m1nd-set urges GTR stakeholders to think beyond Chinese travellers

By Kristiane Sherry |

Peter Mohn, Owner & CEO of m1nd-set.

Peter Mohn, Owner & CEO of m1nd-set, says GTR stakeholders should look beyond Chinese passengers as it ranks key traveller nationalities

In its latest report, travel retail research agency m1nd-set has revealed the top passenger nationalities ranked by 2025 potential market value, and urged the industry to avoid focusing too strongly on the Chinese passenger group.

Using 2022 traffic and theoretical market values, m1nd-set has drawn comparisons to 2025 forecasts across average spend per shopper by nationality, purchase rate by nationality, and forecast growth in air travel. 

Complied using its Business 1ntelligence Service (B1S) tool in partnership with IATA, the data excludes Chinese travellers as it is not considered representative. 

“The GTR industry has traditionally placed huge emphasis on Chinese travellers, particularly in the years immediately prior to the pandemic, at the expense of the other leading and high potential nationalities,” said m1nd-set CEO and Owner, Peter Mohn.

“We must not repeat this error as we rebuild the business. We need to diversify our efforts to ensure we are more resistant in the face of other potential challenges, brought on by future geopolitical dynamics and unplanned circumstances.

“For this reason, and the fact that 2022 was not a typical year in terms of international travel for the Chinese, we have chosen to focus this analysis on all other nationalities that demonstrate the highest potential in terms of market value in 2025.”

Little change among pax demographics

The new m1nd-set data and projections to 2025 confirm the US, UK, Germany and France will retain their top four positions for international departures by nationality.

India has accelerated to fifth position, pulling ahead of Spain, which ranks sixth.

The US is projected to see international passenger numbers soar by 45% to 213 million, by 2025. Yet despite the growth, it will see its overall global share fall 1% to 10%.

Top countries for international air passengers from 2022-25, according to m1nd-set data

By the same metrics, UK international traffic will climb 41% to 174 million passengers, and will also see its share decline by one percentage point to 8% total.

Germany’s traffic will climb 42% to 135 million passengers, with France’s international passenger numbers growing 29% to 92 million.

India is projected to see extraordinary growth in international air travel. From 2022 to 2025, passenger numbers will reach 84 million with impressive 71% growth.

Air passenger outliers

m1nd-set has also drawn attention to some uneven growth patterns in the data, which it attributes to Covid-19-related flight restrictions and the uneven timings of border reopenings through 2022.

A number of Asia Pacific markets, including Japan, South Korea and Thailand, still had travel restrictions in place for much of 2022, suppressing traffic. 

Based on theoretical market values to 2025, m1nd-set’s data shows little change among the top 10 nationalities, however Japan has entered the top ten and climbed to fourth position, behind the US, Germany and UK. (Theoretical market value data also excludes China.)

Theoretical value of airport GTR markets from 2022-25, compiled from m1nd-set data

With just under US$6 billion in theoretical market value, the US remains the largest player, climbing from a value of just over $4bn in 2022. Its share is projected to fall to 11% from 13% over the period.

Germany remains in second position with $4.1bn forecast (from $2.8bn, a 9% share), with the UK third at $3.8bn (from $2.7bn, 7% share).

The rest of the top 10 comprises France, India, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Canada. Poland has slipped out of the top 10 to 14th position.

South Korea ranks 11th, with $1.2bn theoretical value, Singapore 12th with just over $1bn, and Australia 13th at $880 million. 

Thailand, the Philippines and Hong Kong are all new entrants to the top 20. Pakistan and Ireland remain, but have slipped to 18th and 20th position respectively. 

“The theoretical market value analysis is extremely useful for airports and their commercial partners in the markets concerned as well as for those situated in destinations that are popular among these leading nationalities for duty free spend,” Mohn continued. 

“The analysis becomes infinitely more meaningful when conducted by location or category for example. It’s important to monitor those nationalities that are clear outliers to ensure that the product mix and marketing mix remains relevant to the emerging nationalities.

“B1S partners use the tool to extract segment specific reports to analyse the growth potential of the business for a specific category, in a specific or multiple locations and often for a specific demographic or segment.

“This can be drilled down to a much deeper level, by extrapolating the data for specific nationalities or markets, even by individual airport.”

Last month, m1nd-set released data which showed generation Z travellers (those aged 18-24 years) are less likely to buy in a duty free store and taper payments when they shop – with average spend at US$73 compared with $123 among all age groups.

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