Earlier this year, a group called Future Brand released its annual "Country Brand Index" that rates countries according to their key attributes. They gave Canada the number two spot on the planet in terms of a tourism brand, putting behind only Switzerland.
The third, fourth and fifth spots in the Future Brand report went to Japan, Sweden and New Zealand.
But now there's a new report out by a compnay called Bloom Consulting, called the Country Branding Ranking. It would require a degree in something I don't understand to figure out how it's different from Future Brand's report, but one thing they say is that take a ton of factors into account and also that they're the only ones in this business (and I guess there is one) that takes tourist demand into account.
Readers of this blog will remember, perhaps, that Canada has slipped a fair bit in terms of international arrivals the last few years and is no longer in the top ten. Canada ranked seventh in international arrivals in 2007, but the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) recently stated we're now 18th.
And 18th is exactly where we stand in the world in the new Bloom Consulting report, which attempts to measure how much revenue a country could potentially add to its economy via trade and tourism.
Anyway, for what it's worth, here's the Bloom report's top 20:
1. United States 2. Spain 3. France 4. China 5. Turkey 6. Thailand 7. Germany 8. Macau 9. United Kingdom 10. Australia 11. Austria 12. Italy 13. Hong Kong 14. Malaysia 15. Netherlands 16. Mexico 17. Switzerland 18. Canada 19. Croatia 20. Russian Federation
So at least we finished ahead of Russia. Let's hope that continues at the World Junior Hockey Championships, eh?
Here are a few other notables: 21. Portugal, 233. India, 24. Greece 25. Republic of Korea 28. Japan 32. Ireland.
The bottom ten? Here ya go: 152. Tajikistan (there goes my holiday plan) 153. Swaziland 154. Federation States of Micronesia 155. Sao Tome and Principe 156. Djibouti 157. Tonga 158. Kiribati 159. Papua New Guinea 160. Burundi and, at the bottom: 161. Marshall Islands (see photo at left, which looks pretty damn good to me).
Asia had eight countries in the top 25. Japan wasn't in that group due to the residual effects of the tsunami.
I don't remember seeing this report last year, but I found a website that shows the 2011 Bloom rankings, and Canada was 23rd. So I guess we're moving in the right direction. The U.S. was first last year as well, followed by Spain, France, Germany and the UK.
Bloom on Thursday also released a U.S. state by state analysis (plus D.C., for 51 ranking spots). Tops was California, no surprise given the plethora of things to do, followed by Florida and New York. Illinois was fourth and then it went Texas, Michigan (good to see), Georgia, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Colorado.
The bottom five were: 47. Kansas 48. Vermont (a surprise to me) 49. West Virginia 50. Rhode Island and 51. Delaware. Poor Delaware. Makes me think I should do a trip there sometime and see for myself.
DO WE HATE OUR FAMILIES OR SOMETHING?
Geez. A study by Cheapflights.ca finds that more than 80 per cent of Canadians want to travel tos ee family this Christmas, but less than 30 per cent have actually made travel plans.
Given the economy that might not be surprising.
Based on answers from more than 400 Canadians, the survey also found that just over 18 per cent of us wish we could travel to ESCAPE our family, though only 3.2 per cent of us actually are doing so.
Parents and children topped the list of fave family members to see, while in-laws, shockingly, were at the bottom, with less than two per cent of folks having them on their holiday travel wish-list.
More than 12 per cent of survey respondents said they will avoid seeing their brother or sister. But, just to end this on a nice note, 23 per cent said there were NO relatives they wanted to avoid.
HOTEL OMNI MONT-ROYAL IMPROVEMENTS
Officials said it involved a "complete re-design and refurbishment of its facilities, including all 200 guest rooms and suites" and a new lobby, which now features "an upscale lounge bar and restaurant."
Other amenities include an outdoor pool (for summer, naturally) and "state of the art" fitness centre. They also have added Italian marble bathrooms and 42-inch LCD flat screen TV's.
They say rooms have views of either Mont-Royal Park or the Montreal skyline.
AIR CANADA ADDS VIRTUAL HOLD
This oughta help a few folks. Air Canada sent me a note today to say that what they call "virtual hold" has now rolled out at their call centres in Canada and the U.S. and is currently offered for general reservations and web support services.
“"With this new product, customers are now given an estimated wait time and the option of a call-back rather than remaining on hold," officials said.
Here's what they said about it in an employee newsletter: "Virtual Hold certainly helps alleviate customer frustration from being on hold indefinitely. The estimated wait time information and option to continue on hold or have a call-back is very much appreciated by our customers - especially during irregular operations. Our IT team worked tirelessly for several months upon months to overcome the multiple challenges of installing new technology on a legacy phone system. The next step is to add a service where customers can schedule a call back time. Call Centres continues to focus on reducing the amount of time customers wait with ongoing hiring and implementation of technology and process improvements."
JAUNT.CA DEAL OF THE DAY
Jaunt.ca, a division of Torstar, has a two-for-one Avalon River Cruise special that's exclusive to Jaunt. It's a cruise through central Europe's capital cities on the Avalon Tranquility and it's going for $1,633 plus $133 in taxes for a total of $1,766.
Here are the highlights:
- BONUS: Two for One: for every one person (paid in full), the second traveller's cruise is FREE (reflected in the pricing)
- 12-day River Cruise and stay along the Danube River, starting in Budapest and ending in Prague
- Includes the following ports of call with daily sightseeing programs in: Budapest, Hungary; Bratislava, Slovakia; Vienna, Austria; Krems, Austria; Melk, Austria; Grein, Austria; Passau, Germany; and Prague, Czech Republic
- Accommodations in a Deluxe Outside Stateroom, located on the Indigo Deck (Category E) featuring twin windows. Upgraded cabin categories with French Balconies available at 1.855.GO.JAUNT
- Includes all meals on the ship, complimentary sparkling wine with breakfast, soft drinks with lunch, and wine, beer, or soft drinks with dinner
- 2 nights' accommodations in Prague at the InterContinental
- For every traveller paid in full another traveller's cruise is free
- The tour employs local guides so you have the best exposure to the places visited
- The cruise visits renowned capitals and lesser known destinations
- Valid for travel on April 11, 2013 sailing
- Pricing (per person, based on double occupancy, plus port charges)
Deluxe Outside Stateroom (Category E)
$1632.50 per person, double occupancy
- Valid passport required for travel from Canada
- This offer is 100% non-refundable at time of booking