Key insights from the world of travel have been revealed in the fourth World Travel Market Industry Report, released today (Monday 4 November) at World Travel Market (WTM), the leading global event for the travel industry.
The World Travel Market 2013 Industry Report offers a unique perspective on the state of the travel and tourism market, as it surveys the opinions of senior industry executives, as well as UK holidaymakers (all of whom have been on at least one seven night holiday – either in the UK or overseas – in 2013).
The survey quizzed 1,277 top executives attending WTM 2013, and a nationally representative sample of 1,001 UK holidaymakers.
Pollsters asked about controversial issues such as Air Passenger Duty and airport expansion, key trends such as the rise of the BRICS and online developments, and more light-hearted travel topics such as favourite celebrity passengers:
• The Government’s appetite for increasing Air Passenger Duty (APD) is continuing to have an adverse effect on both the inbound and outbound holiday markets, and threatens the legacy of the London 2012 Olympics. Seven out of ten (71%) senior industry executives predict that the next increase in 2014, just one year after the previous hike, will have a detrimental effect on business. Meanwhile, nearly half (41%) of holidaymakers polled by WTM will change their holiday plans because of the controversial tax’s next increase on April 1, 2014.
• No-frills airlines could introduce business class perks for UK holidaymakers who are prepared to pay as much as £350 for an upgraded inflight experience. Middle Eastern budget carriers such as Jazeera Airways and Flydubai have pioneered ‘low-cost business class’ travel, and now 87% of senior travel and tourism industry executives believe the hybrid model will spread around the world. More than a fifth of the UK holidaymakers polled by WTM said they would pay extra for a seat in a no-frills business class section.
• One in three UK holidaymakers have no intention of going on a cruise holiday despite tens of millions of pounds being spent by the cruise industry on TV advertising, sponsorship, travel agency partnerships and celebrity endorsements. However, 39% of the holidaymakers polled by WTM who had not experienced a cruise said they would be interested in trying one – and a quarter (23%) said they had been on a cruise and enjoyed it.
• Tourism in London and the UK is seeing a massive boost from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games – despite some pessimism in certain sectors ahead of the events. Almost two-thirds of senior industry executives say there has been an increase in demand for London after the sporting extravaganza, and more than half say demand across the UK is up too. These positive indicators have led to companies boosting their capacity for London and the UK.
• The feel-good effects of the London 2012 Olympics look set to ripple outwards to Rio’s Olympic Games in 2016. Almost four out of ten (39%) of the senior industry executives polled say they are more likely to sell holidays coinciding with Rio event. Also, 18% of UK holidaymakers surveyed say they are more likely to attend the Rio Games following the success of London 2012.
• The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and baby Prince George have been voted the most popular parent-and-baby combo to sit next to on a flight. The second most popular celebrity family is the Beckham clan – David, Victoria and their four kids. Other famous parents appearing in the popularity poll were Beyonce Knowles and Blue Ivy; Alesha Dixon and her baby Azura Sienna; Kim Kardashian with little North West; and Simon Cowell and his yet-to-be-born baby boy.
• UK holidaymakers have been left cold by 2013’s summer heatwave, with almost two-thirds saying it won’t make them more likely to ‘staycation’ in the UK next year. When asked where they had holidayed in 2013, the UK topped the list, followed by Spain and France. Industry bosses seem optimistic for the domestic market, however, thanks to the post-Olympic feel-good factor.
• TripAdvisor and similar peer review websites continue to have the single biggest impact on how UK holidaymakers plan their holidays. Other factors in the decision-making process include personal recommendations, tourist board websites, guide books, specialist travel magazines and newspaper travel sections. Much further down the list of influences were travel agents.
• The threat of a £60 fine for a rule-breaking term-time trip is not a deterrent for more than a third of parents. News of the ‘zero tolerance’ policy hit the headlines over the summer, in advance of the new rules which came into force in September 2013. But parents are prepared to face fines because of the price differentials for holidays taken in term time compared to the hefty rates charged during school holidays.
• Nearly half of the senior industry bosses surveyed by WTM believe London’s position as a leading global business and tourism hub is under threat as rival airports, such as Istanbul and Dubai, are rising in importance globally. Just over half agree that London and the south east need extra runway capacity, with a third runway at Heathrow being the favoured option. Furthermore, the poll reveals members of the public are not optimistic about politicians’ ability to tackle the airport capacity problem.
• Asia is poised to become a global travel and tourism leader, with almost one-third of the countries tipped for tourism potential being Asian nations. The nine Asian countries which the industry said are up-and-coming powerhouses are (in order): China, Vietnam, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Cambodia and Philippines.
• China remains the most important emerging economy for the global travel and tourism industry – but some industry bosses at World Travel Market admit that their attention is no longer focused on the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). With China’s population now estimated at 1.354 billion, the Chinese are the most important BRICS market in terms of outbound travel. Also, the country is the most popular of the five in terms of its potential for inbound tourism, followed by Russia, Brazil, India and South Africa.
• Guide books still have a place in the hearts and minds of UK travellers despite the dominance of digital information. Guide books compared well with other traditional sources such as newspaper travel sections and specialist magazines but blogs appear to be struggling to gain widespread adoption.
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