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JATA Independent Surveys


(January 23, 2004)

7th JATA Survey on Travel Market Trends: Overseas (December 2003)

Demand for overseas travel returning; domestic travel still in good shape
Overseas travel to grow further over next 3 months, while domestic travel dips slightly

In order to better assess prevailing business conditions, JATA (Japan Association of Travel Agents) keeps abreast of changes in the 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 "7th JATA Survey on Travel Market Trends" conducted from the middle to the end of November 2003, the overseas travel market recovered to the levels of one year ago, while the domestic travel market, despite having risen on closs-over demand from overseas travel, now may fall to negative levels over the next three months.

Change in Combined Demand for All Destinations
2002
2003
2004
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar.
-58
-50
-37
-25
-49
-93
-70
-33
-25
*-44
*figure anticipated in September 2003

Overseas travel market recovering well despite slow pace of reservations. Security and SARS concerns aside, further recovery anticipated over the next three months

Current Situation: The outlook is much improved over the previous survey, especially in the middle-age and senior segment.

  • "Despite concerns about a recurrence of SARS, traveler numbers have returned. If the present trend continues, we can expect to see an increase in travel abroad." (Comment from Overseas travel agency)
  • "Although with respect to Hawaii it is by no means a bad thing, it seems that there is still a strong tendency, especially among young women, to base their travel plans around shopping, with little inclination to extend trips beyond Oahu. On the other hand, as they have a little more leeway as far as time and money are concerned, middle-age and senior travelers seem to be enjoying longer stays and travel for its own sake." (In-house agency)
  • Although according to the September survey the forecast for the period October through December was -44, the present survey (October through December) indicates -33, a higher than previous DI figure.

Prospects for the next three months (January to March):
Despite uneasiness about terrorism and the reappearance of SARS, the DI is expected to recover to the level of one year ago.

  • Requests for business travel are brisk at this time, and this trend is expected to continue over the next three months. As far as package tours are concerned, although the current level of reservations is below last year's, we can expect the trend to improve over the next three months. (Overseas travel agency)
  • Although terrorism and uneasiness over SARS have put a damper on tourism demand, business travel has increased somewhat, and inquiries about group travel for next year are up slightly as well. When compared with only about 5 years ago, there is a great difference, but there is a sense that we are starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. (Second tier retail travel agency)
  • "Travel demand will largely depend on whether there is a recurrence of SARS this winter season." (Second tier retail travel agency)
  • Over the next three months (January to February) the DI is expected to recover to -25, the level of the previous year.

Summary

  • Although concerns were voiced over the reappearance of SARS and the possible influence of terrorism, compared to the worst-ever business conditions of six months ago (April to June), it is safe to say that the outlook is good for significant recovery over the next three months.

All customer segments on the rise. Senior and middle-age travel recovers to levels of 9 months ago

  • The DI for all customer segments was up during the current period (from October to December). For the three-month period, the middle-age segment was up 40 points, and the senior category showed great improvement, rising 35 points.
  • With the exception of a slight decrease in honeymoon travel, all customer segments for the three months from January to March are expected to rise. In particular family travel is projected to rise 10 points.
2002
2003
2004
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar.

Honeymoon

-40
-52
-84
-65
-34
-40

Family

-38
-50
-96
-74
-49
-39

Female office workers

-43
-49
-92
-69
-49
-40

Middle-aged (45-59)

-17
-30
-88
-63
-28
-26

Seniors (60 and over)

-4
-26
-84
-66
-26
-23

Incentives

-52
-61
-94
-84
-63
-57

Business / inspection tours

-32
-37
-90
-48
-27
-20


Lead by Asia and China, all destinations headed toward recovery Gradual rise expected to continue for three months

  • The current (October to December) DI for all destinations has risen compared to three months ago. Most notably, Asia and China staged a major rally, rising 40 and 38 points, respectively, while, with the exception of China and Asia, the DI returned to the levels of one year ago.
  • Over the next three months (January to March), Asia is expected to rise another 10 points amid a gradual recovery overall. Otherwise, with the exception of Europe and Oceania which are expected to level off, prospects favor recovery to the levels for the same period (January to March) one year ago.
2002
2003
2004
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar

Hawaii

-44
-57
-90
-63
-28
-22

USA (other)/ Canada

-64
-70
-87
-67
-51
-44

Europe

-23
-50
-78
-47
-16
-16

Oceania

-22
-31
-76
-50
-24
-26

Micronesia

-35
-54
-83
-59
-38
-33

China

+41
+31
-100
-76
-38
-34

Asia (other)

+1
-22
-98
-76
-36
-26


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 568 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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