Essays on why we travel, what we get out of it – travel as epic adventure or religious experience …

The growing obsession with travel is apparently induced by very cheap air fares, growing affluence, ever rising expectations, an increasing sense that hypermobility across the globe is an entitlement – on top of an emptiness and dissatisfaction with what everyday life has to offer. In a series of essays, an anthropologist looks at some of the reasons for our globe-trotting, why we do it, and what we get out of it. He considers travel as epic adventure, and how we seek challenges, in our rather mundane lives, over-influenced by health & safety; how we want to substitute novelty for normality; to reverse our daily routines, and abandon the comfort of familiarity. And the quest for ourselves. In looking at travel as a religious experience, he considers the rite of passage of much gap year travel…” some 25,000 visit Thailand, Australia and New Zealand …there is ritual talk: “where are you going?”; “where have you been?”; “did you ‘do’ this monument/trek/natural wonder?” etc.  Drink, drugs and digital photos, sun, sea and social networks … Upon their return from the wilderness, our young vagrants are transformed (or reformed) into worldly-wise Westerners, new sovereign citizens of a global era. (Theirs is the Earth and everything that’s in it!) … Indeed, for many in the West today, overseas travel has come to fill the void vacated by ‘real’ religions, providing meaning, purpose, awe and wonder, as well as a sense of belonging.” 
.

 

 

Travel as Epic Adventure

by David Jobanputra

… one of a series of essays on why we travel …

at http://www.bonanomie.com/category/the-anthropology-of-travel/

…. it is a long article, well worth reading.  But these are a few extracts below …..

In the last article, I set out the idea that travel can serve a quasi-religious function akin to a ritual or pilgrimage.  This week, I want to look at our motivation in a different light.  Rather than viewing travel as a kind of religious experience, it is, I contend, an epic adventure, a journey of discovery whose destination, as Henry Miller once suggested, ‘is never a place but a new way of looking at things’.  Above all else, it affords us a new way of looking at each other, and at ourselves.  More tellingly perhaps, it offers the chance to change what we see, to ‘find’ oneself and fashion it anew.

……

Whatever one says about travel, whatever truths one tries to mine from its representative depths, it is most certainly, literally, an adventure.  Be it two weeks in Malta or two years in Tibet (visa permitting), the act of travel presupposes the same encounter with the unknown that is at the heart of every adventurous undertaking.

……

And as travel is more or less a matter of letting things befall one, of submitting to the new and unfamiliar in the pursuit of pleasure, it is, by definition, an adventure.

So what are these things we allow to befall us?  Which novel events comprise the adventure?  To name but a few of this endless assortment, there are different climates, different foods, different modes of dress.  Often, the language too is unfamiliar, while elsewhere we may encounter disparate laws, singular customs, foreign fauna and strange currencies.

More generally, travel rests on a series of oppositions or inversions in the fabric of everyday life.  Thus, we swap cold weather for warmth, city living for country, fast living for slow, stress for calm and so on, perhaps vice versa.  While the extent of these inversions may vary – not everyone swaps the rat race for an ashram or the Arctic for Arabia – they have in common the essence of adventure, namely, the substitution of novelty for normality.

Why, then, do we take pleasure in reversing our daily routines?  For creatures of habit, as humans are, what is to be gained from abandoning the comfort of familiarity?

Well, the first and most obvious explanation is that the highs justify the lows, which is to say that the unforeseeable pleasures equal or exceed the unforeseeable pains.  So it is, then, that the sunrise trumps the blizzard, the food trumps the filth and so on.

…..

In fact, the epic adventure is less a quest for paradise than a quest for ourselves.  Now this might sound like a clumsy cliché, and granted, it can be unwieldy.  But there is truth to this truism, for in the course of the adventure, in the process of displacing our persons from their usual surrounds, we cannot help but arrive at a fuller conception of our characters.

….

For the vast majority of people, this is arguably the ultimate appeal of travel: it is a means and a medium to know one another, an adventure to be shared.  But what of those who prefer to go solo?  Why the desire to ‘find’ oneself?  And what does this actually mean?

…..

Viewed this way, the desire to travel is inseparable from the desire to appear (i.e. look and feel) like a traveller, just as the need for adventure is synonymous with the need to appear adventurous.  Travel, then, is a brand that helps to define one’s identity.  Like the food we eat, the car we drive and the clothes we wear, it works to confer on us sense of our own individuality.  Nevertheless, like any other product, it is subject to the market and the whims of consumerism.

http://www.bonanomie.com/travel-as-epic-adventure/

.


 

Travel as Religious Experience

by David Jobanputra

… one of a series of essays on why we travel …

at http://www.bonanomie.com/category/the-anthropology-of-travel/

…. it is a long article, well worth reading.  But these are a few extracts below – relating to young people and the semi-ritual travel rites of passage of the gap year …..

 

Let’s think again about the gaggle of gap years sketched out above.  Every year, approximately 100,000 school-leavers head overseas prior to embarking on work or further education.  Many more young people take similar breaks during or after their studies, or in-between jobs.  Among this growing demographic, which is worth an estimated £2.2 billion in the UK alone, there are two major gap year options: project-based trips with organisations such as Global Vision International (GVI) and Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO); or budget backpacking through Asia, Australasia and the Americas.

Of those who opt for the latter, some 25,000 visit Thailand, Australia and New Zealand in the same outing, making this the pre-eminent gap year circuit.  Already, then, we have the first elements of ritual: time and place.

But what else?  Well, for a start you need the costume.  (Rituals, you will recall, work best in garish garb.)  Ponchos, sarongs, fisherman’s pants: practical, yes, but also symbolic.  Like braids, dreadlocks, tattoos and piercings, this decorative dress denotes a departure from everyday life and heightens the sense of occasion. There are other adornments too: the journal; the guidebook; the low-slung knapsack.

And then there is ritual talk: “where are you going?”; “where have you been?”; “did you ‘do’ this monument/trek/natural wonder?”; etc.  Drink, drugs and digital photos, sun, sea and social networks – these too are ubiquitous features.

Travel, then, becomes ritual; there is an order of action, a template to be followed.  Upon their return from the wilderness, our young vagrants are transformed (or reformed) into worldly-wise Westerners, new sovereign citizens of a global era.  (Theirs is the Earth and everything that’s in it!)  Through their reintegration, initiates renew a vow to society.  In return, society bestows on them the mantle of maturity, endorsing their experience as life-changing and morally valid.

….

So there we have it.  What appears a humble waterfront guesthouse is in fact a stage upon which various reverent rites are enacted, be it a kind of coming of age ritual akin to an aboriginal walkabout or the righteous restraint of the shoestring ascetic.  Viewing travel in this light is in no way meant to devalue it – quite the opposite in fact.  While at one level these foreign forays are decidedly frivolous, at another they can be seen to fulfil basic social functions.  Indeed, for many in the West today, overseas travel has come to fill the void vacated by ‘real’ religions, providing meaning, purpose, awe and wonder, as well as a sense of belonging.  As we shall see in the following article, it may also serve to satisfy an ancient appetite for adventure and the itching innate in our figurative feet.

http://www.bonanomie.com/travel-as-religious-experience/

.

..

 

Read more »

Is travel now the ultimate “must-have” possession, used to define who we think we are?

David Jobanputra is an anthropologist and film maker, who has given much thought to why we travel so much. He has looked at travel largely as something rich westerners do, in more exotic lands. But he also asks about travel in the way it has now become a serious consumer product, and one through which we try to define ourselves – sophisticated, trendy, caring, bold, discerning etc. “We choose a personal brand identity to which we aspire and the travel industry supplies us with the right product to match.” …”Consumption is our lifejacket. It is also our straitjacket.” …”We buy status, power, a sense of inclusion. We even buy our adventures. In the age of consumerism, everything is commoditised … including tourism….Transnational travel makes culture a commodity. When the ethic of consumption is extended to new people and places, everything comes with a price. Visit to the palace – $12; mountain trek – $35; traditional dance performance – $8; sense of self-worth – priceless. Today’s holiday brochures boast bargains like an Argos catalogue; instead of homeware and cheap electronics, we find tigers, temples and tribal villages. All are commodities, just the same. We buy these things for the same reason we buy any other non-essential product: to look better, feel better or else appear better.”
.

 

TRAVEL: THE ULTIMATE MUST-HAVE POSSESSION?

In the third of a series of articles exploring why we travel, David Jobanputra asks if our travels are anything more than an act of consumption through which we can define ourselves as we wish. Sophisticated, trendy, caring; we choose a personal brand identity to which we aspire and the travel industry supplies us with the right product to match.

The Apple iPad, Reebok Classics, Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Aegean tomato and yak cheese focaccia – ours is an age of consumerism. From our first forays to the sweet shop, through birthdays, toy ads and Christmas lists, we are subtly schooled in the art of desire; by the time we reach early adulthood, we are all grandmasters of the craft.

We know what we want, we know how to get it, we know how much it costs. We know why it’s better than its rivals, why Fad magazine gave it 8/10 neighbour’s asses, why Stephen Fry is tweeting about it.

We know what we want. And we know we don’t need it.

Consumption has been called the pre-eminent postmodern act. It’s the means through which we in the West, adrift in a world without meaning, cut loose from nature and history, traverse these troubling times. It is our lifejacket. It is also our straitjacket.

For the first time in history, entire societies are engaged in acts of holistic consumption. We buy not merely what we need to survive, but also what we need (or so it may seem) to ensure a happy existence. And so we buy safety, comfort, beauty and health, learning, leisure and love. We buy status, power, a sense of inclusion. We even buy our adventures.

In the age of consumerism, everything is commoditised. To buy or not to buy, that is the question. Rainforests, footballers, hospital beds – the infectious logic of the market makes products of them all.

And tourism shows no immunity.

Transnational travel makes culture a commodity. When the ethic of consumption is extended to new people and places, everything comes with a price. Visit to the palace – $12; mountain trek – $35; traditional dance performance – $8; sense of self-worth – priceless.

Today’s holiday brochures boast bargains like an Argos catalogue; instead of homeware and cheap electronics, we find tigers, temples and tribal villages. All are commodities, just the same.

We buy these things for the same reason we buy any other nonessential product: to look better, feel better or else appear better.

We are, in effect, cultural cannibals, consuming culture so as to assimilate some aspect of it. Thus, New York confers cosmopolitanism, India spirituality, the Caribbean coolness and so on. And then there are optional extras, side dishes if you like. A five-star hotel suggests status, a wine tour imparts taste, the prefix ‘eco-’ implies ethical acumen. In the realm of the tourist-cannibal, you are what you eat.

And thus, we travel to consume; it’s all that we know how to do. Consumption is our (shop) window on the world, framing our every experience.

Just as once we defined ourselves by what we produced, now it is what we consume.

