Travel Industry Profile

For many countries, tourism is the largest service export. International travelers spend $91.1 billion in the U.S. Tourism is one of America's largest employers. Tourism directly employs 7.9 million people. By the year 2020, tourism is expected to become the world's largest industry. Air travel has quadrupled since 1970 and will probably double again by 2015.

For many countries, tourism is the largest service export. International travelers spend $91.1 billion in the U.S.  Tourism is one of America's largest employers. Tourism directly employs 7.9 million people. By the year 2020, tourism is expected to become the world's largest industry. Air travel has quadrupled since 1970 and will probably double again by 2015.

 

A new emerging trend in tourism is called geotourism. It is a tourism that enhances the geographical character of a place being visited - its environment, culture, and heritage. In a study conducted by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) and National Geographic Traveler, 55 million Americans are considered geotourists.

The two largest groups of geotourists, Geo-Savvys (16.3 million) and Urban Sophisticates (21.2), are mainly baby boomers that are interested in travel with a focus on cultural and social aspects. They are known for their intellectual curiosity as reflected in their interest in educational and cultural activities in their local communities.

Travel is the leading ecommerce category. According to comScore, online leisure travel bookings reached about $51 billion last year, or 44 percent of all online sales. Roughly 30 percent of all travel bookings take place via Internet - a far greater share than, say, retailing, where less than 5 percent of all sales are recorded on the Internet.

Much of that growth came from 2001 to 2003, when leisure travel bookings more than tripled, to $43 billion, according to Forrester Research, a technoology consulting firm.

After the September 2001 attacks, travel suppliers made desperate efforts to attract consumers with discounted flights and hotel prices, but were short of funds to advertise the bargains. Online travel companies like Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz and Priceline became beneficiaries of suppliers, selling hotel and airline bookings at considerable markups.

When the US domestic travel industry began rebounding last year, suppliers cut the number of bargain rate accommodation and flights they offered through travel agencies, while trying to attract customers directly to their Web sites, where they could sell their products commission-free.

The online travel services increased their bookings by 18 percent over the first quarter of 2004, while airlines, hotels and car-rental agencies increased sales on their own Web sites 22 percent. According to ComScore, supplier sites sold 62.5 percent of travel booked online in the fourth quarter of 2004, with the online travel sites selling the rest.

A growing interest in adventure will redefine the image of the travel industry in the 21st century, says a Lloyd's of London broker. Speaking to representatives of the Canadian travel insurance industry earlier this month, leading Lloyd's broker, David Stirling, Director of Crispin Speers & Partners, said, "The 21st century will be characterized by independent travelers visiting remote, farflung destinations, and undertaking more adventurous activities. Increasingly, they will be faced with poor access to medical care, basic facilities and greater exposure to disease. The need for intelligent, specialist insurance cover will become paramount."

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