There will be no recession in travel despite the darkening economic clouds, but growth in business travel will slow substantially according to World Travel and Tourism Council forecasts.
WTTC secretary-general Jean-Claude Baumgarten said: “People might travel less far and less often, and might make shorter trips, but they will continue to travel.”
Unveiling a WTTC prediction of 3% growth in worldwide trips this year, Baumgarten said: “We are not saying there will be no downturn. But there will be no repeat of the contraction of 2001-2003 [following the September 11 attacks], when aircraft flew virtually empty. That is not the situation.”
However, the WTTC predicts the growth rate in corporate travel will fall by two-thirds from 15% last year to 5% in 2009. It predicts a partial recovery in 2010-2011, but only to about half the growth rate last year.
Baumgarten said the high value of the euro would deter travel to the currency zone – including France, Spain, Italy and Greece. But he said: “Look at the demand for air traffic in India and China. There has been a shift of traffic and economic growth.”
The WTTC has revised down earlier forecasts, predicting average growth of 4.1% in the industry for the ten years to 2018. Last September, it predicted average annual growth of 4.3% over the ten years.