|Although the industry has long recognised that the youth
travel market is an important gener-ator of tourism and more significantly,
offers better than average potential for future growth, mea-surement of
its size and importance has not been easy because of a shortage of supporting
statistical data. This is the main reason why the market still tends to
Another reason is that it is widely seen as one of the least rewarding sectors of the travel and tourism industry because young people are considered low spenders. This argument is flawed - as has been ably demonstrated by the Australian Tourist Commission (ATC), one of the few national tourism organisations around the world to analyse the market seriously. Young travellers' daily spending may be low, but they stay at their destinations far longer than the average tourist, so their overall expenditure in a country is relatively high. This explains why the ATC has invested heavily in promoting to two key sectors of the youth market: backpackers and language learners.
Estimates from the different organisations and associations involved in the youth tourism busi-ness, such as the Federation of International Youth Travel Organisations (FIYTO), have put the size of the youth travel market as high as 20 percent of all international travellers - although this depends, of course, on how the sector is defined.
Recent research by the UK-based consulting group, Aviation & Tourism International (ATI), published in Travel & Tourism Intelligence's (TTI's) Travel & Tourism Analyst, suggests that Asia Pacific has shown the highest growth in arrivals by young people during the 1990s of all regions worldwide. ATI's recent research is an update of a study originally commissioned by the European Travel Commission (ETC) and conducted in 1994.
During its research for the ETC in 1994/95, ATI estimated the market at around 13.5 million arrivals for the region, forecast-ing seven percent growth a year to the end of the decade. In the last 12 months this average has almost certainly fallen, but all the evidence suggests the sector should pick up faster than the market over - as Asia pulls out of its economic crisis The only negative factors young people under the age of are that the population of 26 has been falling steadily in the western world. and that the age group continues to suffer from a very high level of unemployment in western Europe at least.
It is unfortunate, ATI says in its report, that the Australian research did not extend further than direct spending. A comprehensive assessment of the real benefit of youth tourism requires a careful study of its economic impact. There is no evidence of any such study having been carried out at any time anywhere.
However, superficial observation leads to the conclu-sion that the economic
impact of youth travel is much more favourable than would appear from spend
per transaction, ATI says and even higher than would appear from spend
per visit. ATI cites several reasons for this:
South Africa residents made 860,000 trips abroad in 1997, according to the country's Central Statistical Service. Of these, just under 600,000 were for overseas (non-African) destinations-split 50 percent Europe, 14 percent North America, 42 percent Asia, eight per-cent the Middle East, seven percent Australasia and the balance the Indian Ocean Islands and Latin America. Australia was the favourite destination in Pacific Asia, followed by India, Thailand, Hong Kong and New Zealand.
There were some disappointing performances for leading tourism destinations in Pacific Asia in the first half of 4998 with the exception of Thailand. Thanks to growth of close to 20 percent out of Europe and 13.5 percent out of North America, Thailand's arrivals rose 4.8 percent.
By comparison, preliminary estimates point to a 2.4 percent drop in China's foreign visitors over the six-month period and Australia's arrivals were down 4.7 percent. Increases of 10.1 percent and 14.6 percent out of Europe and the Americas respectively for Australia failed to compensate for sharp declines out of Asia.
The downward trend was even more marked for Singapore and Hong Kong. For the former, which reg-istered a 17.2 percent drop in arrivals overall, the only growth markets in the six months were Oceania and Africa. Hong Kong recorded a drop of 21 percent. All its source regions declined - Europe was down nearly 26 percent. Even more disappointingly, revenue earned by Hong Kong's tourism industry fell by 35.6 percent in the first half to HK$25.6 billion.
However, there does now appear to be light at the end of the tunnel
for Hong Kong. Arrivals in July showed an increase for the first time in
12 months - up 26.5 percent on July 1997. China showed the biggest per-centage
rise but most other market regions also showed growth. Arrivals from Australia,
New Zealand and the South Pacific increased by 23.9 per-cent, the Americas
were up 18.7 percent and Europe, Africa and the Middle East 11.8 percent.
Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels expects another slow period in the second
half of 1998. Initial indications suggest mat it could be worse than last
year. The corn-pany's reported profits declined by 29 percent in the first
six months of 1998. This was attributed mainly to the downturn in visitor
arrivals and in local con-sumer spending in Asia. Occupancy and average
room rate (ADR) at the company's flagship hotel, The Peninsula in Hong
Kong, hit all-time lows-45 per-cent occupancy, as against 70 percent in
the first six months of 1997, and an 18.5 percent drop in ADR.
One of China's many myths is that the CTS and CITS travel agency groups are actually groups. Before eco-nomic liberalisation, which began in 1978, they were part of the state and therefore the offices around the country were technically part of the same body. However, after liberalisation, most of the offices fol-lowed their own economic development paths as set out by their new administrators, which for the most part were the local municipal and principal bodies.
As development priorities and operational practices were usually different
among the CITS offices, a CITS in one centre might work with a non-CITS
agency in another centre. So an unusual situation evolved in which Beijing-based
China International Travel Service Head Office (CITS HO) has no other outlets,
despite its name. However, even with such In appar-ent handicap, CITS HO
may be China's biggest agency-it handled 533,000 clients, up 11 percent,
in 1997. Its rapid growth over recent years has doubtless encouraged CITS
HO to try to rebuild the link with the 120 agencies around the country
that also carry the CITS name. This will not be easy; because priori-ties
and business practices are still so different throughout the country
||German Market Has Huge Potential for Pacific Asia According to PATA Outbound Market Study / July 1998|
|The Changing Marketplace / PATA / July 1998|