Published on Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Asia tourism growth to slump


BERLIN – Tourism experts believe the world will only see a strong recovery of travel and tourism in 2010, accelerating to new records in 2011 and 2012.

“Our challenge is to see through the pressures of today and prepare for a different world,” said Rolf Freitag, president & CEO of IPK International in his summing up at the close of IPK’s annual World Travel Monitor Forum held in Pisa. Italy.

“But predicting the timing of the end of the current global economic crisis and the start of the recovery remains an even bigger challenge,” he added

After four years of sustained strong growth, which continued through the month of May 2008, outbound travel demand slowed considerably from June, with growth slipping into negative figures from September in some regions.

As a result, the consensus of the more than 60 tourism experts from some 30 countries around the world gathered in Pisa was that the growth in demand for international tourism – expressed in total outbound trip volume – will struggle to reach 3% this year.

The majority of the experts gathered in Pisa believe that demand for international travel will be down by about one percent in 2009. But they also think that the crisis will not last longer than 12 to 18 months.

Some parts of the world may start to see the beginning of a revival in 2009, the Forum agreed, but, given the lack of clarity regarding the main drivers of the crisis and its impact on disposable incomes – not to mention continuing uncertainties over the price of oil, currency fluctuations, etc – the recovery of tourism demand may prove rather more elusive.

These were some of the key messages to come out of the two days of intensive discussions between world tourism experts at the 16th edition of what has become more commonly known as the Pisa Forum.

In Asia – one of the world’s strongest outbound travel growth regions in 2007 – there have been some disappointing performances, exacerbated by the reduced airline capacity on many routes, the tightened security surrounding the summer Olympics in Beijing (which made visas more difficult to obtain and discouraged travel to China) and by the increased price of travel and cost of living.

IPK International expects the region to record around 3% growth in outbound trips for the year as a whole – half the rate recorded in 2007 – with no growth or declines from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

Details of trends from leading and emerging markets in the first eight months of 2008, as well forecasts for 2009 and an analysis of some of the opportunities and threats identified by the Pisa Forum participants, will be available from the ITB World Travel Trends Report prepared by IPK, to be published in mid-November by ITB Berlin.

The report can be downloaded fromwww.itb-berlin.com.



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