World Travel Market 2013: Challenging Times For The Global Tourism Industry:

“Travellers are not criminals but should be treated as customers to a country”. So declared David Scowsill, President & CEO of the World Travel  & Tourism Council (WTTC) in London on November 4th to an audience of tourism ministers from G20 nations. Their Governments, he added, should make it easier for people to cross borders, as this has been proven to “ create jobs and encourage economic growth”.

His remarks coincided with the opening of the World Travel Market (WTM) at London’s Excel Centre (4th-7th November). Although the organisers have not yet audited the attendance figures for this year’s event, they are confident that these will exceed the turnout at WTM 2012 – which “generated more than £1,859 million worth of business, attracted 28,000 buyers & trade visitors, featured 867 exhibitors, was covered by 2,766 members of the press and reached a combined international audience of more than 20 million people.

The WTM’s “Global Trends Report 2013” detects a definite improvement in the industry after several years of crisis: “Tourism flows and spending from the US, Japan and Europe are returning to growth”. Equally significant, the economic potential of the ‘BRIC nations’ (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and other ‘emerging markets’ (such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and Argentina) is “expected to drive a positive performance of the global economy over 2015-2017”.

The Report acknowledges that “hotel sales in Europe are still suffering stagnation due to continuing austerity and consumer caution”. In the Middle East (which experienced a 4.3% recovery in travel and tourism in 2012), the ‘Gulf markets’ have “benefited from the strife in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon”. Although currently “only 6-7% of global cruise passengers are from Asia”, this is expected to increase rapidly to 20%, with China becoming the second largest cruise market after the US by 2017.

The WTM’s “Industry Report 2013” notes that the UK  “has the highest rate of air tax in the world, some 400% more than most other EU countries”. Its  “controversial Air Passenger Duty” (APD) – the further you go the more you pay – will rise again as from April 1st, with the result that 39% of British holidaymakers “will only consider short-distance destinations”. The UK travel sector is concerned that this increase will also have a detrimental impact on incoming tourism – especially from China.

As for Latin America, Brazil  “is targeting 500,000 more visitors for the World Cup in 2014 and a further 15% for the 2016 Olympics”. According to “Travel Trade Caribbean” (TTC), Central America “ should receive 9.9 million international tourists this year” (6.1% up on 2012) – a large proportion (2 million each) going to Costa Rica and Guatemala. According to WTTC statistics, Brazil’s travel & tourism sector contributes 3.4% to the country’s total GDP (Gross Domestic Product). In Ecuador: 2%; Venezuela (3.1%), Argentina (3.5%), Colombia (1.7%).  By comparison,  the figure for the UK is 2.4%.

The American novelist, Regina Nadelson, has been sceptical about the attractions of travel. The “best parts” (she has asserted) are the “anticipation and remembering”. The reality however, “has more to do with losing your luggage”.



Filed under: Society, Travel | Posted on November 12th, 2013 by Colin D Gordon

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