Consumption, then, is mandatory, involuntary even. And travel is yet another market place. It is the new mall in a small town, with new stores, new brands and new possibilities. And so we buy flights and daytrips and waterproof clothing and rugs and postcards and carved wooden statues and tea and timeshares and tailor-made suits. We buy everything and anything. New malls are opened, new cultures consumed. Supply follows demand.

Supply follows demand, but with a marked dislocation: demand from the West; supply from the Rest. So travel is a form of imperialism, an expansionist project in which vast armies of pleasure-seekers are deployed daily to ‘colonise’ new lands, safe in the knowledge that their motives are sound (the customer is always right). It is to this issue, together with other inadvertent effects of travel, that I dedicate the following articles.

http://www.bonanomie.com/travel-as-consumption/

http://www.tourdust.com/blog/posts/is-travel-anything-more-than-consumerism-in-another-la

.

You can find other articles by David, on aspects of travel and consumerism, at: 

Travel as religious experience:

http://www.bonanomie.com/travel-as-religious-experience/

.

Travel as Epic Adventure

http://www.bonanomie.com/travel-as-epic-adventure/

.

Travel as Imperialism

http://www.bonanomie.com/travel-as-imperialism/

.

…. and there are many more essays …. at  http://www.bonanomie.com/page/2/


 

About David Jobanputra

David Jobanputra is a writer and anthropologist specialising in development, cultural change and environmental ethics. He recently completed a PhD in Social Anthropology at University College London, which looked at grassroots advocacy and eco-development in the Aravalli mountains of Rajasthan, India. In addition to living and working in the subcontinent, David has travelled extensively throughout Europe, Asia and Africa, including overland trips from Tibet to Scotland and Beijing to Java. David recently returned from 18 months living with a tribe in the Rajasthani desert.

 

http://www.tourdust.com/blog/posts/is-travel-anything-more-than-consumerism-in-another-land

.

 

.

.

.

 

..

 

Read more »

Heathrow offers “personal shopper” service, to ensure rich passengers are helped to spend

For Heathrow, getting passengers to shop at the airport is vital. The airport is said to have made something like £480 million from retail in 2013, with passengers spending around £1.8 billion in total. Passengers spend on average about £38 each in the airport. And some passengers spend a very great deal.  Heathrow has a Personal Shopper service “which offers travellers an accredited stylist with free of charge service and provide them an individually tailored retail style.” For those too dim, impressionable or incapable of locating what to splash their cash on, and how to find the most pretentious and expensive designer brands, they can book their own shopper who will tell them what to buy. This truly is hyper-consumerism gone mad. Some quotes: “Everyday, there will be personal shoppers who are fluent in Arabic, French, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish that will provide free of charge services to all passengers”….Supermodel Erin O’Connor said: “Travel has been and still is a huge part of my life. The Personal Shoppers at Heathrow have incredible fashion and beauty insight which means they can pull a selection for me before I even arrive at the airport. I can make the most of my time before I board my flight and know that I will have everything I want for my trip.” And it offers free beauty treatments.
.

 

 

Personal Shopper service at Heathrow airport

9. Oct, 2013

by  (Heathrow Airport’s website)

London Heathrow airport has opened its new Personal Shopper service which offers travellers an accredited stylist with free of charge service and provide them an individually tailored retail style.

The airport described it as a ‘first’ for an international airport. It also believes that the new service would draw together about 300 outlets at the airport with a consultation that can be reserved in advance or can avail on the arrival at the airport.

Muriel Zingraff-Shariff, Heathrow Retail Director, said: “The launch of Heathrow’s Personal Shopper service is a world first, and one that we’re immensely proud of. We’re always looking to introduce new services which will benefit our passengers and help them make the most of the time.

“Whether you’re flying for business or leisure our Personal Shoppers can help you treat yourself or find the perfect gift for a loved one.”

Everyday, there will be personal shoppers who are fluent in Arabic, French, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish that will provide free of charge services to all passengers.

Supermodel Erin O’Connor who co-hosted the event at Somerset House in London said: “Travel has been and still is a huge part of my life. The Personal Shoppers at Heathrow have incredible fashion and beauty insight which means they can pull a selection for me before I even arrive at the airport.

“I can make the most of my time before I board my flight and know that I will have everything I want for my trip.”

The new Personal Shopper service is one of the newest services in Heathrow. It is endorsed by home delivery, online product reservation, free beauty treatments and Shop and Collect.

http://londonheathrow.co/home/personal-shopper-new-service-heathrow-airport/

.


.

Personal Shoppers

Heathrow is delighted to offer you complimentary stylist-trained shopping assistance. Our team members have international knowledge and can offer assistance in many different languages. If time allows, they may be able to take you to a different terminal to visit a particular store. Heathrow Personal Shoppers are available by appointment only. Please request an appointment 48 hours before you travel with our booking form. Whether you want to update your seasonal wardrobe or purchase a gift for someone special, our team will be pleased to assist.

Book Heathrow’s complimentary personal shopping service

Heathrow offers complimentary Personal Shopping for customers looking for that personal touch. Bringing together all of the stores at the airport, you can book a bespoke consultation with an accredited stylist.

You can make an appointment with a Personal Shopper, day or night, they speak a wide range of languages and can help you with fashion advice and styling, gift ideas for that special someone, or choosing the perfect travel accessories.

Our Personal Shopper Team are proud to present the world’s first airport shopping lounge in Terminal 2, where we can assist with browsing, trying on and purchasing from your choices, from our range of stores, in the privacy and comfort of our brand new suite.

Book your appointment now

Plus, enter your Heathrow Rewards card number when you book to receive triple points on all purchases made during your appointment.

BOOK

Contact us to request an appointment:
BRIEF

We will contact you to discuss what you are looking for, your budget and the time you have available.

MEET

Your Personal Shopper will arrange where to meet you after security. You will have their contact details, in case you are delayed.

SHOP

Based on your brief, your Personal Shopper will have prepared a shopping plan to make the most of your time.

Details at http://boutique.heathrow.com/index.php/personal-shopper

.


.

Earlier:

Sales are taking off at Heathrow Airport and Terminal 2 has become ‘retail heaven’, say bosses

We may think of Heathrow as an airport, but in some ways it is more of a shopping centre.

Last year, Britain’s hub airport took in £1.5billion in ‘aeronautical income’, such as the charges levied on airlines.

In the same year, passengers spent £1.8billion on retail, splashing out on everything from travel Scrabble to a nerve-steadying glass of champagne. But Heathrow does not get most of that money.

Sales soar: The new Queen's Terminal (the redeveloped Terminal 2), which opens its doors on June 4, will put retail at the heart of the flying experience

Sales soar: The new Queen’s Terminal (the redeveloped Terminal 2), which opens its doors on June 4, will put retail at the heart of the flying experience

The likes of Dixons and Boots do not pay rent to have a branch at Britain’s airport, they share profits.

Heathrow’s retail revenue came to £487million last year, a hefty chunk of overall group revenue of £2.5billion, most of it coming from such profit-sharing agreements.

The new Queen’s Terminal (the redeveloped Terminal 2), which opens its doors on June 4, will put retail at the heart of the flying experience.

The scramble to get held of floorspace in Terminal 2 has been fierce. Heathrow received an average of five bids for every pitch, with the ratio rising to 22:1 in some of the spaces reserved for fashion outlets.

One requirement for winning that sought-after floorspace was that retailers do something a bit  different than they would on the High Street.

Japanese food chain Yo Sushi, for instance, came up with the idea of allowing passengers to make an advance order via Twitter so that the food is ready by the time they have cleared security.

It is an experiment unlikely to survive the first time that a mischievous schoolboy orders 1,000 salmon maki rolls just before jumping on a flight to Lanzarote.

But it is also a commitment to innovation that signals how prestigious it is for retail brands to have a presence at the primary gateway to Britain.

Only the most select retailers have not had to bend over backwards to impress Heathrow.

One is the new Heston Blumenthal restaurant, which will see Heathrow become the only airport in the world to boast two Michelin-starred chefs; there is also a Gordon Ramsay restaurant.

‘We were very keen to get Heston,’ admits John Holland-Kaye, the airport’s development director, who oversaw the terminal’s makeover.

Another is John Lewis, which will open the doors to its first airport shop.
Holland-Kaye says the likes of Heston and John Lewis help show off the things that Britons are proud of.

Rent free: The likes of Dixons and Boots do not pay rent to have a branch at Britain’s airport, they share profits

‘We’re really pleased to have them [John Lewis],’ he says. ‘We want great British brands to use Heathrow to showcase their wares.’

Indeed, some 60 per cent of the 140 brands sold at 400 Heathrow outlets are British. But the retail offer at Heathrow, whose largest shareholder is Spanish constructor Ferrovial, is about much more than patriotism.

With the airport running at full capacity due to the lack of a third runway, the logic of supply and demand dictates that the landing charges levied on airlines – and passed on to passengers in the ticket price – can only rise.

Such charges are capped by the Civil Aviation Authority, but are also kept in check by whatever income the airport can get from elsewhere.

The average retail spend at Heathrow is £38.86 per buyer. And if you are the sort of person who never parts with a penny at the airport, you can take comfort from the fact that every Burberry handbag bought by your fellow passengers is helping to reduce the cost of your ticket.

Finding the perfect balance between luxury brands and essentials is crucial to ensuring maximum retail revenue.

Stuffing a terminal full of Bulgari and Prada, for instance, is not much good when most of the flights are short-haul hops to budget beach destinations. At Terminal 2, the average spend per passenger will be lower than at other terminals, by Heathrow’s own estimates.

But what is most important is that passengers can find what they want, when they want it.
Getting that right is no accident.

Last week, Heathrow welcomed 2,800 volunteers through its doors for a trial to see how smoothly the terminal runs.

Each passenger was given a script giving them an identity to adopt for the day and a task to perform.

The idea is that nothing is left to chance, that the terminal is set up to make life easy for passengers trying to find their flights.

That’s about money as much as it is about logistics.

Not only is it important for Heathrow to monitor whether people can find what they need, but ensuring that things run smoothly is key to maximising retail revenue.

After all, every second spent trying to find your departure gate is a second that could have been spent buying a miniature teddy bear dressed as a Beefeater.

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-2621785/CITY-FOCUS-Sales-taking-Heathrow-Airport-Terminal-2-retail-heaven-say-bosses.html

 

Read more »

American blog “Love and long-distance travel in the time of climate change”

In a thoughtful, soul-searching article by an American climate campaigner, Eve, she sets out her dilemma about flights across the States to visit her family several times each year. About a year earlier, a meteorologist in the US, Eric Holthaus, vowed not to fly again – after he understood just how serious the issue of climate change had become, and how large a part of his personal carbon footprint flying had become. With thousands of other Americans, Eve was influenced by Eric Holthaus. She writes of her difficulties in having lived a typical American life, involving studying and working in places far from home,  yet wanting to keep in regular contact with parents and family. She describes the sadness of choosing not going home to visit parents. “It is very, very strange to be in a position now — and I don’t think I’m alone — where I find myself weighing seeing the people I love against my own complicity in the global climate crisis.” And  “Never before has our economy been so effortlessly globalized that jobs pull people back and forth across countries and oceans, and never before have we had so much evidence that the systems and habits we’ve created to actually live in that economy are quite literally destroying the planet.”
.

