Tourism 2023, the travel industry´s plan for coping with the future | Forum for the Future

How will the travel industry deal with climate change? How can it ensure that it offers the right holidays to Britain´s ageing population? Will it cope with increasing energy prices and tackle the dramatic increases in the numbers of holidaymakers from China and India?

Tourism 2023, a long range strategy – aims to aid travel companies to futureproof themselves against the toughest challenges over the next 15 years. Tourism 2023 will be officially launched at the Travel Convention in Gran Canaria on Wednesday 8 October and is facilitated by Forum for the Future and supported by HRH the Prince of Wales, ABTA, DEFRA and the biggest names in the UK´s travel industry – including The Travel Foundation, TUI Travel, Thomas Cook, The Co-operative Travel Group, British Airways and Carnival UK.

Tourism 2023 has already held its first workshop with over 40 participants from 38 different organizations from the travel and tourism sector and beyond. The workshop identified a series of high-impact factors that the industry should expect to shape their future over the next 15 years. These were divided into those that they were more certain of, and ones that they were less certain about.


The workshop concluded that the following points are more certain:

* 1. We know that the impacts and costs of climate change will rise. Drought and water scarcity will increase and become increasingly important – estimates suggest that on average, the world will be 0.4°C warmer by mid-2020s than today. But this average figure masks huge variations: extremes of heat will increase dramatically, making some places “too hot” for comfort. Around 1.8 billion people are expected be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity by 2025.

* 2. For consumers in the UK, the population will continue to age – we know to a high degree of certainty that over 65s will make up 20 per cent of the UK population in 2023 – from 9.6m today to 13.4m. A growing environmental awareness was considered likely and important and disposable incomes expected to remain tight.

* 3. Oil prices increases and the cost of energy for the transport sector also rising were both considered quite a certain outcome, and one the industry must prepare for.

* 4. Global population increases; new, non-Western centres of power emerging onto the world stage; and economic growth in emerging economies are also highly likely to reshape the industry. China’s economy is expected to be 50 per cent larger than the US by 2025.

* 5. Dramatic increases in the number of tourists from emerging economies are likely to result. By 2023, there are expected to be 100 million outbound Chinese tourists, making them the world’s most numerous travelers. 50 million Indian travelers will join them.

* 6. New destinations for travel are also likely to emerge, but over-development and unsustainable volumes of visitors in destinations were also considered highly likely.

* 7. Destinations are also likely to face additional challenges arising from political instability; regional conflict and terrorism; rises in the price of food; rising cost of energy; and challenges facing local resources for tourism and development.


The workshop also identified a series of factors that were considered important, but much more uncertain (listed below with the most uncertain at the top).

* 1. Attitudes to mobility – how might people change their travel plans in light of climate change? Workshop participants believe it will be very important, but how consumers will view travel in 2023 was considered the greatest unknown.

* 2. Perceptions of impacts of climate change. How might people view and be concerned about the impacts of climate change as the real effects are felt? Could they change their travel plans? How much will the government regulate travel?

* 3. UK Government AND EU legislation or regulation. There are a series of possibilities. Could a new price of carbon or personal carbon allowances reshape travel across the board?

* 4. The cost of carbon – if a price is set, will it be high or low?

* 5. Infrastructure for outbound travel – What will the UK’s provision of ports, airports, railways and ships, planes and trains look like in 2023?

* 6. Competition from international providers – how will the UK travel and tourism industry compete with emerging competition from overseas?

* 7. New technology for transport – what developments, including new fuels, might we see in use in 2023?

* 8. Concern about travel impact, environmental and socio-cultural – how might consumers view the impact of their travel?

* 9. ICT – what new means of booking and experiencing travel might we see by 2023? Could dramatic advances in ICT replace travel, as some suggest teleconferencing shows on a small scale? Or might enhanced virtual experiences motivate people to ‘see the real thing’ more than ever before?

* 10. How active are older people – will the ageing UK population be cash-rich, living longer and seeking more? Or cash-strapped, highly immobile and wanting to stay near to home?

* 11. The strength of the UK economy – the workshop considered the future direction of our economy to be relatively uncertain.

* 12. Destination support for tourism – could destinations ever turn away from supporting tourists if the impacts were considered damaging?

A. Johnson
Phone: +44 (0)20 7324 3624

Hospitality NetForum for the Future
Overseas House | 19-23 Ironmonger Row
London, EC1V 3QN
United Kingdom
Phone: +44 (0)20 7324 3624

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