Americans Don’t Like To Commit To Timeshares

When the housing market was strong, American’s believed in a future full of commitment. Buy one car and keep it for 20 years, save and buy a house, marry one person for life.

But the housing crash and ‘foreclosure nation’ we live in now is a reflection of how commitment-phobic people are these days. Cars are being leased instead of bought. When cars are bought, they’re being traded in after just a few years. The average age of people getting married is steadily rising. It now stands at 29, whereas it was 26.4 in 2000.

The X Generation has seen their parents go through hard times, with divorce and unemployment rates climbing steadily over the last 10 years. That has led to a young group of people that are very hesitant to commit to anything.

There is a scarcity in buyers at both the home and automotive levels. With jobs that were solid just 20 years ago (like those in the Post Office or Government) now seemingly tenuous, it’s easy to understand why 30-and-unders don’t want to commit to long-term deals. Even pre-paid phone ownership is on the rise, as discount dealers such as Metro PCS and Virgin have seen great rises in their cellular business. Gyms, viewed by most as expendable income, have stopped offering 48 and 36-month long contracts, and increasinging amounts are offering month-to-month deals.

Timeshare sales are a common impulse buy that has seen a number of factors in its decline. First, people don’t have expendable money to go on yearly vacations to the same place anymore, so they don’t want timeshares. They also come with lifetime commitments, or perpetual contracts that even extend to the children of the buyer. The yearly financial burden of something that is rarely used is the first cut in a budget-conscious family (this is often why cable TV service is being discontinued by many).

These conservative leaning practices are leading towards a decreasing national credit debt. The Federal Reserve said total consumer credit in November 2010 was $2.48 trillion, down 3.3% from 2008.

March Financial Madness

Louisville Cards

Proudly wearing the No. 1 spot.

March Madness is here, the commercial term for the 68-team playoff of Division-1 basketball. The top four seeds, according to the NCAA selection committee, are Kentucky, Michigan State, Syracuse and the University of North Carolina (UNC).

Forbes.com has ranked the 20 most financially valuable teams in college basketball. The biggest names are all there, such as Duke, UNC and Arizona. What may shock you is the order in which they came, or who is No. 1.

They used the amount of money generated through clothing, ticket and concession stand sales; basketball scholarships and academic contributions from basketball related money; and payouts from TV revenue.

The top five are the Louisville Cardinals, the UNC Tar Heels, the Kansas Jayhawks, the Duke Blue Devils and the Kentucky Wildcats.

The Cardinals are worth a whopping $36.1 million, and their coach, Rick Pitino, gets a better paycheck than some NBA coaches. Since 2010, the team has made an almost 40% increase in value, and a profit of over $23 million in 2011 alone.

UNC basketball was the top dog in 2010, and still generates a lot of money for their school and the Atlantic Coast Conference. In 2011 their profit was almost $18 million, and they generated $5 million for the ACC. They lost ACC Championship to the Florida State Seminoles on Sunday, March 11th.

The Kansas Jayhawks have made the Big Dance 23 times in a row and won the 2008 National Title game. They pulled in almost $18 million in basketball profit and are worth an estimated $28.2 million.

The Duke Blue Devils won the Madness in 2010, and have seen their value rise by over 50% since 2010.

The Kentucky Wildcats round out Forbes’ top five. The overall No. 1 seed in this year’s tournament, they actually lost 7% of their value since 2010. They still had a basketball profit of $15.4 million in 2011 and a home attendance of 24,000 per home game. They also paid their coach the best, as John Calipari makes $6 million per year before bonuses.

 

Qatar’s Uprising

Quatar's "Sea Stadium"

Qatar’s image and economy are improving – who talked about this country just two short years ago? They won a bid to host the world’s largest sporting event- the World Cup- and this small country will be the event’s first ever Middle Eastern host.

The stadiums don’t even exist for the World Cup to be held in 2022. Neither do the hotels, timeshares and resorts that will be necessary to house the 1-2 million people estimated to travel to world cups. This is a group comprised of not only the common football fan, but also press, TV crews and dignitaries.

Qatar has gone on a hotel building splurge across its tiny country. The government has planned to build over 90 thousand rooms by 2022. In 2011, only 15,000 rooms were built. Qatar’s government has also pledged $3 billion to renovating three stadiums and building nine new ones, bringing the country’s total to 12. English is spoken wildly throughout the country, as it is taught to youngsters in school. Foreigners are allowed to drink, but natives cannot even touch alcoholic drinks, so there are questions as to how tourists will be served.

There are cons. Qatar is a strict Muslim country, and some female press are complaining about having to wear burkas. The beaches are not clean and tourist friendly, but some of their press says they are a more liberal country than Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates. Also under consideration is that in the Qatar summer, temperatures hover between 107-122 degrees Fahrenheit, conditions that would be deadly to footballers. The very nature of tourism must change, as Qatar carries a strict Visa system.

The Gulf Coast Experiences Record-Setting Tourism Post-Deepwater Horizon Disaster

The Deepwater Horizon on 21 April 2010.

The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon on April 20, 2010 caused extensive damage to the Gulf Coast’s tourism industry. The number of visitors and the amount of dollars spent over that summer was the lowest on record. That was to be expected, but what wasn’t expected was the in 2011. The Gulf Coast saw record numbers of visitors that shattered any year on record, of course including the years before 2010.

