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Worldwide economic slowdown, conflicts and terrorist attacks, and the European refugee crisis, apparently seem to have their impact on the global travel & tourism industry. However, when we look at the actual trend, the industry has maintained its growth despite all the adversities. A report from IPK International World Travel Monitor, 2015 reports a 4.5% growth in actual outbound trips in 2015, with a healthy increment of 4.3% estimated for 2016.
Outbound travel is primarily fueled by Asia Pacific and North America. Germany, as a country is the ‘world travel champion’ – a leader in outbound travel. The United States follows Germany and continues to be both a leading source and destination for travel. China enjoys a leadership position in the travel industry, being next only to USA in terms of spending.
The European economy has improved slightly from 2014, primarily due to the growth of Germany. Overall, the forecast for Europe is a net growth of 2.8% in outbound travelers. While Europeans have maintained their momentum, they are likely to travel to safer destinations, avoiding the zones of conflicts and terrorism. Also, there is good growth in inbound travel to Europe, and the expected growth is between 3 to 4 % in 2016. Travelers from China and Asia Pacific countries, USA and Japan are all keen for travelling to Europe.
Economic growth has slowed down to a certain extent in Asia Pacific, but, despite the slowdown, the number of travelers have only increased and the projected growth of 6.3% for outbound travelers is on expected lines. The growth rate as per IMF report for 2015 shows that India’s rate of growth is highest at 7.6%, ahead of China, and therefore, outbound travelers from and to India are expected to increase.
While North America is expected to show good growth in outbound travel, South America’s 1.9% growth is a cause for concern. About half of South America’s outbound travel market is catered to by Brazil and Argentina. Traditionally, South Americans travel internationally within the same region. One international event which could improve the percentage of international travel to Brazil could be the Olympic Games planned to be hosted in the city of Rio de Janeiro this year. The last Football World Cup in Brazil in the year 2014 caused more than half a million visitors to Brazil, and this trend is expected to be seen during the Olympics.
The Middle East travel market is one of the fastest growing markets and countries like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) are leaders in this area. The region is noted for travelers with deep pockets, who usually travel for long durations (with average trips for more than 14 nights). Also, more than 30% of travelers are immigrants travelling to meet friends and relatives. Inbound travel to Middle East has been seriously hurt due to the ongoing conflicts in that zone.
Last, but not the least, social media plays a vital role in international travel today. 70% of international travelers are active users of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Google+. About 30% of the international travelers actively use social media for planning their trips. Marketers would do well to be creative with innovative approaches, so as to influence this section of buyers to plan their trips.