Industry News: Sam's Club Launches Travel App, and a Push for International Tourism

Posted by Nelson Oduro on Dec 4, 2014

With only a few weeks until the end of the year, many tourism reports are coming out, as well as companies going into full drive to end the year of well. We start of this week's industry news with the disparity between most visited locations, and most instagrammed locations. Sam's Club foray into the travel industry, and while India is trying to grow international tourism Russia is stifling it.

Most visited vs. most instagrammed

It is no secret that the global tourism industry is cash cow for a country’s economy. International tourism generates more than $1 trillion in revenue each year, and continues to grow. With the year coming to an end and many set to go on holiday vacations, MasterCard Worldwide Insights is releasing the top tourism spots for international tourists in 2014, they use the number of overnight stays by international visitors to determine this list.

The list is dominated by Asian and European countries, with 8 countries from those regions in the top 10. New York the only US city on the list came in 6th place. This is a slight contrast from locations that are geotagged on Instagram. The top Geotagged locations of 2014 is scattered with American locations, with 5 out of the top 10 being US cities. The Geotagged locations are all specific tourist destinations like New York's Times Square and Anaheim's Disneyland.


Sam’s Club Launches Travel App

Sam's Club Travel App Interface

A lot of retailers want to cash in on the growing travel industry, one of them is Sam’s Club. The Walmart affiliate is following in the steps of Groupon and launching its own standalone travel app. Groupon launched an app called Groupon Getaways for iOS and Android users in the US and Canada, a month ago.

The app gives users a chance for same-day bookings, and access to flash deals. Sam’s Club app is very similar, powered by Tourico Holidays it is only available to Sam’s Club members. The app will offer 40,000 hotels as well as vacation homes, flights, car rentals and activities. App users get an additional 5 percent savings when booking. And they will also have a call center to support users with cancellation. Cant wait to see other mass retailers jump into the foray.


India expediates visa application


In an effort to improve their international tourism numbers, India is expediting their visa application process. India has a well documented history of having long overdrawn process when it comes to applying for a visa. The Indian government twice last year switched the company that was overseeing all the visa applications.

The long transitional phase both times added to the bureaucratic red tape one must endure when applying for a visa. India says that is no more. The Indian government launched a “tourist visa on arrival” program for nationals of 43 countries traveling to India for 30 days or less. All applicants need to do is apply online, provide some necessary documentation and a pay a small fee and everything should be processed.

Travelers can come only for “recreation, sightseeing, short duration medical treatment, casual business visit, casual visit to meet friends or relatives.” Hopefully this new initiative spurs tourism growth in the country.


Russia to Limit Inbound Travel

Tourists in Saint Isaac's Cathedral in Saint Petersburg, Russia

In a bold move a bill was submitted to the Russian parliament that may impose bans on foreigners trying to enter the country. The United States and European Union imposed sanctions against Russia earlier in the year for their involvement in the conflict in Crimea.

The sanctions have made it harder for a lot of high profile Russians and businessmen to travel around. Many see the new proposed travel ban by Russia as a payback to the sanctions levied against them. "The draft’s aim is to reach “balanced relations” with foreign countries" said Rizvan Kurbanov, a member of the ruling United Russia party. With a decline in travel and international tourism, Russian travel companies are in for a tough time if this bill passes.


Nelson Oduro

Written by Nelson Oduro

Nelson was part of TrekkSoft's marketing team in our New York Office for three years, paying particular attention to the growth of our digital marketing strategy.

Topics: Tourism trends

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