Misleading WTTC reports

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Misleading WTTC reports

WTTC (World Travel & Tourism Council), a lobby group for the travel business, has published a series of comprehensive reports* for selected markets – some measures comparable, some not.


Unfortunately, the group is so careless in its presentations that the professional observer is sometimes left to guess what WTTC’s research shows. We believe its presentations are in contrast with the professionalism of its research.


As a result, the following is our (abridged) list of WTTC’s findings, with comments where necessary.


(Note: WTTC mainly uses the awkward term ‘travel and tourism’*, which we change to the more-practical ‘travel business’*, abbreviated here to TB. Data for 2017, unless noted otherwise.)


[] World.

-TB turnover +4.6%. Visitor spend +4.3%. GDP growth a WTTC-rounded +3%.


[] North Africa.

-TB turnover (overall GDP, TB’s share of GDP): +22.6%; Egypt US$21.1bn +72.9% (+4.1%, 11.0%); Tunisia US$5.7bn +7.6% (WTTC-rounded +2%, 14.2%); Turkey US$98.4bn WTTC-rounded +17% (+7.0%, 11.6%). Note Turkey is part in Europe, part in Asia (Minor), which is sometimes a reason for including it in the Middle East. Including it in North Africa is incorrect.

-‘…well on track to return to pre-crisis levels’. Without a date, this is meaningless commentary; it was on that track the moment the TB stopped falling.


[] Australia.

-TB turnover (overall GDP): US$156bn/A$197.5bn +2.3% (+2.2%).


[] Canada.

-TB turnover (overall GDP): US$108bn/C$138.8bn +4.5% (a WTTC-rounded +3%). In a separate report, WTTC puts growth as +5.5%.


[] China.

-TB turnover +9.8%.


[] France.

-TB 50% faster than world average. Wrong? The same report showed that this was a comparison with the visitor business, not the overall TB.

-Visitors to France spent US$54.7bn (at US$1 to €0.81) +6.4%.

-TB turnover US$252.2bn, an 8.9% share.


[] Germany.

-TB turnover US$429.8bn +1.7%.


[] India.

-Forecast to overtake Germany as #3 by 2028.


[] Indonesia.

-TB turnover US$57bn/Rph787.1tn +6.4%; overall GDP +5.1%.

-Forecast +6.4% annual average growth rate 2018-27.


[] Italy.

-TB turnover (overall GDP): US$275.6bn +2.7%, a WTTC-rounded 13% share (+1.6%).

-Visitor spend US$48.9bn +6.5%.


[] Japan.

-TB turnover (overall GDP): US$350bn/¥37.1tn +3.4% (+1.6%).

-Forecasts 40mn visitors in 2020. Not clear if this is a WTTC forecast or a restatement of Japan’s government’s target.


[] Saudi Arabia.

-TB turnover (overall GDP): US$64bn/R240.9bn +4.6% (a WTTC-rounded +1%), a 9.4% share of GDP.


[] Spain.

-TB turnover a WTTC-rounded +7%.


[] UK.

-TB turnover (overall GDP): US$297bn/a-WTTC-rounded-£214bn +6.2% (+1.5%).

-Visitors +6.7%, outbound travellers +2.5% (+7.8% 2016, +9.9% 2015), domestic travellers +5.8%, spend by visitors to UK +7.9%, spend by domestic travellers +5.8%.


[] US.


-TB turnover (overall GDP): US$1.5tn +2.3% world’s largest (same, +2.3%).


-WTTC has its own methodology for calculating the turnover of the travel business including not just inbound, outbound, and domestic travel, but other industries involved in the business. For instance, if 0.5% of the world’s cars go into the car-rental business, that measure will be calculated into the turnover of the overall travel business.


Unfortunately, WTTC is not always clear that its data is related to this grand total, and often its commentary appears to be related to just one sector – often, the inbound visitor business. In addition, it sometimes uses the terms ‘travel’ or ‘tourism’ alone; we cannot always determine if these mean something different from ‘travel & tourism’.


WTTC’s name does not help – the ‘TT’ is ‘travel & tourism’, where we would define ‘travel’ as covering all segments of the travel business, with ‘tourism’ meaning ‘leisure travel’ to most observers – just one segment. This means that most people and bodies the WTTC lobbies may think they are discussing just inbound leisure travel.


-Most US$ figures are our conversions from WTTC figures.


-At press time, WTTC had not answered our request for clarifications.


-A report on this topic in our Travel Business Analyst newsletter contains some important additional information, qualification, and analysis.


The Fox

Remember, I’m an industry expert in the parallel world.


*Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.



Bigger Trump slump in US visitors

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Bigger Trump slump in US visitors


Trump Slump 1

Normally we would not analyse data for one month so thoroughly. But these are not normal times, thus this analysis – this one primarily on Jan-Sep.


There was slight improvement in Q3. Jan-Sep total visitors fell -3.8%, compared with Jan-Jun -3.9%, although September turned worse, -5.0%. The main reason for the worsening was results in the ‘overseas’ markets (all except Canada, Mexico) – -6.3% -5.7% but -8.7%.


Of the regions we track (calculations from US DMO’s data) indicate worsening for Europe -2.3 -2.6 but -4.0, and for Asia Pacific -1.7 -0.9 but -3.2.


Overall then, it appears the Trump Slump is worsening.


Other comments:

[] 11 markets in top-20 are getting better (faster growth or slower fall; Jan-Jun compared with Jan-Sep). Those getting worse (slower growth or faster fall) are (in size order): Canada, China, Korea, Germany, India, Italy, Colombia, Spain, Sweden.


[] Ignoring for a moment precise reporting, markets essentially unchanged (Sep compared with Jan-Sep) are Canada, Mexico, UK, Germany, India.


[] Biggest turns for the worst (Sep compared with Jan-Sep) are Japan (to -7% Sep from +0% Jan-Sep), China (-7 -6), Italy (-4 +3), Spain (-1 +3), Argentina (-36 -22), Netherlands (-6 +2), Colombia (-26 -12).


[] A rare Trump Bump. Korea soars forward at +18% Jan-Sep, same Jan-Jun, and +23% September.




Trump Slump 2

Forward Keys, a research company, tracks travel based on air bookings. Some of its findings on travel to the US:

[] For all-2017 air bookings were -2.0%. This year Jan/Feb was down fractionally, -0.02%.


[] FK reports that the fall in the value of the UK- against the US-currency, following the UK’s mid-2016 vote to leave the European Union, discouraged many UK would-be travellers. The UK is the US’s largest market after contiguous Canada and Mexico.


[] FK says visitors from China flattened in 2017 after substantial growth in 2016. Our database on actual arrivals shows something different – a -6% fall over Jan-Sep 17, but +15% Jan-Dec 16.


[] Outlook is better. FK reports international bookings to the US from within the Americas are +7%, and longhaul bookings from elsewhere are just +0.5% ahead. However, if ‘Americas includes the contiguous markets of Canada and Mexico, these two alone swing the total.


[] FK says Mexico forward bookings to August are +28.9%. Again, this contrasts our 2017 data, which shows -8% Jan-Sep 17.


[] Brazil forward bookings for the same period +24.8%.


[] US destinations. FK reports Florida as the biggest destination in the US, although we have New York City the largest single destination. FK reports Florida -1.0%.


A report on this topic in our Travel Business Analyst newsletter contains some important additional information, qualification, and analysis.



The Fox

Remember, I’m an industry expert in the parallel world.


*Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.