Analyses - April 26, 2006



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April 2006


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What can we expect from the tourism bubble in the next few years?

What are the major influential factors that will affect tourism supply and demand this decade? For a start, China and India are poised to become major players as they increase their presence in the travel marketplace.

  • Climate of uncertainty
    The political, economic, climatic and health crises of the past few years have shown us that the travel industry, particularly the airline sector, can become very vulnerable and that no destination is immune from these threats.
  • Rising oil prices
    More gas price hikes are expected in the next few years. Since the price of oil affects tourism-based businesses in myriad ways, travel costs will rise. This situation, coupled with risk factors, could lead to an increase in intra-regional travel. Poorer countries will be hurt by higher transportation costs and require special assistance.
  • Security procedures to facilitate travel
    A country’s methods of providing security and protection for travellers play an important role in its position in the global tourism marketplace. In the coming years, these methods should be harmonized.
  • Increased wealth in both existing and emerging markets
    Economic prosperity drives tourism growth. Existing markets will continue to increase their wealth. Among emerging markets, China and India will experience the most growth. Experts anticipate problems due to overcrowded airline routes.
  • Development of both multilateralism and regionalism
    South-South alliances will develop and create more equitable relations. The current trend towards political and economic consolidation in major global regions will restructure the overall globalization movement. Asia will become an economic centre to watch. As a result, tourism, as well as transportation structures and costs, will be profoundly affected.
  • Technology in the forefront
    Whether we are talking about developments in communication, the convergence of the Internet, cell phones and television or the rollout of new aircraft models, technology will continue to play a primary role in the evolution of the tourism industry.
  • Demographic changes
    Concentrated urban populations and family/work dynamics continue to modify travel behaviour. The populations of large industrialized countries are aging, meaning that more baby boomers will have the time and money to travel. However, some experts have reservations about the amount of discretionary income available to retirees for travel.
  • Increased consumer power, thanks to the Internet
    When it comes to accessing information, prices and reservations, the centre of power has shifted from tourism professionals to travellers themselves. Consumers are very comfortable with the Internet and the decisions it enables them to make.
  • Improved quality of life as a travel incentive
    Travel is seen as an element that can help improve one’s quality of life, whether it is used for adventure and discovery, personal growth, relaxation or to get a new lease on life.
  • Heightened competition
    In an attempt to stimulate economic growth, every city, region and country will be looking for a piece of the tourism pie, creating a context in which branding strategies are key.
  • Promotional strategies involving public-private partnerships
    These types of partnerships are especially common in countries with federal or highly decentralized political systems.
  • Ongoing mergers and acquisitions
    The hotel industry, airlines, distribution network and tour operators will continue their trend towards consolidation.
  • Infrastructure deficiencies
    When it comes to infrastructure, the major Western countries lack the planning needed to respond to the coming international growth. It requires several years’ lead time to expand airports and build more hotels.
  • Booming products
    Green tourism, spa tourism and health tourism (surgery and convalescence) are becoming increasingly popular. Although these are examples of segmentation and specialization, mass tourism is in no danger of disappearing.

  • Flirting with China and India

    Even though China and India are enormous potential markets, there is a long list of countries competing for their business. Over 170 destinations are using their charms to attract Chinese and Indian travellers. Despite these efforts, travellers from emerging markets often follow the same pattern as they start to venture outside their country. They begin by traveling in groups and are most likely to visit neighbouring countries. Afterwards, Europe and North America (particularly the West Coast) are added to the list of destinations and the number of individual travellers increases.

    Not everyone behaves the same, however. Chinese travellers like to feel safe by finding people who speak their language and can provide familiar food. As a result, they will be attracted to foreign countries that boast major Chinese communities. As for travelers from India, their travel experiences have made them more likely to travel alone, anywhere in the world.

    All the same, those who wish to appeal to these travellers are well-advised to get busy.

    Tourism in general likely to continue its upward climb

    If we look at the past fifty years or so, although its growth curve may have had a few blips, tourism is not ready to collapse. And yet, even though international demand is expected to grow by 4.2% annually, there are also more and more regions vying for travellers.

    – Baumgarten, Jean-Claude. President of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and a guest lecturer for the Cercle de tourisme du Québec, April 20, 2006.
    – Désiront, André. Interview with Jean-Claude Baumgarten following his remarks to the Cercle de tourisme du Québec, April 20, 2006.
    – Frangialli, Francesco. “Défis pour un nouveau millénaire,” Le Devoir, April 1 and 2, 2006.
    – Sarrasin, Bruno. “Temps de ruptures et continuités,” Le Devoir, April 1 and 2, 2006.

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