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In the past few decades, there has been a steady increase in the number of international tourists everywhere, both inbound and outbound. As connections increase due to globalization and advanced technology, more people are traveling for leisure than ever. This increase has shaped a new industry with high growth potential. In recent years, tourists' spending is increasing at a surprising speed, contributing to countries GDP and shaping many travel policies.

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Since 1912, hostels have been a centerpiece for teenagers and young adults traveling. They are overwhelmingly popular throughout the European continent, but also have a presence in most tourist-friendly countries around the world. They are a low-cost option for housing, eating, and provide an opportunity for social interaction. In an age where freelance work is becoming more common, hostels are playing an increasingly important role in travel and work abroad.

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This year, the International Air Transport Association anticipates four billion people will engage in global travel. By the year 2036, it is expected to nearly double to 7.8 billion—half of which will solely be from people living in Asia. High rates of international travel indicate economic well-being, and increased globalization will continue to drive demand. Areas experiencing a spike in international travel will benefit from the influx of money from tourism, but not without enduring the consequences of expansion.

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A recent article by the Motley Fool analyzes why “the ‘big three’ cruise lines,” Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line, saw increases of over 25% in their stock prices in the first half of 2017. The article suggests current trends in the hospitality and travel industry, such as “lower fuel prices, higher consumer spending in developed countries, and burgeoning travel demand among Asian tourists" as possible factors. However, the article also explores another trend in consumer purchasing patterns: “a penchant among millennials to spend their earnings on experiences instead of material products.”

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In the past decade, technology has changed the way people operate dramatically. Uber has enabled a user to order a car to their house and see, in real time, their ETA (estimated arrival time). Grubhub has helped one order food from places which usually do not deliver so the individual can stay on the couch and continue binging on the newest Netflix hit. Founded in 2008, Airbnb has now taken the world by storm, connecting travelers to places to stay in over 65,000 countries and 191 cities. Travelers all over enjoy the vast availability of options they have at their fingertips, from a single bed apartment to spending a night in a castle. However, this has begun to cause strife with the American Hotel and Lodging Association and hotels all over the world.

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Many companies all over the world are concerned with the challenges of the hospitality industry including the threat of Airbnb, as well as social responsibility and liability complications. Airbnb is seen as an increasing threat to the hospitality industry and researchers predict that the company will eventually become a replacement for extended stay hotels, bed and breakfasts, rental sites, and corporate apartments. As Airbnb is continuing to grow, hotels are having a hard time maintaining their nightly and occupancy rates that they had the year before. Not only are companies like Airbnb a threat to the hospitality industry, but other challenges include liability alleviation and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

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As global business practices become increasingly digitized, industry sectors are forced to constantly adjust to their transforming infrastructures. This is especially felt within the hospitality industry, where technological mainstays are driving business on both a domestic and an international scale. Technology has allowed for further integration and optimization of industry practices, accelerating overall efficiency. Outreach efforts have also expanded, attracting more consumers to the industry and continually changing their personal engagements with procedures for lodging and travel. Here is a closer look at the various ways technology is shaping the future of hospitality.

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Destination cities in South America, like Bogota and Columbia, have registered double-digit tourism growth in the past year. A positive impact of the currency devaluations is that the exchange rates across the South American region have allowed an affordable opportunity for foreign travelers to go to South America. Investments in infrastructure are also helping to propel the hospitality industry because the improvements help increase access to various markets and boost travel in the region.

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This week, the globalEDGE blog will be taking an in depth look at the global hospitality industry, looking at the present trends in various sectors of the industry, as well as looking toward the future. For our purposes, we will consider the hospitality industry to be the collection of companies and businesses that cater to the needs of travelers. Major sectors include hotels, restaurants, and recreational businesses, such as casinos, sports and tourist attractions.

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As winter vacations come to a close, the global workforce is underway again, and there are several questions business and corporate travelers have regarding their upcoming costs of travel and stay. Among the many factors, the future of international business travel remains uncertain due to the prolonged set back in the Chinese economy, the United Kingdom’s monumental vote to depart from the European Union, the controversial U.S. Presidential election, and increased security concerns across the globe. However, despite the uncertainties, global demand for air travel remains at a record high.

