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Global Travel Market

Profile Photo By: H L
June 7, 2013

Global Travel Market

New York - Aug 5: The Unisphere in Queens, New York on August 5, 2011. A theme symbol of the 1964 World's Fair, dedicated to "Man's Achievements on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe"
New York - Aug 5: The Unisphere in Queens, New York on August 5, 2011. A theme symbol of the 1964 World's Fair, dedicated to "Man's Achievements on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe"

The global travel market is closely linked to the state of the global economy. The travel industry is expected to slow in the next few years due to the state of the economy, rising fuel costs, political turmoil and social unrest. The value of the global travel industry is forecast to reach $1 trillion, accounting for 1 billion ‘arrivals’. The market will be supported by a growing middle class in emerging markets such as China.

Travel is the movement of people between relatively distant geographical locations, and can involve travel by foot, bicycle, automobile, train, boat, airplane, or other means, with or without luggage, and can be one way or round trip.

The global travel industry again proved its resilience and ability to overcome crises this year. Despite many different negative factors, the travel and tourism industry was expected to reach a new all-time high in 2012. Outbound (international) trips increased by 4% in 2012, which is only slightly lower than 2011’s 5% growth figure. This is an impressive result.

The outlook for 2013 is quite respectable, too, even though there is significant uncertainty about the global economy. World outbound travel is expected to grow in the 2-3% range, which would be very solid growth in the present circumstances and would again demonstrate the sector’s proven stability and long-term growth record. The main drivers are likely to be Asia and other emerging markets, but Europe is also expected to show low positive growth in 2013.

World travel trends (change (in %) over respective previous year)
2009 2010 2011 2012
All trips -1 +5 +3 +2.5
Outbound trips -4 +7 +5 +4
Outbound nights -7 +5 +4 +2
spending in ?
-9 +7 +8 +7


Global travel was hit by a diverse mix of bad news and events in 2012, including severe weather around the world, political conflicts, the depressed global economy and soaring energy prices. But emerging markets continued to provide good news with rising salaries and upward mobility combining to generate growing tourism demand, he stressed.

Overall, international trips showed 4% growth through 2012, but overnight stays only increased 2%, reflecting the continuing trend to shorter trips. In contrast, global travel spending grew healthily by 7% to ?875 billion, resulting in a 3% increase in spending per trip and a 5% rise in average spending per night (due to shorter average trips). Asians, South Americans and North Americans spend the most per trip, partly due to higher flight costs, while European spending is lower on average.

The USA remains the world’s top destination for international travel with 56 million visitors, ahead of Spain (51m) and Germany (48m). The other top 10 destinations in 2011 were France, Italy, China, the UK, Austria, Mexico and Turkey.

The internet has now clearly established itself as the main place to buy travel with 54% of bookings, well ahead of travel agencies which have slipped back to 24%. Interestingly, this is a global trend with Asians and South Americans now catching up with North Americans and Europeans in terms of booking via the web.

Asia Pacific again proved to be a reliable motor for world travel with a 7% rise to a new all-time high. One key factor was a very strong comeback by Japan, which registered a 13% increase in international trips after a 7% decline in 2011 due to the impact of the March earthquake disaster on travel demand. China and smaller Asian markets also grew strongly last year.

The continuing upward trend in the global travel industry is due mainly to an economic boom in the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and in other developing countries. Significant income growth in countries such as Russia and India and the emergence of a new middle class in almost every BRIC country has sparked a desire to travel which prevails in times of crisis.

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Source: Matt Bodimeade (2013). Global Travel Market, Jun 06, 2013. Viewed Jun 07, 2013.


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