Travel is a constantly evolving phenomenon, susceptible to numerous external factors: changing consumer priorities, global conflicts, advancing technology, and – as we’ve seen recently – widespread pandemics.
Predicting how travel will change in the year ahead is, therefore, a matter of speculation. No one here has a crystal ball; instead, we rely on present data to extrapolate some likely fads, consumer habits and hotspot locations. If you plan on traveling this calendar year, if you hold investments in the travel industry, or if you’re simply curious about the shape of tourism in 2024, consider this article a broad-stroke round-up of what you need to know.
The Trends Driving Shifting Consumer Habits
Experts have pointed to several emerging types of travel and tourism to help explain changing consumer habits. In this section, let’s look at five of the most significant new patterns, each responsible for some appreciable impact on the industry as a whole.
A portmanteau of “business” and “leisure,” bleisure travel refers to blended trips that incorporate both work and traditional vacationing. Some bleisure travelers tack a personal vacation onto an existing business trip, while others opt to work remotely for a portion of their stay abroad. This type of blended-purpose travel owes its popularity to increasing remote and flex workplaces, as well as to the widespread embrace of business technology.
As the world witnessed in 2023, people will travel long distances for the privilege of seeing a certain country-turned-pop star perform (Taylor Swift, for the uninitiated). This trend isn’t exclusive to music. Expect to see more people travel for large events like sports games, festivals, and even naturally occurring phenomena in 2024.
Off-Season and Shoulder Season Travel
Airline and accommodation costs have skyrocketed post-pandemic (at least in most sectors), forcing money-mindful tourists to get creative. We’re also seeing a drift away from traditional vacation planning at companies, which were centred primarily on the summer months. These two factors merge to give a major bump to off-season and shoulder season travel (typically October to April) when prices are more affordable.
You can thank companies like Unbound Merino for the boost in ultralight travel. The company is a major player in travel clothing, but they also hold significant influence in the online dialogue around travel, where they promote “one bag” traveling as a way to offset airline baggage fees, save time on the road, and increase spontaneity on a trip.
Eco-tourism has been gaining steam for years, spurred on by deep consumer sentiments surrounding the environment – and the environmental impact of tourism. In 2024, expect to see eco-tourism continue to exert influence. A rise in eco-friendly accommodations, carbon offset systems and emissions-light travel options (like trains) seem likely for the year ahead.
Hotspot Locations in 2024
Hotspot locations change very little year over year. The five most visited locations (by air traffic) tend to vie for those same positions. Nevertheless, if you zoom out, you can start to see clearer trends in how people travel. Here are a few generalized trends for hotspot locations in 2024.
East Asia Continues to Roar
South Korea, Southeast Asia and – most of all – China are experiencing a growing middle class. This means more travelers from those countries; it also means more travelers to those countries, since domestic travel constitutes a large portion of the industry overall. Add to that a heightened fascination with East Asian culture in the West, a sizeable diaspora keen on visiting their roots, and a sophisticated network of budget and luxury airlines – and East Asia looks like a major contender for a 2024 travel hotspot.
Luxury European Mainstays Still Pull Visitors
Cities like Paris, London, Rome and Madrid have always done well for themselves, routinely ranking among the most visited places in the world. But a few factors should secure their dominance in 2024. For one, several tourists in the post-pandemic landscape have cited luxury and relaxation as a driving motivator for their travel – and European cities can bank on their well-established capability to provide those luxuries. Second, social media now plays a significant role in influencing travel decisions, and many influencers flock to Europe, a naturally photogenic continent replete with recognizable sites.
Africa Emerges onto the Tourist Scene
Africa is shedding its undeserved reputation and emerging onto the global tourism scene. Saharan countries like Morocco and Tunisia, as well as Sub-Saharan countries like Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya and Ghana are mounting convincing tourism campaigns, leveraging their natural beauty, affordability and off-the-beaten-path appeal as assets. Some promising growth in 2023 indicates a rosy road ahead for the continent.
A short article can’t do justice to the intricacies and specifics of travel trends, but hopefully, you leave here with a solid impression of the industry in 2024. For more insights, click on the links provided or check back in this space for more articles in the year ahead.