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On December 15, the Japanese Diet passed a law to legalize casinos in the country, opening way for projects combining gambling with hotels, shopping, and conference spaces. The first proposal for this law was submitted in 2013, and again last year. While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling party support the bill, claiming that casinos will stimulate the Japanese economy and increase tourism, opposition parties are critical. This bill had failed repeatedly in previous parliaments to come up for a vote due to concerns regarding gambling addiction and money laundering.

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Over the past month, there has been a surge in global terrorism. Major terrorist incidents include the downing of a Russian plane over the Sinai Peninsula, deadly assaults on Paris, and suicide bombings in Turkey, Lebanon, and Nigeria. There have also been several other attacks, mainly concentrated across the Middle East and Northern Africa. While these devastating attacks are first and foremost a humanitarian issue, they undoubtedly have business consequences, ranging from physical damage to property to potential long term alterations in consumer behavior. This being said, what impact does terrorism, and more specifically the recent surge in global terrorism, have on the global travel and tourism industry?

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Following international sanctions over the Ukraine crisis and a steep drop in oil prices, Russia’s economy has been suffering from the effects of an economic downturn in recent months. One of the major industries affected by the economic crisis has been the Russian tourism industry, which has seen an estimated 35% decline in visitors since the beginning of 2014. Spending by Russian tourists has also declined as the financial crisis has deepened, resulting in a 44% drop in spending during December and a 51% decline in January. The loss of tourists has hurt all facets of the industry, and has forced many businesses to take cost cutting measures.

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The global travel industry is a major player in the global economy, accounting for 9.5% of the world’s GDP and employing 266 million people. Many consumers also deal with the industry on a regular basis, whether traveling on business trips or for vacations. With the large size of the industry and the constant demand, the travel industry is highly competitive and constantly evolving. Recently, this competition has led to consolidation in many sectors of the industry, such as the hotel, airline, car rental, and online travel sectors. Many of the biggest companies in these sectors are buying out their smaller competitors, seeing economies of scale as a strategy to maintain their leadership role in the industry.

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In part 4 of our international tourism blog series, we discussed the importance of cultural sensitivity as tourism increases in developing countries. In this blog, we will focus on how hosting international conferences can stimulate a country’s hospitality and tourism sector. Organizing global conventions requires an extensive amount of planning, data gathering, and business acumen. One of the most important decisions made is location. Attendees, reporters, and small enterprises will flock to the chosen venue. This presents a prime opportunity for significant amounts of resources and capital to be exchanged. But is it possible for a singular event to revitalize an entire economy?

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With recent disasters such as the March disappearance of flight MH370 and the July crash of flight MH17, the world is eager to see how Malaysia Airlines will recover. As an inevitable result of the disasters, the company has lost a substantial number of customers and money. Nonetheless, the airline as a whole had been losing money long before these disasters struck. Between 2011 and 2013, Malaysia Airlines lost 4.13 ringgit, the equivalent of $1.31 billion. With a fourth consecutive quarter loss predicted, Prime Minister Najib Razak is calling for major changes to take place within the company.

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As Brazil is busy finishing the last construction for the 2014 World Cup, Qatar, the host of the 2022 World Cup, has started its infrastructure improvement plan to welcome its guests from all over the world. This preparation has really brought Qatar into the eyes of investors with high expectations for economic gains. Qatar is not alone, as we see millions of “host money” from foreign investors has pushed the UAE’s stock market also to a new high. This blog will give you the overviews of Qatar’s and the UAE’s economy in the recent years and will explain the reason why Qatar and the UAE have experienced growth in foreign investment.

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In December of 2013, American Airlines and US Airways have completed their long awaited merger to create the world’s largest airline. Earlier in 2013, the merger was blocked by the United States Justice Department due to concerns that the merger would adversely affect competition in the airline industry of the United States. In order to reach a settlement, American Airlines and US Airways agreed to give up several hundred gates at airports across the United States. Now the companies expect to save over one billion dollars in synergy with the merger. This merger will undoubtedly have a variety of effects on the global airline industry.

