Travel trend report comes to ITB

The World Travel Trend Report for 2005 and prospects for 2006 will be presented at the ITB Convention in Berlin this coming March.The annual event—known as the ITB Berlin Message—is scheduled to take place in the context of the Future & Innovations Forum, in Hall 7-1a, New York 1, at 16.00h on Friday 10 March.

And if past events are anything to go by, it will no doubt be one of the most eagerly awaited events of the ITB Convention.

The World Travel Trend Report is based on the World Travel Monitor - the only survey to monitor outbound travel in 52 key source markets around the world using a common questionnaire - as well as on the discussions and debates of industry leaders and heads of research at the annual Pisa Forum held in October/November 2005.

Rolf Freitag IPK International’s founder and president - will provide an update of the trends first identified in Pisa for the media and other participants.

“We are delighted to be able to welcome Rolf Freitag back to ITB this year and are honoured to be the first forum at which IPK will share the complete World Travel Monitor results for 2005,” says Professor Dr Roland Conrady, Academic Director of the ITB Convention.

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Preliminary indications published in the World Travel Trend Report, and expected to be confirmed by Mr Freitag during his presentation of the annual Berlin Message, suggest that tourism enjoyed another year of sustained recovery, and that international arrivals, or outbound trips, increased by between 5-6% over 2004.

“A number of long-haul destinations recorded double-digit increases out of Europe from January through August,” says Mr Freitag, “among which China, Singapore, Cambodia and Vietnam.”

But the best growth last year in Europe is sure to have come from the city-trip sector, up 15% in trip volume in the first eight months of 2005 - following a 12% increase in 2004. Driving the growth for the second or even third year running was the boom in low-cost/no-frills airline travel, which is now the major factor dictating how European countries perform as tourist destinations.

Recovery of US market, but Europe continues to lose share

As for long-haul markets into Europe, the trends of the first eight months of 2005 published in the World Travel Trend Report are expected to have been sustained through the whole of last year. US outbound travel appears to have ended 2005 up around 7% (based on trends through the first ten months), although the growth trend to Europe was more modest at +5%.

More importantly, Europe’s share fell from 30% in 2000 to 30% last year and appears to be stagnating. And for individual countries in Europe, the trend is similar.

The UK’s share is down from 10% to 7%, and that for France and Italy down from 5% to 4%. Only Germany has bucked the trend, up to 4% from 3% in 2000.

There is more bad news. Leisure travel is the only sector showing growth in the US market, according to research by DK Shifflet & Associates presented in the World Travel Trend Report, and most of this is thanks to a growth in travel demand among the Generation X age group - those born between 1965 and 1980. Baby boomers, on whom expectations were so high a few years ago, have actually recorded a decline in international hotel roomnights - due to a case of ‘American Angst’.

Terrorism, the Iraq war, economic challenges and the impact of oil price rises on household spending are just a few of the concerns plaguing potential American travellers today.

Mixed results for Japanese outbound travel

What about the Japanese? After several difficult years, the Japanese market to Europe finally rebounded in 2004, with many destinations enjoying good increases in arrivals growth.

But preliminary results for 2005 are disappointing, with overall outbound trip volume up only abut 3.5%.

More significantly, the market has changed and is now much more sophisticated than it was even five years ago.

The FIT (independent travel) share of outbound trips, for example, rose to 45% in 2004 - from only 20% in 2000.

The Japanese outbound travel market is also a lot less predictable than it used to be. Only a few years ago, the growth in annual trip volume could be assessed based only on GDP growth and the exchange rate.

This is no longer the case. One of the main reasons for this is that concerns about safety are widespread.

The JTB Foundation shared a number of case studies with the Pisa Forum participants, which are presented in the World Travel Trend Report.

They demonstrate how tour operators in Japan have succeeded in developing successful tour programmes targeting different niche markets that offer better than average growth potential.

These different tours offer Japanese the opportunity to experience the lifestyle of local people at the destinations they visit - a new requirement of the more mature Japanese traveller.

Among the most successful tour programmes have been tours to different Christmas-market cities in Germany, which have become increasingly popular with Japanese tourists. Even during the crisis years of 2001-03, when Japanese outbound travel declined and Europe lost share, these tour programmes attracted growing numbers of participants.

More details about both European and world travel and tourism will be available after the ITB Berlin Message presentation on 10 April in an update of the World Travel Trend Report to be published jointly by ITB and IPK.

“The report will summarise the IPK presentation,” says Professor Dr Conrady, “as well as providing additional background information on key markets and sectors identified by IPK International’s World Travel Monitor.”
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