WASHINGTON, DC— Dr. Suzanne Cook, senior vice president of research for the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), gave her much anticipated industry overview and forecast at TIA’s Marketing Outlook Forum in Hollywood, Florida. After falling nearly 6 percent last year, domestic and international travel spending continues to be soft and isn’t expected to recover to record 2000 levels until sometime in 2004.
“We can expect a long, slow road to recovery for the travel and tourism industry, and even when it does come, this does not mean we will necessarily return to the way things were before September 11,” remarked TIA’s Dr. Cook. “Travel demands, patterns and expectations may have been changed for the long-term. And despite continued slow growth in the leisure travel market, this recovery is fragile and could be choked off by any number of new developments.”
Domestic and international travel expenditures dropped $33.3 billion in 2001 to $537.2 billion (-5.8%). Expenditures are forecasted to decline another $1.9 billion in 2002 to $535.3 billion. The industry will see a 5 percent gain in domestic and international travel spending in 2003, to $560.1 billion. Another 5 percent gain is projected for 2004, to $588.2 billion, finally exceeding 2000’s record level of spending ($570.5 billion).
Already depressed, business travel continues its downward spiral. After experiencing a 3 percent decline in 2001, business travel is forecasted to fall another 4.3 percent this year. It’s expected to stabilize in 2003 with a gain of less than 1 percent, followed by a 1.5 percent gain in 2004. However, even by 2004, business person-trips are likely to remain about 6 million below the levels of 2000.
There were a few bright spots in the industry’s struggle to recover, including cruising, RV travel and a slowly increasing domestic travel volume.
Highlights from Dr. Suzanne Cook’s presentation:
? Overseas arrivals to the U.S. are still depressed, down 17 percent in second quarter 2002 over the same time frame in 2001. Three of the USA’s largest markets saw precipitous drops in arrivals in the second quarter of 2002, the most recent data available: Japan (-21%), Brazil (-20%), UK (-13%).
? Leisure travel is up 3 percent in 2001 and up 2 percent in the first half of 2002. Americans are getting back to basics and are changing travel patterns. There’s a heightened preference for domestic travel and trips closer to home (in-region trips up 8% in the first half of 2002).
? Cruise travel has rebounded dramatically—increasing 3.8 percent in the first half of 2002; well on its way to meeting a full-year target of 7.4 million cruisers.
? The RV rental market experienced a surge in demand during 2002. Rentals skyrocketed by 30 percent during the last quarter of 2001 and have remained at that level throughout this year.