Where the People Are: The Most Visited Attractions
Summertime is travel time. In the travel industry, it is critical to determine where people will be traveling and business need is greatest. Data tracks this information to help inform forecasts to help determine where businesses should put future operations.
Take, for example, a hotel owner considering expansion. In order to ensure that the owner makes a profit at the new location, it needs to be determined where the most profitable location is most likely to be, and if the business fits in that area. If they are looking to attract families and vacation travelers, versus business people and convention-goers, they may want to collect data on attendance at theme parks and other vacation hot-spots to help inform their decision.
One place that may be ripe for a new hotel or restaurant is near a theme park. Theme park attendance around the world is on the rise. A report by the Theme Entertainment Association (TEA) shows that worldwide attendance increased more than 5% at theme parks between 2014 and 2015. During the ten-year period from 2006 to 2015, the data shows that attendance at the top 25 theme parks has increased 26% (or 2.6% annually on average).
It is no surprise that the most-visited theme park in the world is the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. In 2015, TEA reports, approximately 20.5 million people went through the Magic Kingdom gates, a 6% increase over the 19.3 million visitors in 2014. The second-most visited theme park was Disneyland in Anaheim, California, with 18.3 million visitors, up 9% from the 16.8 million guests in 2014. Rounding out the top three theme parks is Tokyo Disneyland in Japan. Even though attendance was down by 4%, the park still attracted 16.6 million people. Altogether, Disney Parks around the world had 137.9 million visitors, up 2.7% from 2014, and Disney had 10 of the 20 most-visited theme parks in the world.
Disney also had two of the top three water parks in the world. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, both in Orlando, were second and third with 2.3 million and 2.1 million visitors, respectively. Both of these parks saw 5% increases in attendance. Number one was the Chimelong Water Park in China with 2.35 million guests, up 4.1% from 2014.
Given such data, a hotel chain, restaurant or any other business looking to capitalize on large numbers of people coming to vacation would consider Disney as the big draw. While they may not open for business in every city in which Disney operates, they would be well off to consider any city in which Disney operates a theme park, water park or other big attraction. Of course, they must consider the competition in the area and other factors, such availability of land or buildings and taxes, but being in a high-traffic area can bring in long-term profits that would be worth the upfront costs.
Natural Wonders and National Parks
While theme parks and water parks are man-made attractions, nature provides many wonders that people love to visit. In the United States, the 410 sites of the National Park System attract hundreds of millions visitors each year (307 million in 2015, an increase of 4.9% from the previous year). The Grand Canyon in Arizona and 10 other national parks had over million visitors each. Data is collected by the National Park System’s Visitor Services Project (VSP). The VSP uses surveys that ask visitors about their reasons for visiting the parks (such as for a local day trip or for overnight camping) and how they spend their money at the parks (e.g., transportation, admission, souvenirs and food). The Park System uses this data to determine the economic impact of visitors to our national parks. Nearly $17 billion was spent at the national parks, supporting conservation and species protection activities as well as invigorating the local communities and providing 295,000 jobs nationwide.
With the increasing number of people traveling to national parks, it would be wise for business owners to consider catering to those who travel the roads to these parks and those who stay in and near the parks. However, in keeping with the spirit of national parks, these businesses also have to consider the costs of being eco-friendly and not marring the natural/organic beauty of the parks. Businesses in and around national parks should look to enhance the experience of visitors, instead of detracting from them.
As travel and tourism continues continues to grow, you may be interested in pursuing a data science career in the travel industry. Learn more about a degree in this area.