By Stewart McDonough

Tourism continues to grow

Globally, tourism is a $1.3 trillion market that is expected to grow 4.1% annually through 2020. And 44% of travellers in North America are likely to increase their travel budgets in 2013. International tourist arrivals are expected to increase 3.3% per year globally between 2010 and 2030 to 1.8 billion tourists.

Tourism is a massive market with great growth potential. In 2011 and 2012 Calgary led a province that led the nation in terms of visitation and visitor spending growth. To capitalize on potential and build on momentum, key trends are monitored and used to shape strategic direction. While some of the trends are not new, they continue to play an increasing role in destination marketing. The growing importance of online tools and mobile devices is far from earth-shattering, yet many tourism businesses and destinations have yet to embrace or effectively enter the digital marketing world. For example 72% of travellers worldwide say the ability to book via mobile devices is useful, but only 37% of U.S. accommodation providers are prioritizing mobile marketing in 2013.

Tomorrow’s traveller

Travellers are increasingly making their vacation choices after researching a variety of online sources and this isn’t just for millenials – for example, while Facebook skews young, the 45- to 54-year-old age bracket has grown 45% since year-end 2012.

  • 69% of travellers use travel review websites
  • 93% of travellers say their booking decisions are influenced by online reviews
  • 57% of travellers use online travel agents like Expedia or Travelocity
  • Travellers are fully connected while travelling. On average, travel parties (small groups or families) bring four web-enabled devices on trips

Millenials are playing an increasingly important role in destination marketing, but mature travellers spend more money on travel and stay longer.

  • The youth market accounts for 20% of global tourism, and young travellers will seek more active tourism products in the form of adventure tourism
  • Due to the effects of aging and decreasing numbers of children per family, 65% of world growth through to 2050 will be in populations aged 45 and above
  • Aging populations are demanding more health and wellness tourism products; however, a rising retirement age will partially slow the growth of travel by seniors
  • Globally, disposable incomes are increasing, fuelling travel growth. An emerging middle class in Asia and South America are seeking different tourism experiences  

Product development

Travellers are looking for tourism experiences in the forms of educational travel, eco-travel, cultural immersion and ‘safe danger’ tourism products. The ability to effectively share those travel products through experiential content (photography, video, written materials) will drive visitation and change the conversation from price to value.

Everyone is a foodie. With the growth of culinary television and website programming/content; the increased quality and diversity of restaurants in many destinations; and the rise of culinary celebrities, destination’s need to promote their culinary offerings. People may not travel to a destination because they hear the restaurants are good, but they may stay away if they hear the opposite.

Accommodation variety is a plus for destinations especially among millenials. A mix of trusted big brands, boutique properties, B&Bs and hostels add to a destination’s appeal

  • 80% of travellers worldwide say it’s important for accommodations to offer free Wi-Fi
  • 79% of travellers say that eco-friendly practices in accommodations are important

Destination appeal

There is a shift from making decisions based primarily on price point to looking for great value, unique experiences and bragging rights. The next travelling frontier is often the first choice for travellers. Emerging markets will see greater tourism growth than more established destinations. When new markets open or gain in popularity those markets can pull travellers to what can be seen as more current or exotic experiences. For example, the highest growth markets for inbound and outbound travel are China and India. 

  • From 2010 to 2030 tourist arrivals in emerging destinations (+4.4% annually) are expected to grow at double the pace of advanced economies (+2.2% annually)
  • The Asia-Pacific region will lead in tourism growth and capture market share from other destinations

To download a PDF version of #KeyTourismTrends, click here.