 


 

On Twitter

I just broke down in tears in boarding area at SFO while on phone with my wife. I’ve never cried because of a science report before.

Love and long-distance travel in the time of climate change

By Eve Andrews  (Grist – USA)

24 Dec 2014

This is the first time in my life that I’ve spent the holidays in a fairly unfamiliar place, surrounded by fairly unfamiliar people. For Jews, Christmastime can always be a little weird – it’s readily acknowledged that Christmas is a holiday that everyone observes to some extent, simply by nature of everything being closed, but my family really does not. We’ve always celebrated Hanukkah, which is even more awkwardly placed than Christmas relative to Thanksgiving, and yet I’ve always been able to be with family for at least part of it, because I’ve never lived 2,500 miles away from home before.

Since moving to Seattle, it takes me about seven hours (there are no direct flights) to fly to my hometown of Pittsburgh — the city in which I was born and raised, where my parents and sister and brother-in-law live, and that will always, always hold a not-insignificant piece of my heart. I know some people who dread returning to the cities that have known them as bratty children and awkward adolescents, and I am not one of them. For all of my (admittedly brief) adult life, I have cried through each takeoff from the PIT tarmac, bound for whichever city I called home at the time.

When talking with my parents about travel plans to come home this year around the holidays, I figured I had to choose between Christmastime and Thanksgiving. Since, as stated above, we don’t really do Christmas, the choice seemed obvious.

“But we’ll pay for you to fly home whenever you want because we want to see you,” said the very loving and generous people whom I am incredibly privileged to call my parents. “If it’s a matter of money, it’s not an issue!”

But it’s not just a matter of money. I don’t know whether or not to be embarrassed by this, but I am still haunted by an article written by Slate meteorologist Eric Holthaus detailing how he was brought to tears by the IPCC’s report on climate change.

“…[L]ater that day, I was on the phone with my wife, getting ready to board a plane in San Francisco and thinking about the report more existentially. Any hope for a healthy planet seemed to be dwindling, a death warrant written in stark, black-and-white data. It came as a shock.

“This was our chance,” I told her, crying. “And it’s gone.”

Holthaus evaluated his own carbon footprint, and realized that flying regularly was his single largest contribution to the emissions that are warming our world.

I remember, vividly, reading Holthaus’ essay for the first time from the comfort of the couch in my cozy apartment in Chicago, which I shared with my then-boyfriend, in the midst of putting together my application for the Grist fellowship. I didn’t have a particularly strong background in environmental issues at the time, and was attempting to get a better grasp on the things I would hopefully be writing about. Well, I thought, after finishing the last sentence, fuck.

Not two hours after reading that, we had a conversation about what would happen if I were offered the fellowship.

“It’s not that long of a flight,” he said. “We could probably visit each other once a month!”

I racked up in my head how many flights that would be, and thought about rising sea levels, and terrible heat waves, and hurricanes in New York and New Orleans. And then I thought about our relationship of 3+ years and how much I loved him, and felt – ironically enough – so, so selfish for thinking about those other things.

Instead of flying to Seattle for the job, I bought a car and we drove from Chicago together. It was something I wanted to do for two reasons: Practically, to be able to schlep all my stuff across the country, and theoretically, to be able to comprehend the distance. With each of the days and hundreds of miles of snow-covered plains and mountains that passed, the air in the car between us seemed to grow heavier. We spent my 25th birthday driving across western Montana in long periods of silence, and I thought about the glaciers to our north receding.

Somewhere in western Montana.Somewhere on I-90 in western Montana. Eve Andrews
Humans are causing climate change. Contrary to what some politicians head-scratchingly argue, this is a matter of fact. And the onus of putting the brakes on what has become a runaway train of carbon emissions lies squarely on governments and major corporations.

But the single biggest change that I can make, as just one individual human, is to cut down on the amount of times I get on a plane. Upon realizing that, the extent to which all the people I love are scattered across the country has never been more apparent.

All the while I was growing up in Pittsburgh, the narrative of what it meant to be successful always seemed to include going far away. Leave the state for college (I did). Travel internationally (I did). Find a job in a bigger, more “exciting” city (I did – twice). “Maybe don’t put 2-3 time zones in between you and the people you love” was never really a part of that. When my best friends and I were in middle school and high school, we would talk about how excited we were to grow up and live far away from home. Now, we talk about how we can’t wait to live somewhere where we can walk to see each other instead of boarding a 747.

It is very, very strange to be in a position now — and I don’t think I’m alone — where I find myself weighing seeing the people I love against my own complicity in the global climate crisis.

I don’t know if this particular point of tension has ever existed before in our cultural consciousness: Never before has our economy been so effortlessly globalized that jobs pull people back and forth across countries and oceans, and never before have we had so much evidence that the systems and habits we’ve created to actually live in that economy are quite literally destroying the planet.

I chose not to go home for the holidays. How absurd and hypocritical would it be of me, I thought, to spend so much time writing about saving the climate and making green choices and then take two cross-country flights to the same place in one month? Especially, while we’re playing the real talk game, after flying to Bali this summer for a summit on climate change?

Instead, after staring at a blank Word document literally all day long, I am writing this at my dining room table at 11:30 p.m. on December 23 in an empty house as it pours rain outside, because this is Seattle. In the time that I should have spent writing this, I’ve talked with my dad, my mom, my sister, my brother, and my ex-boyfriend over a litany of forms of long-distance communication.

Am I pleased with my decision to remove one flight from some arbitrary yearly allotment? Do I feel that this gesture to reduce my carbon footprint for 2014 was worth it? What do you think?

In one of the half-dozen conversations I had tonight with people I very much wish I were seeing face-to-face, I said, half-jokingly, to my dad, “Being an adult is hard.”

“Yes, honey,” he agreed, emphatically. “It really just means doing a lot of things that you don’t want to do!”

I suppose that responsibility and happiness have always, throughout human history, tended to be at odds with each other — but god damn, it sucks when that hits home. Or, as the case may be, keeps you from getting home when you most want to be there.

http://grist.org/living/love-and-long-distance-travel-in-the-time-of-climate-change/

.


.

Meteorologist Eric Holthaus’ vow to never to fly again draws praise, criticism

By Jason Samenow  (Washington Post)

October 1, 2013

Meteorologist and science writer Eric Holthaus lit up Twitter last Friday when he announced he was never flying again due to the perils of climate change. Strongly motivated to reduce his carbon footprint, the decision was especially significant as Holthaus is a frequent flyer and owns a pilot license.

Holthaus, who formerly wrote a weather column for the Wall Street Journal and now covers weather and climate issues for the Atlantic’s new online Web initiative Quartz, said the sobering conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change motivated the decision.

Andrew Freedman, a science writer for Climate Central, says Holthaus’ emotion-filled reaction to the report compromises his objectivity in writing about the issue.

But Holthaus says his “walk the walk” response to the dire consequences of climate change strengthens rather than weakens his credibility when writing about the issue.

Holthaus’ actions earned the respect of Dave Tolleris, a Richmond-based meteorologist skeptical of catastrophic climate change scenarios.

“Eric is willing to make that commitment and take the steps to change his lifestyle and not be a hypocrite,” Tolleris said. “While I do not agree with his pessimistic view [on climate change], I do think that earns some points from me.”

On the other hand, Fox News commentator Greg Gutfeld questioned Holthaus’ motives. “I’m calling BS on this drama queen,” Gutfeld said. “This is what dooms environmentalism – dishonest hysterics who put drama before data.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2013/10/01/meteorologist-eric-holthaus-vow-to-never-to-fly-again-draws-praise-criticism/


Why I’m never flying again

By Eric Holthaus
@EricHolthaus

1.10.2013

Last week, when a panel of the world’s best scientists issued a new report on climate change (pdf), I did my best to read it like a meteorologist. The facts led to a simple conclusion: Humans cause global warming. And without an immediate and dramatic cut in carbon emissions, the problem could become irreversible.

That was easy enough to convey. But later that day, I was on the phone with my wife, getting ready to board a plane in San Francisco and thinking about the report more existentially. Any hope for a healthy planet seemed to be dwindling, a death warrant written in stark, black-and-white data. It came as a shock.

“This was our chance,” I told her, crying. “And it’s gone.”

My wife and I realized that the “substantial and sustained reductions” called for by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had to start with us. World governments will never agree in time to coordinate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. If anything is to change, it will have to come from individuals taking ownership of the problem themselves.
And that’s why my wife and I suddenly knew we could never fly again.

Now, I’m just an average guy, trying to do my best. I already do a lot to reduce my impact on the environment: I recycle. My wife and I share a car. I’m a vegetarian. I turn out the lights when I leave the room. I take those fancy reusable bags with me when I go food shopping.
But I also fly a lot—about 75,000 miles last year. A lot of that is travel to Africa and the Caribbean, where I work on projects to reduce the impact of climate change. This year, I also started flying on behalf of the startup I work for, Weathermob. I have gold status on Delta, and my wife and I were planning trips to Hawaii and Europe, all for free with frequent flyer miles.

Still, I didn’t comprehend quite how big an impact all those flights were having on the climate until I crunched the numbers with UC Berkeley’s excellent carbon footprint calculator. I was shocked to discover that air travel comprised almost half of my household’s emissions last year, or 33.5 metric tons of CO2.

The average American household, as you can see in the chart above, flies much less than I do, and should probably focus more effort on reducing emissions from car travel (or other things) rather than planes. But for a lot of us frequent fliers, the environmental harm is dramatic and adds up fast. A one-way flight from New York to San Francisco (2.23 tons of CO2) has nearly the same impact as driving a Hummer the same distance (2.81 tons).
By vowing not to fly, I went from having more than double the carbon footprint as the average American to about 30% less than average.

I don’t take the decision lightly or imagine that it won’t have a big impact on my life. But my wife and I are lucky enough to live in a stunningly beautiful part of the country. Most of our immediate family lives within a day’s drive. I’m excited to spend future vacation days exploring the local area.

I’ll still have to travel a lot (by car and train), and I’ll use videoconferencing for meetings I can’t miss. But by removing my single biggest impact on the climate in one swoop, I can rest a bit easier knowing I’ve begun to heed the IPCC’s call to action. Individual gestures, repeated by millions of people, could make a huge difference.

That humans cause climate change was not a new finding last week, but scientists are now more confident about it (95%) than they are that smoking causes cancer or that vitamins are good for you. Also, for the first time, the IPCC report cast doubt on the efficacy of geoengineering, previously considered a possible last-ditch technical solution.

So I guess last week’s report hit me harder than I expected. My profession is meteorology, which is all about data, but my heart is drawn to people and how we interact with the planet. Together, we can reverse the damage that we have already caused. We can all do something.
My first big step is staying on the ground.

http://qz.com/129477/why-im-never-flying-again/

.


