The strength of global tourism has been constantly tested in recent years, with a number of factors threatening to derail a steady trend of growth.
From economic instability to security concerns, to natural disasters, there’s been a lot to contend with, yet the travel industry has managed to overcome every hurdle. Let’s explore some examples…
In 2015 and early 2016, the world economy was looking rather subdued. Growth in emerging markets and developing economies declined for the fifth year in a row, while China experienced a faster than expected slowdown of progress in imports and exports. Any major development in China results in a spillover effect on the rest of the world where many industries, especially manufacturing and commodities, suffer.
Fast-forward to June 2016 and the Brexit decision in the UK also created a lot of uncertainty for long-term predictions. This is despite a massive initial tourism boost, due to more favourable exchange rates for travellers entering from abroad.
In other regions around the world (while completely unavoidable and unpredictable) natural disasters still have a significant effect on tourism, as people steer clear of any destination that is in a phase of recovery. Horrific events such as Japan’s tsunami, a typhoon in the Philippines, and terrible earthquakes in Nepal, New Zealand and Italy have significant impacts on tourism because the clean-up process can take years, further damaging an already stressed economy.
Global tourism remains resilient
Despite world encompassing challenges, global travel is still managing to record strong growth statistics. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) reports an expected growth of 3.1% in 2016, outpacing the global economic growth forecast at 2.3%.
The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) also states international tourist arrivals grew by 4% worldwide in the first six months of 2016, with the greatest acceleration recorded in Asia and the Pacific.
Projected results are also positive with Asia and North America leading the charge at around 5% and 3% respectively – while Africa will also experience a boom.
There are a number of trends that lay behind these statistics to reflect how and why worldwide tourism is remaining so solid.
Travel Trend #1: Technology is a driving force for travel
Technology can be credited with furthering almost every industry, and tourism is no different. Advancements in technology have made it much easier for people to discover new places, and its potential growth knows no bounds. With an unheralded amount of platforms to source travel information, travellers are taking advantage of their options to book new and exciting trips. No longer do they have to visit a travel agent or stay at traditional accommodation, they can make all their own decisions and be more adventurous with their choice of lodgings.
Connected to this is the simplicity technology gifts travellers when booking their trip and organising their itinerary. With mobile booking becoming increasingly prevalent, travellers can make reservations anytime, anywhere, and customise their plans as they see fit.
These days everything is pre-arranged, keeping the traveller connected to their provider and informed 24/7, allowing them to feel secure and satisfied. Personalised experiences and business-customer relationships are at an all time high. As a result, technology is something hotel’s must continue to invest in if they want to capitalise on the current tourism trend.
Travel Trend #2: Transport is now cheap and less tiresome
Improvements in transport are also a massive factor in encouraging people to escape the confines of their own country and become international explorers.
Plummeting flight prices and package deals have made overseas travel steadily more affordable for the middle-class to take regular holidays. Lower oil prices have allowed airlines to drop their rates, thus increasing demand for flights from people who find it’s now just as affordable to fly overseas as it is to travel around their own country. With so many avenues to secure a bargain and the speed planes can now traverse the globe, flights are no longer the hassle or strain they used to be.
Domestic public transport is also taking a step forward. With a plethora of car rentals, taxi and Uber services, buses, trains, trams, and light rail systems, it’s now a less painful and time-consuming process for guests to commute to and from attractions once they reach their destination.
Travel Trend #3: Travelling is more enriching than ever
Travelling abroad is considered one of the most fulfilling journeys one can take during their lifetime and it’s only becoming more true.
The ability to try exotic cuisines, be immersed in different cultures, take part in new customs, and visit previously unreachable locations has never been more accessible. It’s this variety that has 69% of travellers saying they will try something new in 2016 and is a huge stimulant tor for global growth. Perhaps more interestingly, 17% plan to travel solo for the first-time. This is a segment hotel’s need to put more focus on.
Travel Trend #4: People have the capacity to spend more, and are willing to do it
In the last 50 years, people have become relatively more wealthy. They have more disposable income, and more leisure time in the form of paid leave, allowing them greater freedom with their money and time.
A third of travellers said they planned to spend more on travel in 2016. Those who decided to expand their travel budget said it was because they and their families deserved it (48%) and that it was important for their health and well-being (31%).