Economic worries and shift to online sales influence travel and tourism in 2012
Two issues influenced the development of travel and tourism in 2012. Economic development was an issue as the continued unrest on the financial markets, the increase in unemployment and the low level of consumer confidence in the economy put pressure on consumer spending in general and spending on travel and tourism in particular. Another major development was the development of online sales, social media and mobile devices. These technological developments changed travel and tourism in the Netherlands as the Dutch were quick to adopt these new systems.
Domestic and outbound travel under pressure due to economy
In 2012 there was a modest growth in the number of domestic trips. Some households decided to take fewer trips or not to go on holiday at all but this negative trend was offset by the number of households that decided to stay closer to home or to take shorter but more frequent domestic holidays. Outbound travel saw a minor decline in 2012. The economic situation had a negative effect on its development despite the fact that many travel retailers managed to persuade tourists to book a trip by lowering prices. Inbound tourism witnessed healthy growth. There was a positive development of tourism flows from neighbouring and nearby countries in particular and the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries.
Travel accommodation remains static
Travel accommodation remained static in 2012. This was mainly due to high levels of price competition and down trading by consumers. There were few periods of sunny weather in the summer and this limited the performance of, for instance, campsites as these depend on good weather more than other types of accommodation. Compared to the average growth in value sales of the review period the growth of travel accommodation value sales was similar. Growth during the review period was very modest. The combined effects of economic worries, the resulting negative influence on online booking, and price competition within average prices limited growth.
Traditional travel retailers outperformed by online competition
The adverse economic conditions played a negative role and as a result the offline sales value of travel retail declined in 2012. Traditional travel retail in particular is under pressure as consumers are becoming much more comfortable with booking trips online. This means that bricks and mortar travel retail outlets have to close if they cannot find a way to connect with new consumers and offer additional value through services and information that cannot be matched by websites. Sales of package holidays was one major area of decline for travel retail. Not only was this category under pressure due to the economic situation, it is also suffering because consumers are turning away from package holidays in favour of dynamic packaging. Many consumers want to have the flexibility to put together their own packages.
Travel and tourism will continue to struggle
The Dutch economy is expected to see a further decline until 2014 and a slow recovery for the years to follow. Dutch government vowed to make further budget cuts and the expectations are that this will be better for the economy in the long term, but in the short term the economy is likely to show a further decline and consumer confidence will be negatively affected once more. This means that travel and tourism will decline before it recovers and domestic and outbound travel in particular will see a slowdown or a decline as a result. In turn this will have a negative effect on the development of other segments which depend on domestic and outbound travel and tourism.
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