 

Slate Meteorologist Eric Holthaus Stops Flying for A Year to Fight Climate Change

By Zain Haidar
Published Oct 3 2014

Eric Holthaus made national headlines and was branded a “sniveling beta male” by Fox News for a decision he made one year ago.

Holthaus, a meteorologist and climate writer for Slate, is used to approaching data with an objective lens, but a 2013 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – a “death warrant written in stark, black-and-white data” – brought him to tears. The IPCC made it clear that humans are negatively influencing the climate and that greenhouse gas emissions will continue to affect the Earth’s climate for centuries.

By his own estimates, Holthaus normally flew 75,000 miles a year on trips related to climate change projects and work for a startup. After some calculations, Holthaus discovered air travel comprised nearly half of his household’s emissions for a year.

After realizing the implications of the report and “taking ownership of the problem,” Holthaus and his wife made a decision to never fly again.

Holthaus reached that decision in 2013, and since then his arguments for individual responsibility toward climate change have made significant waves in the media. The Washington Post and other major outlets carried the story; Rolling Stone labeled Holthaus the “Rebel Nerd of Meteorology.” On Fox News’ immensely popular talk show The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld criticized Holthaus’ manhood and said he was “calling B.S. on this drama queen.”

In a recent perspective piece Holthaus published in Slate, he wrote “There’s no way you can be on the fence after seeing the data the way I’ve seen it.”

But how was a year without flying for a professional who’s used to taking to the skies for both work and leisure?

Not terrible, according to Holthaus.

In his article, Holthaus says there are obvious drawbacks: bus rides that take longer than a day to get from one major city to the next and canceled speaking opportunities that could have taken the meteorologist to the United Nations and across the country.

But Holthaus says taking a year off from flying “opened my mind more to enjoying the journey than just rushing to get to the destination.”

Holthaus wrote that his experience has motivated him to adopt new goals for the next year: micro changes that can have an impact when considered on the macro scale like moving into a smaller house.

Holthaus is not the only one dedicated to avoiding airplanes to help the planet. Kevin Anderson, a professor at the University of Manchester, has gone 11 years without flying and wrote recently on the benefits of slow travel.

Decisions by writers and thinkers like Holthaus and Anderson may be controversial, but they could also help reduce carbon emissions if adopted on a larger scale.

http://www.weather.com/science/environment/news/year-without-flying-carbon-footprint-20141003

.

.

.

.

.

 

 

Read more »

Kevin Anderson blog on decisions of academics and climate community about personal travel

In a blog in June 2014, Professor Kevin Anderson writes about the need for people to consider their own behaviour in relation to flying. He is personally highly conscious of his own energy use.  He looks in particular at academics and those in the climate change community, and their justification for the use of high carbon travel. These are some quotes: “Amongst academics, NGOs, green-business gurus and climate change policy makers, there is little collective sense of either the urgency of change needed or of our being complicit in the grim situation we now face.”  And on the desire to fly to save time to spend with our families: “When we’re dead and buried our children will likely still be here dealing with the legacy of our inaction today; do we discount their futures at such a rate as to always favour those family activities that we can join in with?”  And “Surely if humankind is to respond to the unprecedented challenges posed by soaring emissions, we, as a community, should be a catalyst for change – behaving as if we believe in our own research, campaign objectives etc. – rather than simply acting as a bellwether of society’s complacency.”
.

Does Greenpeace’s sanctioning of short-haul flights mirror wider hypocrisy amongst the climate change community?

By Professor Kevin Anderson
June 2014.
The following article is in response to a  report in the Guardian  in which the head of Greenpeace UK defends the need for one of its top executives to make regular flights between his home and work (Amsterdam and Luxembourg).
The recent suite of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underline the rapidly dwindling global carbon budget into which we have to squeeze twenty first century carbon emissions. This transition from society’s ill-informed focus on 2050 (or some other conveniently far off date) to scientifically credible carbon budgets, reframes the mitigation challenge in terms of deep reductions in emissions delivered over the coming decade.
It is within this context of urgency and in the pivotal run up to the climate negotiations in Paris 2015, that Greenpeace’s sanctioning of regular short-haul flights, needs to be considered.
Defending their international programme director’s regular Luxembourg to Amsterdam flights on the basis of “needs of his family”, resonates with my experience as an academic working within the climate change community. Amongst academics, NGOs, green-business gurus and climate change policy makers, there is little collective sense of either the urgency of change needed or of our being complicit in the grim situation we now face.
Since the first IPCC report in 1990, even the rate of emissions growth has risen – to a point where emissions today, a quarter of a century later, are some 60% higher. If such emission trends continue, then we’re heading for enormous changes for many families even in the short term.
These families may not be our own – much more likely they’ll be those who have not contributed to the problem, have little income and live in areas geographically more vulnerable to climate impacts.
We choose to fly to be with our family as quickly as possible – so as not to be away for more than a few days. But the repercussions (ok, not on a 1-to-1 basis perhaps) are for another family in another place to lose their home, suffer food and water shortages, social and community pressures and wider conflicts – to put at risk the very fabric of their families and communities.
Moreover, using fast and high carbon transport to reduce the time we spend away from our families also has longer-term repercussions for our own children. Are we rushing back for the sake of our families or for our own individual engagement with our families? This is a subtle but important distinction.
Are we concerned about our families only whilst we’re around to enjoy and benefit from them, or are we more altruistically concerned regardless of our own immediate returns? When we’re dead and buried our children will likely still be here dealing with the legacy of our inaction today; do we discount their futures at such a rate as to always favour those family activities that we can join in with?
Flying is emblematic of a modern and thriving society. Regardless of evidence the aviation industry is touted as central to future prosperity – a view deeply embedded in the culture and internationalisation agenda of both universities and many NGOs.
But such a framing of contemporary society is categorically at odds with the carbon budgets accompanying the global community’s pledge to hold the rise in temperature below 2°C – i.e. to avoid “dangerous climate change”.
Aviation, as with virtually every sector, makes all the right noises about becoming more efficient and reducing carbon intensity. But this misunderstands the science and challenge of climate change. All that really matters are absolute emissions – not how efficient we are.
This ultimately is the rub – we have left it far too late for technology alone to deliver the necessary rates of mitigation.
Those of us intimately engaged on climate change know this. Whether academics, NGOs, business leaders, policy makers or journalists, we cannot hide behind a lack of knowledge of our emissions or a poor understanding of the impacts of climate change.
Despite this, the frequency of our flying to ‘essential’ meetings, conferences etc., mirrors the rapid rise in global emissions – all salved with a repeated suite of trite excuses. Surely if humankind is to respond to the unprecedented challenges posed by soaring emissions, we, as a community, should be a catalyst for change – behaving as if we believe in our own research, campaign objectives etc. – rather than simply acting as a bellwether of society’s complacency.
________

The above response borrows from previous articles, particularly Hypocrites in the air and Evangelising from 32 thousand feet.

A further exchange, unhelpfully titled “Is flying still beyond the pale”, was published in the New Internationalist.

With a specific focus on the UK see:
– Aviation & shipping privileged again?  – published as a Tyndall Centre Briefing Note 47
– A one-way ticket to high carbon lock-in please – published in Carbon Management

In addition, the following papers address issues on aviation at the EU, UK and regional levels (these were written several years ago, but the arguments remain broadly valid today – 2014):
– Aviation in turbulent times
– Air transport, climate change and tourism
– Policy clash: Can aviation growth be reconciled with the UK 60% carbon-reduction target?
– Apportioning aviation CO2 emissions to regional administrations

For discussion on aviation in relation to 2°C carbon budgets, see 2013 book chapter: Carbon budgets for aviation or gamble with our future

For similar arguments made in relation to the shipping industry (another sector exempt from the Kyoto protocol and often neglected in national carbon inventories) see: Executing a Scharnow turn: reconciling shipping emissions with international commitments on climate change

http://kevinanderson.info/blog/failing-by-example-greenpeace-sanction-short-haul-flights-for-its-executives/
.
.

.


About Kevin Anderson:

Kevin Anderson is professor of energy and climate change in the School of Mechanical, Aeronautical and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester. He was previously director of the Tyndall Centre, the UK’s leading academic climate change research organisation, during which time he held a joint post with the University of East Anglia. Kevin now leads Tyndall Manchester’s energy and climate change research programme and is deputy director of the Tyndall Centre. He is research active with recent publications in Royal Society journals, Nature and Energy Policy, and engages widely across all tiers of government.  

With his colleague Alice Bows, Kevin’s work on carbon budgets has been pivotal in revealing the widening gulf between political rhetoric on climate change and the reality of rapidly escalating emissions. His work makes clear that there is now little to no chance of maintaining the rise in global mean surface temperature at below 2°C, despite repeated high-level statements to the contrary. Moreover, Kevin’s research demonstrates how avoiding even a 4°C rise demands a radical reframing of both the climate change agenda and the economic characterisation of contemporary society.  

Kevin has a decade’s industrial experience, principally in the petrochemical industry. He sits as commissioner on the Welsh Governments climate change commission and is a director of Greenstone Carbon Management – a London-based company providing emission-related advice to private and public sector organisations. Kevin is a chartered engineer and Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

His website is  Kevinanderson.info  comment on climate at http://kevinanderson.info/

.

Read more »

Political taboos leave politicians unwilling to take steps to cut transport emissions

An interesting, thought provoking article in The Conversation, looks at the way in which issues to do with reducing our desire for travel could be seen as “taboo.”  For the EU, CO2 emissions from transport make up about 30% of the total. However, while the automotive and aviation industries try to convince us that technology will cut emissions, the growth in demand will far outweigh these small improvements. If politicians challenge our desire for ever more travel, they can be punished by powerful lobby groups, by peers, or at the ballot box. On air travel, a high proportion is done by the most wealthy. But the political classes and opinion formers are themselves in this category, of hypermobile people with a “distinct unwillingness among this section of society to fly less.”   Increasing the cost of flying disproportionally affects lower income groups, yet does not seriously impede the mobility patterns of frequent-flying elite, who enjoy flights “subsidised through the exemption of international air travel from VAT.”  The airline industry and its lobbyists work hard to instil the idea that “mobility is freedom”, and that to restrict such mobility through regulation is nothing short of an infringement of that liberty; another taboo.
.

 

 

Political taboos leave politicians unwilling to take steps to cut transport emissions

14.8.2014 (The Conversation)

Transportation continues to generate a large proportion of emissions worldwide, even as emissions from other areas of the economy fall. In the EU, transport accounts for around 30%  of CO2 emissions, and is rising. It’s the transport sector that is set to derail the EU’s overall emission reduction objectives.

Globally, the number of cars is expected to double by 2035, and the air travel industry is expecting its passenger volumes to triple by 2050, yet there has been little political acknowledgement of this issue.

