Editorial Another year draws to a close and what a year it’s been. By far…
It’s the end of an era and the beginning of what will hopefully be a bright new one here with Jamadvice. The story so far is this.
We began life in 1992 and survived through the dark ages that were the 1990’s; there may have been no supermarkets, often no petrol and the roads were even worse than today, but there was Jamadvice and we built up our core client portfolio as the years ticked by. In 2001 we partnered into the BTI Global Network who, at the time, were one of the “big three” global TMC’s (Travel Management Companies). We kept our independence and the vast majority of the people we served were Jamadvice clients as opposed to BTI clients.
In 2006, BTI split into two parts as the two owners of the network had a fall out: from BTI was formed HRG and BCD; the big three became the big four; we re-grouped under the HRG banner. As the years ticked by, the Jamadvice clients grew as did the HRG clients; in many ways the two were often inseparable from the outside looking in. In 2018, the Amex Group (now called GBT) bought out HRG and our days as a partner with HRG were numbered. There was no way we would go in the direction this was heading. This was not critical for us but more annoying than anything else; we still had a large core of clients who only knew us as Jamadvice. In April 2019 we terminated our contract as the HRG Partner for Bulgaria. It doesn’t end there however.
Almost immediately we were approached by BCD and asked to become their Network Partner in Bulgaria; an invitation we readily accepted. Put in another context, we left the fourth largest Global TMC and joined the world’s third largest. It’s strange how things work out isn’t it.
We still have the core business of Jamadvice clients, many of whom have worked with us for not just years but decades, but now we have a large new family joining us from BCD. The house is getting bigger. What that means, if you have not already noticed, is that we will also carry and operate with BCD signage and logos though the company registration remains Jamadvice. That aside, all else remains the same.
Welcome to our new world.
Jamadvice Travel | BCD Bulgaria
Major EU cities set sights on Airbnb type rentals
Ten EU cities: Amsterdam, Valencia, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Munich, Paris, Krakow, Bordeaux and Vienna have asked the EU to clamp down on Airbnb type rentals which they claim are forcing locals out of neighbourhoods.
Previous attempts to curb the flow of short term holiday rentals appear to have suffered a setback with a recent EU (non-binding) ruling that ”under EU law Airbnb is a digital information provider, not a lettings agent”.
In Paris, there are 60,000 listings while Berlin has 22,000. The ten cities also argue that in all the aforementioned cities, housing shortages are now the norm as owners try to make a fast buck from shorter-term leisure rentals, despite attempted legislation by local authorities. For example, in Amsterdam owners are supposed to let out short term for one month in twelve, but enforcing such rules is rather easier said than done.
Small get longer
Seeing smaller aircraft flying longer distances is fast becoming the norm and Airbus has not been backward in this sector. Their newest contribution to the long haul single-aisle plane offering is the A321XLR which stands for extra Long Range and which is capable of operating between for example India and Europe or say China to Australia, a range of around 8700km.
Just as a reference, anyone using Wizz Air to fly from Sofia is usually sat on an A321.
Heathrow’s fluid approach
London Heathrow Airport is spending 50 million GBP (56m Euro) on security equipment that will allow passengers to keep liquids and laptops in their bags. The rollout of such machines will be complete by 2020 although bans on carrying liquids over 100ml will remain.
AM v MA
What’s the difference between Air Malta and Malta Air? To be honest, even the most anorak of aviation enthusiast might struggle with that one but the answer is that Air Malta is the flag carrier of the island of Malta and is owned by the Maltese government. Malta Air, on the other hand is the new airline jointly owned by non-other than Ryanair and you guessed it, the Maltese Government who also own a golden share.
The new airline is predicted to 5m passengers within five years and add to the 62 routes it will take over from Ryanair.
Hilton now most valuable
The Hilton hotel brand portfolio has overtaken Marriott to become the worlds ‘” most valuable”. The value of the Hilton portfolio is calculated to be 14.7 billion USD.
Marriott has recently suffered a 30% decrease in the value of its portfolio due mainly to a huge hacking scandal and problems with its loyalty scheme.
These two brands remain well ahead of third-placed Wyndham Group whilst IHG (Intercontinental) and Accor Group are the fourth and fifth-ranked groups respectively.
Just out of interest, the strongest individual brand is considered to be Mercure which is part of the Accor portfolio.
One of the iconic names in the world of travel may soon disappear into the sunset; Thomas Cook is reportedly the subject of a bid by China’s Forsun Group.
The Chinese giant already operates a joint venture with Thomas Cook in China.
Any deal would exclude the airline arm of Cook as Forsun would not be able to acquire the airline under EU ownership rules. Thomas Cook has been struggling of late and recently reported a 1.45 billion GBP loss (1.62 billion Euro) in the six months to the end of March 2019.
