1. Home
  2. Surveys
  3. Surveys (Back number)
  4. JATA Independent Surveys

JATA Independent Surveys


(April 16, 2003)

3 Month Trend Continues: Unstable International Situation Causing Rapid Drop in Overseas Travel

4th JATA Survey on Travel Market Trends

In order to better assess prevailing business conditions, JATA (Japan Association of Travel Agents) stays in touch with the changing travel market by carrying out a quarterly survey of market trends among member companies, indexed by types of travel, destination and customer categories. (A digest of the survey appears below.)
According to the "4th JATA Survey on Travel Market Trends" conducted from the middle to the end of March 2003, anxiety over the war in Iraq, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and unease about the international situation in general has had a severe toll on the overseas travel market. The situation in the domestic travel market is little better, as travelers opt for "quick, cheap and close" trips given the unfortunate Golden Week schedule, and reluctance to travel with elections coming up. There is some prospect of stability after three months.

Change in Combined Demand for All Destinations
2001
2002
2003
Apr.-June
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June
-22
-43
-90
-58
-50
-37
-25
-49
-69
-43
*Outlook as reported in the last survey

War in Iraq and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) chief factors causing overseas travel market to reverse its upward trend until this year.
According to the 4th JATA Survey on Travel Market Trends, the diffusion index (DI) for overall demand for overseas travel was -49, a 24 point drop from the previous three months, sounding a sour note in the basic tone of recovery of late. Reflecting the strong influence exerted by international affairs, many first tier retailers* cited SARS and the situations in Iraq and North Korea as not only being responsible for the sharp decline in travel abroad in general, but also the reason why many students have refrained from taking the traditional trip abroad after graduation. Mainstream and other travel agencies*, for their part, do not anticipate tours picking up in the near future. Reflecting anxiety over the unstable situation affecting the travel market, the DI in the last survey for the period from January-March 2003 was -43, making this additional six-point drop only a slight downward revision.
The outlook for the next three months is for another 20-point drop. As to why the prospects are not seen as being too bright, first-tier retailers cited factors unrelated to the international situation, such as the unified elections in April for the city council and prefectural assembly, and the small member of consecutive holidays during Golden Week this year. On the other hand, the opinion of many in-house agencies* was that latent demand among those pondering traveling abroad had dropped drastically. According to one respondent, "Although it has been said that consumers have become extremely price-conscious, the fact is they will pay the money if they believe it is worth it. We must try harder in the future to offer products in which we have confidence."
In the view of many first-tier retailers, it is important to look ahead and seize upon the indicators. Overseas travel wholesalers* see some light at the end of the tunnel, "There are a lot of events coming up for the 300th Anniversary of St. Petersburg; furthermore, the fact that this year has been named 'Japan Year' in Russia should also give demand a big boost."
Looking to the next three months, while the situation in Iraq and the influence of SARS are expected to continue to adversely influence business conditions, the immediate easing of world tensions remains the key to the future recovery of the overseas travel market.
*See "Business Classification" at the end of this article for definitions of the various categories.

All customer categories continue to fall. Sharpest present and anticipated drop among senior travelers
The DI for all customer categories fell over the last three months, with seniors slipping 22 points, and middle aged, honeymoon and family travel off by about 10 points each.
The picture looks no better for the next three months, as all categories are expected to continue their downward trend. Seniors, as well as business and inspection tours, which fell five points this time, are both expected to decline another 22 points.

2002
2003
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June

Honeymoon

-67
-46
-36
-40
-52
-61

Family

-67
-44
-38
-38
-50
-69

Female office workers

-52
-47
-41
-43
-49
-66

Middle-aged (45-59)

-38
-25
-20
-17
-30
-49

Seniors (60 and over)

-34
-14
-8
-4
-26
-48

Incentives

-83
-66
-65
-52
-61
-76

Business _ inspection tours

-78
-35
-34
-32
-37
-59

Demand falls for both Europe and Asia
Tendency expected to continue for the next three months, with China expected to fare the worst

The DI for all destinations fell over the last three months, with Europe and Asia especially hard hit, losing 27 and 23 points, respectively.
Once again the DI over the next three months is expected to continue to decline, as SARS forces China out of the plus column into the minus.

2002
2003
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June

Hawaii

-56
-63
-46
-44
-57
-79

USA (other)/ Canada

-88
-70
-66
-64
-70
-84

Europe

-48
-23
-20
-23
-50
-68

Oceania

-7
-34
-26
-22
-31
-58

Micronesia

-35
-51
-50
-35
-54
-68

China

+23
+23
+34
+41
+31
-5

Asia (other)

-2
-13
-2
+1
-22
-43


Page top