31 October 1997
News - Other (None)
World Tourism Organisation sees stars
Report forsees the advent of near-space tourism
by Patrick Collins
At the general assembly of the World Tourism Organization held in Istanbul in late October, a report was presented called "Tourism 2020 Vision" containing forecasts about the future of international tourism until 2020. Overall they foresee continuing rapid growth - today's 600 million international passengers growing to 1,600 million, and international tourism revenues growing from $423 billion in 1996 to $2 trillion in 2020.

Within this trend they foresee the tourist market dividing into more "comfort-based" tourism and more "adventure-oriented" tourism, as well as growing conflict between growing tourist numbers and the need for environmental protection.

Interestingly, the report also foresees "the advent of near space tourism" as one of the trends that will shape the industry in the 21st century, an idea that was widely reported in the USA, Japan and Europe.

An article has been published briefly on the Internet (at http://www.msnbc.com/ news/118538.asp) but has now been removed. For the duration there is also a "Live Vote": "How much would you pay to go into space, even if just for a few minutes?
  1. I wouldn't make the trip.
  2. No more than $5,000.
  3. Somewhere between $5,000 and $98,000
  4. $98,000 or more.
At the current time almost 1000 people had answered the survey, the results are roughly:
  1. 8%
  2. 58%
  3. 28%
  4. 6%.
From a statistical point of view, the people answering such a survey aren't representative of the general population; they're Internet users, and likely to be more interested in space than average (or they probably wouldn't have looked up the story). But the figures are nevertheless interesting, and match the results of market research done elsewhere. Most people would like to go to space; a majority of people would consider spending a few months' salary (though probably not for just a short trip), and a few percent would spend a lot - 1 year's salary or more.

This last group are clearly a good target for the earliest stage of space tourism - short sub-orbital flights on board X-Prize contenders - and they should be a big help in getting the space tourism business to get started. But as in all businesses, the really big money will be made by reducing the price far enough to serve the really big market - the middle classes.
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Patrick Collins 31 October 1997
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