Consumers around the world are “prioritising” leisure travel for their discretionary spend, leading to a positive post-pandemic outlook for the global tourism industry, reveals new research.
The WTM Global Travel Report, in association with Oxford Economics, is launched today at WTM London 23, the world’s most influential travel and tourism event.
The 70-page report reveals that the number of leisure trips taken in 2023 will be just 10% lower than during the prior peak in 2019. However, the value of these trips, in dollar terms, will end the year in positive territory relative to before the pandemic.
The report explains that pressure on fuel, staffing and finance costs for the aviation sector is one of the factors driving up prices. However, consumers in advanced economies are prioritising leisure travel spend in the near-term, while the overall growth trends for leisure travel in the emerging markets are back in line with pre-pandemic projections.
“Increasing costs combined with potential downward shifts in consumer outlook pose a threat to the industry, but there are currently no clear signs that costs are a deterrent to trip volumes,” the study says.
Demand for leisure travel in 2024 will be “robust”, the report continues, with domestic tourism continuing to perform well.
The long-term growth of the tourism industry is strong. By 2033 leisure travel spending is expected to be more than double 2019 levels. One driver, the report says, will be the significant increase in the number of households in China, India and Indonesia able to afford international travel.
Destinations in line for a triple-digit increase in the value of their inbound leisure business over the next decade include Cuba (103% growth), Sweden (179%), Tunisia (105%), Jordan (104%) and Thailand (178%).
A caveat to the long-term optimism is climate change, although the report says the main impact will be displaced demand and shifts in seasonality.
Juliette Losardo, Exhibition Director, World Travel Market London, said: “ The WTM Global Travel Report takes an incredibly detailed look at how our industry has recovered after the pandemic. It is full of positive indicators that validate the work we have all put in to get travel back on its feet.
“But there is no room for complacency. We encourage travel businesses to have a look at the sections on drivers of demand, risks and opportunities and emerging traveler trends. Mapping your own take on these topics to the opinions of our experts is a quick way for any business to evaluate the path they are on.”