To help you catch up with all of last week’s top travel and technology news, we’ve picked out the most substantial stories in the news for your reading pleasure.
Travel and Tourism set to outgrow UK economy - Economic growth in travel and tourism is forecast to outstrip the wider economy, making the UK increasingly reliant on the sector, research shows. The industry will grow by 1.3% in 2012 – more than double the rate of growth in the wider economy, predicted to be 0.6% by the International Monetary Fund. This rate of growth means that the industry is expected to directly contribute £35.6 billion and almost 950,000 jobs to the British economy.
Travel and tourism is expected to contribute more than £100 billion to the economy and generate 2.3 million jobs – or 1 in 13 of all jobs in the UK when the wider economic impacts of the industry are taken into account. Around 30 million people will visit the UK this year, supported by the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June, and a cheap pound as the country maintains its position as one of the top 10 most visited nations, according to the report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
The UK industry grew by 4.1% last year – or five times the rate of the economy as a whole. According to the Office of National Statistics, the UK economy grew by 0.7% in 2011.
WTTC President and Chief Executive David Scowsill said: “At a time of significant economic hardship, the travel and tourism industry is helping to beat the recession by generating jobs and growth at a faster rate than the wider UK economy. 2012 is likely to be bolstered by the cheap pound, the continued trend for domestic holidays, and the extra Bank Holiday weekend for the Golden Jubilee. The London Olympics are unlikely to have any significant effect.”
The WTTC’s annual Economic Impact Report shows that the global travel and tourism industry is set for a milestone year as the industry’s direct contribution to the global economy is expected to pass $2 trillion in GDP and 100 million jobs. The report also forecasts that the global industry will grow by 2.8% this year marginally faster than the global rate of economic growth, predicted to be 2.5%.
Travel managers say mobile is here for the long term - Almost half of business travel managers see the use of mobile technologies and devices to organise travel as a long-term trend.
Only 8% consider it to be a short lived development, according to a new study. More than half (53%) of companies around the world allow their travellers to use mobile solutions to check the booking status during a trip or even change it themselves. Another 5% intend to make this possible for travellers in the next 12 months.
Leading users of mobile technology are the US (73%), followed by Australia (63%), Belgium and Scandinavia (61% each). Companies in Germany, Spain and China give their travellers less leeway to use such mobile solutions, the poll of 1,701 travel managers by AirPlus found.
The use of social networks as an information base on the move is closely related to mobile devices for business travellers, the research found. Globally, 27% of travel managers see this as a long term trend while 12% believe it has already established itself. And 40% of travel managers around the world already use social media tools as a source of information for their own business activity, with another 4% intending to use them in the next 12 months.
Travel managers rely on novel analytical tools, market data comparisons, mobile communications and social media for their travel planning and processing, AirPlus International Travel Management Study found. It also found that 58% of travel managers consider that benchmarking their travel expenditure is either an established practice or at least a trend. A total of 42% already use benchmarking tools. Companies in the US, the UK (64% in each case) and South Africa (62) lead the field. A tendency to step up cost analysis and compare costs more precisely can be attributed to the additional costs expected in the future, according to the study.
Only 9% of travel managers believe this is a short lived trend; 34% see it as a long term development and 31% think additional charges have become firmly established in the travel sector. Almost three quarters already factor the additional costs into their budgets.
More than 60 sets of guidelines for its individual Google owned sites were merged into a single policy for all of its services. It means browsing data and web history, which is gathered when a user is signed in with a Google account, can be shared across all of the websites.
Google's business model - the selling of ads targeted on individual user behavior, relies on collecting browsing information from its visitors. Until recently, different services did not share this information. This meant a search on, for example, YouTube, would not affect the results or advertising you would encounter on another Google site such as Gmail.
The new agreement, which users cannot opt out of unless they stop using Google's services, will mean activity on all of the company's sites will be linked. Logging out of Google's services will reduce the amount of data stored by the company, although like many other sites it will still store anonymous data about web activity.
"The CNIL and EU data authorities are deeply concerned about the combination of personal data across services," a regulator wrote. "They have strong doubts about the lawfulness and fairness of such processing, and its compliance with European data protection legislation."
Earlier, Google's Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer said he was happy to answer any concerns CNIL had. "As we've said several times over the past week, while our privacy policies will change on 1st March, our commitment to our privacy principles is as strong as ever," Mr Fleischer wrote in a blog post. The company rejected the regulator's request to hold off on making the changes. Users are being moved on to the new single policy shortly after midnight on 1st March, local time.
Many websites and blogs in the technology community have given guidance for users concerned about how their browsing history will be used. They suggest users can access, and delete their browsing and search history on the site by logging in to google.com/history. A similar page for YouTube viewing and search history can also be accessed. Users can also see which Google services hold data about them by viewing their dashboard.
In preparation for the policy change, Google displayed prominent messages notifying visitors about the plans. However, campaign group Big Brother Watch has argued that not enough has been done to ensure people are fully aware of the alterations. A poll of more than 2,000 people conducted by the group in conjunction with YouGov suggested 47% of Google users in the UK were not aware policy changes were taking place, and only 12% of British Google users had read the new agreement.
The group's Director Nick Pickles said: "If people don't understand what is happening to their personal information, how can they make an informed choice about using a service? Google is putting advertisers' interests before user privacy and should not be rushing ahead before the public understand what the changes will mean."
Facebook commits to mobile growth programmes - Facebook has committed to accelerate its involvement in helping the mobile industry with issues such as payment and operator billing, browser fragmentation and app discovery. Facebook, which is expected to make significant moves into monetising its enormous mobile offering this year, has pledged to a range of initiatives designed to grow key areas of mobile media.
On a company blog, Director of Developer Relations Douglas Purdy, wrote, “We see more people accessing Facebook on the mobile web than from our top native apps combined, so we know the mobile web is important for reach. So why aren’t more people building apps for the mobile web? We hear from Developers that there are three challenge areas that make it hard to build on the mobile web: app discovery, mobile browser fragmentation and payments.”
The social network has committed to work with operators to make mobile payment more streamlined, pushing in-app billing as a way to pay for its credits to boost app downloads. It is also working with device manufacturers, operators and developers via the W3C Mobile Web Platform Core Community Group to try and accelerate the standardisation of mobile web browsers, to make development across the wide range of mobile devices easier and faster. Facebook believes both initiatives will help boost the visibility and discovery of apps that use Facebook on mobile devices.