January 20, 2006

Asians to Challenge German Tourism Record

By Matthew Jones

LONDON -- Japanese and Chinese travelers are set to challenge the dominance of the Germans over the next 15 years for the title of world's most prolific globe-trotters, according to a survey on Friday.

Research company MINTEL said Japan and China will generate around four times as many outbound trips in 2020 as they did last year, making them number two and three respectively behind Germany.

MINTEL's Richard Cope said both countries would be driven by growth in their business and leisure markets.

"With 10 years of little or no growth, the Japanese economy is picking up -- that means more business trips and more tourism," he told Reuters.

As for the Chinese market, pent up demand coupled with more opportunity was "creating a traveling class."

In both markets, the business traveler was likely to continue to make short regional trips while tourists head further afield.

Overall, the number of trips taken abroad from the world's top 15 traveling nations will double by 2020 to 836.6 million from 433.3 million, the survey predicted.

Cope said travelers were unlikely to be deterred by terrorism or natural disasters.

"Whilst national economies and security fears will cause some would-be travelers to stay at home, or sway their choice of destination, for a considerable proportion, a holiday or a business trip abroad has become part of day-to-day life and is no longer regarded as a luxury," he said.

Back in 2003, Germans ousted Americans as the most traveled nationality.

Last year, Germans alone accounted for over 86.6 million trips abroad, with Britons in second place (65.3 million) and Americans trailing in third (58.3 million).

Cope said the foreign travel market in the United States has stagnated primarily because of the weakness of the dollar.

According to MINTEL, the other top traveling nations are: France, Russia, Italy, Netherlands, Canada, South Korea, Sweden, Belgium, Hong Kong and Australia.