2024: Back to The Future for International Travel

A recent report by Reuters highlights long awaited news: “Global tourism is set to fully recover from the pandemic in 2024 as international tourist arrivals will likely be 2% more numerous than in 2019, the United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation said on Friday.”

This echoes the optimism of multiple analysts, including the prediction that Asia especially will benefit. That follows earlier recovery for travel from Europe in 2023, and growing regional tourism too. Plus, China has relaxed of tourist visa requirements for several, mostly European, countries. But why is 2% growth on 2019 so significant?

A small slice of a big cake is still a lot of cake

In 2019, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, global international travel was worth $10 trillion. Of that, outbound travel from the US was approximately $156.3 billion. If that grows a mere 2% it goes to just over $159 billion for 2024, and it is forecast to reach $185 billion by 2026. That’s revenue worth chasing.

Growth is more complex than before

But the tools to meet it are more sophisticated. Take a step back. Consider some of the trends much discussed as 2023 came to an end: vacations focused on activities, specialist hobbies, wellness, and cultural experiences beyond well-known resorts are all more popular. Alongside these lies demand for a more a more personalized approach to travel planning. The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is gaining pace:  tailor-made itineraries that align with the complex aspirations of modern travelers are now easier to research, create and book than ever before.

These developments are more than just good news for wanderlust-stricken individuals; they represent a real opportunity for financial service providers. In North America, those – like Credit Unions – with a strong presence on Main Street are well-positioned to modernize and expand their travel money services to take advantage of growing demand.

Perfect partners for retail foreign currency sales

Enter services like Money 4 Travel from Essiell, which are poised to redefine how financial institutions engage with the travel money market. Money 4 Travel offers a suite of benefits for both the consumer and the financial institutions. For consumers, the advantages are clear: competitive exchange rates, convenient access to a wide range of currencies, and the peace of mind that comes with secure transactions – all available from a smartphone or pc.

Credit unions and banks will find in Money 4 Travel a partner with which to efficiently tap into the lucrative travel market. Adopting the service does not entail big logistical upheavals but does bring multiple rewards. By offering a convenient and comprehensive foreign currency service, these businesses can improve customer experience (and therefore loyalty too), diversify their revenue streams, and position themselves as essential players in their clients’ travel experiences in the future.

More than business as usual.

The revitalization of the international travel market in 2024 is not just a return to pre-pandemic normalcy. The travel sector is looking at a strong period of growth. For financial service providers, particularly those rooted in community banking like credit unions, this is an unparalleled opportunity to innovate, grow and flourish

By Declan Morton, staff writer at Money 4 Travel and Essiell Ltd.



United Nations sees international tourism fully recovering in 2024, Reuters, January 19, 2024

U.S. Travel & Tourism Statistics 2020-2021, Sep 15, 2021

International travel spending in the United States from 2019 to 2022, with a forecast until 2026, Statista,  Nov 14, 2023.

Travolution.com / Guest post: What 2024 looks like for the global travel industry, Peter Vazan, January 18, 2024

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