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Postcards could be dated back to the Victorian era in the UK. It was the first time that brightly colored photos were sent and received to share the joy of special occasions, travel destinations, and precious memories. However, there has been a steady decline in the sales of postcards, predominately due to the rise of social media and portable technologies. These platforms have led to instant sharing and convenience for postcard consumers.

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The month of September began with a sudden evacuation for many residents of the Bahamas and southeastern parts of the United States. The slow-moving Hurricane Dorian began its course of destruction with severe flooding and winds the first week of September. In the Bahamas alone, authorities predict it will take billions of dollars to repair the damages created by the hurricane. A country can prepare all they can for a hurricane—whether that means boarding up houses and stores, packing up belongings, or evacuating—but an economy can never be prepared for the deadly effects of a hurricane.

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Tourism is vital for the success of many economies around the world. There are several benefits of tourism on host destinations.  Tourism boosts the revenue of the economy, creates thousands of jobs, develops the infrastructures of a country, and plants a sense of cultural exchange between foreigners and citizens.

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Tourism is a crucial factor for a lot of economies and a main source of revenue for most countries around the world. Remarkable growth has been recorded in the tourism industry since 2017. According to a report released by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), international tourist arrivals worldwide increased by 7 percent in 2017. This result was the highest since a consistent percentage of around 4 percent was being recorded since 2010. In the first nine months of 2018, international tourist arrivals grew 5 percent year-on-year.

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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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Helsinki attracts visitors by promising them a vibrant urban culture combined with pure nature. To support its positioning strategy as one of the most sustainable cities in the world, Helsinki has been addressing barriers to a sustainable lifestyle and making sure that the proposed benefits stand apart from those of competing cities. Across the globe, cities and communities are implementing sustainability initiatives and projects targeting greener infrastructure, economic development, zero-carbon mobility, and cultural recreation. But what makes some of these projects more likely to deliver impactful results in the long term? How can some of these initiatives help make communities more sustainable and resilient in the years to come?

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Regardless of the country's size or geographical location, tourism has always contributed to its economic growth and GDP. Governments tend to invest heavily because it brings in profit while increasing the country's reputation. Especially for developing and island countries, tourism dependency is common because other industries, such as manufacturing, may be less developed due to area, resource, or population limitations.

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In part two of this week's leisure industry blog series, we look at current trends in the global recreation and tourism sector.

Recreation and tourism have become a fundamental fraction of economies worldwide. The outdoor industry has become a massive economic force, and it is happening in countries all around the world. According to a 2014 study, in the United States alone, an estimated of 29.7 billion dollars in economic activity and nearly 277,000 jobs came from the pockets of visitors at the national parks. Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, stated in an article released in 2015 that "our national parks often serve as economic engines for local communities, drawing tourists from around the world who pump money into area stores, restaurants, hotels and more". Jewell also emphasized the importance of investing in the national parks across the country, stating that it not only preserves and supports communities, but it also promotes economic growth.

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This week, the globalEDGE blog is taking a look at the leisure industry. Each day, our blog series will explore different areas of the global leisure industry, which includes recreation, entertainment, sports, and tourism. Globally, the industry encompasses a wide variety of businesses and companies, from major hotel and resort companies with locations around the world to small mom and pop shops. With the many sectors and businesses, the industry has a major impact on many economies across the world.

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When more Unites States airlines began to hold direct commercial flights to Cuba, many began to hope that increased tourism would bring more money into Cuba. However, the shortage of basic goods has not improved as tourism increased in the country, as the citizens are now competing with tourists for the scarce food available.

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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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Sweden is a relatively small but prosperous country which is a part of the Scandinavian countries in the Northern part of Europe. The country itself has about 10 million people (roughly the same as the State of Michigan) and an area size similar to the State of California. While Sweden is a unique, wealthy, and equal opportunity country, it is seldom one of the first countries that people think of or plan to go to when they visit Europe. Now, Sweden wants to change that.

