Dreaming of making your holiday goals a reality this year? Find out what’s ‘in’ in the travel industry for the year ahead before booking
Just a few days into 2018, many of us are already marking our calendars as we plan where we’d like to head off to in the coming months.
According to a survey conducted by research firm Nielsen, one of the most common and popular New Year’s resolutions made by people around the globe each year is the desire to travel more.
And with exciting innovations and technology now part of the equation, it’s safe to assume that the travel industry will continue to experience a boom in demand that is unseen in past decades.
So what does this year hold for the travel industry? Are there emerging destinations that we should be researching? Are hotels losing their appeal among the younger globetrotters? To answer these, we take a look at some of the predicted travel trends for 2018.
Gone are the days when our idea of a holiday was strictly limited to the obvious choices – France and Japan, anyone?
Now, with the explosion of the internet and proliferation of travel shows, blogs and vlogs, we are constantly being exposed to countries and cities that we hadn’t even heard of.
For 2018, low profile places such as Paraguay, Bhutan and the wildlife-rich Ethiopia will continue to experience a steady spike in visitors, according to the World Bank.
One rising star in the tourism business is Djibouti. This tiny African nation is mesmerising a growing number of tourists with its odd landscapes ranging from canyons, dead volcanoes and basaltic plateaus, while also offering diverse water activities including whale shark watching.
Other destinations predicted to make waves among tourists this year include Chile, Portugal, New Zealand, Malta and Mauritius. Meanwhile, countries in Eastern Europe, namely, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus – with their rich cultural heritage, ancient architecture and affordability – will continue to generate interest.
The forecast remains positively high for the Middle East, too, with the World Tourism Organization Travel Barometer recently naming it the fastest-growing travel region in the world.
Proof of that is in the increasing number of organised tours being launched in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Iran, and even the growing number of visitors coming to Abu Dhabi.
A local touch
There’s no denying the huge impact of Airbnb in the travel business in recent years.
Aside from providing cheaper accommodation options for travellers – and arguably disrupting the hospitality business in the process – the US-based tech company has upped its game by packaging guided tours and hosting experiences with locals.
Staying in Japan? Then why not learn the ancient art of pottery with a certified expert? Or perhaps you’d rather explore Australia’s waters and surfing community with an outdoorsman, or explore London’s street market while sampling dishes as recommended by a local expert.
All these are in sync with today’s growing trend of offering meaningful experiences over
Experts also predict that guided tours will be more popular this year as tourists yearn to deeply familiarise with their location of choice – from exploring humble street markets and doing local activities for extended hours or days, to eating in cheap cafes for an authentic culinary experience.
Back to nature
It’s apparent that we’re living in highly stressful times. It’s not surprising then that travellers nowadays are trading major cities for remote areas where they can escape the hustle and bustle.
The bottom line is people, more than ever, are yearning to slow down and disconnect from their daily routine.
One noticeable trend that will continue is the jump in bookings of nature lodges and accommodation located far away from major cities.
There are plenty of spaces nestled right in the middle of forests and parks like a lodge in the Costa Rican jungle and a Wi-Fi-free cabin powered by solar energy in Joshua Tree National Park in southern California.
Present travellers are also more inclined to go on extended holidays stretching for weeks to allow them to embark on long trips – even covering multiple countries – and have more time for exploration.
Nod to nomads
We’ve all seen and read about it with envy: adventurous professionals packing their bags to settle indefinitely in some exotic location to set up business or work as freelancers.
Thanks to the internet, these new breed of expats – also referred to as digital nomads – are thriving and the trend is expected to grow even more this year.
Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines easily come to mind because of the low cost of living and picturesque beaches, which is always a hit among young travelling professionals.
But countries including Nepal, Germany, the Netherlands and Czech Republic are expected to attract even more digital nomads this year for a variety of reasons including affordability, accessibility to new technology and dynamic urban scene.
The idea of sustainable tourism is catching on, and that’s good news for the industry and our planet.
The rise of non-traditional accommodation and accessibility to natural surroundings means guests are opting for local products and services now more than ever.
Guided tours are now incorporating eco-friendly activities and lectures to educate tourists on the importance of taking care of the environment. These tours, which are increasing in popularity, are likewise helping local residents and surrounding communities in terms of livelihood and funnelling funds to help improve public services.
Countries that have embraced the eco-friendly concept include Kenya, Botswana and Namibia.
More travellers are incorporating physical activities into their journeys.
A survey spearheaded by the travel fare comparative website Booking.com showed that 56 percent of people plan to do walking or hiking trips in 2018.
Popular health and wellness travel activities preferred by most respondents include watersports, running, yoga retreats, full body detox holidays, cycling and receiving beauty treatments.
Tour companies are cottoning on and have steadily added a list of health and wellness activities in their offered itineraries, including hiking, walking and cycling trips in places such as Peru, Bali, Cuba, France and Croatia.
Another rising trend is the desire to jet off to some faraway destination without company.
More individuals are warming up to the idea of exploring countries and cities alone, giving them quality me-time and moments to reassess life goals.
The adventure travel company, Intrepid Travel, noticed a 40 percent increase in solo passengers over the past five years.
This phenomenon has prompted travel companies to come up with services dedicated to solo travellers like solo-only tours in places such as Bali, India and Vietnam offered by Intrepid Travel, while the UK’s Saga Cruise is planning to build a hundred solo cabins for lone vacationers.
Whether all of these predicted trends are just that or are here to stay remains to be seen, but as ever, the travel industry continues to grow and offer intrepid explorers more opportunities to find the perfect travel option.
WORDS Ferdinand Godinez