Euromonitor International releases 10th anniversary edition of WTM Global Trends Report 2015

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The 10th anniversary edition of WTM Global Trends Report 2015 by Euromonitor International was launched on the inaugural day of WTM London looking at how the travel industry is developing in a rapidly changing landscape and predicting future trends that will shape the industry.

The key findings suggest: 1) a small but growing number of American companies are offering employees unlimited paid holidays; 2) UK towns outside London are increasingly looking at hi-tech strategies to attract visitors; 3) visitors to European destinations are looking beyond the mainstream, exploring alternative districts popular with local hipsters; 4) using big data and mobile technology, travel is being transformed by the introduction of personalisation; 5) as global relations improve with Iran, foreign travel companies are poised to enter the closed country; 6) technology start-ups are flourishing across Africa, boosting business travel; 7) new hotels are using crowd-sourcing and crowd-funding to open boutique properties; 8) the sharing economy takes off in China with home-grown ride-sharing and private rental companies and 9) travel for India’s unbanked population is being helped by travel companies introducing alternative payment schemes.

The global overview indicates the following major points towards an uncertain time ahead: a) economic growth across the globe continues to be uncertain, with rising geopolitical unrest, a potential U.S. interest rate rise, oil price volatility and the Eurozone crisis all cause for concern; b) the International Monetary Fund predicts global GDP growth of 3.2% for 2015, with advanced economies showing an improved outlook with growth slowing in emerging markets; c) the normally strong Chinese economy has also struggled recently, facing sharp stock market falls in late summer 2015, giving rise to concerns about a hard landing; d) geopolitical events are further impacting economic performance, with conflicts affecting certain destinations in the Middle East and North Africa, Russia and Ukraine; e) nonetheless, travel continues to shine globally, with arrivals reaching over 1.1 billion in 2014, up by 4.3%. 2015 is forecast to see slightly slower growth, estimated at 3.7%; f) Expenditure is also rising, with the Asia Pacific region predicted to see the fastest growth in inbound expenditure over the next five years; g) the mobile booking channel has finally reached the mainstream, accounting for some US$96 billion of travel sales globally in 2014 and h) despite a recent slowdown, outbound Chinese travellers are still on the rise, reaching over 84 million in 2014, with increasing disposable incomes favouring overseas trips.

India: Travel for the unbanked

On Indian scenario, the report comments India remains a predominantly rural country with over 66% of the population living in rural areas, with cash purchases the only option for payments. As only 7% of India’s villages possess a bank, these rural consumers make up the majority of India’s unbanked, an estimated 500 million people in 2015, according to the Bank of India. For many of these consumers, travel and online booking of tickets may appear an unrealistic dream, but the situation is slowly changing as travel companies reach out to the unbanked.

After impressive growth across the board in 2014, 2015 looks set to see a slight slowdown but solid increases are still expected in GDP growth, arrivals and receipts. Airlines are seeing spectacular growth in value, with Low Cost Carriers (LCCs) and online booking driving these increases. Hotels are recovering from a poor year in 2013, with budget brands enjoying significant popularity among travellers, both international and domestic.

The Cash on Delivery (CoD) payment model has seen great success with online retailing, and a number of travel companies have recently established a service for ticketing. Consumers book a ticket online, often using a travel agent or internet café, and a cash payment is collected after which the ticket can be downloaded or delivered. Internet access for India’s rural population and smaller cities looks set to expand dramatically, leading to over 320 million internet users by 2019. This improved internet access, combined with a growing availability of mobile phones, is likely to result in increased mobile payments and applications for unbanked consumers. In August 2015, 11 companies were granted licences for banking transactions such as deposits and payments, but not loans. This move aims to bring mobile banking to India’s unbanked, to make purchases, including travel.