A couple of articles on air travel and consumerism

A few items on air travel and consumerism.


UN World Tourism Organisation  UNWTO

Produces World Tourism Barometer  http://mkt.unwto.org/en/barometer

UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. April 2010 is at http://www.unwto.org/facts/eng/pdf/barometer/UNWTO_Barom10_update_april_en_excerpt.pdf



What Country Travels The Most? The Top 10


There are two things you can guarantee being present when you check into any hostel in the world: a sub-standard bathroom and a British backpacker. I’m not saying the two are in any way related, but what any traveler who has spent any time on the road will tell you is that they’ve run into a Brit. Ask what other nationality, and you’re likely to get Australian, then maybe German. Which begs the question: What country travels the most?

Turns out, it’s not exactly a straight-forward answer. Predictably, the travel statistics out there usually focus on where those travelers are going (France, followed by the U.S., Spain, China, then Italy). But there is scant data on where those travelers are coming from.

WorldHum blogged about a press release back in ’06 that stated Germans took 86.6 million trips abroad, Britons took 65.3 million, and Americans took 58.3 million. This didn’t necessarily mean those counties were the most traveled internationally. It just meant that those three countries took the most trips abroad overall.

Perhaps the best method of determining this question would be to examine how much money is being spent by each nationality internationally. To do this we can look at the recent UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, a newsletter put out by the U.N. agency devoted to tourism. (The .pdf is here.)

According to the report, it turns out money is a very good predictor of travel. It was estimated that in 2009, German travelers shelled out a whopping $80.8 billion while outside their country, followed by the United States ($73.1 billion), the United Kingdom ($48.5 billion), China ($43.7 billion) and France ($38.9 billion). Rounding out the top ten were Italy, Japan, Canada, Russia, and the Netherlands.

  1. Germany
  2. United States
  3. United Kingdom
  4. China
  5. France
  6. Italy
  7. Japan
  8. Canada
  9. Russia
  10. Netherlands

Of course these numbers could be a little skewed by the fact that a particular country happens to be a little more frugal than another while on the road, or that one country spends a lot of money in a neighboring country. But it paints a pretty accurate picture, and also seems to back up prior data.

Surprised by the results? Where are the Aussies? How about the Swedes? China about to overtake the U.K.?




The Global Climate Change summit has put greenhouse gases and global warming back on top of the world’s front pages.

There are many calls to cut emissions drastically before catastrophe strikes.

Many companies are developing products that are ‘green’. They produce less emissions, they require less energy to manufacture and they are easy to recycle. They say this will help stop the changes in the environment that are a result of the human race’s industrial activities.

I question the validity of the evidence for greenhouse gases and global warming. That’s something for a different discussion.

Nobody can doubt that the volumes of waste material produced which involve chemical compounds that do not and never did exist in nature are not making our environment a very safe or pleasant place to live.

Let’s assume that disaster is just around the corner and that, in 50 years the Earth will be a hot, sweaty, waterlogged radioactive slag heap. Is a consumer society that uses hybrid cars running on batteries (don’t ask what chemicals are in those!), a society that insists on going on at least 1 or 2 long haul flights per year, even in jet planes which use less fuel and produce less emissions, going to make the required difference?

The human race, in its current consumerist form is bad for the environment. Even when an initiative is taken to measure the carbon produced by industrialized nations, what do we do? We trade it. I find it hard to believe that this behavior is going to stop the changes we are told are happening.

So, where’s the ‘magic bullet’?

If I understand the arguments correctly, consumerism is causing all these problems, so logically, consumption needs to be restricted.

What would be the results of this?

The state would have to take control of industry and production to ensure that consumer goods were produced for “each, according to his ability; to each, according to his needs.”

Most people would not be content with working for less money than they make now, so any government enforcing this would need a powerful police force to keep order.

Since air travel creates a huge carbon footprint, international travel would have to be restricted to those who need it.

Sounds familiar?

Maybe the next time you see a hammer and sickle, it’ll be on a green background.




Figures from the USA of the amount US citizens spent on air travel, 2002 to 2008, and the excess of spending on air travel of US citizens, above non-residents coming into the USA




Catering to affluent Chinese shopping abroad

Nov 21, 2011

Analysts now know that the best place to learn about Chinese ultra-rich consumers is not the mainland. Rather the Maldives, double-chain of islands near the equator, proves to be the perfect place to launch a case study of Chinese consumerism. In 2010, more than 118,000 Chinese visited the country: a 109 percent increase from the year before, making the Chinese the number-one inbound market of the Maldives. Tourists here have helped form the new profile of Chinese consumers.

More Chinese are traveling overseas from smaller cities, places where growing middle classes are accumulating more wealth and do not face the financial pinch of rising housing prices and inflation felt by similar demographics in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, which, according to Vincent Liu, a partner at BCG in Hong Kong, will eventually impact the spending power of travelers from first-tier cities.

“Many of them are richer than those from major cities,” says Roger Wang, head of Lukintl, a Beijing-based tour company that has taken thousands of Chinese to America since it was founded in 1996. “The tourists from the main cities are mostly from the middle class, while tourists from smaller cities are millionaires or government officials. Usually they have strong spending power.”

According to Wang, this demographic will spend more than $100,000 abroad, using credit cards or with money sent to them via wire transfer from friends. They tend to seek out famous brands.

A close look at these vacationers has enabled luxury companies worldwide to tailor their marketing strategies. “They are eager to buy something, because when they come here, they carry a lot of money,” says Shi Hui Ling, a so-called “guest experience manager,” who was handpicked from a tourism school in Dubai by Six Senses, a resort on a tiny island in an atoll called Laamu, to provide special service to guests from her homeland. “Something unique, they want to buy this. They are looking for handmade [souvenirs], something very natural.”

However, it’s not just the unique that Chinese luxury vacationers are after: they still want the exclusive. Brands like Louis Vuitton are favorites in China and abroad. Travelers have no problem buying familiar products while on vacation, but they want the experience to be different.

“Our Chinese customers are buying more confidently into looks rather than individual pieces,” Jason Beckley, global marketing director at Alfred Dunhill, says. “They’re not impulse shoppers, and they’re discreet—they like a VIP or bespoke room, or even just to be offered tea or water when they are in the store.”

China’s Netizens, the name for the country’s 400 million web users, also offers creative labels the opportunity to enhance customers’ in-store experiences. “I think Internet shopping will be very hot in coming years,” says Wang. “People may choose the goods online and check when going abroad and finally buy. Because people here [in China] always doubt what is imported, I think overseas shops should have this business: reserve online and buy at the shop [abroad].”

To capitalize on the growing number of tourists from smaller cities, retailers abroad would do well simply to have salespeople who speak Chinese. But creating more brand awareness in China — beyond Shanghai and Beijing – will pay off both on the mainland and abroad.