2023 is indeed a great year for tourism, on a global scale, while the international travel industry has appeared equally optimistic for the coming year. Despite the challenges of inflation, high prices and costs, the tourism industry will make further progress, according to the findings of a study presented at the World Travel Market, in London, where in the previous days, during the International Tourism Fair, there was “great mobility”. Greece, as confirmed, belongs to the “winners” of this season, while optimism was widespread for 2024 as well.
The World Travel Market in London is the second largest international trade fair after ITB. During the show, which ended yesterday, the halls of the Excel exhibition center were more crowded than last year, when 38,500 trade visitors were recorded, according to the organizer. Reed Exhibition (RX).
WTM is considered a trade show where many deals are made or renegotiated because it takes place before the start of the next year. The upbeat tone that prevailed in press conferences, from Greece to Morocco and Malaysia, is also reflected in the WTM World Travel Report, which was commissioned for the first time by RX by the Oxford Economics research institute.
Fewer trips, much more revenue
The 70-page report shows that although the number of leisure trips in 2023 will be lower than in 2019, the value of such trips will increase significantly, compared to the period before the pandemic. The number of people traveling abroad fell by 3% between 2019 and 2023. However, revenue, measured in US dollars, will be 19% higher than before the pandemic.
Although high energy, personnel and financing costs continue to put pressure on prices, travel spending remains a high priority in developed countries and growth in emerging markets is returning to pre-pandemic levels. “Rising costs combined with a possible downward trend in consumer expectations pose a threat to the industry, but there is currently no clear evidence that costs are affecting travel volumes,” the study said. With the economists who compiled it predicting that, “in 2024 demand for leisure travel will be strong”.
Doubling of travel spending by 2033
In the long term, WTM’s global report expects strong growth: “By 2033, spending on leisure travel is expected to more than double compared to 2019.” According to the report, one of the driving forces behind this is the significant increase in the number of households in China, India and Indonesia who can afford to travel internationally.
According to the report, Spain and France, the two largest inbound tourism markets, will perform 33% and 31% better in terms of travel revenue measured in euros this year than in 2019. Turkey – which the Oxford Economics ranks in the report in the region of Europe – it will even record an increase in revenue by 73% compared to 2019. While, in the case of Croatia, revenue will be significantly higher by 51%.
Greece among the “winners”
Greece is among the “winners” of this year’s tourist season, with the general secretary of the Hellenic Tourism Organization (EOT), Dimitris Fragakis confidently saying: “We will achieve a record year.”
In the first nine months, Greece recorded 20.9 million international air arrivals, surpassing the 2022 level by 11.6% and pre-pandemic figures by 11%.
The German market is the most important source market for Greece along with the United Kingdom. According to Mr. Fragakis, there are “some challenges” for the coming year, such as the forest fires that hit the country this summer, and the economic slowdown in Europe. “But we Greeks now know how to deal with crises successfully”, he emphasizes.
The case of Asia and the Middle East
According to the WTM report, developments in Asia next year will be influenced by the recovery of the Chinese outbound market, although this is still significantly lower than the volume of 2019. The Middle East remains one of the drivers of growth.
The number of visitors to the Gulf region is expected to reach 33 million in 2023, up from 29 million in 2019, “making it the only region in the world that has fully recovered from the pandemic in terms of volume,” according to WTM’s global report .
Measured in US dollars, the Middle East is at the forefront of growth with a 46% increase in incoming revenue, compared to 2019. “The success of the region’s recovery from the pandemic is due to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which are investing important to tourism infrastructure”, the report states.