Year in focus: a look back at 2013

Another eventful year in the global travel and tourism industry

January

Boeing’s new Dreamliner was hit by a spate of problems during the year. Starting in January the problems ensured it was grounded for a while, affecting new deliveries to Norwegian among other airlines.

Travel companies deepened job cuts and other cost-saving measures. SAS said in January that it would increase its cuts of admin staff to 1,000, while staff reductions were also revealed by ferry company Hurtigruten.

 

February

Thomas Cook signalled the start of a financial turnaround by announcing a fall in losses and hinting at the further sale of assets.

The grand unveiling of the world’s tallest hotel took place as the 355-metre high JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai opened its doors. A second tower should be completed by the end of 2014.

The first in a full year of damaging airline strikes took place at Iberia, where each strike day was estimated to be costing the carrier €1 million.

 

March

A wave of avalanches exacerbated by strong winds and heavy snow hit resorts such as Åre in Sweden, where a skier was killed. Ski resort operators were forced to revise safety advice.

Ballooning safety came under scrutiny after the deaths of tourists in Luxor. The tragedy highlighted legal issues, as clients of operators like Thomas Cook had bought the excursion in-resort, removing liability from the operator.

Meanwhile, Cook revealed a new retail structure, reducing stores by 195 and making 2,500 redundancies. Elsewhere, the Australian entrepreneur Clive Palmer announced plans to build Titanic ll, and Cyprus suffered a fall in bookings due to a financial crisis.

 

April

International Airlines Group got the go-ahead to buy the fast-growing Spanish budget airline Vueling.

Royal Caribbean revealed its designs for Quantum-class ships, featuring sky-diving and bumper cars.

Lufthansa was hit by massive strike action, which grounded 1,700 flights in a single day. It later settled a deal with unions, ending a bitter and long-running dispute.

 

May

The world’s first ABBA museum opened in Stockholm, where modern technology helps visitors get intriguing insights into the seventies Swedish supergroup.

Controversy erupted in Copenhagen when it emerged that the second biggest hotel chain in Denmark, First Hotels, had not been paying rent to the owners of the First Hotel Østerport in the capital for four months. The hotel owners demanded that the chain declare bankruptcy or else pay it €27 million.

At the end of the month, Norwegian’s first long-haul flight took off from Oslo Airport Gardermoen bound for New York’s JKF airport.

 

Summer

In June, tour operators tried to ease concerns about Turkey as anti-government protests raged in its cities, although the country’s resorts were unaffected.

In July, more serious worries arose about Egypt when anti-government protests resumed in Cairo. Sales fell sharply and took months to recover even though the Red Sea resorts remained largely unaffected. The hit on tourism, which used to account for 11% of GDP in Egypt, has greatly affected families’ incomes and livelihoods.

A revamp of the Package Travel Directive was unveiled, which the European Commission promises will bring the law into the digital age, covering another 120 million holidaymakers across Europe.

 

September

Emirates’ presence in Scandinavia was boosted with the launch of flights to Stockholm. Meanwhile, SAS continued what it said was a path to recovery, reporting a 5.6% rise in traffic and revenues up 5.3% for the May-July quarter.

Scandic launched new hotel chain, HTL, aimed at a new generation of travellers. The company said the new concept would offer “the best city centre locations at the best prices, with smart digital solutions and quality design features”. The plan is to have 20 HTLs up and running in the major Nordic cities within five years.

 

October

The US was hit by the closure of 400 attractions following its failure to agree a budget, the new full-service Kristiansand-based airline Fly Nonstop filed for bankruptcy, and Thomas Cook unveiled a new yellow heart logo as it pressed on with restructuring plans.

Air traffic controllers across Europe cancelled a much-feared October strike that would have disabled air transport in the continent and beyond. But French air traffic controllers still went ahead forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights and rescheduling of hundreds more.

At the end of the month, extreme weather returned as a storm with gusts of up to 165 km/h hit the Nordic region and northern Europe shutting down air and rail services.

 

November

On a bus travelling between Årdal and Tyin in western Norway, a 31-year-old asylum seeker from South Sudan killed two passengers and the driver with a knife before stabbing himself.

The central Philippines was hit by a “super typhoon” that flattened many areas and left around 7,000 people dead.

An update of European aviation safety guidelines recommended that passengers be allowed to use smartphones and tablets for take-off and landing as well as the rest of the flight. A similar message had been conveyed in the US the previous month.

Unrest in Bangkok threatened tourism in Thailand in November and December. But in India it was revealed that Swedes, Norwegians and 40 other nationalities would be eligible for automatic visas on arrival.

 

December

The travel industry awaited a preliminary report on where London’s next runway would be built.

While Ryanair announced that it would axe many routes in Scandinavia, Norwegian said it would establish yet another new base, in Barcelona in spring 2014, and acquire two “newer, bigger” Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.

 

TTG Nordic / TTG Digital

[pictured: Taksim Square, Istanbul, June 2013; photo by Fleshstorm]


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