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Since Iran refused to suspend it uranium enrichment program in 1979, various international sanctions have been imposed on this country in order to restrict its policies of developing nuclear weapons. The cost of such military development is the loss of the oil production capacity, which decreased from over 7 million barrels per day in 1979 to around 4.2 million in 2003. Iran has realized the need to boost its oil output for economic growth and it has agreed to curb its nuclear program. In July, Iran signed a historic nuclear deal with six global powers to waive the sanctions, which are expected to be lifted in early 2016. The country is now preparing for the expected economic growth in the coming year.

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A devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the South Asian mountain nation of Nepal on Saturday, April 25th. The quake caused almost 25,000 casualties including over 7,500 deaths. The earthquake also triggered massive avalanches in the mountains including one on Mount Everest that killed 19 people. In addition to this tragic human trauma, Nepal will be adversely affected by the economic aftershocks of this disaster for years to come.

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Since last year, the rupiah has lost 10% of its value against the dollar. This is a serious matter following the Indonesian government, despite the fact that the country is currently welcoming delegations to the World Economic Forum. President Joko Widodo has promised stronger economic growth for the country, and has implemented measures to combat the currency decline. The Indonesian government hopes that by lifting visa fees for tourists and changing tax regulations, the value of the rupiah may rise again.

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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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It has been 5 years since Haiti was struck with one of the worst earthquakes in recent times. The country has been trying to bounce back from the devastation and finally the government is saying Haiti is open for business. Foreign investment is a major focus right now for Haiti, as its aid from around the world is starting to dry up. Many international investors are expressing great interest in Haiti, specifically in the telecommunications, manufacturing, and beverage industries.

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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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Globalization is occurring and the world is growing more interconnected and accessible, and as a result it is now easier to travel to other countries. Cultural awareness is increasing, and as a result, tourism is too as people want to experience the culture of other countries. The tourism industry accounted for 9.5% of the world’s GDP in 2013 (U.S. $7 trillion) and currently employs 266 million people worldwide. In perspective, the global tourism industry employs 1 in 11 people on this planet. One aspect related to tourism, that is often not considered, is that with benefits and new opportunities, come new challenges.

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In part 2 of our international tourism blog series, we looked at currency exchange rates and their effect on tourism. In today’s post, we turn to the tourism industry in Sub-Saharan Africa, and its future outlook. For many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, tourism presents a great opportunity for economic growth. Since 1990, the number of tourists arriving in Sub-Saharan Africa has increased by over 300%, and the tourism industry now accounts for almost 3% of the region’s GDP. As more governments realize the industry’s growth potential, the competition for foreign visitors continues to increase, making the next decade an interesting one for the entire region.

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Exchange rates for currencies across the world are akin to a seesaw - they need a balance. As a result, the simplest differences in the exchange rates can have drastic ripple effects on economies due to the economic purchasing power principle. If your domestic currency is trading strongly (weakly) against a foreign currency, you have increased (decreased) your purchasing power and can purchase more (less) just from currency swapping. The effects of currency exchange on purchasing power can be in the form of government policy, such as Japan, or based on the nature of current positive market conditions within the economy like the United States. As you will see, exchange rates can have a drastic impact on tourism globally.

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In 2014, international tourism grew by 4.7%, and strong growth is expected for 2015 as well. In fact, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) anticipates that global tourism will grow by 3-4% in 2015, further aiding in the global economic recovery. 2014 marks the fifth consecutive year with above average industry growth, as the international tourism industry has shown strong resilience following the 2009 economic crisis. In recent years, tourism has been a major contributor to world economic growth, generating billions of dollars in exports and creating millions of jobs. The question remains, will this growth continue into the foreseeable future?

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President Obama began his week-long trip abroad this Monday in Beijing, where he was attending the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. While at the conference, President Obama unveiled a new visa agreement with the Chinese government. The new agreement extends tourist and business visas from one year to ten years, the longest allowed under US law. Student visas are also extended from one year to five years. The visa reforms went into effect Wednesday, November 14th.