In the meantime, the airline and automobile industries go to great lengths  to convince politicians and the public that technology alone can solve this problem, while the weight of scientific evidence suggests technology cannot rein in transport emissions sufficiently. There’s growing evidence  to suggest we need tougher regulation on planes and cars, but there’s no political willingness to introduce restrictive policies.

Our research suggests  policies that would support sustainable transport have been largely ignored by European policymakers because of a number of “transport taboos”. These are issues that constitute a fundamental barrier to implementing any significant transport-related climate policy, ignored because of their political risk. If politicians violate a norm by grappling with one of these hot potatoes – even if the science clearly supports it – they can be punished by powerful lobby groups, by peers, or at the ballot box.

In our paper , published in the Journal of Transport Geography, we identify a series of transport taboos. Aircraft and cars are the most important from an emissions perspective.

Speed limits

One example is from Germany: even though opinion polls are in favour of a speed limit on the autobahn, and the importance of speed limits for reducing carbon emissions is well documented, no party is willing to touch the issue because of the outrage that would ensue  from car associations, manufacturers and some drivers.

High fliers

Another taboo is the matter of who contributes to the volume of transport on our roads and in our skies. This is skewed heavily towards a small number of people, mostly from higher income classes, who are responsible for a large share of the overall distances travelled. This is particularly evident in the context of air travel. The travel patterns of the highly mobile need addressing, yet those from the political classes in power tend themselves to be included in this hypermobile group. Paradoxically the most environmentally aware are also among the most mobile, yet there is a distinct unwillingness among this section of society to fly less.

Tax the rich

A further taboo is that most measures to reduce transport emissions in the EU are market-based, and so will disproportionally affect the less wealthy. For instance, car taxes are based on the CO2 performance of individual models, but this does not take account of income inequalities. A SUV might use twice the amount of fuel as a small car and be taxed twice as much, but its driver is likely to earn several times the average income. Lower income groups will shoulder a heavier relative burden. Tackling this taboo carries the same kind of political risk as increasing income tax rates in the higher tax bands.

Similar issues apply in the context of flying, where taxes disproportionally affect lower income groups, yet are not high enough to seriously impede the mobility patterns of frequent-flying elite. These continue to enjoy the effects of market distortions, where their flights are subsidised through the exemption of international air travel from VAT. And so the costs of flying, one the most environmentally harmful modes of transport, remain largely externalised. The airline industry and its lobbyists work hard to instil the idea that “mobility is freedom”, and that to restrict such mobility through regulation is nothing short of an infringement of that liberty; another taboo.

If we are to have any chance of slowing the rise of transport emissions in the EU and worldwide, these and many more transport taboos need to be confronted and overcome. We need more research on these taboos and how they operate, so that strong supporting evidence can be put before political leaders. Even then, any change will need to be publicly palatable, and building that support will be hard. After all, for a great number of people this will still be an inconvenient truth.

http://theconversation.com/political-taboos-leave-politicians-unwilling-to-take-steps-to-cut-transport-emissions-30537

.

Paper:

Title: Why sustainable transport policies will fail: EU climate policy in the light of transport taboos
Author: Stefan Gössling, Scott Cohen
Publication: Journal of Transport Geography
Publisher: Elsevier
Date: July 2014

.

.

.

.

 

Read more »

Baffling world of airport retail; cheapest possible tickets, most expensive possible terminal shopping

A frequent flier writes in a blog how he is baffled by airport retail policy and why “shops that you find in airports succeed or how this market is designed. If you consider that a large percentage of the folks wandering around the terminal spent a disproportionate amount of time online searching for the cheapest possible deal, then surely you wouldn’t expect them to walk into this terminal-come-shopping mall and spend £495 on a pair of socks? Ok, maybe not £495 but you get the point. It doesn’t make sense.” Heathrow Terminal 5 looks more like Rodeo Drive, except for maybe Dixons and Boots, which are the only visible high street options.  Even at Stansted, where ” 90% of the passengers spent more on their McDonald’s breakfast than they did on their tickets” though it has sensible shops landside, but after security, only up market shops.  Yet the airports make immense  profits from their retail sales.  So much for the need for cheap flights and complaints about paying APD.  In 2012 Heathrow was 3rd in the world for the amount of airport retail spending ( £831.7m – $1.34 bn –  by 70 million passengers);  Incheon Airport in Seoul was in 1st  place $1.73 bn by 38.4 million); and Dubai in 2nd place ($1.6bn by 57.6 million passengers).  Hong Kong, Singapore Changi, Bangkok, Paris, Frankfurt, Schiphol came next.
.

 

Industry blog

Retail Therapy
By: Jeremy Clark | INFLAIR |
January 2014

There are quite a few things in this world I simply don’t understand: the Euro-zone fiscal policy, IKEA assembly instructions, camping holidays, how to manage my social media accounts, and people who choose Ryanair, these are amongst the things that totally baffle me. But fairly high up on this list is airport retail policy.

For the life of me I cannot understand how the shops that you find in airports succeed or how this market is designed. If you consider that a large percentage of the folks wandering around the terminal spent a disproportionate amount of time online searching for the cheapest possible deal, then surely you wouldn’t expect them to walk into this terminal-come-shopping mall and spend £495 on a pair of socks? Ok, maybe not £495 but you get the point. It doesn’t make sense.

Heathrow Terminal 5 looks more like Rodeo Drive, except for maybe Dixons and Boots, which are the only visible high street options. The other shops here don’t feature on most high streets.

I live in a moderately affluent area of leafy England, but even we don’t boast a Gucci, Cartier or Louis Vuitton nestled between Poundland and Oxfam.

Perhaps passengers go though some mental metamorphosis when they are given a boarding pass, or maybe there’s something in those security scanners that rids us of all traces of fiscal sense.

Surely, airports can’t think we’re all first class passengers?

Terminal 5 retail departure lounge

Terminal 5 retail departure lounge. Images courtesy of Heathrow Airport’s Media Library

 

It’s very annoying for those of us for whom the airport terminal is almost a second home, especially when you actually need something. I recently needed an extra shirt while in transit. My options were Paul Smith – who had nothing under £1,000 – Pink, Gucci, Salvatore Ferregano or Harrods. What I really needed was Marks & Spencer, T.K. Maxx or British Home Stores. Even Tesco would have done.

And at airports serving mostly low-cost carriers, where 90% of the passengers spent more on their McDonald’s breakfast than they did on their tickets, retailers such as Asda/Walmart, Tesco and Primark are more likely to make decent profits.

Take London Stansted, for example: landside, in the terminal, there are a variety of shops like Accessorize (affordable bling), Monsoon (affordable clobber for girls), Coral (for a flutter on the gee-gees), Claire’s Accessories (more affordable bling), and Clarks (sensible shoes). As you pass security, like Judy Garland into Oz, your choices are Hackett (huntin’ shootin’ and fishin’ wear for the gentry), Hamleys (toys for spoilt brats), Mulberry (like Burberry, only with bags), Swarovski (Stansted’s answer to Cartier), and Ted Baker (pricy jeans).

Food-wise it’s much the same story. Landside it’s usually Burger King and Pizza Hut for the masses and M&S food for the gymkhana set. Go airside and it’s Caviar House Oyster Bar (fish ‘n’ chips for the rich), Gordon Ramsey’s Plane Food (plain, but not cheap), and Caviar House & Prunier Seafood Bar (for those who missed the Caviar at the Oyster Bar).

My thinking now is that as the airlines have trained us into such frugalness, they should be the ones to run the retail operation, and then we should get Aquascutum and Burberry to run the airlines – that way we can all fly first class!

http://www.airtransportpubs.com/airports/blog/post/airport-retail-therapy

.


.

London Heathrow Airport airport served  around 70m passengers in 2012 and took £831.7m ($1.34bn) from airport retail in that time.   Link 
.

.

Highest Grossing Airports in Duty Free and Travel Retail Announced

International duty free and travel retail publication, The Travel Retail Business (TRBusiness), has published a list of the world’s leading global airports with the highest retail sales turnover in 2012.

31.7.2013 (PR web)

Louis Vuitton, Incheon International Airport, Seoul, Number One Travel Retail Airport 2012

This Louis Vuitton store generated $92m in sales at Incheon International Airport in 2012. It was bought in by the airport’s management specifically to attract Chinese Mainland shoppers.

The Top 10 Airports Report, compiled by The Travel Retail Business (TRBusiness) from official statistics and exclusively obtained data, shows that travelling consumers increased their average spend by between 3-12%, with the top ten global airports accounting for combined takings of $9.2bn. This figure represents almost 1/5th of the $49.4bn (1) global travel retail sales total in 2012.

The report reveals that Incheon International Airport in Seoul takes the number one position, with passenger traffic totaling 38.4m, and a 15% increase in spending bringing in an impressive $1.73bn. The increase in the mix of Asian nationalities travelling to South Korea has had a huge effect on the purchasing levels at Incheon, with 2.84m (+28%) Mainland Chinese, and 3.52m (+7%) Japanese passengers passing through in the last year.

TRBusiness announced that Dubai International Airport was in close second place, with 57.6m passengers spending $1.6bn in 2012 – a 10% increase on 2011 figures. Dubai International has also moved ahead of Paris Charles de Gaulle to become the world’s second busiest international facility, according to Airports Council International.

London Heathrow Airport is in third place, having provided TRBusiness with exclusive access to a breakdown of ‘pure retail’ sales figures for the first time. The airport served 70m passengers and took £831.7m ($1.34bn) in the twelve-month period.

Hong Kong, Singapore Changi, Bangkok, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam Schiphol, and Sao Paolo Guarulhos make up the rest of the list.

The Top 10 Airports saw a combined total of 502.9m passengers pass through their doors in 2012. This represents a growth of 66.9m passengers across all of the facilities since 2010.

TRBusiness Executive Editor, Doug Newhouse, spoke of the positive response to the report.

“The travel retail industry has come to view The Top 10 Airports Report as a league table and guide of sorts, and it is still important that we try and encourage airports to provide us with transparent retail sales figures – although huge advances have been made in this direction in recent years. If we can form a better understanding of how traveller numbers and regional or global pressures can affect profits in airport retail environments, then it is obviously beneficial to the industry as a whole.”

Note for editors: (1) $49.4bn global duty free and travel retail sales total in 2012 = source: Generation Research figures announced by Tax Free World Association at TFAP 2013.

About: Since October 1997 The Travel Retail Business magazine (TRBusiness) has been a provider of news, statistics and analytical commentary to business leaders and decision makers in the duty free/travel retail industry

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/7/prweb10978149.htm

.

 


.

