The BitMilano Observatory: 2020 sees the travel industry in good health
Market projections and surveys confirm that the global tourism industry is set to grow over the next few years, and travel is enjoying excellent health! The global economic value of tourism will grow constantly by 3.3% a year (Euromonitor - EM), reaching almost 3 trillion USD by 2024. The retail value of global travel in 2019 is, in current terms, growing by 5.8%. By 2024, overall, international visitors are forecast to grow to 1.8 billion, while domestic tourism should reach 19 billion. Meanwhile, growing income in emerging markets will make travel accessible to an ever wider public, a factor which will play a critical role in all tourism figures.
In the last 10 years (City Index Mastercard 2019 – CIM), marked by constant change, people have been travelling more than ever before globally: Asian cities, also due to flows from a strongly growing China, have generated the largest growth, up 9.4%, but Europe, as a continent, is still in second place, with growth of 5.5%.
Late 2019 will see increased international arrivals for all top 20 cities (CIM): Bangkok is the undisputed number one, with Tokyo taking the prize for the city with best prospects for growth (10.02%). The city of Milan is at 16th place in the classification, and the top Italian city. Paris (2nd place), London (3rd place), New York, Istanbul and Bali are evergreen favourites. Destinations with the best growth figures for 2019 include Kuala Lumpur and Osaka.
When we look at projections for the future (“Destination 2030 – Global Cities’ Readiness For Tourism Growth” of the World Travel Tourism Council) it is clear that, faced with hot topics like overtourism and the costs/benefits of tourism, cities at the top of the world rankings for their numbers, like New York, are classed as Mature Performers thanks to their highly strategic action plans. The Big Apple has introduced a variety of measures to redistribute visitors, with specific marketing operations to make them stay longer, explore beyond downtown and visit the “real” quarters of the city, which have been prepared to accept new visitors with training plans and campaigns like “See your city” to spur the population of the 5 districts to give visibility to their areas on social media and attract visitors to areas far from the beaten tourist track. The Mature Performers also include London, Sydney and Berlin. It should be noted that the latter two are working to involve their citizens in modelling the guidelines of their cities regarding tourism and to strategically promote the sustainable development – including social aspects - of tourism with prospects for long term growth. Tokyo, currently more associated with business travel, has the infrastructure and potential to grow in tourism through 360°. The top tourism cities best able to handle growth are also the most innovative. The main parameter is their ability to act as natural incubators of ideas - and technologies - to nurture and grow (“Innovation City Index™ 2019” di 2thinknow®): New York takes first pace, followed by Tokyo and London.
In the tourism industry of the future, technology will play an increasingly important role. Mobile payments, including in the travel sector, will grow constantly – from around 400 billion dollars in 2019 to over 700 in 2024 - and the travel industry will be ever more concerned with super apps and AI. One interesting fact: technologies draw consumers by leveraging the strong demand for authentic, local and personalised experiences (EM).
Recent studies by the European Travel Commission have underlined the importance of hobbies and interests as drivers of tourism in Europe, with special attention to food, adventures, and “living as locals” stays and activities. When we analyse future trends, indeed, those relating to “Human to Human” holidays, which enable an authentic encounter between persons – or the characteristic features of a territory - emerge, along with an approach in line with the growing need for sustainability and accessibility, which will prove key concepts in coming years. For highlighted destinations for 2020, whether emerging locations like Bhutan or old favourites like Great Britain, the option to enjoy an area while impacting it as little as possible will be a fundamental consideration: the urge to travel is growing, but so too is concern for the environment. It is no coincidence that in 2020, trains will be more popular: the Lyria TGV (high speed train), for instance, will increase its capacity by 30% from 15 December, in the wake of Eurostar/Thalis and Deutsche Bahn.
In general, it is also clear that an important factor in attracting new visitors in the future will be the capacity to interact with social communities, combined with interests or a sense of belonging (EM). However, in today's hyperconnected, technological world, “digital detox” holidays will be increasingly popular, preferably with a low environmental impact, also favoured by initiatives like those in Veneto and Tuscany, regions which have launched the “off grid” contest, “Recharge in Nature in the Heart of the Dolomites” and the “Digital Detox day” of 5 November this year.
Leaving the web behind and close contact with nature can be combined with another “Human to Human” theme which will grow in popularity in coming years: thematic retreats. At Samanà, in the Dominican Republic, for instance, a peninsula famous for migrating whales and its flourishing palm groves, regenerating “off grid” experiences are available, with a focus on yoga. Themes like yoga and meditation are still the most requested, but music, embroidery and knitting, writing and food are all gaining ground - cuisine was a decisive factor for 55% of travellers in Europe in 2019 – as is cycling. One trend to bear in mind is 100% vegan holidays.
Bit2020 is continuing to take shape and its 40th anniversary edition seems set to confirm its Italian leadership among travel industry events, not only for its ability to bring demand and supply together, but also as a thermometer of industry trends which find their response in exhibitors' proposals.