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Why it’s crucial to support our tourism family during tough times

  Posted in Travel Trends

By Mike Ford, Co-Founder and Managing Director, SiteMinder

We all know that tourism plays a significant role when it comes to economic growth, but a quick Google search on the relationship between money spent by tourists and a region’s economy, delivered some statistics that I found fascinating.

The cruise sector alone is worth $434 million to the New Zealand economy.

American TV show Game of Thrones, which uses Dubrovnik in Croatia as its central city in the series, is directly responsible for around half of the 10% annual growth in tourists visiting the city in recent years.

And according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, our industry’s GDP contribution will top $8 trillion in 2015, with projections suggesting that figure will rise to $12 trillion by 2025.

During my research for this SiteMinder blog, the impressive examples of how tourism drives so many economies just kept on coming. The statistics made me feel proud to be a part of something that celebrates so many wonderful cultures and destinations all over the world.

But fun facts aside, my research prompted me to think more about the fragility of tourism’s relationship with world economies.

I’m sure many of you saw the terrible news from Nepal and neighbouring countries over the weekend where an earthquake killed thousands of people and caused widespread destruction to buildings and infrastructure. The scenes are truly devastating and it’s hard to contemplate the help that communities will need when they eventually start to rebuild.

Despite being a magnet for mountaineers and people seeking adventure, Nepal is a country already struggling with tourism after unexpected storms caused fatalities in October last year. Tourism is Nepal’s biggest market and its future security depends on how quickly the communities can recover and rebuild from this latest natural disaster.

Rebuilding bigger and better

Closer to our headquarters, we recently saw the destructive impact of Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, where tourism accounts for 20% of its annual GDP. Thankfully the paradise island is recovering and gradually welcoming tourists back. Many resorts and tourist areas are fully operational and it’s important that the tourism community pulls together to secure the island’s economic recovery.

For a great example of how a community can rebuild after a natural disaster, we only need to look to the English village of Boscastle in Cornwall. Back in 2004, the rural area was hit by severe flash flooding. Some three months worth of rain had fallen in 24 hours causing villagers to be airlifted from rising floodwaters as the buildings around them collapsed.

It’s an area of the UK that relies heavily on tourism and more than 10 years on, many people living in Boscastle view the disaster as a catalyst for positivity. The chamber of commerce has been reinstated and business operators say the floods have brought people closer together. Some village retailers are reporting stronger trading than ever before, as visitors continue to support the local economy.

Here at SiteMinder, we contacted all our customers in Vanuatu with a gesture to help them as they also get back on their feet. The response was humbling and, like the village of Boscastle, their determination to come back bigger and better is brilliant. I’d urge you to reach out and let these communities know they’re being supported as they work towards a speedy recovery.

For more information on how to help the millions of people affected by the earthquake in Nepal, here’s a list of charities currently running appeal programs.

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