The Travel & Tourism IndustryThe travel and tourism industry creates approximately 9% of total GDP, providing over 230 million jobs (about 8% of global employment). The prosperity of Global travel and tourism markets is primarily related to economic factors such as global oil prices, air fares, disposable income and currency exchange. Health and safety issues (such as outbreaks of viruses or volcanic eruptions), and political unrest also have a significant impact on tourism to specific destinations. Despite economic uncertainty, in the last decade there has been an increase in tourist visits and international passenger travel. The numbers of passengers travelling abroad and occupying hotel rooms has grown about 5%.
Hundreds of years ago travel for leisure was restricted to individuals with wealth. These individuals had the means to travel unhindered around Europe, sometimes for months or years. Post industrialisation, the innovation of rail and steamship travel made tourism more accessible and more affordable. For the first time, travel was not just restricted to those with unlimited resources. Ordinary people could encounter new places, sights and sounds.
Travel companies were formed, helping individuals and families plan holidays and time off. Tourism became an industry in its own right. Since these early days of travel, people have ventured further and further a field. Advances in air travel mean tourists can travel almost anywhere and go there amazingly fast. Nowadays, the top destinations in terms of numbers of international tourist visitors are France, United States of America, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. These places are popular both in summer and winter months.
For most people, a holiday means a chance to escape to experience good weather, new sights, good cuisine and different cultures. Leisure time is precious. So an increasing number of tourists are seeking out more and more adventurous and exciting activities to do on their holiday. For example, white water rafting, caving, canoeing and horse riding are all popular.
The way we book a holiday has dramatically changed in the last twenty years. Many of us prefer to compare prices of package deals and book online, rather than see a local travel agent. Many tourists research fellow travellers reviews before taking the plunge. Tourists are less swayed by the recommendations of high street travel agents and choose instead to book transport and holiday accommodation separately. Activities are bolted on, booked directly with operators.
There has been a rise in the number of people taking package holidays, in an attempt to control and fix costs. Airport taxes and fuel costs have increased and have meant that costs have been mounting. Budget airlines that once offered good value for money have increasingly bolted on additional costs for baggage, in-flight food, etc. The package tour is seeing something of a comeback, where travel, accommodation and even activities are all booked with one tour operator. Package holidays can provide the protection of a fixed price, and often provide added comfort in knowing you are dealing with one primary contact both in the UK and at your holiday destination.
Holidays combining working for charities or undertaking activities abroad to raise money for charities is another area of the travel and tourism industry that is on the rise. These vacations offer the opportunity for groups of individuals with like minded values to meet and take on projects that would otherwise not happen. Examples include digging wells for clean water in Cambodia, and cycling across deserts raising funds for worthy causes both at home and abroad. With the environment at the forefront of many people’s minds, and their desire to have a positive impact on a destination. This has resulted in more people staying closer to home for their holidays. Travelling less and undertaking activities that can help wildlife, flora and fauna. This is good news to wildlife charities who are on the lookout for volunteers.
The economic climate will also govern that consumers elect to take “staycations” and explore the countryside, coast lines, parks and cities that are on their doorstep. Days out with family and friends means there has been a marked increase in the amount of “at home” destination advertising on the web and television. Direct employment opportunities are positively impacted by tourism. Staff employed in hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions etc will enjoy an upturn in working hours when venues are busy. However, tourism employment is still extremely seasonal. Indirectly, employment will increase when the demand for goods and services are increased. Food production will see an increase in demand by tourists and as such factories, packing companies and vendors will have need for more staff.