Topping the news this week in travel industry stats and research were some positive signs for the business and wellness travel sectors. Here's a quick look at what you need to know.
Business Travel to Rise 3.1 Percent in 2015
U.S. business travel volume is expected to increase over the next two years, as the U.S. economy moves into higher gear, according to the new GBTA BTI Outlook – United States 2015 Q1 from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). Meanwhile, lower oil prices are expected to allow more modest pricing growth in air travel, ground transportation and rental cars in 2015.
Overall, U.S. business travel spending is expected to advance 3.1 percent to $295.7 billion in 2015, a lower figure than last quarter's forecast due to lower than expected prices on travel goods and services. Total person-trip volume, on the other hand, is expected to increase, more than previously expected, by 1.7 percent to 492.1 million trips in 2015, according to the GBTA BTI Outlook – United States 2015 Q1, a report from the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the GBTA, and sponsored by Visa, Inc. This rise in volume follows three quarters with relatively no change in GBTA's forecast.
"The expected increase in U.S. business travel volume is an excellent indicator of how the overall domestic economy is faring, with every sector and consumer spending performing better than we've seen since 2009," said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO. "Thanks to a healthier domestic economy and a stronger U.S. dollar, companies are putting more travelers on the road not only because they can afford to, but because they continue to see a strong return on their business travel investment."
After Disasters, Wellness Tourism Recovers 170 Percent More
At the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Global Summit in Madrid, Spain, the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) released new data suggesting wellness tourism could rebound faster than the tourism sector as a whole following major disasters, such as wars, acts of terrorism, drug violence or natural disasters.
The ten nations analyzed that have experienced either historic or shorter-term disruptions, will see, on average, an annual 7.2 percent growth rate in inbound trips overall, but a greater 19.5 percent annual rise in inbound wellness tourism trips (each year from 2012-2017). This represents roughly 170 percent more inbound wellness-focused trips across those five years.
The GWI defines wellness tourism as all travel associated with maintaining or enhancing one’s personal wellbeing, and this travel category’s global growth is estimated at 9.1 percent annually from 2012-2017, or 58 percent faster than the 5.8 percent annual growth rate for global tourism overall.
Hotel Rooms Up 7.6 Percent in the Middle East
In hotel news, STR Global released its Global Construction Pipeline Report for March, with some mixed signs in Europe and the Middle East. While Europe has more hotels under contract, the Middle East has more rooms poised to open in the coming year.
83 Percent of Travelers Outside the U.S. Want In-Flight Wi-Fi
Finally, the air travel sector got a reminder of the importance of connectivity with the release of Gogo Inc.'s study on traveler interest in in-flight connectivity and connectivity related products and services. The study revealed that interest in these products and services is significantly higher outside the U.S. despite the fact that fewer connected aircraft are operating internationally as compared to within the U.S.
In addition to showing more interest in connecting in flight, air travelers outside the U.S. are more likely to carry their own Wi-Fi-enabled devices on a plane and are more willing to pay for the services when compared to travelers in the U.S.
When asked about their interest in in-flight connectivity services, 83 percent of air travelers in regions outside the U.S. said they were interested in using Wi-Fi vs. just 74 percent of U.S. air travelers. When it comes to wireless in-flight entertainment, 71 percent of air travelers outside the U.S. show a strong interest vs. 59 percent in the U.S.
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