Tourism Trends to watch in 2017
The coming year is set to be a fascinating one for global tourism. In common with all businesses, tourism professionals will see how the new Trump Administration in the USA will impact on world trade and international business. On a far smaller scale the impact, if any, of Brexit will begin to manifest itself on tourism relations between the UK and Europe. However , despite the uncertainties which exist, 2017 should continue the trend of growth for global tourism which the industry has enjoyed over the pest few years.
Trump’s stated policy of raising protectionist barriers between the United States and its trading partners could have an impact on bilateral airline agreements and open sky agreements between the USA and some countries and it is certainly a core issue to watch over the year ahead. Although Brexit looks set to take a long time to implement, there are a range of unclear issues relating to bilateral airline agreements, visa and working permit arrangements between the UK and the remaining members of the EU. Although the uncertainty related to Trump and Brexit are very real it is premature to engage in damaging speculation.
Figures released by the International Civil Aviation Organization revealed that in 2016 there was an 6.3% global growth in airline passenger numbers with Europe (11.2% growth) and the Asia-Pacific (8% growth) leading the way. Low cost carriers continued a ten year trend of leading this growth. Although oil prices are expected to rise slightly during 2017 the trend of high passenger numbers and historically low operating costs and air fares are expected to continue throughout the transport sector during 2017. This should continue to stimulate tourist demand for air, rail and cruising. The prospects for the global cruise sector look particularly healthy as China and other major Asian countries increasingly embrace cruising as a travel option. Diversification of cruise options including river cruises, adventure cruising and the introduction of mega cruise ships such as Ovations on the Sea are expected to stimulate demand in traditional cruise markets such as the USA and the growing emerging markets of China, Japan, and SE Asia. The cruise industry will play a leading role in opening up a wide range of new destinations which were previously difficult to access. These include the less visited islands of Indonesia, Philippines, the southern regions of South America, coastal Myanmar and many Pacific island destination as tourists seek to add new exotic destinations to their travel choices. Safety and security will continue to be a core concern of the tourism industry during 2017.
Terrorism and the fear of terrorism was especially damaging to some key tourism destination in 2016. The prime example of this was Turkey which experienced a massive slump of 40% in international tourism arrivals during 2016. In 2014, Turkey with over 40 million international tourists was a top 10 global tourist destination. Repeated terrorist attacks in 2015 and 2016, many of which targeted tourists (the most recent being the 2016-17 New Year’s Eve nightclub massacre in Istanbul) have reduced international tourist arrivals to Turkey by about 50% from their 2014 levels. Conversely, destinations which are perceived as safe such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland have enjoyed record growth in tourism arrivals. Safety and security is set to be an important marketing issue in 2017.
Overall, global tourism is set for an exciting and successful year in 2017. I look forward to keeping ETB Travel News readers posted on some of the key developments in global tourism in this column during the year ahead.