Cancun convention & visitors bureau trends and Economy Report – September 2009

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Executive leaves Pleasant Holidays for AMA Waterways

By: Michelle BaranSeptember 15, 2009

River cruise operator AMA Waterways appears to be on a hiring spree. In its latest personnel move, AMA named Bruce Rosenberg vice president of marketing.

Rosenberg, who had served as senior vice president of sales and marketing at Pleasant Holidays since 2006, will be based at AMA's headquarters in Chatsworth, Calif. He will report to Rudi Schreiner, president and CEO of AMA Waterways.

The announcement of Rosenberg’s hire comes one day after Gary Murphy, president of Brendan Vacations, said he would be leaving Brendan to join his father Jimmy Murphy, AMA's chairman.

Last month, AMA named Ron Santangelo vice president of business development. Santangelo had been Peter Deilmann Cruises' president for North America.

Prior to joining Pleasant Holidays, Rosenberg worked for Trams, a provider of technology and marketing services for travel agencies.

"We always aim to be producing packages that are 40% cheaper [than what the consumer or travel agent could package on their own], and we will be absolutely secure in that. "It’s a very strong pricing position."

Online education clicks with many tourism entities

By: Laura Del RossoSeptember 16, 2009

More Mexican convention and visitors bureaus and hotel chains are reaching out to U.S. travel agents through online education and specialist programs that they hope will turn agents who book Mexico into more active, dedicated sellers and promoters of the destination.

Almost all the bureaus and hotel companies have switched from live presentations to online programs.

Destination Ventures, the Oregon-based firm that operates the education and specialist programs for several Mexican tourism entities, has converted all of its training into an online format.

The latest is a revived Magic of Mexico program that Destination Ventures conducted for years through events around the U.S. on behalf of the Mexico Tourism Board. Now, it's gone completely online, said Greg Custer, company vice president.

Destination Ventures has combined all of its programs under one new website,, to make it easier to find a Mexico specialist program.

Among the new offerings featured there are the Mazatlan Hotel Association's Mazatlan Mazters program as well as a Los Cabos specialist program with the bureau of that resort area.

The online programs are "more efficient" both for agents who can stop and start the training at any time and for the Mexican destinations that are eager to develop a close relationship with the agents in the U.S. who are actively promoting and selling their products, Custer said.

"Agents appreciate something that is available on demand, and our clients in Mexico appreciate something that is measurable as opposed to simply collecting a bunch of business cards at an event," he said.

Destination Ventures is conducting several free 45-minute webinars in a Vive Mexico series of programs for the Mexico Tourism Board through December.

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#1September 16, 2009

I have taken their Cancun Specialist and I know agents will benefit from all the Mexico Specialist programs offered by Destination Ventures. I thank Destination Ventures for their expert staff and the knowledge I acquired throughout the years in many programs I attended in the Dallas area. Maggie Rodriguez


Aviation Industry:
Despite Flu, Downtrend in Global Air Trips by Americans Softens in May
In May 2009, the month in which swine flu concerns peaked, total global air travel by U.S. citizens fell 10.4%. However, that contraction was swayed fundamentally by a 46.1% drop in air travel to Mexico, the epicenter of the outbreak. Without Mexico in the mix, total travel slipped only 4.8% and overseas air travel (excluding both Canada and Mexico) was down only 3.7%. Compared to slides of 7.1% in the first two months and 6.4% in the second two months for total air travel by U.S. citizens, these results show that the overall (without Mexico) downtrend in passenger demand continued to decelerate in May despite the flu outbreak.

Results by Global Region
In the comparisons below between air travel changes in May and averages for the first five months, Mexico is shown as the only region to be severely affected by the flu outbreak. May contractions for Europe, the Caribbean, Asia and Oceania were actually lighter than in the first five-month period. The other four overseas regions posted positive growth in May with the Middle East and Africa generating robust rises of 40.0% and 30.9% respectively:

% Change Year-on-Year in Air Travel by U.S. Citizens by Global Destination


May 2009

Jan.-May 2009



















Central America



South America



Middle East









*All global air travel excluding Mexico and Canada
Source:  U.S. Office of Travel & Tourism Industries 2009 Data

Downtrend in U.S. Airline Travel Holds Steady in May
Although traffic on U.S. airlines was down for the 15th consecutive month in May, the pace of the downtrend held steady in the past five months. Traffic was down 11.8% in February, 9.1% in March and 5.6% in April (skewed by the calendar shift of Easter). In May, total air traffic was down 9.3% – lower than the 9.5% contraction for the first five months of this year. International air traffic fell 14.8% (ostensibly due to the impact of swine flu on air travel to Mexico). Southwest Airlines carried more total system passengers than any other U.S. airline; American Airlines carried more international passengers than any other U.S. airline:

Traffic on U.S. Airlines


May 2009

% Change

Jan.-May 2009

% Change

Total Passengers (millions)





