By Ian Taylor
The economic and financial crisis has dramatically altered the landscape for travel and tourism, says a report on future trends in the industry launched at World Travel Market on Monday.
The WTM Global Trends Report 2008, produced by market research firm Euromonitor International, warns: “Uncertainty hangs over the industry, especially as the full scale of the downturn is as yet unknown.
“Recession is expected in the world’s advanced markets and emerging economies are not immune to the slowdown.”
The report’s overview paints a gloomy picture, yet its conclusions are upbeat.
It suggests: “The airline sector has been hardest hit by the crisis. Hotel occupancy rates are falling in advanced economies and there are signs of trading down by consumers and corporate travellers.
“Hotel operating costs have risen and there are clear signs the financial crisis is taking its toll on future openings.”
The report adds: “National tourism organisations are facing a tough time.”
However, the authors conclude that travel and tourism companies that adapt to consumer trends will be well placed to survive. “Operators should let ‘conscientious consumption’ drive the industry through these uncertain times,” they say.
The report identifies what it calls “philanthropic tourism” in North America, price flexibility in the UK, social networking in Europe, expatriate tourism in the Middle East, a continuing boom in Asia and a growing middle class in Latin America as sustaining travel growth.
* More WTM 2008 coverage at travelweekly.co.uk/wtm2008