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The Earth has circled around the Sun once more and 2017 is nearing its end. As always, it’s only fair to see what are the travel industry 2017 key takeaways.
Travel Industry Year in Review 2017
Let’s take a look back at what made 2017 a very profitable year business-wise. The United Nations have proclaimed 2017 to be the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Needless to say, all of us had high expectations, to begin with.
So what are travel industry 2017 key takeaways? What will we remember about 2017 when it comes to travel and tourism?
Travel Industry is Still World’s Fastest Growing Sector
Well, you already knew that–it has been one of the fastest growing economy sectors for the last couple of years. The research was done by the World Travel and Tourism Council. It included 185 countries and 25 geographic regions. The WTTC came to the conclusion that tourism is outpacing the global economy itself!
The impact it has on the global scene set the stage for what seems to be a very successful year so far. For instance, the global international arrivals went up by 6.4 % in the first half of 2017 according to WTTC and its Monthly Economic Impact report from October.
Tourism achieved its mission by generating growth which led to helping national development. In other news, in 2017 we saw a better job market with new job openings in the travel industry.
In the US, the leisure and hospitality industry created 274,000 jobs, including food services and drinking places. This accounts for 85% percent of the jobs added, according to research by Analysts of the National Estimates Branch from December.
Now the main aspect of tourism became the fact that it grows exports. This includes merchandise, travel software as well as exporting the idea of a vast cultural heritage and diversity across the globe.
“Travel is more than an industry; it is the physical mechanism through which citizens of the world come to understand and appreciate other places and peoples on the Earth we share.” Dee K Waddell, Global Travel & Transportation Industry at IBM
To summarize it–the global international arrivals went up by 6.4 % in the first half 2017.
Political Turmoil, Terrorist Attacks and Other Challenges
Worldwide events affect the travel business. First, there was Brexit, Donald Trump’s presidential election, and Catalonia’s controversial referendum. Then the terrorist attacks in the Philippines, Great Britain, France, and Turkey. And then there was the whole ordeal with North Korea launching test missiles above Japan.
As Donald Trump took over as the head of US, he added North Korea, Chad, and Venezuela with a travel ban. Despite Brexit and multiple terrorist attacks in London, UK had broken a record with 23.1 million overseas visits in the first six months of 2017. The Americas had the slowest growth as a region with only 3.0%.
After such dramatic events worldwide, it’s reasonable that people are wary of traveling like they used to. Safety matters now more than ever.
This is especially noticeable when choosing where to spend the winter holidays. With every destination travelers pick, they have to be on alert about potential terrorist attacks. Or if traveling to Japan and South Korea, whether or not North Korea will decide to nuke the whole planet.
North Africa hasn’t been marked as a safe region as it once was, and yet today it seems to have the strongest growth, especially Tunisia. Also, a worth mentioning statistic is that the Middle East seems to be right behind North Africa with the growth of 8.9%.
One should not cross off Asia from the list. Between 2016 and 2026, we could see India, Thailand, China, Myanmar, and Vietnam to be among the ten fastest growing travel destinations.
There was another burning topic present at this year’s WTM in London. It was the issue of over-tourism which goes hand in hand with pollution. For example, Venice is facing overcrowding, as well as Plitvice lakes in Croatia. President Trump’s withdrawal from Paris climate agreement only added fuel to the whole climate change problem.
Changing with New Technology and Innovations
Keeping up with the latest tech on the market is expensive, we’ve all been there. To book more tours and activities travel guides agencies have to offer responsive and easy-to-use booking platforms. The customer payment process needs to be reliable as well as all other back-office management tasks.
One of the main challenges is that a lot of tour operators aren’t taking advantage of this new technology. For instance, tools for automation and management software. This means that their employees have to manually battle everyday tasks. This, of course, is time-consuming and inefficient.
The thing is, 53% of bookings are made online. In the age of increased connectivity, this is really important. Company’s site must be mobile-ready and optimized. Especially when you take into consideration that a mobile device is user’s only computing device. You should take last-minute bookings via mobile into consideration. Have in mind that 80% of internet users own a smartphone.
Since the VR was introduced, businesses in the travel industry are finding new ways to make a profit on it. They use it to inspire people to travel to foreign places and to demonstrate what the tour consists of. It’s still in an experimental phase, however, the VR already has it’s selling points.
What else can it be used for?
Well, the Marriott Hotels are supposedly the first ones to use in-room virtual reality travel experience and Matoke Tours offer their clients to virtually track gorillas in Uganda, for example. Also, VRs can be used in theme park activities and other travel related marketing.
What Awaits Us In 2018?
It’s important to recognize upcoming trends. Take a good look at ever-changing travel habits, customers’ needs, and preferences. Creating strategies for online media and social network presence is still the best option for reaching new customers. Each new trend brings with it a new market to which business has to adapt.
Travel and tourism business will have to devote more attention to storytelling and blogging. This helps to reach out to their potential customers who seek other people’s reviews and adventure stories as an inspiration for going on their own journey.
To get a glimpse of 2018 and the upcoming trends, check out our Most Popular Travel Trends in 2018 for Tour Operators blog post.
If you have any questions about online booking software, feel free to contact us at any time.