Taxing tourists is probably perceived as an “easy” or a “soft” tax for most governments; it doesn’t directly impact the local population (in their own eyes) and its relatively easy to gather. Tourist taxes are usually straightforward and are rarely described as anything else. The revenues go directly into the state coffers and it’s a tax collection with little mess.
The latest country to jump on the aforementioned bandwagon is New Zealand who are to impose a 35 NZ dollar tax on tourists with the aim of generating 450 million dollars per annum from such taxes.
The excuse for the tax is that it will fund conservation efforts, a worthy cause in many a green eye and the perfect justification to impose the tax. Many people know however that the funds go straight to the government and it’s they who decide what the money is spent on. Also, invariably 35 dollars becomes 45 which soon becomes 60.
At some point, the tax reaches the point where tourism is affected and tourism goes elsewhere. The knack of government is to only go as far with the tax collection as is considered acceptable by those paying it.
What happens when tourists go elsewhere? The taxes increase to cover the lost income from……a lack of tourists who were chased away by high taxes.
The US Governments immediate ban on US Cruise lines entering Cuba will affect some 800,000 passengers who had planned cruises to the island in the near future.
US citizens have long been banned from travelling to Cuba but the previous US Government tried to foster a new relationship with Havana and travel regimes were relaxed. Mr Trump’s government, however, has other ideas, although if one asks the question as to” why the US still has such fear around Cuba?” it’s a rather difficult question to fathom out a reasonable answer to. Surely being friends with neighbours would be more advantageous than being an enemy!
Bulgaria still sits high in the minds of UK Holidaymakers who have placed the country joint second in being perceived as a “good value destination”. The ranking of the “best value countries” and their scores in the survey which is run by the Post Office are: –
Country % of people who rated the destination good value
Spain (mainland). 87%
Canary Island 80%
The Balearic Islands 80%
Air France continues to have an uneasy life with its financials showing a loss of 189m Euros in 2018 which makes cumulative losses an (un) impressive 700m Euro’s since 2013. The bastion of all things French is seriously disadvantaged to the point that it makes an interesting economics case study.
France, as we all know, is the home of high speed rail to the point that the airline has lost 90% of its market share to rail where rail journey times to Paris are two hours or less (do bear in mind that trains go to central Paris and not Paris CDG or Orly which are located some way out of the City), which thus encompasses a huge part of the country. France has also arguably the most disruptive workforce in Europe with strikes being as common as cheese and wine in Provence. Trust therefore in the airline, particularly from outside France, is almost nonexistent.
The other factors which work against the airline include the fact that most airlines operate on a hub and spoke concept with feeder flights being a mixture of point to point traffic and connecting traffic and as we have seen, the point to point elements is now largely travelling by train. The knock on effect being that flight schedules are cut which makes connecting flights even more uninviting through longer or indeed a lack of connections. The rationale has also not factored in the expensive cost of labour in France generally nor the perception that Paris CDG Airport, the airline’s main hub, is an airport you would preferably choose to by-pass.
No doubt it would be a social embarrassment if the airline was “let go” but surely the French Government would likely want rid of its 14.3% shareholding (KLM has a similar shareholding) in the carrier. The problem it might have would likely be finding a willing buyer with deep pockets and a sense of humour.
Laugh or cry
Depending from where you originate, the Spanish resort of Benidorm can be viewed as many things. If you are unaware of its existence, think Sunny Beach but dating back four decades. TV series have been built around the resort and its reputation seems not to worry most of its visitors. Unlike Sunny Beach whose rowdy element are usually categorized as being “rowdy teens” though teens seem these days to be significantly older than 19 years of age the tag originates from, Benidorm has an altogether different core clientele. Think retirement!
Benidorm is a hotspot for retirees and the economy in many ways revolves around this group of people as well as absolutely anyone who likes cheap booze, fantastic beaches and food that’s never going to test the Michelin Good Food Guide. Love it or hate it; it’s been around for donkeys’ years. That still, however, doesn’t stop the jaw from dropping with the antics that go on there.
It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry when you hear that the resort is clamping down on mobility scooters, electric scooters and Segway’s that are rode on pavements (remember we are talking over 65’s on mobility scooters). The problem being that such modes of transport, but in particular the Mobility Scooter, have become the choice of all and sundry as a means to get around even though the drivers themselves are fit and able. The scooters are also now restricted to driving at 20 kmph and their drivers must wear a helmet and have either a fluorescent jacket or bell to alert the public.
Funnily enough, Benidorm is not the first to suffer implement such rules as both Barcelona and Madrid have also limited the use of such vehicles.