WTM 2019: Industry defies gloom with ‘healthy’ year

Industry leaders said the trade had so far enjoyed a “healthy” year despite the impact of Brexit uncertainty, hurricane Dorian and the recent collapse of Thomas Cook.

Speaking at a session on the future of travel at WTM, Advantage Travel Partnership chief executive Julia Lo Bue-Said said: “It’s been a pretty good year overall, and sales for next summer are pretty positive.”

EasyJet UK country director Neil Slaven agreed: “It was a relatively stable year. Thomas Cook was an indication of a market that has consolidated. It’s a correction in the face of over-supply, so I would not expect a significant increase in supply in the market (in 2020).”

Jo Rzymowska, vice president and managing director, UK, Ireland and Asia, of Celebrity Cruises, said: “Overall the cruise industry is performing well considering everything going on. From a UK perspective, despite Thomas Cook failing and Hurricane Dorian (in the Caribbean), this year business is holding up well.”

The picture is similar for the inbound tourism market, said Patricia Yates, director of strategy and communications for Visit Britain and Visit England. “We’ve had a good year so far; the story of the year has been America. 14% of the growth (in inbound visitors) has come from American visitors since the start of the year.”

Globally, international tourism arrivals are expected to reach 1.8 billion by 2024 according to Euromonitor’s Megatrends Shaping the Future of Travel 2019 report, released at WTM.

While average spend per trip in destinations has fallen over the few decades, due to factors such as the rise of the low-cost carriers, Euromonitor is forecasting a slight increase by 2024, suggesting higher spending per trip as destinations shift to a sustainable tourism model.

Destinations enjoying the best growth in terms of tourism receipts are the US and China, and both are predicted to maintain their dominance until 2030.

Other countries gaining in popularity over the next five years are predicted to include Turkey, which has already regained business since the Sousse terror attacks, and Egypt, with flights now able to return from the UK to Sharm el-Sheikh following the recent lifting of Foreign Office restrictions.

Caroline Bremner, head of travel, Euromonitor, warned Greece could suffer a “bit of a decline” in the next five years as a result of destinations such as Tunisia and Egypt returning in popularity.

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