Slowing tourism growth in advanced economies

Slowing tourism growth in advanced economies over the past decade has led many of the large tourism operators to shift their focus toward meeting demand in emerging economies; during the next five yea

Slowing tourism growth in advanced economies

Slowing tourism growth in advanced economies over the past decade has led many of the large tourism operators to shift their focus toward meeting demand in emerging economies; during the next five years, global tourism will be boosted by strong per capita income growth, rising consumer sentiment and declining global unemployment. For these reasons, industry research firm IBISWorld has updated a report on the Global Tourism industry to its growing report collection.

The Global Tourism industry is worth an estimated $1.4 trillion in 2013, with revenue rising at an annualized 2.5% over the past five years. However, this hides a strong decline in 2009 when revenue fell 11.2% as the global economy sank into recession and tourist numbers plummeted. In 2009, international arrivals fell by 6.0% in Europe, 5.0% across the Americas, 6.0% in the Middle East and 2.0% in the Asia-Pacific. This period marked the Global Tourism industry’s worst period in over a decade. From 2010 onwards the industry began an impressive recovery, which was notable for the role that emerging economies played in stimulating growth, says IBISWorld industry analyst Andy Brennan. Asia and South America were not as badly affected by the global recession; growing per capita income in these regions allowed consumers to take overseas trips in increasing numbers. The benefits of this trend are expected to continue in 2013, with industry revenue forecast to grow 4.2%.

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The Global Tourism industry consists of a large number of small, local enterprises that operate in an increasingly competitive setting. At the top of the industry consists of global tourism conglomerates that provide the world market with transport, accommodation, entertainment and travel arrangement services. Some of these large operators earn annual revenue in the tens of billions of dollars serving the Global Tourism industry. As tourism growth has slowed in advanced economies over the past decade, many of the large tourism operators have shifted their focus towards meeting demand in emerging economies, continues Brennan. The industry has a low level of concentration. The top players are Delta Air Lines Inc., United Continental Holdings Inc., Carlson Companies Inc., TUI AG, Marriot International Inc. and the Walt Disney Company. The industry’s low concentration level stems from the diverse range of services provided and the large number of small business operators. The industry’s concentration level has undergone little change in the past five years. While a number of industries have been affected by the introduction or emergence of franchises or management agreements (i.e., hotels and serviced apartments) or the introduction of companies with global links (i.e., travel agents), the majority of operators in the industry continue to be subject to stable levels of concentration. Airlines and tour operators have been undergoing significant levels of consolidation, which is expected to continue as Western markets continue to languish.

Global tourism will be boosted by strong per capita income growth, rising consumer sentiment and declining global unemployment. On both the demand and supply sides, the Global Tourism industry is entering a new age dominated by emerging economies, such as China. Despite the expected period of prosperity ahead, there is some cause for concern in certain regions. The European debt crisis continues to haunt the world’s largest tourism region. Also, civil unrest in the Middle East has caused oil prices to rise and placed cost pressures on tourism operators that are subject to high fuel prices. If this situation continues for the long term, consumers will need to absorb higher airline tickets, possibly hindering the ability of some travelers to make international trips.

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