     Domestic (millions)





     International (millions)





Total Flights (thousands)





     Domestic (thousands)





     International (thousands)





Demand/RPMs* (billions)





Supply/ASMs** (billions)





Load Factor


-1.2 points


-1.1 points

*Revenue Passenger Miles
** Available Seat Miles
Source:  U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics Press Release – 8/13/09

Downtrend in European Airline Traffic Eases in July
The Association of European Airlines (AEA) reports that after two years of steep declines, and following dips of 8.3% in May and 6.5% in June, passenger traffic on European airlines slipped only 2.2% in July (based on preliminary figures). A seat capacity reduction in June of 4.9% did not quite keep pace with the demand slide; consequently, the load factor for the month was down slightly by 1.3 percentage points to 77%. The provisional July figures show a capacity reduction of 3% which, although lower than June, should be sufficient to counteract the smaller market decrease of 2.2% and thereby drive a small improvement in load factor.
Source:  Association of European Airlines Press Release – 8/10/09
Source:  The Wall Street Journal – 8/11/09

Global Entry Expanded to Additional Airports
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expanded the Global Entry initiative to 13 airports in addition to the seven airports where the program is already in place. Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) pilot program that streamlines the screening process at airports for trusted travelers through biometric identification. It is designed to improve customer service at airports while enhancing the safety of airlines passengers by allowing DHS to concentrate its resources on higher-risk travelers. The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) applauded the action.
Source:  Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Press Release – 8/12/09
Source:  Hotel News Resource – 8/12/09

Airlines to Require More Passenger Data
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that beginning August 15, U.S. airlines participating in the Secure Flight passenger vetting program may begin asking passengers to enter their date of birth and gender when making airline reservations. "Secure Flight is a key tool in confirming that someone identified as a 'No Fly' does not receive a boarding pass," said TSA Acting Administrator Gale Rossides. "Secure Flight will make travel safer and easier for passengers." The program is aimed at meeting congressional mandates including those of the 9/11 Commission.
Source:  Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Press Release – 8/09
Source:  The Wall Street Journal – 8/13/09
Source:  The Washington Post – 8/13/09
Source:  The New York Times – 8/16/09
Source:  CNN – 8/12/09

U.S. Airline Industry Registers Second Quarter Loss
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reports that U.S. airlines reported a net loss of $373 million for the second quarter of 2009 following a first quarter loss of $574 million. According to the IATA, about $300 million of the second quarter loss was due to the impact of swine flu concerns. The swine flu impact and a fall in yields offset improvements in fuel costs.
Source:  International Air Transport Association Airlines Financial Monitor – July 2009

Improved On-Time Arrival Rates for U.S. Airlines through First Half
The U.S. government reports that the 19 carriers reporting on-time arrival rates are posting positive results through the first six months of this year. As shown below, the overall on-time performance rate was higher in each of the first six months of 2009 than it was in the same month of 2008. The performance level of U.S. airlines is also generally improving in terms of other measurements such as cancellation rates, mishandled baggage and consumer complaints:

Overall On-Time Arrival Rate for U.S. Airlines






















Source:  U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics Press Release – 8/4/09

Collision Throws Spotlight on Longtime Rift Over Air Safety
The collision of a sightseeing helicopter and a small plane over New York's Hudson River has intensified pressure to tighten the rules governing one of the world's most crowded air corridors – a largely unregulated airspace. However, according to The New York Times, there has been a rift of long standing between the government agency that makes such recommendations – the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) – and the agency that carriers them out – the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). None of the safety recommendations the NTSB made in the last 15 years have been carried out. However, the FAA has been known to act quickly and is considering a swift reaction to the Hudson accident.
Source:  The New York Times – 8/13/09
Source:  The Washington Post – 8/10/09

Hospitality Industry:
Moderate Easing of Downward Trend for U.S. Hotels

The latest Smith Travel Research data shows that the downward trend in performance levels for U.S. hotels is continuing but easing as the summer progresses. As shown below, occupancy and revPAR contractions decelerated moderately in the last three weeks of July and the first week of August; room rate decreases held steady. This positive trend was mirrored by a 1.6% rise in the Hotel Industry Pulse Index (HIP) to 82.2* for July, following 19 months of consecutive declines in this gauge of business activity within the U.S. hotel industry:


Performance of U.S. Hotel Industry

2009 Period


Room Rate


January - March




% Change YOY












% Change YOY












% Change YOY












% Change YOY












% Change YOY








July 5-11




% Change YOY








July 12-18




% Change YOY








July 19-25




% Change YOY








July 26-August1




% Change YOY








August 2-8




% Change YOY




*An HIP index of 100 would equal the level of U.S. hotel business activity generated in the year 2000.
Source:  Smith Travel Research data as reported in various “Hotel News Now” releases
Source:  Hotel News Now report on the Hotel Industry’s Pulse Index (HIP) – 8/10/09
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