Travel Industry Thrives

Tamara Hillstrom travel industryOne of the first sectors to see an early comeback after the recession was the travel industry.  The global economy got a solid boost from travel.  Last year travel and associated industries accounted for nearly 10% of the global economy & workforce, which amounts to almost $7 trillion, employing well over 250m.  In a recent article from the NY Times, David Scowsill was interviewed.  Scowswill is the president and chief executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Scowsill remarked that the travel industry grows over 1% faster than the world’s economy at large.  Expectations is that this year growth will be 4.3%.  A lot of this growth is in Asia.  It used to be that Europe and the US were the strongest travel industry areas, but predictions have China overtaking the US in 2027 as the world’s largest travel and tourism economy.  That’s not to say that US travel is down, just that the global balance is shifting.

This shift is a direct result of the number of people moving into the middle class in the east.  Ernst & Young recently claimed that nearly one billion people will be in the middle class in China in 2030.  On top of that, the Chinese government has made tourism a key part of their economic growth.  They have made federal investments in high-speed trains, massive hotel complexes, and large airports.  At the time of this writing, there are 69 large airports in construction in China.  The goal is to make every Chinese citizen less then 90 minutes drive from an airport.  Outbound travel from China has doubled, with 100 million people making an international excursion last year.  That figure can be expected to double again by 2020.

The countries most visited are, in order, France, the United States, China, and Spain.  France has a staggering lead, with 83 million visitors in 2012, compared to the United States with 67 million.  China and Spain each had 57 million.

One of the major inhibitors of continued growth is that nearly three fourths of travelers have to go to an embassy in order to travel internationally.  Travelers going to Europe, if they can’t get a Schengen visa that allows them to visit a selection of 25 European countries, must go to the UK consulate to pay and be interviewed for a second visa.  That’s a lot of facilitation necessary for a simple holiday jaunt.  Some countries like Mexico have very low restrictions…if you’re allowed in the US, you’re allowed in Mexico.