The global tourism market is expected to reach $637 billion this summer, an increase of 50 per cent, according to forecasts by ITB Berlin and Statista. The study says long-term changes in travel behaviour due to Covid will not affect decision-making and destination choices, whilst the war in Ukraine is unlikely to severely impact the travel industry.
The ITB Berlin and Statista study, Statista’s Mobility Market Outlook (MMO), forecasts that the global travel industry will grow by a projected 48 per cent, reaching $637 billion in 2022. In 2023 it will overtake pre-pandemic levels by around five per cent, reaching almost $756 billion. In 2022, the highest growth rate is forecasted for the cruise industry (180 per cent year-on-year) and the hotel trade (57 per cent). The hotel trade represents the largest tourism market segment and will likely exceed private accommodation and holiday apartments as well as package tours. At the same time, the MMO predicts that the market for private accommodation and holiday apartments will exceed $81 billion in total turnover, only two per cent short of the market volume in 2019.
War in Ukraine unlikely to severely impact the travel industry
As these forecasts do not take the impact of the war in Ukraine into account, the question is whether it will affect the global travel and tourism industry in the long term – and if so, in what ways? According to an analysis by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), apart from the coronavirus pandemic, the events with the biggest long-term impact on global civil aviation were the combination of the dotcom bubble bursting in 2000 and the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. In 2001 and 2002, global air passenger numbers declined year-on-year by one per cent, briefly interrupting the growth trend in air travel, before returning to and exceeding pre-crisis levels in 2004. According to data received from the UNWTO, in 2019 Russia and Ukraine, the two countries currently at war, accounted for three per cent of global tourism spending on international travel. Assuming the war does not spread to other regions, it is unlikely that it will severely impact the global travel industry. However, it is possible the crisis could have a bigger impact on individual markets. In Cyprus, according to the finance minister Konstantinos Petridis, Russian tourists account for around 25 per cent of international visitors. Their absence could cost the country up to two per cent of GDP. According to Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, last year his country was host to more than 4.5 million Russian tourists and two million from the Ukraine – together almost 30 per cent of the foreign visitors holidaying there. Unlike Cyprus, the Turkish government has yet to impose sanctions on Russia, so it is unclear how heavily Turkey’s tourism industry will be affected.
Holidays are back: airlines can expect record business this summer
Despite the crises, Germans appear to have rediscovered their lust for travel and holidays. According to Statista’s Global Consumer Survey (GCS), more than 62 per cent of Germans are planning at least one trip over the next 12 months. In an interview with the trade magazine watson, Dr. Bernd Eisenstein, director of the German Institute for Tourism Research, interpreted this as the market catching up again: “During the period of wide-ranging restrictions there was a pent-up demand for travel which is now really asserting itself.“ This effect is noticeable in a different segment of the market too. According to the German Aviation Association, the number of passenger seats now available to the tourism market has risen by three per cent compared with summer 2019. In an interview with Deutsche Presseagentur, Jens Bischof, head of the market leader Eurowings, said: “After two years of the pandemic, millions of people finally want to catch up on their holidays or meet important business contacts face-to-face again.“ That was why, starting in March, his airline would be flying to more destinations than ever before. According to Eurowings, the focus of holidaymakers is on the Mediterranean. Among the most popular destinations are Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy. European destinations are generally high on the list of German holidaymakers. According to the GCS, 54 per cent of people travelling this year plan to holiday in Europe and 18 per cent in Asia, which ranked in second place.
Covid has changed a lot – but not everything
It is no secret that the pandemic has fundamentally changed holidaymakers’ travel behaviour on both the domestic and international markets. According to the GCS, the pandemic has influenced the travel behaviour of 90 per cent of travellers in Germany, the UK and the USA. This impact would seem to be long-lasting: only 31 per cent of interviewees do not believe that the changes in travel behaviour will be permanent.
However, some things will stay as they are. As the flight schedules of Eurowings in Germany and the findings of the GCS seem to show, the reasons for choosing a destination have hardly changed. In 2022 as in 2019, the five most important criteria listed by Germans for a holiday destination are the weather, nature, personal safety at one’s destination, local attractions and the price. As far as prices go, 36 percent of interviewees in Germany want to spend more on holidays than before the pandemic, 31 per cent the same amount, and 31 per cent aim to spend less. Specifically, 50 per cent of travellers plan to spend more than 2,000 euros on themselves and, where applicable, their family, while 17 per cent actually plan to spend over 3,000 euros. Ultimately, the tourism industry can expect business to return during the summer, and in some markets and at some destinations it will already reach pre-pandemic levels.
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