Three letter words like “war” and four letter words like “SARS” had Asia’s travel industry in fits earlier this year. Fortunately, the end of 2003 is seeing many positive descriptions thrown around - like “recovery”, “growth” and “expansion”.
travel information is indicating that some of the weakest markets of 2003 are stronger than ever, and those markets that have consistently done well, are proving to be as reliable as ever.
Since June, monthly bookings in 2003 have surpassed 2002 bookings for the same period. In October, Abacus handled nearly 3 million bookings, a 12 percent increase over 2002.
One of the trends that is also changing the face of travel in Asia is the impact of corporate travel. This is despite the tightening of many corporate travel and entertainment (T&E) budgets. Now more than ever companies have more options to assist them in reining in their T&E budgets.
Dormant markets return, the strong get stronger
This time last year, terrorism concerns were top of mind for all travellers. The Bali blasts were impacting on travel to and around Southeast Asia and rumblings of war in the Persian Gulf were in the formulation stage.
p>As a result, travel from Asia to the Middle East came to a standstill. Travellers were concerned with their safety and airlines redirected and cancelled flights throughout the Middle East. By March, numbers had bottomed, but slowly the recovery commenced. In October, Abacus bookings to the Middle East from Asia were 90 percent higher than for October 2002.
“Travellers are adept at assessing risk. This is good - they know their own risk thresholds and adjust accordingly. Travellers reduced travel to the Middle East at the first sign of concern, which is expected. They also tend to return quickly once risk is mitigated. The rapid return to the region reflects this,” said Abacus President and CEO Don Birch.
Other markets continue to thrive in 2003. India and New Zealand, two markets that have a very strong traveller base, continued to travel. Abacus bookings out of New Zealand are up more than 32 percent over 2002. This reflects both strong pent up travel demand and increased marketing efforts by Abacus.
“New Zealand is a market experiencing tremendous travel growth. The travel industry is recognising this - Great Britain has made strong efforts to attract travellers to New Zealand. We are also working closely with travel agents there to ensure they are doing everything they can to meet demand,” Mr Birch said.