In its global overview of the travel industry presented as part of the World Travel Market (WTM) Vision 2012 conference series, Euromonitor International revealed its latest research findings at Arabian Travel Market today.
Over the next five years, it is predicted that global growth will decline to an average of just below eight per cent, pulled down by the weakness of the Eurozone economies. This is due in part to high government debt, tight credit conditions and rising unemployment levels.
Worldwide, Euromonitor numbers suggest tourism growth is slowing averaging less than four per cent annually until 2016, whilst the average spend is also flat-lining. However, the new BRIC economies will become the star performers, with Brazilians identified as the highest spending travelers globally with strong increases from the Indian, Chinese and Russian markets as well.
Moving closer to home, with their oil-rich economies and the continuing rise of the three big regional carriers, MENA and the Gulf countries in particular are expected to see positive growth from this year, with visitor arrivals up in across the region – increasing more than 10 per cent in Saudi Arabia.
In terms of the new star-performing cities, the majority of the top 10 were in Asia, with Hong Kong number one with nearly 22 million arrivals and 9.3 per cent growth last year, followed by Singapore and London, the latter with 15 million arrivals but only 2.7 per cent growth.
Istanbul, ranked ninth, recorded a stellar growth rate of 20.2 per cent, with nearly 10 million arrivals in 2011.
With the BRICs now a major target for many destinations, Euromonitor identified the top three preferred destinations for each BRIC market, whose travelers tended to stay close to home during their initial forays.
Brazilian travelers went to the US, Argentina and France; The Chinese chose Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan; Indians opted for Singapore, Thailand and the UAE, while the Russian preference was for Ukraine, Finland and Kazakhstan.
Turning to consumer trends, Euromonitor research demonstrated how economic pressures were fuelling the hunt for bargains in travel, with a rise in the popularity of flash sales and a reversal in the decline of the economy holiday package.
Sectors tipped for growth included medical tourism, rail travel, cruising and shopping, while the rise of the low cost carrier was identified as a continuing trend worldwide – contributing to the expectation that mass market travel will take over from the luxury segment as a growth driver.