The proportion of people who independently arrange their own tourist trips abroad is quite small. According to various estimates, it is 10-13% of the total volume.
Despite the fact that the market for independent travel is growing (due to an increased number of hotel and ticket booking systems) there are still many more adherents of organized tourism in general. Independent tourism is not only fraught with troubles, it is also expensive.
The independent tourist is a person who determines the route of the trip, books hotels himself, buys flight tickets, arranges cars and transfers, and also takes care of visas and medical insurance.
That people decide to travel independently from a desire to save money is not entirely true.
Most people who organize their own trips do so because of the dearth of tour packages offered – especially for countries that are not popular in the mass tourism market.
Separate bookings of future segments on popular travel routes are 30% more expensive on average. At the same time, self-booking earns a commission or fee for the booking system that is no less than the one charged by travel agencies in the price of their package tours.
Organizing trips independently does not seem so economical when these factors are taken into consideration.
The growth of independent tourism is conditioned primarily by the desire of some tourists to conquer more and more new destinations.
For most other “organized tourists” who go to popular countries like Turkey, Egypt, and Thailand – families with children and people who want to save time but get full service for their money – it is cheaper to buy packaged tours.
Countries where it is less expensive to visit on your own include Cambodia, China, Singapore, Germany, Luxembourg, Ireland, and Switzerland.
The difference between purchasing a tour and paying for tickets and hotels yourself can range from 45% (Cambodia, Singapore) to 70% (China, Switzerland, Ireland).
In Turkey, Croatia, Latvia, and UAE it is 15-25% cheaper to buy a tour than to book a trip independently. Traveling as part of a tour group to Malaysia can result in savings of 65%; Greece – 60%; Sweden and Tunisia – 30%.
There is also a question of visas. Depending on your citizenship, you might not be able to go to Japan, for example, without a travel agent – because to get a visa there you need an original invitation from a company that will act as your guarantor.
Hotels and hostels, as a rule, do not make such invitations, so the only way for some to get into Japan is to use the service of a travel agency.
Interest in “indie” travel has increased since many people think it is cheaper and more secure; however, this is not always the case. Most importantly, the tourist who travels on his own should understand that he alone is responsible for the entire trip.
In 2010, when flights over Europe were interrupted for an extended period after eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, there was a reverse trend away from independent tourism.
Self-tourists had been totally stranded by the force majeure situation that no one could have foreseen.
Other tourists were protected through their travel agents – who provided them with hotel rooms at no additional expense, organized alternative modes of transportation, and offered other support services.
The reverse trend intensified when the Italian company Wind Jet went bankrupt in August 2012. Tourists realized that there was a cost to independence, which, in fact, made tour tickets more economical.
This basically caused many tourists who had gone on independent trips to return to their travel agents.
The Global Business Travel Association, after interviewing nearly 4000 business travelers from around the world, found that 35% of respondents had gone back to traditional travel planning because they did not know who to contact to resolve unforeseen problems that had come up during their self-arranged trips.
So, as you see, organizing travel by yourself is sometimes cheaper and easier. Nonetheless, in case of an emergency or force majeure situation, a travel agent will deal with most issues and assume overall responsibility for your comfort and safety on a trip.
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