MANILA, Philippines – Despite the global slowdown and surging oil prices, international travel is booming due to the globalization of business, rise of low-cost carriers and rising affluence, said a leading global travel solutions firm.
“The travel market is remarkably resilient. People like to travel,” David Brett, president of Europe-based travel solutions provider Amadeus Asia Ltd., told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net, last Friday.
The Bangkok-based Brett said downturns could be very sharp in the travel business, like what was seen during the SARS scare a few years ago, but that the industry could easily rebound.
Global consumer and media market research agency Mintel has predicted that the total number of overseas trips taken by tourists from the world’s top 15 traveling nations will almost double by 2020 from 433 million to 837 million.
Most of that growth is expected to come from China.
“Technology is going to be the real power behind travel in the future,” he said.
With IT making airline operations more efficient, for instance, he said these companies could focus on bringing more value and improving services to customers.
A recent report commissioned by Amadeus also showed that growing global migration would fuel thirst for international travel. Many migrants remain strongly connected to their country of origin with many reasons to return, such as visiting family and friends, the report said.
The last five decades have also seen tourism emerge as one of the world’s largest and most vital industries.
The World Trade Organization predicted that international tourism arrivals alone would number over 1.56 billion by 2020.
Brett added that the growth in tourism was driven in large part by rising consumer affluence.
The Amadeus report also cited a burgeoning global population and the globalization of business and politics as key drivers of international travel.
“The rapid growth in world trade has led to increasing cross border traffic in goods, services and capital,” it said.
“This globalization of business and politics has driven a growing need for international travel to cement and manage international agreements and alliances. The liberalization of world trade has also brought with it a number of social changes; as countries interact, it is not only goods and services which are traded but culture, ideas and patterns of behavior,” it said.
The report added that the rise of the budget carriers had redrawn the air travel landscape, opening travel to groups that could not previously afford it and significantly facilitating more face-to-face meetings.
“Although the impact of LCCs has traditionally been limited to short-haul routes, they look set to extend into longer-haul journeys, with a more extensive service, offering greater comfort than is currently offered on existing short-haul itineraries,” the report said.