Wednesday, March 23, 2011

International Travel Trends: 2011 and Beyond

Hotelier: After a major slump due to the global downturn in 2009, the travel industry proved its resilience with an unexpectedly strong comeback in 2010. International arrivals increased by six -seven% to 935 million trips — a 2% increase on 2008, proving that tourism has not only recovered from the crisis but is also growing again in real terms.

This recovery is being powered by the emerging markets of Asia, South America and the Middle East, which all experienced double-digit growth rates last year; while Europe and North America in contrast showed only moderate growth in 2010. According to Boeing, air passenger volumes are likely to rise about 5% in 2011.

Tourists Count Their Dollars: Despite the growth in numbers, tourists are still being careful with their money. In 2010, spending by international travellers increased by around 7% to $1.03 trillion but this is compared to a 9% decline in 2009, so it’s still well below the record of $1.06 trillion in 2008. The big spenders last year in terms of international tourism expenditure were China (+22%), Russia (+26%) and Brazil (+54%).

The BRICs Are Coming: Emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) are the tourism markets to watch this year, and destinations must start to market themselves and adapt their products and services to these millions of potential new customers.

Get Smart and Get Social: Social media and mobile technology is set to dramatically change the face of the tourism industry this year. The massive success of smart phones such as the iPhone opens up exciting new opportunities for travel companies. As many as 40% of international travellers now own a smart phone with internet and e-mail access, and over 40% of these users use their smart phones to get destination information or make booking changes during their trip. The travel and tourism industry is already responding to this growth with a flood of new apps such as the Tripadvisor app, and LonelyPlanet interactive city guides for smart phones.

Say Hello to LOHAS: The tourism sector’s new premium customers in the years to come will be ‘Lohas’ — an acronym coined for a new social phenomenon that has emerged over the last decade or so, and it’s increasingly being recognised as a major new consumer movement. Officially standing for “Lifestyles Of Health And Sustainability”, these are people who live and consume in an informed, aware and ethical manner, especially when it comes to health and fitness and to social and environmental issues. Lohas are also interested in spirituality and new technologies. “Lohas are a lifestyle phenomenon discussed as the new premium target group in tourism,” explained Katja Neller, senior consultant with German research company Schober Group.

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