The All Star Island, Puerto Rico, was the destination for the first event of the year, Routes Americas. The US territory’s aviation market has grown to 8.8 million passengers a year and tourism is vital to Puerto Rico’s economy. It was a high profile occasion with the governor of the island, Alejandro García Padilla, visiting the event on the opening day. Delegate numbers increased by 8% to 700 compared to 2015, making it the most successful Routes Americas to date. The event was hosted by Puerto Rico Tourism Company with support from Aerostar Airport Holdings and Meet Puerto Rico.
The next event was Routes Asia which was hosted by the Philippine Department of Tourism in Manila. The Philippines’ famous beaches, mountains, rainforests, islands and rich cultural heritage are growing in popularity and its ‘tiger cub’ economy is also gaining international attention. Over 900 delegates from 110 airlines and 220 airports and destinations attended, including representatives from Air Asia, All Nippon Airways, Qatar Airways, Philippine Airlines, China Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Japan Airlines and British Airways.
In March it was announced that Routes Asia will head to the Australian city of Brisbane in 2018. The capital city of the state of Queensland, Brisbane is a rising food and arts destination which welcomed one million international visitors last year. The event will be hosted by a consortium comprising Brisbane Airport Corporation, Brisbane Marketing, Tourism Australia, Tourism Events Queensland and Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Kraków Airport hosted Routes Europe in April - the first time that the event had taken place in Poland since it began in Warsaw in 2006. With its booming tourism and travel industries, Kraków was an ideal destination for Routes Europe - the location attracted Europe’s major airlines and a significant number from Asia and North America. Over 1,200 people from 110 airlines, 310 airports and 45 tourism authorities attended the event.
The Routes Africa forum followed in June hosted by Tenerife Tourism Corporation with support from the Canary Islands Government. Closer to the African continent than the European mainland, Tenerife aims to become a connecting aviation hub or ‘logistical stepping stone’ between Africa and the Americas and Europe. Nearly six million tourists travel to the largest Canary Island every year and the event was a great opportunity to show the aviation industry why.
Shortly after Routes Africa took place it was announced that the Basque Government and Basquetour will host Routes Europe in Bilbao in 2018. The Basque Country’s tourist hotspots include the Basque Mountains, the Rioja Alavesa wine region, the resort town of San Sebastián and the 250km of beaches, estuaries, cliffs and fishing villages that run along the Basque Coast. The event will be held in the regenerated city of Bilbao which has been placed firmly on the tourist map since the Guggenheim Museum opened in 1997.
The highlight of the Routes year – the World Routes forum – was held in the boom town of Chengdu at the end of September. The largest city in western China and one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, Chengdu has both a thriving economy and tourism industry - 2.3 million overseas visitors travelled there in 2015 to see attractions such as the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Chengdu is also set to benefit from the International Air Transport Association’s prediction that China’s aviation market will overtake the USA as the busiest in the busiest world by 2024.
The high demand for air services made Chengdu a popular destination for World Routes 2016 – 3,100 delegates from the international route development community made the trip to China to attend the event. One of the most memorable moments was Singapore’s Changi Airport winning the World Routes Marketing Awards in the stunning New Century Global Center, the world’s largest building by floor capacity.
Later in the autumn it was announced that the first Australian World Routes will take place in 2019. South Australian Tourism Commission, Tourism Australia and Adelaide Airport won the bidding process to hold the event in the city of Adelaide. South Australia appeals to visitors as a one stop destination for world class wine, unbeatable produce and unique native wildlife.
The last major announcement of the year was that Steven Small has been appointed brand director of Routes with responsibility for heading the business. Steven joins Routes on 1 February 2017 from Marketing Liverpool where he is currently head of tourism. He previously held senior positions at Marketing Manchester to attract major new events and conferences to the city.
It’s been an incredibly busy year and 2017 promises to be just as full. Here’s what’s coming up:
- Routes Americas (14-16 February) in Las Vegas, USA
- Routes Asia (19-21 March) in Okinawa, Japan
- Routes Europe (23-25 April) in Belfast, Northern Ireland
- World Routes (23-26 September) in Barcelona, Spain
We hope to see you at an event next year!