Tourism Availability – A Global Issue (06.09.15)

The international tourism industry is, by its very nature, exposed to a huge variety of forces constantly impacting its destinations, clients and service providers. Whilst safety, security, weather, politics, taxation, globalisation, destination management, the environment, health and climate change are standout threats, perhaps the most under-estimated is ‘availability’.


As global annual international travel journeys race well past the billion mark, this week the Chinese government’s Annual Report on Outbound Tourism Development confirmed that there were 107 million 2014 Chinese trips, to 117 countries. A 19.49% rise on 2013. Which is a particularly remarkable statistic when one acknowledges that the Chinese tourism market is still very much in its infancy.

Although, in China’s case, the report acknowledges that the main purpose for their travel is ‘shopping’, we at Nomadic Thoughts, have noticed a considerable sea-change in destination availability across many of our most popular and outstanding destinations. In the main due to many other nationalities expanding their own outbound markets. Especially the newly developed countries who’s compatriots continue to show interest in destinations that focus on providing less ‘shopping’ and more ‘unique experience’ holidays.

Chinese outbound market growing 20% year on year

Chinese outbound market growing 20% year on year

Availability is becoming an ever increasing issue as historical sites, wilderness locations, festival gatherings, wildlife spots and pilgrim destinations struggle to cope with visitor numbers. Especially during peak periods. Equally, iconic destinations such as the new 7 Wonders of the World (which my previous ‘Powerful PR’ blog focuses on) have a constant balance-battle between tourist numbers and availability.

Inca Trail - long term booking essential

Inca Trail – long term booking essential

We have noticed that securing service availability in some destinations has become not only a skilled date-juggling-act, but also a profound exercise in knowing the right people in the right places.

For example destinations such as Cuba and Burma are experiencing a massive imbalance between supply and demand. As their new found popularity expands amongst international travellers, accommodation, transportation and quality guiding is becoming more and more acute. A case in point being that, even with our own excellent local representatives, if we want to secure our chosen client travel services in Burma we need to do so at least nine months, to a year, in advance.

Cuba, over-booked and under-resourced

Cuba 2015, excessively high demand exceeding supply

Similarly in Cuba there is almost no quality accommodation availability until April next year.

The all-important restriction on visitor numbers to the other more delicate tourist environments also has a huge impact on how far in advance we must advise our client to pre-book their trip. Whilst we do have the appropriate channels to book jungle treks to the silverback mountain gorillas, witness polar bear movements, experience unique safari excursions and book numerous whale watching windows, in order to secure the appropriate availability we often have to book not only months and years in advance, but also on pre-designated days.

Gorilla trekking - get in line early

Gorilla trekking – get planning way in advance

Knowing when National Parks, local authorities, hotels and transportation companies open their books for reservations is a constant challenge.

Cultural experiences such as Japanese sumo tournaments, seasonal cooking classes and religious ceremonies require as much advance planning as pre-ordained natural phenomena experiences such as the Aurora Borealis, eclipses and equinox moments.

Juggling act - avoiding the crowds, yet securing a reservation

Juggling act: booking in advance to securing a reservation, yet avoid the crowds

Nowadays activity holidays can also require as much long-term planning as booking front-row-seats for a sporting event, festival or pilgrimage event. For example, especially if you want to trek the Inca Trail, maximise on the flooding of the Amazon or catch the early morning sunrise over Mt Everest.

Wildlife, wilderness or remote paradise location - advance booking essential

Wildlife, wilderness or remote paradise locations – advance booking essential

My advice – get organised, think in advance and get booking your holiday time as soon as possible. Certainly, if you are planning an authentic experience to one of the world’s most spectacular destinations let us know as soon as possible.

Not least as, even with the present day stereo-typical Chinese traveller’s main focus on shopping, the concept of ‘late availability’ to the most impressive global destinations is about as rare as a location without a multi-national visitor profile.

As important to plan when best to join the crowd ...

Knowing how best to avoid, as much as join, the crowd …

... as how best to

… as important as booking your seat away from it all.