An eventful year as one billion travel

New luxury experiences will be showcased at ILTM Cannes

THIS month the focus is on luxury.

As media partners at the International Luxury Travel Market, where the most sought after collection of luxury experiences come together under one roof to speak business and how they enrich their guest experiences.

What is also amazing is how unique the definition of luxury varies for every individual. When Indian fashion designer Sabyasachi unveiled his Cinema Suite at the 51 Buckingham Palace (read more about it in our Luxury by TTN supplement) some people called it cluttered while others marvelled at the old world royalty. For me personally it was so unique, I was a a tad bit overwhelmed at the sheer warmth and colours in the room.

For some others luxury is about the art of service. The Ritz-Carlton have pioneered this Art of Craft in every service they provide guests be it housekeeping, shoe shine valets or dining experience. According to Herve Humler, president and chief operations officer, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, this is how significantly the craftsmanship of true professionals can impact a guest’s experience with the Ritz-Carlton brand, and just what goes into being a lady or gentleman of The Ritz-Carlton.

With the growing popularity of technology, luxury or mass market segments are demanding more access to the hotels and ease in making bookings.

2012 is also the year of one billion travellers.

While last year major political changes in the Middle East and Africa and natural calamities in Japan affected much of the travel, 2012 have seen its share of calamities be it Cyclone Sandy hitting the US East Coast or the flash floods in the northern province of Thailand.

According to World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), growth in the global travel and tourism industry in 2012 will be broadly in line with expectations that were set at the beginning of the year. WTTC predicts growth for the Travel and Tourism globally of 2.7 per cent, only slightly less than the 2.8 per cent that was expected for the industry at the beginning of the year.

The largest downward revisions have been in the Middle East and Europe markets. In the Middle East, projections for travel and  tourism GDP are still for growth overall, but as the region continues to struggle with some turmoil and negative perceptions of safety and security, growth has been revised down to 1.8 per cent from 3.1 per cent in January. Lebanon’s international tourist arrivals was on a promising growth track only to be been depressed by the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

WTTC believes in the right of people to travel safely, securely and efficiently across international borders. This was brought to the spotlight at the recently concluded UNWTO/ Ministers Summit at the World Travel Market in London where  it was concluded that complicated visas processes and policies that limit air connectivity continue to present major barriers to the growth of travel and tourism.

Recent research showed that between 2010 and 2012 over 40 countries made significant changes to their visa policies, yet, visa facilitation is a major obstacle to tourism development.

So here’s wishing all our readers a very Happy New Year and safe travels!

Speaking Out

By Shalu Chandran