Earlier:

Consumerism gone mad: Dubai Duty Free smashes all records with 30th anniversary sales of US$30.65 million

Date added: December 24, 2013

To mark its 30th anniversary, on 20th December, Dubai International and Dubai World Central airports set about beating their sales records for their anniversary day. Dubai Duty Free (DDF) set an all-time daily sales record with turnover of US $ 30.65 million. That is 40% more than on 20th December in 2012. They gave their customers up to 30% discounts, to get them to buy more and more. Dubai boasts that some of their customers even”book their flights in order to shop on that day.” By 6pm, DDF sales reached US $23.2 million and an amazing 158,931 transactions. By the end of the day it was US $30.65 million with 208,000 transactions. Sickening. Consumerism out of any reasonable scale. Perfume was the highest selling category with sales of US $8.5 million and representing 27.9% of the total daily sales. Watches & clocks was the second most popular category with sales of US$7 million. Cosmetics in 3rd place, category wise, with sales of US$3.9 million. Alcohol in 4th position followed by cigarettes. Other notable increases were seen in confectionery, which rose by 33% to US$1.2 million and delicatessen, which recorded US$619,000. That’s airports and mindless, rampant consumerism for you.

Click here to view full story…

 

.

Airport retail now altering ad displays according to the sort of customers passing through

Date added: September 9, 2013

In the departure lounge of Heathrow’s Terminal 5, passengers buy over $450 million per year of perfumes, clothing, scarves, sunglasses, jewellery, watches, bags and small leather goods from top expensive brands. A similar scene plays out each day at a plethora of major international airports across the world and the last 20 years, airside retail has undergone a radical transformation.The passengers at airports constitute a captive audience, passing “the magic hour,” between clearing security and boarding their planes. Airports have a lot of information on passengers — who they are, where they are going, on what airline, at what time, in what class. Now by digitising product displays, retailers may soon be able to more rapidly adjust their merchandising strategies, in real-time, to reflect the profiles of much larger numbers of customers currently passing through the airport. eg. if you have got the English going through in the morning and they like their Johnny Walker Black you will put it on the advertising screens, and if later there is a Chinese plane coming through, you advertise something else that they like buying.

Click here to view full story…

.

Airports and airlines eyeing up passengers to increase their retail spend

Date added: April 24, 2013

If the airlines can’t make enough profit from flying their passengers from A to B, then they want to extract every bit of cash they can from them, in the airport shops. An anna-aero article discusses how airports and airlines might work more effectively together, to get passengers to buy more stuff. The airlines have more personal data about the passengers, and the airports want this data in order to maximise the retail earnings in their shops. But the airlines don’t want to share the chance of profit with the airports. The Chief Commercial Officer at Manchester Airports Group said – “airport retail is vital precisely because airport charges paid by airlines are already well below the cost of the infrastructure they use.” The airports and airlines don’t see eye to eye on this. There is a problem for retailers, with the low cost airlines that limit baggage, and the ‘one-bag rule’, which is a disincentive to buy a lot at the airport. An ACI conference next spring will look at actual practical solutions to enhance “Airline-Airport Cooperation to Increase Passenger Spend.”

Click here to view full story…

.

 

Heathrow award for top airport for shopping for 3rd year. Net Retail Income per passenger £6.21 in 2012 (£5.64 in 2010)

Date added: April 18, 2013

For the third year, Heathrow got the award (within the airports industry) for the top airport for shopping. Heathrow has over 52,000 square metres of retail space and more than 340 retail and catering outlets. Heathrow overtook Dubai International to win the title of “World’s Best Airport for Shopping” for 2012. Heathrow has the highest retail sales of any airport in the world ahead of Incheon airport in South Korea. Figures from the Moodie Report in February 2013 said that Net Retail Income per passenger at Heathrow was £6.21 (up 4.4% on 2011, partly due to the Olympics) in 2012 and £5.95 in 2011, while it was £5.64 in 2010. (By comparison the Net Retail Income at Stansted in 2012 was £4.27 per passenger). At Heathrow in 2012 the gross retail income increased +5.7% to £460.1 million

Click here to view full story…

.

Airport retail: rise and rise of the shopping centre, with an airport attached

Date added: April 15, 2012

A huge, and growing, proportion of the money made by airports is from retail. It seems that the industry expects significant increases in this spending over the coming years, and airports do all they can to get passengers to spend as much time as possible in retail, put retail outlets in arrivals, etc etc and devise means for them to buy goods for collection on their return, to avoid baggage problems. The industry expects most growth in the Far East, where women tend to spend a lot of designer brands. The airport retail industry finds passengers buy less when they are stressed by airport security waits and queues, and they buy more when calm and happy. Airports need a ticket as proof of identity, so they can monitor the types of travellers, and the routes, which generate the most cash. Seems the Chinese, the Russians and the Nigerians tend to spend the most. At Heathrow, the average passenger spends £4.35. But for fashion, the average BRIC passenger spends £45.50. No wonder BAA wants more.

Click here to view full story…

How much profit do airports make from their retail activities, rather than flying?

Date added: February 13, 2012

Heathrow got 21.3% of its income from retail in 2010, compared to 53% from aeronautical. On average each Heathrow passenger spent about £5.70 (maybe £5.90) at the airport, with women spending more than men (!). BAA data say frequent fliers spend more than infrequent fliers. In the year 2010/2011 Gatwick airport made £115.6m from retail, and another £51.7m from car parking, with an average of £5.80 spent on retail per passenger. Stansted retail spending per passenger is about £4.00 to £4.20. In the year 2010/2011 Heathrow made about £380 million per year on retail, Gatwick about £115, and Stansted net retail income fell from £79.8m in 2010 to £73.9m. Manchester made about £70 million on retail, with about £3 per passenger.

Click here to view full story…

.

.

.

 

Read more »

Tourism board drive to lure visitors away from London – half never venture outside the capital

In summer 2013 the UK nation’s tourism authority, “Visit Britain” launched a drive to get more overseas visitors to visit the rest of the country. Research for Visit Britain showed that of the 31 million who visited the UK in 2012 – a record number – half went to London only, never venturing outside the M25. The rest of England welcomed 13 million tourists, Scotland 2.2 million and Wales 0.9 million.  The Visit Britain “GREAT Britain” initiative hoped to use the delights of country pubs, Stonehenge and cathedral cities such as Winchester and Lincoln promoted in campaigns abroad.  Also that Britain is a comparatively small country and relatively easy to get around – and that they should not worry about driving on the left side of the road. It seems that many potential visitors just don’t know what there is to see outside London, or how to get there. Visit Britain offices abroad are being given a “Beyond London” dossier of suggestions for destinations to promote. Visit Britain is to step up efforts to exploit opportunities presented by low-cost airlines which use regional airports for direct flights to Europe. Although most passengers are British tourists, the airports have already seen an increase in Europeans coming to UK destinations.  An international survey showed 75% believed the UK has plenty of interesting places to visit outside of London (22% strongly).
.

 

 

Tourism board to launch drive to lure visitors away from London

From castles and cathedrals to country pubs and canals, there can be no doubting the charms of Britain beyond the borders of the capital. But it seems that too few foreigners are finding them.

Britain’s tourism board wants overseas visitors to consider other parts of the UK during their visit, such as: (from top left, clockwise) Glen Coe, Suffolk pubs, Lincoln Cathedral and Chester.  Photo: ALAMY

By , Consumer correspondent (Telegraph)

4 Aug 2013

The nation’s tourism authorities are to launch a drive to get more overseas visitors to visit the rest of the country, amid fears that the industry has become unbalanced in favour of London.

New research for Visit Britain has shown that of the 31 million who visited these shores last year – a record number – half went to the capital alone, never venturing outside the M25.

The rest of England welcomed 13 million tourists, Scotland 2.2 million and Wales 0.9 million, prompting the organisation to make attracting visitors beyond the capital’s draws of Buckingham Palace and the West End its new priority.

The initiative will see the delights of country pubs, Stonehenge and cathedral cities such as Winchester and Lincoln promoted in campaigns abroad.

It will also attempt to convey to potential visitors that Britain is a comparatively small country and relatively easy to get around – and that they should not worry about driving on the left hand side of the road.

Research conducted among holidaymakers from US, France, Norway and Germany found there was a “general lack of knowledge” about other destinations outside of London, confusion as to which nations made up the British Isles, and “nerves” about driving on Britain’s roads.

A quarter said it was “too expensive” to travel across Britain, but nearly 30 per cent said they simply did not what it was like elsewhere in the UK or what was on offer. One more traditional foreign view of Britain appears to have faded, however, as only one in ten said the food was “poor”.

Sandie Dawe, the chief executive of Visit Britain, said London’s place on the world stage had been a huge draw, but that the rest of the country had huge potential to benefit.

“London is so popular and so dominant that when people think about Britain it’s such a strong draw. It’s a huge benefit, but also a challenge.

“The Olympics increased the interest in Britain around the world. We just have to make sure that some of our other fantastic assets are not put into the shade by the brilliance of London’s light.”

She added: “We have got some fantastic heritage, history and culture outside of London. When tourists think about romance, luxury, relaxation, France and Italy will pop into their heads before they think about Britain. But we have got some beautiful cathedral towns, such as Winchester, Salisbury, York, Chester or Lincoln.”

Visit Britain offices abroad are to be given a “Beyond London” dossier of suggestions for destinations to promote. Among the “hidden gems” which will be highlighted are Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, which was used as Hogwarts in parts of the Harry Potter series of films, the more than 2,000 miles of navigable canals and rivers, and the country pubs of Suffolk, which Visit Britain hopes will become a “foodie” destination.

The tourist authority is also likely to step up its work with the English Premier League. Shinji Kagawa, Manchester United’s Japanese footballer, has already extolled the virtues of Britain in a video for Visit Britain and the popularity of the league is already bringing in football fans from countries such as Norway and Belgium.

Visit Britain is also to step up efforts to exploit opportunities presented by low-cost airlines which use regional airports for direct flights to Europe. Although most passengers are British tourists, the airports have already seen an increase in Europeans coming to new destinations, with examples including Liverpool proving a hit for Spanish visitors.

Ms Dawe said far more could be achieved with the right strategy. “With places like Italy, people around the world would know Rome, Florence, Pisa, Venice, Naples,” she said.

“But when it comes to Britain they may say Windsor or Bath but that would be it. If you look at places such as the north-east there are beautiful castles and coastal walks. Suffolk is absolutely beautiful – there are places like Lavenham and Long Melford – and there is great potential in East Anglia as tourists often tell us they are interested in country pubs, and the British way of life.”

She added: “A large part of it is simply educational. When I speak to people in Brazil, India or China, you are talking to people from huge countries who cannot quite gather how small our country is. I tell Brazilians you can fit most of Great Britain in between Rio and Sao Paulo, and that it would take the same time to get to Scotland and the Highlands as it would to fly between the two cities. They have no idea.”

Edinburgh is Britain’s most popular single destination outside London, with 1.3 million foreign visitors last year. Other leading destinations include Manchester, which had 932,000; Cambridge, 398,000; York, 199,000; and Windsor, which had 182,000.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/tourism/10220711/Tourism-board-to-launch-drive-to-lure-visitors-away-from-London.html

 Quiz: How well do you know Britain?

