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(September 17, 2003)

6th JATA Survey on Travel Market Trends: Overseas (September 2003)

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 segment. (A digest of the survey appears below.)
According to the "6th JATA Survey on Travel Market Trends" conducted from the middle to the end of August 2003, with SARS officially declared at an end, business has played a leading role in shifting the overseas travel market into recovery mode. In the domestic travel market, the situation in such places as Hokkaido and Amami/Okinawa appears favorable, and there is every reason to expect a rise in the DI over the next three months.

Change in Combined Demand for All Destinations
2001
2002
2003
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.
-90
-58
-50
-37
-25
-49
-93
-70
-44
*-79
*figure anticipated in June 2003

Official End of SARS Triggers Recovery in Overseas Travel Market
Business travel leads the way to even stronger recovery over the next three months

Current Situation: With SARS officially declared over, prospects slightly improved since the last survey

  • "Although business travel, which has been growing year on year since July, is expected to maintain the cullent trend, we cannot say for sure that other sectors have also returned to a recovery track yet."
  • "On the whole, the travel market is recovering; in particular, demand for Eastern and Central European destinations among the 50 and over age group stands out. Demand for China appears to have returned as well." (Second Tier Retailer)
  • Although the prospects for the July - September period were placed at -79 in the June Survey, according to the present survey, the figure for the same three months is -70, indicating that the DI actual value has exceeded expectations.

Prospects for the next three months (October to December)
Business travel is expected to recover completely, and while anxiety about private sector travel demand persists, there is also cautious optimism.

  • "The situation remains favorable for European destinations, which were largely unaffected by SARS, while reservations for the Asian region continue to recover little by little." (Second Tier Retailer)
  • "The Chinese short-term stay visa exemption will greatly contribute to increased demand, and it appears demand for such destinations as Asian beach resorts and Vietnam will also return." (First Tier Retailer)
  • With the DI expected to reach -44 over the next three months (from October to December), bookings levels are expected to recover to those of six months before.

Summary

  • With the SARS outbreak officially declared at an end, and business travel leading the way to recovery over the next three months, the worst seems to be over, yet many have cautioned that it is too early to relax our vigilance against SARS. Reactions to the Chinese short-term stay visa exemption are mixed, with some apprehensive about reduced commissions, and others anticipating a sharp rise in demand.

All Customer Segments Recovering
Business travel and inspection tours expected to rise sharply over the next three months

  • The DI for all customer segments shows signs of recovery during the current period (from July to September). Growth is brisk in the middle-aged segment, and at 42 points for the three month period, the business travel and inspection tour categories show great improvement.
  • All customer segments for the three months from October to December are expected to rise; chief among them, the business travel and inspection tour segments are expected to reach 30 points, and the senior segment 29 points.
2002
2003
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.

Honeymoon

-36
-40
-52
-84
-71
-44

Family

-38
-38
-50
-96
-82
-55

Female office workers

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

Middle-aged (45-59)

-20
-17
-30
-88
-75
-38

Seniors (60 and over)

-8
-4
-26
-84
-74
-37

Incentives

-65
-52
-61
-94
-87
-60

Business / inspection tours

-34
-32
-37
-90
-61
-18


All Destinations Headed Toward Recovery
Recovery still bright after three months, but China lags behind

  • The current (July to September) DI for all destinations has risen compared to three months ago.
  • All destinations rose more than 20 points, most notably Europe at 31 points.
  • Except for China and Asia, prospects for the next three months (October to December) favor recovery to levels of one year ago.
2002
2003
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.

Hawaii

-46
-44
-57
-90
-63
-39

USA (other)/ Canada

-66
-64
-70
-87
-67
-49

Europe

-20
-23
-50
-78
-47
-27

Oceania

-26
-22
-31
-76
-50
-35

Micronesia

-50
-35
-54
-83
-59
-38

China

+34
+41
+31
-100
-76
-50

Asia (other)

-2
+1
-22
-98
-76
-49


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 545 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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