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When travelers make their way to the airports this holiday season, they may begin to notice a major change in the infrastructure of the airline industry. The continual addition of ancillary fees, or fees incurred outside of ticket costs, is becoming a larger component revenue for major airlines. Due to the highly concentrated industry, George Hobica, founder of airfarewatchdog.com stated that airlines “have to differentiate themselves to compete.”

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The Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground off the coast of Italy on January 13th and has caused, along with a devastating heartbreak, major waves in the cruise industry. The tragic crash of this ship has caused speculation about the competency of major cruise lines worldwide. It seems that there are not strict regulations on cruise lines as passengers may have assumed which has caused customers to question their safety and could affect the travel industry as a whole.

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Hop on that plane, business travel is back! After the global recession hit, many companies scaled back on corporate travel. More sophisticated technologies along with cost cutting initiatives around the global recession also led to a decline in business travel. To companies less travel meant lower costs, and more virtual meetings. While this may have helped some companies’ bottom lines, some saw business relationships and sales numbers suffer.

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Today, business trips are common for many employees as modern transportation allows people to travel around the world quite easily. Hotels are a critical component in the business trip process and play a major role in accommodating business travelers. With this responsibility, hotels are looking to provide comfort to the many business travelers that are expected to keep up with their workloads on the road. Businesses in the hospitality and travel industry are changing their strategy to satisfy their hard working customers. You may have a guess to what this new strategy may be—remodeled lobbies and bars, more comfortable beds, or luxurious restaurants? Actually the answer is rather simple. Hotels are now accommodating business travelers with a redesigned workspace in hotel rooms.

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The global travel industry has been hit hard by the recent economic downturn. Hotels all over the world have experienced a drop in occupancy rates due to this decline. So renovations and sprucing up rooms seems like it would be last on their priority list now, right? Not necessarily. Some hotel chains have decided that it is worth their investment to improve rooms, lobbies and other facilities to make them more modern and up to date and appealing to travelers.

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Today’s traveler is different than it once was. People are interested in finding unique and adventurous destinations rather than the typical beach vacation. This is great news for smaller countries rich with cultural and historical attractions. People want to be taken off the beaten path, and local businesses around the world are profiting.

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As many travelers still feel the pinch of the recession on their wallets, a new market begs for attention as it couples the price tag of a hostel, convenience of a hotel and the homey feel of a bed and breakfast. This new way of travel accommodations is basically a social networking bed and breakfast and has expanded in the past years in Europe. Half a dozen startup companies have emerged in this market in the past two years including the likes of Crashpadder.com, iStopOver.com, ArBnB.com, and Roomorama.com. With this new market opening up, international businesses are looking to reap the rewards of this new type of traveler and hoping it will increase business abroad.

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After a rough year in 2009, global tourism has made a slight comeback this year. In 2010 there was small growth of .05%, and the future looks promising with expected growth of 4.5% in coming years. There was positive growth in all world regions in the first two months of 2010, with Asia and the Pacific in the lead with a growth rate of 10%. Both the United States and Europe had less development, as they were hit hardest by the recent recession.

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As of today (July 1st), Japan has significantly relaxed the visa restrictions for tourists allowing the single fastest-growing group of overseas travelers, the Chinese, to be able to travel to Japan. These new regulations will enable another 16 million households to be able to apply for a trip to Japan. This is 10 times the amount of tourist visas that were available before the new regulations. Up to now, Japan had strict regulations regarding visitors from their neighbor to the west; only allowing wealthy Chinese with high annual incomes to travel to Japan. The massive influx of Chinese travelers will hopefully result in a jump in income for many local shopping centers in Japan.

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With the excitement of the World Cup evident in South Africa, there is also great pride and unity among locals.  The energy of the World Cup has spread all over the country, and has even hit the poorest areas.  This energy has provided harmony among citizens and although many areas in South Africa are still suffering, right now everything is about football.  Problems such as poverty stricken homes and jobless citizens still exist, but they are being put on hold for a very important event for South Africa.  During the game between Mexico and South Africa, over 3,000 locals gathered in a park to enthusiastically watch the game. The World Cup has greatly improved the moral of South African citizens. 

