09 February 2018

ANTOR held its 2018 Annual review at the Army & Navy Club, taking a look at 2017 and considering what the future may hold for the industry in 2018. Speakers included Kurt Janson, Director of the Tourism Alliance, Jo Fletcher-Cross, APL Trends Specialist a

ANTOR (Association of National Tourist Offices and Representatives)

Jo Fletcher-Cross, took a look at key industry trends in 2017 notwithstanding the failure of Monarch Airlines and terrible hurricanes in the Caribbean and USA. Jo highlighted growth in the cruise market reaching 1.9 million UK cruise passengers with an 11% growth in river cruise passengers. She stated that overall 70.8 million foreign trips were taken, up 8%, with top destinations being: Spain, France, Italy, Ireland and the USA.  While international arrivals to the EU increased by 4% or 500 million passengers, 40% of the world’s total.

Looking at 2018 – Jo underlined the importance of PSD2 and the industry’s preparation for compliance with the new regulations. She emphasized that Brexit negotiations need to include maintaining our ability to travel freely within Europe and beyond, keeping visa-free travel between the UK and the EU, protecting consumer rights and giving UK businesses operations stability. Positively there is a need for all sectors of the industry to seize opportunities for growth at this time.

Predicting future trends, although Jo light-heatedly said this is not her forte she recommended keeping a close eye on “floating millennials” as of those who haven’t yet taken a cruise, the 25-34 year olds are the most interested and nearly half of all cruise passengers are now under the age of 50. At the other end of the scale, 40% of adventure travel consumers are aged 50-70 and the world’s 65+ age group will grow by 87.8% by 2030. Five million people take a coach tour every year, and the sector generates £2.35 billion annually so not to be ignored. Over a third of tourist spending is devoted to food and 88.2% of UNWTO members believe gastronomy is a strategic element in defining their destination. While mobile bookings increased from 13% to 20% in 2017 and 60% of users found it easy to use their mobile to book their holiday this trend is highly likely to continue. Jo’s top destinations to watch for 2018 included ANTOR members Japan, Greece, Canada and Miami.

Kurt Janson, putting things into perspective, looked at what’s happening in the Inbound market; with holiday spend up 25%, VFR spend up 16% but business travel spend down 3%. This is very important to allow our members to understand the market better and from a competitive stance. Kurt then continued the conversation on what’s happening with the Outbound Market observing that there is a prioritisation of holidays by the British tourist due to record low interest rates, record low unemployment and high disposable debt. Tackling Brexit, he agreed that this is the big unknown. Discussing how the industry will react he stated that priorities are in addition to retaining EU travel agreements and maintaining access to EU workers there will also be the issue of replacing EU funded programmes. Kurt discussed all aspects of the industry’s preparation for Brexit including the Tourism Industry Council and Industrial Strategy, explaining that the four strand priorities are; a 10 year skills campaign, to extend the season, to improve connectivity and to create tourism zones. Finally Kurt looked at the three key issues of a hard versus soft Brexit, of regulatory alignment and of the impact of ETAs and ETIAs.

Nigel Fell, introduced a new tool for destinations to  reach out to the British Traveller and to learn more about their travel habits, preferences and wish lists that can be linked to their ANTOR website pages.

The group concluded that for non EU countries (half the audience) Brexit should not make much difference to their markets other than maybe a positive increase in British visitors if the known versus the unknown becomes a factor in destination choice …. The EU countries in particular agreed that they need more dialogue with the British Tourism policy decision makers in the near future. So watch this space:

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