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(August 8, 2003)

5th JATA Survey on Travel Market Trends: Overseas (June 2003)

In order to better assess prevailing business conditions, JATA (Japan Association of Travel Agents) monitors the changing travel market by conducting a quarterly survey of market trends among member companies, Results are indexed by types of travel, destination and customer segment. (A digest of the survey appears below.)
According to the "5th JATA Survey on Travel Market Trends" conducted from the middle to the end of June 2003, anxiety over severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) dealt a severe blow to the entire overseas travel market starting with China, its country of origin. Although times have been difficult for the domestic group travel market, the situation in places such as Hokkaido appears favorable, and there is every reason to expect an increase over the next three months.

Change in Combined Demand for All Destinations
2001
2002
2003
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June
July-Sept.
-43
-90
-58
-50
-37
-25
-49
-93
-79
*-69
*figure anticipated in March 2003

The overseas travel market is expected to be sluggish due to the impact of SARS, but business travels (excluding inter Asia travel of Asia) is expected to gradually recover during the third quarter.

Current Situation: The overseas travel market is at the lowest point due to the impact of SARS.

  • "The overseas travel advisory suggesting restraint in visiting SARS infected regions has put a hold on package tours to China and Hong Kong. The epidemic has, in combination with economic factors, had an indirect impacts on other countries/regions as well, putting a chill on overall demand for overseas travel." (Overseas travel wholesaler)
  • "Because of the company ban on business travel between April and June, the climate was not conducive for planning incentive travel or proposing a shift to domestic travel." (In-house)
  • According to the survey carried out in March, the prospects for the Diffusion Index (DI) for the April to June period were -69 However, the actual figure for the period according to the 5th JATA Survey is -93, below the index for the period immediately after 9/11.

Next three months (July to September): Business travel is expected to recover gradually.

  • "There are signs of a gradual recovery in business travel." The opinion among many first tier retailers is that the much needed business travel market has indeed staged a recovery.
  • "Demand for such destinations as Hawaii, Guam and Europe, which have been largely unaffected by SARS, can be expected to recover from this point on." (Overseas travel wholesaler)
  • At -79 the DI has not recovered to the levels prior to the SARS outbreak however, the outlook is good for a moderate recovery over the next three months (July to September).

Summary

  • After taking a direct hit due to the SARS scare, companies have recorded some of the worst results to date.
  • A moderate recovery is anticipated over the next three months, although levels are not expected to return to pre-SARS levels yet.

All customer segments fell sharply. The drop in seniors and middle aged travelers was especially precipitous.

  • The DIs for all customer segments fell sharply across the board during the sarvey period (April to June), with the seniors and middle aged category especially hard hit, slipping 58 points below the last three month period.
    Business and inspection tour travel also fell 53 points.
  • The picture looks somewhat better for the next three months, as all customer segments are expected to recover. In particular, business and inspection tour travel are expected to rise 29 points.
2002
2003
Apr.-June
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June
July-Sept.

Honeymoon

-46
-36
-40
-52
-84
-71

Family

-44
-38
-38
-50
-96
-82

Female office workers

-47
-41
-43
-49
-92
-76

Middle-aged (45-59)

-25
-20
-17
-30
-88
-75

Seniors (60 and over)

-14
-8
-4
-26
-84
-74

Incentives

-66
-65
-52
-61
-94
-87

Business / inspection tours

-35
-34
-32
-37
-90
-61


Demand for all destinations is expected to fall sharply - with China and Asia hardest hit - but prospects look good for a recovery in three months' time.

  • The current (April to June) DIs for each destination has fallen compared to three months ago.
  • China, which had pelfolmed well for some time, was rated "poor" by all those responding, plummeting to -100 points.
  • Asia fell a massive 76 points.
  • Prospects for the next three months (July to September) appear to favor a return to more or less the same levels as three months ago, except for China and other Asia.
2002
2003
Apr.-June
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June
July-Sept.

Hawaii

-63
-46
-44
-57
-90
-70

USA (other)/ Canada

-70
-66
-64
-70
-87
-76

Europe

-23
-20
-23
-50
-78
-59

Oceania

-34
-26
-22
-31
-76
-58

Micronesia

-51
-50
-35
-54
-83
-64

China

+23
+34
+41
+31
-100
-95

Asia (other)

-13
-2
+1
-22
-98
-90


About the Survey on Travel Market Trends
In February 2003 JATA (Japan Association of Travel Agents) sent a request via email to member companies to register as survey monitors, and a total of 559 monitors registered.
The quarterly Survey on Travel Market Trends seeks to grasp trends in the travel market based on responses to a questionnaire on conditions now and those anticipated over the next three months.
The survey asks participating companies to rate their sales results for each destination and customer segment by choosing from three categories;"good," "average" and "poor," Respondents indicate "do not handle" for items outside their business scope. Each share of "good," "average" and "poor" is then divided respectively by the denominator, which is equal to the total number of responses minus the "do not handle" and "no reply" responses. Finally each share is processed into the Diffusion Index (DI). The highest possible index figure is +100, and the lowest is -100

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