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Indonesia and Vietnam have decided to team up to boost their local tourism. The two countries already have put effort into increasing the trade between them.  Indonesian companies have invested in over 20 different projects in Vietnam. Now, they want to continue into the tourism industry.

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A Copenhagen hotel is trying to be more environmentally friendly in a very interesting way. If you bike in the hotel enough to generate 10 watts of electricity, you earn a free meal! The goal of this project is to increase environmental awareness in the city. Also, it promotes exercise by combining an aspect of Copenhagen's culture (biking) with the incentive of a delicious meal. A BBC video gives more details on the hotel's creative strategy.

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Who knew a volcanic eruption in Iceland could put such a damper on things?  As airports throughout Europe shut down flights due to the volcanic ash, many business professionals are coming to the realization that they aren’t going to make that 2 o’clock meeting.

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I remember when I was eight years old and traveled with my family to Cancún, Mexico. We stayed in a four-star hotel, and yet still had cockroaches running around the room. It certainly seemed at the time like the star system standards were different between the U.S. and Mexico. As it turns out, there is no world standard for hotel star ratings. Systems for ranking hotels and motels differ from global region to global region, between countries, and even within those countries. What then, can the tourist or international businessperson do to better decipher which hotels are worth staying at, and which ones to avoid?

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Tourism is an area that many countries have been looking at in order to expand their economies and generate more revenues.

A country that recently has decided to expand its tourism industry is India as shown by a BBC video. The country is viewing it as a main generator of future growth. Some important issues that the government needs to address are the lack of enough tourist attractions, and more importantly, to identify its target market. An important question is whether the country will focus on attracting holidaymakers or luxury travelers. This is the first of many choices that need to be made in order for tourism in India to become one of the country's main industries.

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Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. unveiled its new enormous cruise ship last month. It has been named ‘The Oasis of the Seas’, and rightfully so. Onboard passengers will have access to countless restaurants, clubs, spas and bars. They will be able to try surfing, scuba diving, zip lining, or even see a Broadway show. These are just a few of the activities that are available on this colossal ship. Obviously, customers are extremely excited about this new ship.

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Business is an ever changing field due to how Global it is. International business deals are made every day and traveling abroad for business reasons is a typical activity. However, there is one thing to keep in mind every country has a different manner of conducting business meetings. Fortunately, business people around the world are becoming more open to different cultures and thus more understanding to cultural mistakes.

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Each culture has its own set of business customs and rules to live by. By growing up in one culture, it can be difficult to properly acknowledge and understand another. Most cultural errors made by businessmen and women start with simple things like business dress, appropriate conversation, or how to address someone. Since business etiquette varies between cultures all over the world, it is very important to be humble and open to learning. Here are some of the most common errors made by businessmen and women today.

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The Czech Republic is rising as one of the premier tourist locations in Eastern Europe, primarily due to the draw of Prague. Prague, the largest city and capital of the Czech Republic receives over 4.1 million visitors annually. It has served as the political, cultural, and economic base of the Czech empire for over 1100 years. Overall, the income from tourism composes a significant portion of the Czech GNP (5.5%), and makes up 9.3% of its overall export earnings. Tourists that visit the Czech Republic overwhelmingly choose Prague, with over seventy percent of total tourists choosing to stay there. So what makes Prague so appealing to tourists that it can generate a substantial portion of the Czech Republic's GNP?

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Owning a business that operates internationally provides multiple opportunities that a local business may not. On the other hand, all the meetings, trade shows, and other important events you have may not take place near your office. This is where traveling by plane, train or automobile come in. If you manage these expenses properly, you can reduce your company’s costs. Fasten your seatbelts; this could be a bumpy ride.

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China's State Council announced new plans and guidelines that are aimed at promoting the development of the tourism industry over the next five years. This is an attempt to improve the employment rate in the country since the tourism sector consumes fewer resources while generating job openings. The government is hoping that tourism will become a leader industry in the national economy.

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Now-a-days, students have the opportunity to study in numerous countries. Each year, thousands of students travel abroad to enhance their academic and cultural experiences. Open Doors Institute of International Education’s 2009 International Educational Exchange was released on November 16th. It included everything from leading destinations and primary sources of funding to regions and popular fields of study.

