The travel and tourism industry is one of the most significant in terms of its contribution to global GDP. In 2011, when the global economy was stalling, the sector continued to grow by 3 percent, contribute $2 trillion to global GDP and support 98 million jobs worldwide according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (Economic Impact Research 2012).
With this in mind, the ability of countries to attract foreign visitors is increasingly regarded as an important contributor to national GDP and as a source of job creation.
However, historically the industry has been poor at aggregating and benchmarking data to help countries and the sector itself to maximise the abundant opportunities available from travel and tourism. This means that often the industry is ill-equipped with the information and insights that are so important to effective decision-making. Whether those decisions are related to destination development, managing major events such as the Olympics or planning for transport infrastructure.
Despite the fact that the travel and tourism value chain is heavily computerized, the ability to draw insights from all the available data remains limited. This is because the industry tends to be fragmented and silo-based and collaboration is both culturally and practically difficult. This is in stark contrast to other sectors such as retail, financial services and consumer goods which use data on a daily basis across their supply chains to improve performance, promote efficiencies and better serve the customer.
At ForwardKeys, we are focused on supporting the sector to use data more effectively. The report, London Olympic Games 2012: Impact on inbound travel (as of May 2012), we have released today in partnership with Amadeus provides insights into the impact of the London 2012 Olympic Games on travel and tourism. With approximately 50 days to go, we have seen bookings up by 13 per cent from this period last year and we have been able to provide a country-by-country view of where visitors to London are coming from.
The research reveals a range of trends which will help the UK understand who is visiting from where and to fully maximise the opportunities presented by such a volume of inbound tourism. And likewise, for travel providers such as hotels, airlines, car rental companies and others, these insights into who is visiting in July and August can support their marketing and merchandising efforts.
Maximising the opportunity of inbound tourism is only possible if you are able to understand what the opportunity is – and that can only be delivered by data-led insights.
Information is power, and now is the time for the industry to embrace it. In today’s environment, when growth is proving elusive for many sectors and countries, the travel and tourism continues to be a bright light, with annual growth over the next decade to 2022 forecast to be 4.2 per cent according to the World Travel and Tourism Council Economic Impact Research 2012.
Nonetheless, growth will continue to be hard fought, and the right information and data will be a key weapon.
You can see our previous report, 150 days out: how the Olympic Games affect travel.