Karl Wöber discusses city tourism at the World Tourism Cities Federation Summit in Beijing

Cheng Hong, deputy mayor of Beijing; Karl Wöber, President of Modul University Vienna

MU President Professor Karl Wöber recently attended the 2014 World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) Beijing Fragrant Hills Tourism Summit in Beijing from September 3-5th, themed ''World Tourism Cities: Market and Cooperation’’ alongside representatives from the 131 member cities and institutions of the WTCF.

The WTCF, a non-profit and international nongovernmental organization, was created in Beijing in 2012 by touristic cities in different countries and regions, with the aim of promoting development and exchanges among themselves.

Prof. Wöber, member of the WTCF expert committee, participated in a panel discussing the opportunities and advantages of collaborations among city tourism networks and stressed the importance of cities and city tourism. It is estimated that by 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities and these city dwellers seem inclined to choose other cities when they become visitors. According to a recent study by European Cities Marketing and Modul University Vienna, city tourism in Europe has grown by 23% during the last 5 years, whereas total tourism in Europe rose by only 8.4% in the same period. From a global perspective, the tourism sector is growing even stronger in other parts of the world; the ITB World Travel Trend Report indicates that the volume of city breaks has increased by 47% worldwide in the period 2009 to 2013.

According to Wöber, the expansion of international tourism will create a new market structure that will provide opportunities for sub-national tourism destinations, while simultaneously international competition will increase. In 1950, 97% of the international market share was concentrated in 15 countries. Today the market share of the leading countries has dropped to 52%, and there is greater diversification thus opening opportunities for other regions and cities worldwide.

Although city tourism is certainly estimated to have a significant contribution to the overall importance of tourism, hardly any study is reporting on the total volume of city tourism and comparing it to overall tourism.

This is particularly surprising when we consider that city tourism management involves an inextricable multiplicity of objectives, decision makers, stakeholders and actions that all need reliable information to make better decisions.  Despite the significant positioning of city tourism in the global marketplace, it is still a relatively immature field of interdisciplinary study and practical expertise. However, a clear understanding of city tourism and measuring its social, cultural, and economic impact can only be improved by intensifying the communication and cooperation between researchers and professionals.

City tourism destinations of any size have long had the desire to not only measure their own performance, but also to compare themselves with domestic and foreign competitors.

At the conference, Prof. Wöber also presented the Tourism Marketing Information System - TourMIS, the most comprehensive city tourism database worldwide, which was developed by Modul University Vienna. To date it is very well-known in Europe, fairly well-known in the US and Australia, but less so in Asia – Prof. Wöber wants to change that!

TourMIS is a collaborative open database where numbers of arrivals, overnight stays, occupancy rates, and capacities of destinations are entered directly into the system by market research specialists in Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) in more than 150 cities. Results are generally compared on a yearly basis, however, if cities provide the data on a monthly basis, up-to-date trend analyses by shorter periods are also provided by the system.

Beside global results, numbers of guests from more than 50 source markets are compared; market volumes and market shares are calculated and benchmarked. This data is then compiled in an annual report based on tourism statistics of 115 European cities in TourMIS and published by European Cities Marketing (ECM). Now in its tenth year, the ECM Benchmarking Report is the most important benchmarking tool and leading report in the field and is regularly extended and improved with the effort of representatives of official city tourism organizations and researchers.