Meltdown Takes Toll on Tourism Industry?
From Charles Ajunwa in London
The 2009 World Travel Market (WTM) and Euromonitor InternationalGlobal Trends Report, released yesterday said the global economicmeltdown is taking a heavy toll on the travel and tourism industry, with business travel revenues down globally by 40 percent in July 2009 compared to the previous 12 months.
The report also said despite the global crisis, Africa hasenjoyed one of the world's highest growth for inbound arrivals of three percent in 2008, fuelled by government tourism investment and improved qualitystandards, saying President Barack Obama's recent visit to Ghananot only put Africa under the international tourism spotlight but hasalso opened up the potential for African tourism revival among Africans living abroad.
The report, which was released at the 30th anniversary of the WTM,taking place in Excel, London, said the global financial crisis hadalso resulted in falling expenditure, lack of credit and risingunemployment causing what it described as a slump in confidence anddemand in the travel and tourism industry.
The report also said global arrivals are expected to decine by eight percent, hotels by 16percent and air sales by 14 percent, which it described as goingfrom 'boom to bust', noting that with the volatile oil prices and fuelhedging costs, airlines fell massively into the red.
It said that IATAforcasts losses to reach US$11 billion in 2009.According to the report, a full tourism recovery to pre-crisis levelsis not expected until 2013, with emerging economies set to lead theworld out of recession.
The report said the onus is now on the travel industry to put sustainabilityat its heart to surving with the United Nations climate changeconference coming up in December this year, noting that being ahead ofthe curve on carbon emissions is a smart way to engage with the new,rational consumer.
It said that root tourism which is largely unknown to manycore markets can provive a huge boost to economic prosperity in Africaand to its local communities, noting that a great number of heritageattractions connected with the Transatlantic Slave Trade are in WestAfrican countries such as Ghana, Gambia and Senegal.
According to the report, root tourism enables Africa to re-branditself by changing perceptions and projecting a positive image of thecontinent, adding that with Obama as an ideal role model, there is nobetter time to do this.''An asset to the promotion of root tourism is the inreasing stabilityin countries such as Ghana. The country was the first to welcomePresident Obama on his first official trip to Africa.''The internet has raised awareness of Africa and helped make theregion more accessible. The expansion of package holiday itineries toinclude countries such as Gambia has opened up a wider audience,adding that ''Obama's election to the President of the United Stateshas resulted in a surge of popularity for Kenya especially amongstAfrican Americans wishing to visit his ancestral village Kogelo wherehis grandmother still lives.It also said that the US is Africa's biggest source market where 41million African Americans reside, growing in population by over one percentyear-on-year and enjoying an average income of US$32,000.