British Petroleum (BP) spent $20 billion on cleaning up beaches alone, and now hoteliers and service industry leaders remark how visitors don’t mention the oil spill anymore. BP also gave a total of $150 million to Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi for tourism promotion after the spill. In turn, those states utilized that money to perform extravagant promotions that would’ve been impossible with their previous budgets. In Florida, $80,000 was spent in Santa Rosa County on a sand-sculpture festival. . Okaloosa County had its best-ever June, July and September. In many counties, tourism is up as much as 20 percent over last year. Panama City Beach spent $1 million on a Christmas lights display and almost $200,000 on a prom for senior citizens.

The Panama City Beach area lost a lot during the summer of 2010. They opened a new airport, the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, in May 2010, just a month after the Deepwater Horizon explosion. The lack of incoming tourism that year meant the PCB area was off to a slow start, but apparently 2011 more than made up for it.

On September 14th 2011, the Coast Guard Joint Investigation Team released its final report on the Deepwater Horizon disaster. They found BP, Halliburton, and Transocean all at fault. Despite the horrendous loss of life, it’s good to see the region bounce back and quickly.

BP continues to receive complaints at their online complaint center.

Here at Transfer Smart we are always advising people not to buy timeshares as emergencies such as this one can derail your vacation. While the Gulf Coast saw a record year in 2011, that was a lot of new visitors. Tourists who owned timeshares in the Gulf Coast regions immediately regretted owning timeshares there, and 2010 was a complete waste of money for them. If you need to get out of a timeshare, contact us at Transfer Smart so we can give you the financial freedom you deserve.

Venezuela Travel Guide

Angel Falls

Venezuela remains off the beaten path for the American traveler. Its unusual choice as a tourist destination makes it very easy to find value here, as well as uncommon stories and discoveries sure to amaze your friends back home. Here are some of the ups and downs of traveling to this jewel of South America.

Many agents cut the large country into quadrants when discussing vacation options. Enjoy the vibrant urban center Caracás, the beaches of Isla Margarita, the Andigo Mountains in the west, or the tropical woods of Llanos.

If you choose the urban route, Caracás is known for its salsa clubs and world-class hotels and shopping. There are regional festivals to walk through, arts and crafts to buy, and an eclectic choice of restaurants to visit. Unfortunately, there is a substantially high crime rate here also. Take the local’s advice and avoid certain streets at night and wear jeans around the city instead of shorts to look more like a local would.

The beaches offer surf, fresh seafood, and miles of seclusion and relaxation. El Yague offers one of the best spots in the world for windsurfing, and the isolated beaches of Sucre are worth the effort to visit as you will find crystal-clear water and gold sands. Mochima National Park offers countless islands with protected bays that are perfect for dolphin, turtle and manta-ray snorkeling.

The countryside offers resorts in the middle of the forests, where you can eat fresh papaya off the trees and see monkeys and wild horses. There are also mountains to climb and huge waterfalls, such as Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfall.

Avoid the public hospitals and trade USD with locals as they offer a better exchange rate. Drink Polar beer, the world’s 17th largest distributor of cerbeza. Enjoy soccer matches and premium baseball games. And most of all, have fun while in Venezuela.

Africa’s Best Safari Parks

When Western Travelers think of reasons to travel to Africa, the first one is usually to “safari.” But what is a safari? And where are the best places on this exotic continent to Safari? Transfer Smart has you covered.

A Safari can be any journey or hunting expedition, but since the word has an African origin, it’s usually considered an African trip of that nature. It is from the Swahili word safar, which means “journey” or “trip”. Contemplate these parks when you go on your Safari.

Phinda, South Africa

Phinda means “the return,” and this reserve lives up to the name. A 22,000 acre reserve in the Natal region, the area has elephants, cheetah and lion breeding projects that have been successful. Room and board at their St Lucia resort start at $500/night.

Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Here you can see giraffes, hippos and cheetahs. During July and August, enjoy the “Great Migration,” where 300,000 zebras, 500,000 gazelles and over a million wildebeests travel north from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara grasslands. The Governor’s Camp houses travelers for as low as $250/night.

Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda

Rwanda’s tourism industry is growing, as I’ve written about previously. This specific park was home to Dian Fossey of the Gorrilas in the Mist fame. As implied in its name, there are volcanoes and mountains a plenty to enjoy, as well as the “Big Five” animals: the lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant. Experience these creatures up-close for only a $600 permit. Tours can cost around $2600.

Traveling Asia on a Budget

Pha That Luang, Laos.


As Europe’s economy stabilizes, the euro’s value has increased against the dollar. With this in mind, many American tourists are looking at Asia as a viable place to get a great vacation on a budget. Here are some of the best places to get a big bang for your buck in Asia.

Philippines

Countless miles of coastline as well as upscale shopping and lodging at budget prices put the Philippines at the top of our list. Add in a people receptive to American travelers and you have a great but uncommon destination.

Malaysia

More expensive to visit than Thailand but cheaper than Singapore, Malaysia also offers miles of beaches and friendly people. The food is excellent, and English is
widely spoken.

Laos

Laos is a backpackers dream. The kip has very little value against the dollar, and the relaxed pace screams vacation. The temples, natural beauty and peaceful vibe are a tonic to Westerners.

Cambodia

Many Westerners don’t know what to think of Cambodia. A rampant underground sex trade keeps many people away, but there’s more to see here than that. Investors around the world are building hotels here, and it has more of a modern feel than most of southwest Asia.

Vietnam

Visit the place that most Americans find exotic and dangerous, and you’ll it much more inviting than history would suggest. The current exchange rate is 16,000 dong to one USD, which means the best lodging, food and shopping can all be had for incredibly low prices. Throw in museums, nightlife and a vibrant, youthful energy and you have perhaps the best mix of cheap prices and exciting attractions in all of Asia.