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In recent months, there has been a huge cutback in business travelers staying in luxury hotels. With thousands of workers having been laid off, companies who sent their executives to 5-star hotels were being attacked. Since companies have been under scrutiny for unnecessary spending, business travel has been cut back and downgraded to the bare minimum. Now, the international hospitality industry is trying to bring back luxury business travel.

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In the month of June, Chile saw a 22 percent jump in wine exports. This could be due to a rebounding economy. It could also have to do with the fact that Chile is producing more wine than ever, and at a better quality than it ever has. Given the positive direction that Chile’s wine industry is heading, what implications does this have for the economy and other businesses in Chile?

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I thought that hotels were suffering drops below 50% and 60% occupancy in many high touristy areas? What's up with building these highfalutin hotels all over the place?

Well, believe it or not, there are some locations on the globe that aren't suffering such a setback. Places such as Egypt, Dubai, and Panama are really looking at a bright future still. Tourism even increased in Egypt by 15.5 percent from 2007 to 2008. This is where MGM Mirage is teaming with Egypt's New Giza for Real Estate Development to build a brand new MGM Grand New Giza, just outside of Cairo, Egypt. Imagine waking up looking out at those amazing pyramids. Multiple companies around the globe are looking to follow suit.

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The rising stock of Twitter and Facebook as valuable business assets is a surprise to nobody, but just how big of a role they play may be overlooked. Australia, which is currently going through a tourism slump due to the global economic downturn and the swine flu epidemic, is getting a bit of help from social networking giants Twitter and Facebook.

The managing director of Tourism Australia, Geoff Buckley, asserts that Twitter and Facebook are helping to pull the Australian tourism industry through the recession. “Tourism Australia’s activities on Twitter and Facebook are connecting people around the world who have visited Australia and getting them to share their experiences with a community of travelers who are equally passionate about our country.”

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In light of the current state of the global economy, people will want to cut down on expenses, while still enjoying the leisure and relaxation afforded by tourism. Here are the Top 10 2009 Tourism Trends, which include several options for the cash-strapped consumer:

1. Domestic tourism—This year will see a boost in domestic tourism as tourists will go around their own countries more than flying to another. This is one of the cheapest ways to travel and may help balance out the anticipated lack in foreign tourists.
2. Travel to nearby countries—As many people still want to explore countries other than their own, the next best thing is going to neighboring countries where they’re not expected to spend as much as a jet-setting spree. Europeans may go backpacking across their continent; Americans may go either north or south; and Asians may island-hop around the tropics.

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Flying has been the dominant travel option in our lifetimes, mostly due to its speed. However, disgruntled travelers have often been fed up with the long lines, invasive security checks and the occaisonal canceled flight. In light of these issues, another mode of traveling has been attracting customers the past few months – luxury trains.

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It’s nothing new for tourists to visit a place in order to do something that would be prohibited where they live. Whether it’s lower drinking ages, legalized drugs, or legalized gambling, some places thrive off of such tourism. Bahrain, for example, serves as a sort of liberalized haven for many of those living in Islamist Saudi Arabia. The country's lenient drinking laws have attracted Saudi escapists, who in turn contribute nearly ten percent to Bahrain’s economy. So why are Bahraini legislators contemplating scrapping the country’s drinking laws and imposing near-total prohibition?

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There was a time when trains dominated most of the transit taking place in countries such as the United States. Today, high-speed trains are a cheap and effective means to get across many places in the world, like Europe, Japan, and South Africa, and are important conduits of these economies. Yet it still seems that whenever people want to get away on vacation, they either fly to their desired destination or take a cruise. A growing trend, however, is the rising number of luxury trains and patrons that are using them. This trend could change the dynamic of the hospitality and travel industry, as these trains offer both.

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In the current economic downturn, it isn’t surprising to see workers avoiding vacations. Many need the money, and may even be unsure of whether or not they will have a job the next day. But, if they spend all their time working and saving their money, and not spending it, this creates a problem. In Japan, the issue has actually taken a noticeable toll on the economy. Japanese workaholics, or sarariman, often work late nights and stash away their money. Japan, then, needs to find a way to get Japanese households spending their $8 trillion in savings.

