|The Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism recently asked us to scan our constituents to learn how international visitor bookings were lining up for the year. |
With executive orders banning travel, the strengthening U.S. dollar, and the political unrest globally, the state was working to separate fact from rumor. We reached out to key businesses that we know host many overseas guests. And we had been contacted by members who were seeing shifts in business patterns, and called to ask what we were experiencing as well.
What we heard was a lot of concern, and a mixed bag of activity. A mid-Cape cottage colony reported only 5 weeks booked by international guests as of mid-March versus 36 weeks book as of the same time the prior year. A lower-Cape accommodations entity reported a “significant” drop in international inquiries and bookings YTD, and didn’t believe it was all due to exchange rate changes.
Two innkeepers in the outer and lower Cape contacted us as they were tracking a significant drop off in overseas bookings. Two rental agents contacted us with the same inquiry for the same reason. Another mid-Cape property reported no significant change in overseas business and one in the outer-Cape also reported a strong booking pattern for summer 2017.
We reviewed our own website activity for January through mid-March of this year against the same time last year. Typically this is the time of year when people are researching their summer vacation options. In the top 10 countries of origin of user sessions, in order of first to last, we found USA traffic was down 18%, Canada was up 32%, France was down 53%, UK was down 34%, and the rest of the countries were up; Germany, Russia, Brazil, Ireland & Australia.
Our top ten cities of origin included New York, LA, Boston, Monticello, IN (a google fiber city), San Diego, Toulouse France, Chicago, Denver, Mesa AZ and Boardman OR.
Massachusetts’ Logan Airport reported strong passenger counts; 2.5 million more flyers through Logan in 2016 vs. 2015 with fewer flights. Boston has 54 international non-stop flights and 33 of those routes were added since 2006. Customs check point processing at Terminal E is smoother, and the terminal itself recently received upgrades. They did report their biggest problem remains parking. The Brand USA folks who are responsible for promoting our country overseas reported that airline bookings are up, and they predict continued interest in travel here because the U.S. is still considered a safe destination compared to other global choices, even in the face of a more expensive visit due to the strong dollar.
Cape Cod and the islands will be promoted at the Discover New England summit in late April, and we’ll have another chance to talk with over 50 reps from key markets overseas and get an update on the pulse of our lucrative travel and tourism business. Tourism is the number one export of the U.S.A. and is a top ten employer. On Cape Cod, it is no different!
Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce