Resilience of tourism in times of change

Resilience of tourism in times of change

The first half of 2018 ended with two major events and important impacts on the Brazilian economy. One, the World Cup – had been fully foreseen and planned. While the other, the truckers’ strike, in addition to the “surprise” factor, resulted in developments that are still reverberating in the economy and in society. And, of course, the repercussion for the tourism market was unavoidable.

The proximity with which the events unfolded set off a cascade effect throughout the country. During the strike, the tourism industry experienced a number of setbacks. For example, the aviation sector lost millions due to flights being cancelled as a result of fuel shortages. Hotels experienced a pronounced drop in their occupation levels and bookings, and the cancellation of corporate events also had a negative impact on the tourist scenario affecting the sector as a whole.

If on the one hand the tourism industry was affected by the strike, on the other hand, the efforts made by Brazilians in order to take part in the World Cup tournament registered indices that made the market optimistic. During the period of the World Cup, the figures in terms of trips to the competition’s host country are usually favourable for tourism, as well as for bars, restaurants and cheap retail outlets, and this year was no different.

Fluctuating back and forth between 2nd and 3rd place in terms of the ranking of ticket purchases to watch the World Cup, Brazilians confirmed the opinion of the travel companies with regard to the profile of those travelling to watch the World Cup. In 2018, it was the end audience with entire families together with the presence of couples that drove this market, in addition to the already well-known category of groups of friends who attend the event. Companies – which to a great extent accounted for the purchase of large numbers of travel packages – also played an important role. However, to a lesser degree than in previous editions of the event.

It was against this same backdrop that other productive chains perceived the drop in productivity and the increased intervals between periods of activity. Adding further to the moment of stagnation, the increase in the value of the dollar discouraged even the most enthusiastic travellers from making international trips. Notwithstanding this, domestic tourism and short trips, including those by road, picked up steam during this period.

A survey carried out by the ABIH (Brazilian Hotel Industry Association) registered an upturn in the market following the drop of almost 30% in domestic occupation levels. While in the case of air travel, there was one company that put on more than 1600 extra flights for the high season period between July 1st and July 31st, with a high percentage of the additional flights departing from the cities of São Paulo, Salvador, Recife, Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza.

There is no doubt that the difficulties are still there and that the outlook for the tourism industry remains a challenging one. And, with the uncertainty in relation to the political context, on account of the elections that are scheduled for October, there continues to be pent-up demand.

Yes, it is true that we are more cautious, but end consumers are still planning to purchase and make trips and companies continue with their original plans in terms of productivity. We professionals who work in this segment that offers so many possibilities in terms of generating wealth, income and employment, need to have the resilience to innovate and build relationships and opportunities that will provide the tourism market with even greater maturity and growth.

 

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With 26 years' experience in the Brazilian and international tourism markets, Luciane Leite is the director of WTM Latin America, for REED Exhibitions, which is the world's number one fairs' and events' organizer. Prior to this, she headed up strategies, teams and projects, for organizations such as São Paulo Turismo, BAHIATURSA and the State of Bahia's former Department of Tourism and Culture. With a degree in Tourism and an MBA in Marketing from ESPM (Superior School of Advertising and Marketing) and with a post-graduate course in tourist destinations from George Washington University, this executive also plays an active role in tourism councils and groups, as well as we having been a speaker on matters related to the industry at conferences in a number of countries.

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