Global tourism industry sees boom

Kathmandu, January 3:

It’s not only Nepal that saw a healthy growth in tourist arrivals, this year, the global tourism trends also witnessed with sustained growth rate of the past 10 years.

The global tourism trend continued to thrive with an estimated 5.7 per cent average growth during 2007. Growth will be driven by the emerging markets and the developing countries, according to 2007 preliminary results of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

It confirms resilience regarding external factors such as turbulence in financial markets increasing interest rates, tighter credit conditions, rising fuel prices and security and health issues.

For the coming year 2008, only a very slight softening in the trade is expected, marking a growth rate of only five per cent across the globe. Current issues may start to weaken consumer confidence.

In 2007, growth was not expected to be quite dynamic, as patterns have moved generally closer to the trend rates embodied in the 10-year annualised forecast by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

Robust global growth will continue with GDP growth forecast, moving on a straight line above 4.5 per cent, pegged much higher than market exchange rates fluctuating from 3- 3.7 per cent per year till 2008, according to Oxford Economics.

The WTTC is not concerned about the significant slowdown because a slightly positive trend may prevail, offsetting the decline for two major reasons, according to WTTC president Jean-Claude Baumgarten.

Mature markets, such as North America and Europe, will travel five to six times a year rather than just two or three times.

“Weekend breaks are becoming so popular in Europe; it’s like a movement that redefines lifestyle.

If you look at the other side, the new and booming markets are China and India,” said Baumgarten.

China’s domestic market alone represents 470 million people a year.

China is going to be the second tourism economy in the world in 10 years. India’s domestic market totals 275 million a year.

There are 170 million households, which have the same average yield as most developed nations today. Tourism not only gives direct jobs but a lots of people get indirect job when the tourism booms.

Another rising star is Russia. The strength of the Russian market is in its growing middle-class whose traffic impact will likely skyrocket.

According to the UNWTO’s Market Trends, tourism’s rising star destinations, receiving over five million tourists include Croatia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, Malaysia, South Africa, India and Tunisia.

In 2007, the tourist arrivals to Nepal crossed a half million mark and arrivals via air route only stood at 360,350 visitors. If the tourists arriving via land route which as of November 2007 stands at 153,000 is added, the total figure crosses the half million mark, a highest so far. The peace process has fuelled the tourism arrivals last year.