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JATA Independent Surveys


(April 23, 2004)

8th JATA Survey on Travel Market Trends: Overseas (March 2004)

Bird Flu Deters Overseas Travel to China and Asia
Recovery Likely in Three Months

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 type of travel, destination and customer segment. (A digest of the survey appears below.)
According to the "8th JATA Survey on Travel Market Trends" conducted from late February to mid March 2004, both the overseas and domestic travel markets declined in comparison to the last survey. However, the prospects for a recovery in the three months' time appear good.

Change in Combined Demand for All Destinations
2002
2003
2004
Jan.-Mar.
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June
-58
-37
-25
-49
-93
-70
-33
-46
-20
*-25
*figure anticipated in December 2003

Demand expected to recover in three months. Slowdown in overseas travel due to bird flu seen as transitory

Current Situation: In general the outlook for recovery is good, while bird flu has slowed overseas travel to China and Asia in the short run.

  • "The worst is over." (Comment by many full-service travel agencies)
  • "Although overseas travel as a whole recovered at the beginning of this year, travel in Asia declined due to concerns over bird flu. On the other hand, Micronesia and Hawaii did quite well." (Comment from Various overseas travel wholesalers.)
  • "Anticipated sales in Asia and China failed to materialize due to bird flu." (Opinion of first-tier agencies)
  • Although according to the December survey, the forecasted DI for the period January through March was -25, the present survey (January through March) indicated -46, thus much lower than the previous DI figure.

With the situation overseas and other worries easing, the DI is expected to recover to the best in two years.

  • "The feeling of self-restraint when it came to travel has been largely replaced by a growing desire to travel again, besides which the brighter business outlook has been a breath of fresh air." (Opinion of second-tier retail agencies)
  • "In spite of the long economic slump, people do not seem to be suffering that much financially. Along with the rising stock market and positive news on the future of corporate Japan has come a gradual rise in interest in travel." (Opinion of second-tier retail agencies)
  • Over the next three months (April to June) the DI is expected to recover to -20, the best in two years.

Summary

  • While on the one hand, when compared to three months ago (October to December) the DI has fallen due to a decline in travel to Asia and China stemming from concerns over bird flu and a possible recurrence of SARS, demand for Micronesia, Hawaii and other destinations has recovered to the same levels as the same period last year (January to March). As a result, demand is expected to recover in three months.

Middle-aged, female office worker and senior travel dips slightly. All market segments expected to recover in 3 months

  • With the exception of a slight three-point rise in incentive travel, the DI for all market segments at present (January to March) is down in comparison to three months ago (October to December). Nevertheless, honeymoon travel was 13 points higher than the same period last year.
  • Over the next three months (April to June), all market segments are expected to make gains, with middle-aged and senior travelers in particular projected to improve by as much as 25 points.
2003
2004
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June

Honeymoon

-52
-84
-65
-34
-39
-24

Family

-50
-96
-74
-49
-53
-38

Female office workers

-49
-92
-69
-49
-57
-37

Middle-aged (45-59)

-30
-88
-63
-28
-37
-12

Seniors (60 and over)

-26
-84
-66
-26
-33
-8

Incentives

-61
-94
-84
-63
-60
-40

Business / inspection tours

-37
-90
-48
-27
-29
-18


Recovery for all destinations expected in three months,Micronesia stages strong recovery, while Asia and China come down with bird flu

  • In spite of Hawaii nearly leveling off and a 19-point rise for Micronesia, the DI for all destinations at present (January to March) is slightly down compared to three months ago. On the other hand, while travel to destinations in Asia and China is off compared to the same period last year, the DI is moving upward with Micronesia taking the lead.
  • On the whole, the outlook is good for improvement over the next three months (April to June). A 20-point rise is anticipated for China, while Hawaii, America, Canada, Europe and Asia are expected to recover by 10 points or more.
2003
2004
Jan.-Mar.
Apr.-June
July-Sept.
Oct.-Dec.
Jan.-Mar
Apr.-June

Hawaii

-57
-90
-63
-28
-27
-13

USA (other)/ Canada

-70
-87
-67
-51
-54
-41

Europe

-50
-78
-47
-16
-22
-8

Oceania

-31
-76
-50
-24
-28
-21

Micronesia

-54
-83
-59
-38
-19
-13

China

+31
-100
-76
-38
-49
-29

Asia (other)

-22
-98
-76
-36
-55
-45


About the Survey on Travel Market Trends
In January 2004 JATA (Japan Association of Travel Agents) sent a request via e-mail to member companies to register as survey monitors, and a total of 585 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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