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Ethiopia is home to rich natural, cultural, and historical sites, yet the number of foreign tourists it attracts ranks only 17th across the African continent.  There is no question that Ethiopia has the destinations to attract overseas visitors; however, currently it is lacking adequate infrastructure to meet tourists’ expectations.  Ethiopia needs investment to build up its infrastructure and domestic and foreign investors alike are beginning to see the country’s largely untapped tourism industry as an excellent investment opportunity.

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The number of tourists traveling to Beijing, China’s capital, in the first three quarters of this year has dropped by roughly 50%.  The main reason cited for this drastic decrease in tourism is poor air quality.  In 2010, it was reported that air pollution contributed to 1.2 million deaths in China.  Additionally, China spends a staggering 6% of its annual GDP on health care costs, material damages, and premature deaths caused by air pollution.  China must do something to combat this serious issue or risk losing more than just tourists.

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With people finally returning to North Africa and increasing destination trips to Eastern Europe, international tourism worldwide grew four percent in the first half of the year. Over 705 million tourists traveled abroad in this period, and if accomplished it will be the first time that over one billion people have traveled internationally. Areas such as Central and Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and Central America had the highest growth in tourism. Egypt had a large increase after the social problems were solved, and Japan also did after the nuclear contamination concerns were solved. Interestingly enough, countries such as Sweden, South Africa, and South Korea had increases on a smaller scale, but saw the income from tourism increase by over twenty-five percent.

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There is no question that Greece has had some financial struggles lately, particularly in the tourism industry. Greece has so many beautiful attractions that a large part of its economy has relied on tourism for several years. One in five jobs in Greece come from the tourism industry, so when revenue in this sector fell by 15% this past year the economic situation began to look even more grim. 

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As Cambodia furthers itself from the tumultuous ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, topics such as economic development and tourism are receiving more and more attention.  Developers in Cambodia believe that building casino resorts will be highly beneficial for tourism and the economy alike.  Currently, there are 25 casinos in Cambodia, but many of these are small and cater primarily to hard-core gamblers in the surrounding area.  Gambling in Southeast Asia is growing rapidly and Cambodia is seeking to capitalize on this, in hopes of increasing tourism and foreign investment.

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With the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics both being held in Brazil, this large South American country is preparing for a major tourism boost to further advance its economy. Currently, Brazil’s tourism industry is not featured in the global top ten with only five million overseas visitors this past year. There are numerous reasons why Brazil remains a relatively untapped tourist destination but perhaps one of the biggest reasons is the perception of high crime levels. However, with the two major international events around the corner Brazil is looking correct to this problem in order to double the number of people visiting the country and expand its tourism industry.

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For centuries, Dubai has served as a key crossroads for global trade.  The convenient location of the United Arab Emirates between Europe, Asia, and Africa has positioned this growing city to serve as a major logistical intermediary between many foreign markets.  With the development of emerging markets such as China and India, there is a growing opportunity for Dubai to expand its logistical dominance in the modern world economy.  The construction of Al Maktoum International Airport, which will become the largest airport in the world, signifies Dubai’s commitment to this growth strategy. 

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After a strong recovery last year, local and foreign investors are optimistic about growth and investment opportunities in Mexico. The strong recovery in 2010 was fueled by the increase of exports and tourism as well as growth in the mining industry. These factors helped produce an economic growth of 5.5 percent. This was the best result Mexico has experienced over the past decade. Mexico looks to continue this economic growth trend and the good news is 2011 seems to be shaping up just as well.

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Ecotourism is considered the fastest growing market in the tourism industry. What is ecotourism? Defined by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), it is "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people."

Ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. You must have a deep appreciation for local cultures around the globe, which is why I think it's so great. Along with this it provides direct financial benefits for conservation and the local economy and empowerment for local people. Can tourism really do this much?

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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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The European Commission recently funded a five year project that was completed during fall 2009 - the ENSEMBLES project. Its purpose was to develop a prediction system to provide relevant information on climate change and its interactions with society. According to a report submitted by the scientists who worked on the project, France, Italy, and Spain are some of the countries that will most likely experience great changes by the end of the century due to climate changes.