Officials in the United States have revealed plans to tighten travel restrictions for visitors using the visa waiver programme. Approximately 20 million people from 38 countries presently enter America each year under the visa waiver programme, which allows travel without needing full visas.
Among the three Top 25 Markets that hosted Pope Francis during his visit to the United States, Philadelphia experienced the most significant year-over-year increases in revenue per available room, according to data from STR, Inc. New York and Washington, DC also reported double-digit RevPAR growth during days on which Pope Francis visited the respective markets.
Hotel investors spent $27.8 billion on property acquisitions and developments in the United States during 2014, according to the Hotel Transaction Almanac and the Hotel Development Almanac compiled by STR Analytics. During the year, $18.5 billion in hotels changed hands while another $9.3 billion in new hotel projects opened their doors.
An increase in visitors from the United Kingdom and Ireland has contributed to a record number of 34.4 million overseas visitors to the USA in 2014. This is up eight per cent from 2013, according to the latest figures released by US under secretary of commerce for international trade, Stefan Selig. The UK retains its position as the top overseas market for international travel to the USA (excluding Canada and Mexico) as visitation to the country increased by 3.6 per cent, rising from 3,835,308 visitors in 2013 to 3,972,655 in 2014.
The economic situation in the United States and Canada is improving and with it has come a renewed increase in foreign trips in 2014. People in North America travelled more often than last year and stayed longer at their destinations, with stays of more than four overnights increasing by eight per cent.
Cuba is expected to receive a boom in visitors from the United States after the Obama administration took a series of steps to normalise relations between the two countries. At present, travel between the two destinations is heavily restricted, with direct commercial flights banned, special visas compulsory and visitors required to join strictly controlled groups.
The UK’s consumer and trade association representing the USA has appointed a new chief executive at a time when membership is at its highest and the USA remains the UK’s top outbound leisure travel destination. Tracey Spuyman, previously founder and managing director of the marketing agency Teamspirit which is now part of Chime Communication, has joined to lead the Association as it develops new programmes and activities for its 200-strong membership.
Following a three way pitch, Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau has appointed luxury lifestyle agency Luchford APM as its UK in-market representative to act on behalf of Beverly Hills with immediate effect. The agency won the 12 month consumer and travel trade contract based on its creative ability to develop Beverly Hills from being a luxury travel brand to a luxury lifestyle consumer product, playing on its brand pillars of gourmet dining, five-star accommodations and high-end shopping.
The Lee County, Florida Visitor & Convention Bureau, a leading travel destination marketing organisation branded as ‘The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel’ has appointed Four Communications to handle its sales, marketing and public relations in the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia following a competitive pitch process. Four Communications has been appointed to promote this region of south-west Florida to consumers, the travel trade and media with the aim of raising awareness of the destination and increasing visitation across target segments.
Officials in the United States have confirmed passengers originating from countries at risk of Ebola will be forced to fly to airports with screen procedures for the virus in place. This is the first time the United States has placed any restrictions on travel in relation to the disease, and comes after days of mounting pressure to ban all travel from affected countries.
The American Society of Travel Agents has offered its commendation after the House of Representatives took an important step toward ensuring the continuation of Brand USA. The House passed the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, & Modernisation Act of 2014 by a vote of 347 to 57 and scheduled for a Senate committee hearing.