WORLD ROUTES: Where is Travel Demand Shifting?

Which destinations are experiencing a shift in traveller demand and where will new industry capacity be needed in the future were the topics of discussion in the second session of yeterday'’s World Routes Tourism Summit. Moderated by the charismatic BBC news anchor and presenter, Aaron Heslehurst, the lively debate took the predicted number of 5 billion annual flyers in 10 years as its starting point.

Noting that much of the growth was originating from BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China), supported with economic recovery the world over, the panel decided to focus on two markets in particular, China and India.

Philippines Department of Tourism’s assistant secretary, Benito Bengzon, described the differences he’d experienced with Chinese travellers, such as flying straight to their resort destination. Something that puts additional pressure on airport infrastructure, especially smaller sites. “The shift has compelled ‘frontliners’ to upgrade their services and offer a more specialised roster, such as diving and mountaineering rather than simply beach and shopping activities,” he cited.

CEO of Visit Cyprus, Angelos Loizou, added that the Chinese were very interested in seeking out and experiencing other cultures, especially those that differed greatly from their own. Noting the similarities between the two nation’s histories and his desire to see more flights connecting them, Loizou said that co-operation between tourism authorities and airlines to create the right kind of connectivity was vital.

VP of marketing and tourism at Austin CVB, Julie Chase, said that the Chinese region wasn’t somewhere Texas was particularly marketing to at the moment, though the state would be looking at increasing its activities in this regard as inbound visitors increase.

Chairman of the STIC Travel Group, Subhash Goyal, gave an impassioned speech about India and how it is currently the fastest growing travel market in the world. He pointed to the growing relationship between India and China with 2015 officially declared as ‘Visit India’ in China and the following year, ‘Visit China’ in India.

Following a unanimous agreement that simplified Visa policies directly related to dynamic tourism growth, the debate moved on to the growing role of social media and the emergence of truly customised packages thanks to the likes of a new breed of savvy traveller combined with the rise of low-cost airlines.

Empowered by a newfound sense of pioneering spirit, travellers are moving towards wanting a more unique experience, resulting in regions seeing the rise of secondary cities and destinations, something also being fueled by low-cost carriers. Though Bengzon noted: “As demand shifts, the difficult part is to already have the infrastructure in place to accommodate it without having excess capacity for years to come. Something that relies on proper research and effective partnerships.”

Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen has travelled across the globe to report on developments in the aviation sector as airlines and airports have continued to evolve and…