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Published on : Thursday, November 26, 2015
North Americans are travelling in force this year thanks to the improving US economy and strong US dollar, and similarly strong growth is expected next year. Outbound trips are up by 5 percent this year, which is ahead of forecasts. South American outbound travel growth has remained robust despite weak economic conditions in the region but lower growth is expected next year. These are some of the key results and forecasts in the ITB World Travel Trends Report, which is produced by tourism consultancy IPK International on behalf of ITB Berlin, the world’s leading travel trade show.
North America outbound travel beats forecasts
The number of outbound trips made by travellers from North America increased by about 5 percent between January and August this year, according to preliminary IPK World Travel Monitor® results. This is ahead of the expected 3 percent growth for 2015 and follows growth of 6 percent in 2014. While US outbound travel in general is particularly strong this year, Canadian outbound travel to the USA, the main destination, is on the other hand weaker in 2015.
Some of the key factors behind these positive US market trends, according to the ITB World Travel Trends Report, are good levels of consumer confidence, supported by GDP growth and falling unemployment. Moreover, the strong dollar is increasing the spending power of US consumers for international travel. In contrast, Canadian consumer confidence has declined due to weaker economic conditions in the country.
This year’s outbound trends are also reflected in inbound data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) as reported in the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. According to UNWTO, international tourist arrivals in the Americas as a whole grew by 4 percent between January and August 2015, which consolidated last year’s strong 8 percent growth. The appreciation of the US dollar stimulated outbound travel from the United States while impacting on inbound travel to the country. The Caribbean and Central America (both up by 7 percent) saw the highest growth in international tourist arrivals in the region fuelled largely by the US and European markets, thus maintaining their good growth rates of 2014. International tourist numbers to North America recorded a 3 percent increase following a 10 percent growth last year. Inbound tourism to the United States was affected by a stronger currency but both Canada and Mexico enjoyed strong growth.
North America outbound travel set for good growth in 2016
Looking ahead to next year, IPK predicts a 5 percent rise in North American outbound travel, based on its Travel Confidence Index which measures travel intentions in the region for the next year. Rolf Freitag, IPK International president, commented: “The US outbound market is performing very well this year and 2016 should be the best year that the North American outbound travel market has ever seen. But we must see if the recent terror attacks in Paris change the picture.”
Weaker growth for South America lies ahead
In South America, growth in outbound travel is slowing after several years of strong increases yet it has remained surprisingly robust so far this year. The number of outbound trips made by travellers from South America increased by about 4 percent between January and August this year, according to preliminary IPK World Travel Monitor® results. This is slightly ahead of the original 3 percent growth forecast for 2015. The outlook for next year is not so good, however, due to the recession in Brazil and weaker economic conditions in other major countries, according to the ITB World Travel Trends Report.
There are several factors behind the solid growth figure for this year. “South Americans are still travelling, especially within the region. There is also a significant proportion of well-off travellers who are less affected by the economic slowdown and they are still spending,” explained Rolf Freitag, IPK International president.
According to UNTWO, international tourism to South America grew 4 percent over the first eight months of 2015, following a 7 percent increase in 2014.
Weak outlook for 2016
The outlook for South America next year, however, is not so rosy. IPK’s Latin American Travel Confidence Index for 2016 expects a moderate growth of just 1.9 percent for outbound travel from the region next year. Nevertheless, 43 percent of South American international travellers want to travel next year as much as in 2015 and 27 percent might travel even more, according to the index.
One wild card for 2016 is whether the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next summer might have the same positive impact on international travel to Brazil as the football World Cup in 2014 which generated about half a million additional Brazil visitors both from South America and further afield. The Olympics will certainly attract a large number of sports fans but it is unclear what kind of publicity Brazil will generate before and during the event, according to the ITB World Travel Trends Report.
Dr. Martin Buck, Messe Berlin’s Senior Vice President Director Travel and Logistics ITB Berlin, commented: “Overall, international travel from the Americas is performing well. There’s a minor boom in US outbound travel thanks to the strong dollar while the Brazilian market is doing surprisingly well considering the country’s economic challenges.”
The results and findings in the ITB World Travel Trends Report are based on presentations and discussions at the annual World Travel Monitor® Forum in Pisa, which is supported by ITB Berlin. Initiated at the invitation of consultancy IPK International, more than 50 tourism experts and academics from around the world present the latest figures and current trends in international tourism.
Additional results of IPK International’s trend surveys from January to August 2015 together with the estimates of 50 tourism experts from more than 20 countries and the key data from the World Travel Monitor® are published exclusively by ITB Berlin. The detailed results will appear at the beginning of December in the ITB World Travel Trends Report under www.itb-berlin.com. The World Travel Monitor® final results for the year, including the latest outlook for 2016, will be presented at the ITB Convention by Rolf Freitag, President of IPK International. The World Travel Monitor® is based on representative interviews with more than 500,000 people a year in more than 60 travel markets worldwide, and has been regularly conducted for more than 20 years. It is recognised as the largest continuous study into global travel patterns.