BRIC Nations Drive Global Tourism Growth
by Robin Amster

The BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China – are expected to be the primary driver of tourism growth globally in the next five years, according to a report from Euromonitor International.

That’s particularly welcome news for the U.S. which for Chinese, Indian and Brazilian travelers is either the first or second destination of choice, after their neighboring countries.

In a Trends 2013 forecast, the global research firm Euromonitor said the BRIC countries’ “rapidly growing middle and affluent classes” are behind the trend.

Another factor is these nations’ strong economic growth. In contrast, the Eurozone and the U.K. are experiencing “a decline or stagnation,” the report noted.

The outlook for the U.S. economy, though not robust, has at least brightened following the recent Congressional agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff, the report said.

Welcome development
The strength of the BRIC countries – along with their citizens’ growing interest in travel – is an important development for U.S. tourism, Lisa Simon, president of the National Tour Association (NTA), told Travel Market Report.

“The BRIC nations are growing at a much greater rate than traditional inbound markets in Europe and will have a significant impact on the U.S. economy,” said Simon.

“The U.S. is a much-desired destination among these countries, and visitors have high expectations,” she said. “The travel and tourism industry needs to prepare to welcome and service these markets in ways that meet their cultural and language needs.”

Favored destinations
According to the report, China and India are “leading the charge” in outbound tourism.

While Asian countries are the top destinations for both Chinese and Indian travelers, for Chinese travelers the U.S. is the leading non-Asian destination, followed by Australia and France.

For Indian travelers, the UAE is the favorite non-Asian destination followed by the U.S.

The Russians’ preferred destinations are neighboring Ukraine and Finland, while Turkey is their favorite for vacation packages.

Brazilians are big spenders
Brazil is registering the least dramatic growth in spending of the BRIC’s, but the average spend for Brazilian tourists is high.

That’s more good news for the U.S. which is the Brazilian’s top destination, followed by France and Italy.

“Brazil has been on the radar of NTA members for several years, so we anticipate this market to grow in coming years,” Simon said.

China leads
China, Russia and India are expected to lead in absolute increases in outbound tourist trips of more than 1 million in the next five years, the report said.

China is particularly strong as a source market for tourism, with a forecasted increase of nearly 47 million outbound trips over the next five years.

In the U.S., the NTA has been in the forefront of developing China’s booming market.

The NTA is the only U.S.-based association with a tour operator qualification program approved by the China National Tourism Administration.

“More than a third of NTA tour operators are servicing international inbound markets,” Simon said. “The top market currently served by NTA operators is the group leisure market from China.

Expanding markets
The NTA is interested in India and Russia too.

“We have partnered with the Indian Association of Tour Operators to work on ways to bring our members together to generate more business from both countries,” Simon said.

She said the NTA hadn’t been hearing much about the Russia market, but there are now a few inbound tour firms specializing in the Russian market, and others are beginning to broaden their portfolio to include Russia.

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