.

.


.

63% of respondents now want to visit Britain with 75% looking beyond London

January 2013 ?    (Visit Britain website)

Great campaign

A new study commissioned by VisitBritain and its partners in the* suggests that global perceptions of ‘Welcome’, Britain’s ‘Overall Nation Brand’ and the UK’s sporting and cultural credentials have significantly improved thanks to the hosting of the London 2012 Games.

The Nations Brands Index (NBI) research** rates 50 of the world’s leading nations around six core categories. Research was carried out in July 2012 and then repeated post Games. The study sets out to reveal how the international image of a country can change before and after hosting a major sporting event.

According to the new research Britain’s ‘Welcome’ has seen the biggest jump by moving from twelfth place pre-Games to ninth – putting Britain in the top 10 for the very first time.

Britain’s ‘Overall Nation Brand’ and ‘Culture’ ranking moved up one place. ‘Tourism’ held its position in fourth place, with ‘People’ remaining fifth overall. Fourteen of the total 15 panel countries rank the UK within the top 10 on the overall NBI. Nine of the 15 panel countries – including key source markets USA, China, Japan, Russia and India – put the UK in the top three post Games, a marked improvement on previous years.
More key findings include:

• 63 per cent said the Olympics had increased their interest of visiting for a holiday
• 75 per cent of those who saw coverage agreed they wanted to see more than London
• 73 per cent agreed that Britain offered outstanding venues for watching live sport
• 70 per cent said Britain has lovely countryside
• 58 per cent agreed that Britain has a wide variety of world cuisines on offer

Perceptions of British sport see it move two places into the top five in the overall rankings (5th). The UK will continue to host major sporting events in the coming years with a Champions league Final, Tour de France, Rugby Union and Rugby League World Cups, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in 2014, followed by the World Athletics Championships to be held in London in 2017.

Sandie Dawe, Chief Executive of VisitBritain said: “London’s hosting of the Games, the amazing opening and closing ceremonies and the warmth of welcome shown to our international visitors have combined to boost our global image.

“With our partners we have taken every opportunity to promote Britain to overseas audiences through our GREAT marketing campaign, our digital activity on Facebook and Twitter and by inviting foreign travel journalists to write about Britain. This work is now paying off with post Games visitor figures significantly up on last year, and prospects for 2013 looking strong.

“Britain is already an established visitor destination and our tourism ranking is high. The goal this year was to maintain rankings in culture and heritage where we are strong, and improve in areas such as the warmth of our welcome where we had room for improvement. We intend to build on these encouraging results to ensure we turn that increased goodwill into visitors and deliver a growth in tourism that will deliver jobs across the country.”

Culture Secretary Maria Miller said: “The summer of 2012 put the UK firmly in the global spotlight, allowing us to shape international perceptions and show the best of Britain. These results are very encouraging, and show that the UK’s sporting and cultural credentials have significantly improved thanks to London 2012.  We are determined to deliver a lasting economic legacy for the whole country, boosting tourism and growth.”

To maximise the promotion of Britain overseas before, during and after the Games, VisitBritain together with UKTI, British Council and FCO mounted a major marketing campaign under the banner GREAT Britain. The campaign showcases the very best of Britain in a highly impactful campaign promoting culture, heritage, countryside and sport, and also education and business.

Notes to editors

* GREAT Partners include: VisitBritain; Cabinet Office, UKTI; FCO and British Council

** NBI research conducted by Anholt-GfK Roper. The post-Games NBI wave was undertaken in 15 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, UAE and USA. Respondents rated 50 nations on questions in six categories: Exports, Governance, Culture, People, Tourism and Immigration/Investment.

Read the full analysis of the study here.  January 2013

 

http://www.visitbritain.org/mediaroom/pressreleases/postgamesnbi.aspx

.

.


 

.

The GREAT Britain campaign:

http://www.visitbritain.org/marketing/marketingprogramme.aspx

The GREAT campaign logo

Spice girls flash mob in Canada

.Country pub

 

 


.

‘Yes, London is GREAT, now explore the rest of the country’, declares Visit Britain

By SARAH GORDON

5 August 2013 (Daily Mail)

Of the 31 million people who visited Britain last year, half spent at least one night in London, while of the 12 million holidaymakers who came to these shores, two-thirds based themselves in the capital for at least a night.

Now Visit Britain is looking at how it can shift holidaymakers’ focus and encourage them to explore the UK’s other delights, with new tourism campaigns and extra information supplied to its tourist offices abroad.

Visit Britain offices around the world are going to be given special packs to help them better ‘sell’ the delights of Britain, from Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, which appeared in the Harry Potter films, to Stonehenge and experiences like our country pubs and canal network.

Great campaign

These will tie in with an extension of Visit Britain’s hugely successful ‘GREAT’ campaign, which has targeted key cities in key markets with films and image-led print adverts showcasing what makes Britain great.

Two problems the tourist board faces are convincing the rest of the world how small and easy-to-navigate the UK is and how driving on the left is not as daunting as it seems.
While Edinburgh remains the second most popular tourist destination after London, many tourists miss cathedral cities such as Lincoln, York, Winchester and Salisbury. However, Bath and Windsor often feature on itineraries for their heritage and royal links.

And while regional airports have encouraged visitors to other cities such as Liverpool, few explore rural spots, despite the abundance of picturesque villages, traditional pubs and verdant landscapes.

Visit Britain is keen to highlight that it is not trying to encourage visitors to avoid London, but that it has spotted an opportunity for ‘London Plus’ tourism, with visitors combining the capital with other experiences.

Heritage: Tourists could be encouraged to visit Cathedral cities like Lincoln
The latest research by Visit Britain found that London remains the key draw for visitors, but the majority of those questioned would like to combine it with trips to destinations up to two or three hours away.

However, knowledge about what else to see in Britain can be scant in some markets, with holidaymakers concentrating more on ticking off the top sights in the capital.

On a more positive note, the reasons cited for wanting to travel beyond London include wanting to explore more heritage sites, to add variety to their itineraries, to find unique places to stay and see the countryside and to see how British people live.

Visit Britain’s aim is to approach tourism to the UK much as they do in countries like Italy, where visitors are keen to explore cities like Venice and Florence as much as Rome.

In Italy, visitors spent just 13 per cent of their stay in Rome, while in France, tourists spent just 26 per cent of overnight stays in Paris. However, in the UK, 41 per cent of overnight stays are spent in London.

A spokesperson for Visit Britain confirmed: “We compete against a number of other destinations where overseas visitors tend to visit a wider range of locations. We want visitors to enjoy brilliant London but then extend their stay by visiting other parts of Britain, something our research proves they are keen to do.”

But tourism figures for the UK so far this year are positive, showing a 2 per cent rise in visitors during the first five months of the year and a a 10 per cent spike in cash generated.
The £25 million ‘GREAT’ image tourism campaign – which has targeted 14 major cities in nine countries – is also performing well on the international stage, especially when compared to competitor tourist boards with substantially larger budgets.

Nearly three-quarters of the audience in target cities recall seeing the ‘GREAT’ campaign and 23 per cent of those who recall the campaign plan to visit in the next year.

Sandie Dawe, chief executive of VisitBritain said: “In 2012 Britain became the first Olympic host since Sydney to see an increase in inbound tourism in the year of the Games.

“The GREAT campaign is playing a major role in our efforts to attract a greater number of overseas visitors, with those seeing our images increasingly likely to visit the UK in the next few years. It is essential that we continue to deliver this campaign in our high value tourism markets and the growth markets of the future if we are to enhance overseas perceptions of Britain as a must see destination.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2384808/Best-British-tourism-Visit-Britain-tempts-visitors-London-new-tourism-campaign.html

.

.

.

.

 

 

 

Read more »

Branson’s plans for “space travel” progress – for the privileged mega-rich

The plan to take tourists up on joy-rides virtually into space must be one of the most environmentally irresponsible around. Perhaps indicative of a society that has lost sight of the concept of living within environmental limits, using resources wisely, and not flaunting excessive wealth. But space travel is what Branson plans.  It is reported that Virgin’s “Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo,” VSS Enterprise, has just completed its third test flight. It has now reached the altitude of 13.5 miles or 71,000ft, but in order to be considered to be at the edge of the earth’s atmosphere, it needs to get up to 62 miles or 328,084ft above the earth  (called the Kármán line). These trips planned by Richard Branson are purely for “space tourists” and only those with exceptional wealth would be able to afford them, so it will be rich celebrities and rich business people only. The price is likely to be around £152,000 for a return ticket to the edge of space.  Conspicuous consumption gone mad. This is a Branson PR statement: “2014 will be the year when we will finally put our beautiful spaceship in her natural environment of space.” They hope to reach the Kármán line this spring, and begin commercial operations later in 2014.
.

 

 

Will space travel become a reality for anyone but the privileged few?

 

Space tourism could now be just months away after Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo reached an all-time high of 71,000 ft

Richard Branson passes a SpaceShipTwo rocket under its mother ship

Richard Branson passes a SpaceShipTwo rocket under its mother ship

Within decades of the Wright brothers taking to the air for the first time in December 1903 commercial aviation was linking Auckland to Amsterdam and Zurich to Zanzibar as the jet age took off.

Now barely five decades after Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin wrote his name into the history books commercial space travel will be linking earth to the ether.

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, VSS Enterprise, the craft entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson is hoping will soon herald a new age of pleasure trips around the cosmos, has just completed its third test flight.

But Sir Richard and his team still have some way to go to reach the Kármán line – the border where earth’s atmosphere ends and outerspace begins.

This lies 62 miles or 328,084ft above the earth – more than ten times higher than the flight path of the average passenger jet. SpaceShipTwo flew 13.5 miles or 71,000ft into the air recently – less than a quarter of the way to the Kármán line.

But Sir Richard has no doubt that before this year ends he, his adult children, Holly and Sam, and stars like Katy Perry and Justin Bieber will become the world’s first space tourists.

He said: “2014 will be the year when we will finally put our beautiful spaceship in her natural environment of space.”

And Jay Tate, director of Knighton’s Spaceguard Centre & Observatory, in Powys, has no doubt SpaceShipTwo will journey the remaining 48.5 miles to realise Sir Richard’s dream.

He said: “There is no reason why it shouldn’t – technically it’s not that terribly hard.”

Physically, the obstacles may be just a formality of running enough test flights to ensure everything is safe and ready to go. But financially space tourism is unlikely to see many of us enjoying the curve of the earth from the comfort of one of SpaceShipTwo’s seats any time soon.

At around £152,000 a return ticket to the edge of space is worth more than the average house in Wales.

But what of the future? Will anyone over 40 live to see the emergence of budget spacelines offering cut-price deals to the Kármán line? Trips where your soul-achingly beautiful view of the earth from 328,000ft is blocked by a morbidly obese man from Blackburn.

And where inspiration at a once-in-a lifetime experience enjoyed battles with relief that now you’re back on terra firma you can use the toilet.