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Passport requirements have been a complicated issue for travelers in North America. Starting June 1, 2009, new travel requirements will be implemented by the USA which will consequently have an effect on Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and 17 nations in the Caribbean region. The WHTI (Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative) will require all persons to present a valid passport when entering the USA by land or sea. As of 2007 these requirements have been in effect for air travel. Because of a friendly border crossing agreement, the Canada Border Services does not require U.S. citizens to present a passport when driving to Canada. This agreement used to be mutual, however the USA wants to strengthen border security and standardize travel documentation.

These new regulations will have a tremendous economic effect on the involved nations. Canada will feel the change more strongly than the USA since a bigger percentage of Canadians have passports compared to Americans. The changes will not affect business travel as much as leisure trips. Niagara Falls, Windsor, Toronto, and Montreal are among some of the most visited places in Canada. Furthermore, the summer is a popular period for many who live close to the border to go on camping trips in Canada. During the summer of 2009, however, there will probably be a huge decrease in travel. The WHTI is expected to lower U.S. travel receipts by close to $800 million (compared to data from five years ago) in the two years following full implementation. Furthermore, according to a report prepared by The Conference Board of Canada, U.S. travel to Canada is expected to fall by approximately 3.2 million trips and the Canada-USA trips by 7.4 million. This report however was prepared at a time when the world was not facing a financial crisis. Consequently, it is now expected that travel would fall by even bigger numbers.   

Tourism in North America will most likely face a not so profitable season this summer while travelers try to find their way through the confusion of new travel documents.

 

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The travel industry is certainly not recession proof. As more and more people lose their jobs, and as others worry about theirs, many people are being cautions and choosing to stay home and avoid traveling too much. However, the fact that people still value their holidays remains. In a survey by CheapTickets.com and SmartMoney.com people ranked travel as the second leisure activity they still try to afford.

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Traditionally, Iceland has been one of Europe’s priciest vacation destinations. However, following the recent financial collapse, vacationing in Iceland has become much more affordable. Since the financial crisis, the Icelandic króna is worth less than half its value a year ago, which, as economics tells us, increases the value of other currencies being used in that country. Some multi-night deals are starting at $400, a sign of both the depressed Icelandic economy as well as the desire of attracting foreign currency in order to help jump-start the economy.

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World Time Server - provides current, accurate (atomic clock sync) local time around the world, including adjustments for daylight saving around the world!

Universal Currency Converter - for the top 85 currencies sorted by country name. Data based on live, up-to-the-minute mid-market currency rates.

Worldwide Metric Converter - for length, weight, pressure, volume, and temperature conversions.

World Electric Power Guide - helps you decide where you can and where you cannot use your electrical appliances in the world.

Worldwide Weather Station - for reliable and accurate weather information from around the world.

Online Newspapers Worldwide - find online newspapers by region, or individual countries.

Earth Calendar - a daybook of holidays and celebrations from around the world!

Aerial Photos From Around The World - stunning aerial photos from virtually every country!

These resources were discovered on the GlobeTrade website. Do you know of other useful global resources? Please leave us a note by clicking on the comments link, and we will add  it to this list.

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Medical tourism refers to people who go to foreign countries to get medical help. In recent years, the popularity of medical tourism has been increasing. There are many factors that have contributed to this – high costs of healthcare in industrialized countries, waiting lists in countries with public healthcare, ease and affordability of international travel, and better technology across the world.

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Amidst fears of a global slump, and the assumption that the Middle East will not be immune to it, the property developers of Dubai, located in the United Arab Emirates, continue to build, build, and build some more. As businessmen in the world’s hottest real estate market, who can blame them? Dubai’s annual growth rate has been a steady-near 18% since 2001, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

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Forget the change of socks; business travelers may need to pack a change of laptop. 

In mid-July 2008, United States Customs and Border Protection passed the “Policy Regarding Border Search of Information” concerning the search of information contained in documents and electronic devices.  The Policy sets forth the legal and policy guidelines within which officers may search, review, retain and share certain information possessed by individuals crossing the United States border.  The policy applies to anyone entering the country – citizens and noncitizens alike.

What does this mean for international business people?