Travel data firm Forward Keys has identified six key factors it says are vital for the UK tourism sector as part of a study into inbound travel trends.
Olivier Ponti, vice president insights at the data analytics firm, presented the results of research into long haul airline data trends on the opening day of World Travel Market 2019 at London’s Excel exhibition centre.
He said while the top inbound positions for both country and city source markets remained stable compared to one and five years ago, secondary cities in some destinations are benefitting from increased capacity, reduced prices due to fluency fluctuations and events that drive large visitor numbers.
Ponti said: “there are some general principles that explain why origin markets become stronger or weaker, including performance of the local economy, currency fluctuations, airline competition, and major events.
“However if there is one trend In the data that I find particularly interesting it is the rise of second tier cities and it is most marked in the two leading outbound travel markets, the US, where sixteen cities feature in the top 50 and China, where growth for the country exceeds growth for the two biggest cities.”
The six factors that drive arrivals, according to Forward Keys are:
• Continued growth in China and other emerging economies;
• The rise in secondary cities that are benefiting from improved connectivity;
• The impact of currency fluctuations that influence booking trends;
• The importance of connectivity- airlines will do all they can to sell seats on routes they decide to focus on;
• The influence of commodity prices like oil;
• The role of events including those that have positive impacts like sports, religious and cultural, or negative impacts like terrorism.
Ponti pointed to data that showed whole Chinese arrivals from Beijing and Shanghai were growing they were not growing as fast as the overall numbers from China meaning growth levels must be higher from secondary cities.
This is being driven by Chinese carriers backed by the government that have put services on from these secondary cities to test the market and found demand to be good and so have retained the routes, he said.
Source markets in the US have also shown strong growth in cities where connectivity has been increased by the likes of Norwegian and Delta, the latter having pushed Detroit into the top 50 inbound markets having seen an 11.2% increase in arrivals on the back of a 20.9% increase in capacity this year.
“The US is stable but still growing extremely strongly, up 9.5%. I believe this is the alignment of the three Cs: currency, connectivity and competition,” said Ponti. Fares from the US have been pushed down by currency fluctuations making the UK a more attractive destination, he added.
The secondary city phenomenon can also be seen in Nigeria, which has seen a 14% increase in arrivals after a slump in 2015/16 due to the oil price crisis around that time. While arrivals from leading Nigerian city Lagos have grown 11.4% from the country’s capital Abuja arrivals were up 21% which saw it jump four places in the top 50 cities.
In India Delhi entered the top 10 for city arrivals claiming seventh spot having seen a 21% increase due to this year’s cricket World Cup that was hosted in the UK. Overall India saw a 14.5% rise and a quarter of those were were people coming for longer stays of 22 nights or more.
Arrivals from Australia, one of the UK’s top three long haul source markets alongside the US and India were down 2.1% which was put down to the first recession for 20 years in the Australian economy and the depreciation of the Australian dollar against the pound.
Source markets on the up include Bangladesh, South Africa and South Korea while fallers included the United Arab Emirates, Argentina and Mexico as the result of a mixture of economic issues in those countries and declining capacity after routes were cut or scaled back.