to Monte Carlo, Rome, Naples, Messina, Palma, Marseilles, Venice and Dubrovnik - which sounds like a pretty nice roster of towns doncha think?
The Economist, or at least readers of the publication, say the U.S. has by far the rudest and most unpleasant entry process in the world.
"Americans are, by and large, a courteous bunch," according to the publication's Lexington column. "Interactions with strangers are typically sweetened with a generous frosting of “Sir”, “Ma’am” and “Excuse me”. Yet in a survey commissioned by the travel industry, more than half of visitors found American border officials rude and unpleasant. By a two-to-one margin, the country’s entry process was rated the world’s worst. This is not a problem only for whingeing journalists and other foreign riff-raff. It is also a problem for America."
The author goes to say that conventions don't want to go to the U.S. because some people might be barred from entry.
"An immigration policy that didn’t aggravate some innocent would-be entrants would probably be too lax. But America appears to have leant too far in the opposite direction—and its image is suffering as a result."
I'LL TAKE A 40-OUNCER OF RYE TO GO, THANKS
Spotted an item from Sunwing the other day that said folks can now pre-order their duty-free items at www.sunwing.ca. Instead of waiting in line at the duty free shop, you just go to the web site and order in advance, even as much as a couple weeks before you fly.
Officials said customers can even get a reminder email sent to them just before their flight so they don't forget their favourite booze. Or perfume or smokes. They deliver your stuff right to your seat, and they won't charge your credit card until you fly.
Gotta admit that sounds pretty tempting.
JIM'S DEALS OF THE DAY