The tourism industry in 2024 could face a range of challenges, primarily centred around security concerns, issues related to ongoing wars, terrorism, the surge in cyber-attacks, and economic turmoil. These factors have the potential to impact tourist demand and expenditure, according to predictions from the World Tourism Network.
"As the December holidays have passed, tourism professionals are returning to the world of work and new challenges. The past 2023 was not easy; we can call it a roller coaster year where the world, including tourism, simultaneously recovered from COVID and faced wars in Europe and the Middle East, along with health and economic problems and social unrest, coupled with increasingly subpar services. The consequences of this must be taken into account in the preparation and planning for 2024, along with facing new challenges," commented representatives from the network.
Among the security issues posing a significant threat to tourism, the rise of radical terrorist groups and uncontrolled borders stand out. Analysts from the network note that terrorism has not diminished but mutated, with lone wolf attacks becoming a more considerable threat to the tourism industry.
A notable warning is raised concerning the growth of cybercrime, once relatively rare in tourism but now a major issue expected to continue haunting the industry in 2024. This is attributed to the widespread use of cashless payment options and credit cards in tourism, making them susceptible to theft and unauthorized use.
If travellers become wary of using cards due to such thefts, the entire payment system is jeopardized. Consequently, public and private security officials will need to be more vigilant in addressing this new threat.
Moreover, cyber-attacks on large corporations, including hotel chains and airlines, are becoming more frequent, rendering them vulnerable to such attacks.
"Cyber-attacks on airline computers can be more devastating than the September 11 attacks, completely halting flights. The fact that airplanes are now equipped with Wi-Fi networks during flights is both a convenience and a threat. Therefore, tourism can no longer afford to have only experts in law and security; it will need them for various areas, including the so-called tourist police, which will deal with various issues from fraud and petty theft to terrorism and crowd control," warn analysts.
Economic Challenges - Middle-Class Demand and Spending Dependence on Credits
One of the primary economic challenges for tourism in 2024, as indicated by the World Tourism Network, is the cost of credits. Since a significant portion of middle-class purchases, which remains the "heart of tourism," relies on credits, any upward trend in interest rates could make purchases more expensive. In some places, deflation is now looming as a threat.
"In deflation, people wait for lower prices, creating a 'nightmare' for merchants, and tourism, which is very sensitive to economic uncertainty, will need much more 'precise' marketing. In such a situation, the middle class, as in previous years, if faced with a significant increase in taxes or other necessary services, can refrain from luxury items, including travel," note representatives from the network.
They also highlight that the ups and downs in the financial industry in 2024 could influence tourism. When stock markets tend to rise, many people feel wealthier and more willing to spend money, while the opposite happens during a downturn.
Growing Importance of Good Customer Service for Travellers
It is predicted that travellers will increasingly seek services from companies with good customer service. Following a noticeable deterioration in this aspect in the tourism and travel industry in 2023, predominantly led by airlines, other parts of the tourism industry must reassess the quality of services they provide.
"The main sore point for travellers is that they pay fees for minimal services, such as hotels charging extra for water or internet services. The consistent policy of many tourism service providers 'we charge for everything' has created a sense for many that the hospitality industry is more hostile than hospitable," concludes the World Tourism Network.