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US passport drive boosts tourism

With their bags packed and new passports in hand, US travellers are set to
visit Asia Pacific in ever increasing numbers.
Reasons for optimism include significant increases in trans-Pacific
air capacity, including a doubling of flights between US and China
(PRC) by 2012; the addition of Korea (ROK) to the US’ visa waiver
programme; more cruise ships ready to set sail from Hong Kong and
Singapore; and growing MICE market interest.

“And there were an unprecedented 18 million US passport applications
this year, which is good news for Asia Pacific,” said Pacific Asia
Travel Association (PATA) Regional Director - North America Ms Barbara

US citizens now need a passport when returning to the US from
neighbouring destinations. In the past they could present their
driver’s licenses.

Addressing PATA Travel Mart 2007 delegates during a luncheon workshop
about the US outbound market today, Ms Bryant said: “The US outbound
market is already significant, with 30 million international trips in
2006, excluding trips to neighbouring Canada and Mexico.”

“However, American tastes are changing,” she cautioned.


Tauck World Discovery Managing Director - International Mr Scott
Supernaw said the average age of his organisation’s customers had
increased 10 years. And while they have more money and are willing to
spend it, they are very value-conscious.

He offered some advice about what US travellers want:-

**  Value: “Give them more, not less, than what they paid for.”
**  Facts: “Honesty pays huge dividends!”
**  Real experiences: “Give them local experiences and interactions.”
**  Healthy options: “Kill them with kindness, not food!”
**  Active options: “Don’t be afraid to offer physical activities.”
**  No surprises: “Be careful of the unknown and untested; reinvent
the tried and true.”
**  Proactive service: “Do everything for them. They want worry-free
**  Full days: “Attempt to fill, or let them fill, two thirds of every
**  Pampering: “Little touches, such as candy on the pillow, can be
cheap and memorable.”

Mr Supernaw emphasised the benefits of new media technology to
communicate, inform, add value and create brand loyalty among US

Solutions Travel Service President Ms Cindy Yam agreed. She said when
US travellers make their decisions, they like independence, control,
choice, flexibility, value and “now”, which account for why the
internet is growing in popularity as a medium for both travel
information and bookings.

However, Ms Yam said that human contact was still important and many
people still rely on travel agents to book.

Braga Travel Consulting President Ms Bonnie Braga said she recommends
tours for her clients based on the experiences of her other customers,
as well as on good value and service.

She said that packages that were easy to sell tended to feature
regular departures and quality accommodation options, however her US
clients still book trips further in advance (three to six months),
compared to her Latin American clients (30 days).

On general trends, PATA’s Ms Bryant said: “For the American traveller
today, eco-tourism and adults-only are in; voluntourism is a
humanitarian high; and connoisseurs want to participate and
experience, not simply enjoy.”

“American travellers with deep pockets like to splurge,” she
continued. “A private villa is much preferred to a suite; there are
now 500 private jet companies, up from around 100 five years ago; and
renting a luxury yacht packed with amenities has become a hot summer