Mr Tate believes it will be decades before competition sees space tourism become something other than a privilege only celebrities and the super rich can enjoy.

He said: “If commercial companies take it up then within a couple of decades or so we should be able to do that (go into space).”

Sir Richard is promising the craft will allow an “out-of-the-seat, zero-gravity experience with astounding views of the planet from the black sky of space for tourist astronauts and a unique microgravity platform for researchers”.

Since 2005 the company has accepted more than £42m in deposits from around 580 people, which is about 10% more than the total number who have ever gone to space.

Sir Richard, who owns Virgin Galactic with Abu Dhabi firm aabar Investments PJS, is v passengers five minutes floating around in space before they will return to earth.

Dr Xing Li, an Aberystwyth University expert on astrophysics and cosmology, said as a scientist it would be “beautiful” to be one of SpaceShipTwo’s privileged passengers.

But SpaceShipTwo travels at a super-sonic 2,500mph – more than four times faster than a passenger jet – and Dr Li believes it’s difficult to imagine anything that goes at that speed becoming affordable.

He said: “Now we don’t have supersonic flights because of the cost issue. At the moment I don’t see that it will be possible even in 30 or 40 years. It will only happen if we have some technological advance that would bring down the cost.”

Once operational Virgin Galactic believes it may fly up to 500 people in the first year to 18 months and 30,000 over 10 years. The firm plans to use a fleet of five models of SpaceShipTwo – with VSS Enterprise, named in honour of Star Trek, being the first.

Virgin Galactic say they would ultimately like to fly every day and even from the outset will journey into the heavens many more times than NASA’s Space Shuttle programme. But that shouldn’t be too difficult as in its 30 year history the shuttle programme ventured into space on average fewer than five times per year.

A spokesman said: “We should have flown as many passengers as every other space programme combined within a year or two of starting service.”

The firm hopes to reach the Kármán line by the spring, and begin commercial operations in the second half of the year.

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/space-travel-become-reality-anyone-6539978

.

.

 

Read more »

Consumerism gone mad: Dubai Duty Free smashes all records with 30th anniversary sales of US$30.65 million

To mark its 30th anniversary, on 20th December, Dubai International and Dubai World Central airports set about beating their sales records for their anniversary day.  Dubai Duty Free (DDF) set an all-time daily sales record with turnover of US $ 30.65 million. That is 40% more than on 20th December in 2012.   They gave their customers up to 30% discounts, to get them to buy more and more.  Dubai boasts that some of their customers even”book their flights in order to shop on that day.”  By 6pm, DDF sales reached US $23.2 million and an amazing 158,931 transactions. By the end of the day it was US $30.65 million with 208,000 transactions. Sickening. Consumerism out of any reasonable scale. Perfume was the highest selling category with sales of US $8.5 million and representing 27.9% of the total daily sales. Watches & clocks was the second most popular category with sales of US$7 million. Cosmetics in 3rd place, category wise, with sales of US$3.9 million.  Alcohol in 4th position followed by cigarettes. Other notable increases were seen in confectionery, which rose by 33% to US$1.2 million and delicatessen, which recorded US$619,000. That’s airports and mindless, rampant consumerism for you. 
.

 

Dubai Duty Free smashes all records with 30th anniversary sales of US$30.65 million

Published: 21/12/13

Source: ©The Moodie Report

By Martin Moodie in Dubai

UAE. Dubai Duty Free yesterday set an all-time daily sales record with turnover of US$30.65 million on its 30th anniversary day, 20 December.

The figure represents an astonishing +40% increase over the previous record, set on 20 December 2012, of US$21 million.

Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman Colm McLoughlin said: “We had a fantastic day on our anniversary with a huge surge of sales. Extending a -30% discount to our customers was our way of saying thank you for three decades of support. I join our Chairman, H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum in congratulating all of our staff, suppliers and partners on the occasion of this milestone anniversary.

“We began introducing a discount offer across a wide range of merchandise on our 20th anniversary in 2003 and it has become a popular day with travellers, some of whom book their flights in order to shop on that day,” added McLoughlin.

The statistics highlight the huge volume of sales that passed through the cash points within the 24- hour period.

At 10.00am, the preliminary sales figure was recorded at US$12.5 million accounting for 86,550 sales transactions. As at 6pm, DDF sales reached US$23.2 million and an amazing 158,931 transactions and broke its anniversary sales of US$21 million in 2012. By 10pm, the cash registers had recorded 193,163 transactions and sales reached US$27.3 million, while the final figure when the anniversary day sale ended reached an incredible US$30.65 million. Some 208,000 transactions were completed on the day.

From a category point of view, perfumes was the highest selling category with sales of US$8.5 million and representing 27.9% of the total daily sales. Watches & clocks was the second most popular category on the anniversary day with sales of US$7 million. Cosmetics came in at third place, category wise, with sales of US$3.9 million.

Liquor came in fourth position followed by cigarettes. Other notable increases were seen in confectionery, which rose by 33% to US$1.2 million and delicatessen, which recorded US$619,000. Departure sales recorded US$28.3 million, representing 92.3% of total anniversary sales.

The announcement of the record capped an amazing day for Dubai Duty Free, which unleashed a party atmosphere for shoppers and staff alike at Dubai International and Dubai World Central airports.

Several product lines were offered at 1983 prices, while many others (as noted above) were available at a -30% discount, helping to drive a near shopping frenzy.

As the day drew to a close last evening, a congratulatory message featuring Dubai Duty Free’s 30th anniversary logo was beamed onto the world-famous Burj Al Arab hotel (click on The Moodie Live icon above to see all images).

In a travel retail publishing first, The Moodie Report covered the whole day in real time, streaming a series of reports, videos, podcasts and photos to its website via the new Moodie Live service. This allowed us to capture events as they unfolded on iPhone, transmitted directly to readers worldwide. The service was in association with William Grant & Sons.

The retailer’s anniversary was marked by a series of high-profile activities across both Dubai International and Dubai World Central airports

 

http://www.moodiereport.com/document.php?c_id=6&doc_id=37823

 

.


.

 

More news stories on  Air Travel and Consumerism:

.

 

Airport retail now altering ad displays according to the sort of customers passing through

5 SEPTEMBER, 2013In the departure lounge of Heathrow’s Terminal 5, passengers buy over $450 million per year of perfumes, clothing, scarves, sunglasses, jewellery, watches, bags and small leather goods from  top expensive brands.  A similar scene plays out each day at a plethora of major international airports across the world and the last 20 years, airside retail has undergone a radical transformation.The passengers at airports constitute a captive audience, passing “the magic hour,” between clearing security and boarding their planes. Airports have a lot of information on passengers —  who they are, where they are going, on what airline, at what time, in what class. Now by digitising product displays, retailers may soon be able to more rapidly adjust their merchandising strategies, in real-time, to reflect the profiles of much larger numbers of customers currently passing through the airport. eg. if you have got the English going through in the morning and they like their Johnny Walker Black you will put it on the advertising screens, and if later there is a Chinese plane coming through, you advertise something else that they like buying. .

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=17283

.

 

Airlines selling expensive meal upgrades to economy class passengers, for foie gras, duck confit etc, to boost profits

Date added: June 9, 2013

Airlines are always keen to find new ways to extract money from their customers. Now several airlines have begun selling gourmet food to the passengers in the cheap seats, for a price. In February Air France has started tempting economy-class customers with paid-for meal upgrades featuring foie gras terrine. eg. duck confit with mushrooms and sauteed potatoes, followed by Opera cake for dessert, costing €18. So-called ancillary sales ranging from food to overhead-bin space have jumped more than tenfold to $36 billion since 2007, amounting to 5% of the total $680 billion earned by airlines in 2012. They are expected to rise to $50 billion per year by 2019 or so. “The low-cost carriers have taken ancillary revenue from a normal way of doing business and turned it almost into an art form.” Revenue streams that remain untapped — in-flight entertainment, wireless access and shopping — could be worth $5 billion. “When people get on board an aircraft, they’re actually in a great retail mindset. About an hour into the flight, they start to relax and their mind opens.Opening their wallets, too, has become a major ambition of airlines”. So much for the fake concern about the odd few $$s or €€s in aviation taxes on their “hard working family” passengers.

Click here to view full story…

Airports and airlines eyeing up passengers to increase their retail spend

Date added: April 24, 2013

If the airlines can’t make enough profit from flying their passengers from A to B, then they want to extract every bit of cash they can from them, in the airport shops. An anna-aero article discusses how airports and airlines might work more effectively together, to get passengers to buy more stuff. The airlines have more personal data about the passengers, and the airports want this data in order to maximise the retail earnings in their shops. But the airlines don’t want to share the chance of profit with the airports. The Chief Commercial Officer at Manchester Airports Group said – “airport retail is vital precisely because airport charges paid by airlines are already well below the cost of the infrastructure they use.” The airports and airlines don’t see eye to eye on this. There is a problem for retailers, with the low cost airlines that limit baggage, and the ‘one-bag rule’, which is a disincentive to buy a lot at the airport. An ACI conference next spring will look at actual practical solutions to enhance “Airline-Airport Cooperation to Increase Passenger Spend.”

Click here to view full story…

.

Heathrow award for top airport for shopping for 3rd year. Net Retail Income per passenger £6.21 in 2012 (£5.64 in 2010)

Date added: April 18, 2013

For the third year, Heathrow got the award (within the airports industry) for the top airport for shopping. Heathrow has over 52,000 square metres of retail space and more than 340 retail and catering outlets. Heathrow overtook Dubai International to win the title of “World’s Best Airport for Shopping” for 2012. Heathrow has the highest retail sales of any airport in the world ahead of Incheon airport in South Korea. Figures from the Moodie Report in February 2013 said that Net Retail Income per passenger at Heathrow was £6.21 (up 4.4% on 2011, partly due to the Olympics) in 2012 and £5.95 in 2011, while it was £5.64 in 2010. (By comparison the Net Retail Income at Stansted in 2012 was £4.27 per passenger). At Heathrow in 2012 the gross retail income increased +5.7% to £460.1 million

Click here to view full story…

.

 

How much profit do airports make from their retail activities, rather than flying?

13.2.2013
Heathrow got 21.3% of its income from retail in 2010, compared to 53% from aeronautical. On average each Heathrow passenger spent about £5.70 (maybe £5.90) at the airport, with women spending more than men (!). BAA data say frequent fliers spend more than infrequent fliers. In the year 2010/2011 Gatwick airport made £115.6m from retail, and another £51.7m  from car parking, with an average of £5.80 spent on retail per passenger. Stansted retail spending per passenger is about £4.00 to £4.20.  In the year 2010/2011 Heathrow made about £380 million per year on retail, Gatwick about £115, and Stansted net retail income fell from £79.8m in 2010 to £73.9m.  Manchester made about £70 million on retail, with about £3 per passenger.

 

 

 

Read more »