Exhibitors heading for two ITTFA member shows in Asia this spring have been warned that Europe is not yet ready to receive the huge increase in visitors on offer from these markets.
SATTE will be held in New Delhi, India from April 19-22 and COTTM in Beijing, China from May 14-16 - and these are tipped to be the two fastest growing markets for outbound tourism over the next decade.
At World Travel Market in London in November, the WTM Global Trends Report 2006 found that Europe - the main focus for these two emerging markets - was not doing enough to prepare despite already receiving over 14 million Asian visitors.
Euromonitor International, which produced the report for WTM, predicts that the focus will soon switch away from organised groups to a more independent style of travel.
Research manager Caroline Bremner said: “How well Europe will fare in harnessing the boom in Asian tourism depends on how effectively and how quickly European countries meet the specific needs of Asian tourists. It is critical that national tourist offices and governments review their current product offer, filling in the gaps in terms of specific transportation, accommodation and payment needs. European countries also need to assess their service provision, with the aim of offering all tourism services in a range of Asian languages, from tourist guides to menus, as standard.”
Particular weaknesses highlighted in the report include the lack of cash machines outside main cities and tourist areas in some countries, and the failure to translate many tourist websites into Asian languages.
The huge potential of outbound Asian markets was underlined by another speaker at WTM - Marvin Cetron, president of Forecasting International. He predicted that the Asian tourist tide will soon reverse the slow growth in tourism over the last few years.
“Just a few years ago, the international tourism industry in effect served less than 20% of the world’s population, the roughly one billion people who live in the United States and Europe and about 120 million Japanese,” he said.
“We believe that another boom is at hand. In 2003, one study found that 19% of Chinese—247 million people—now qualify as middle class, and their numbers are growing by 1% per year. In India, there are more than 300 million middle class, and their numbers are growing even faster.”
The WTM Global Trends report covers all areas of the world, and other highlights include the following:
? UK - more tourists are travelling singly rather than as couples and families, but are often penalised by higher accommodation charges. Some are looking to meet a potential partner on holiday, while others are looking for adventure.
? America - packages aimed at men-only or women-only groups are becoming popular, plus “babymoons” for couples expecting children, and “grand travel” packages for grandparents.
? Asia - this is becoming the fastest growing destination for gambling, with Macau likely to overtake Las Vegas as the world«s leading gaming destination. Singapore has abolished the ban on gambling and the same may happen in Japan, Taiwan and Thailand.
? Middle East - the huge growth of airlines including Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways is boosting travel to the region, while travel within the Middle East is benefiting from the growth of low-cost airlines.
? Africa has increasing appeal for “extreme and reality tourism”, including visits to former war zones.