There's a good deal of information available on trends in tourism,
both globally, and in specific markets. However, the word 'trends'
means so many different things, and is used in so many different
contexts, that there isn't a way to piece together a simple list of
"Top Ten" trends.
Nevertheless, by culling through a large number of documents on
tourism trends, it's possible to isolate some of the key observations
of how the travel industry is changing, and where it's likely to head
in the years to come:
Growth: Tourism overall took a big hit in the wake of the terrorist
attacks of September 11, 2001. Additional cataclysms and concerns --
hurricanes, tsunamis, the outbreak of the SAR virus, and the looming
possibility of a bird flu outbreak -- have all added to the
inclination of some would-be travellers to simply postpone their
plans. However, the concerns notwithstanding, tourism is making a
fairly robust comeback, and is growing worldwide at a modest but
steady pace. Both leisure travel and business travel are rebounding.
Destinations: Europe is still the world's largest tourist destination
area, overall, and the creation of the European Union has eased
movement across borders, and the steps towards integration of Eastern
and Western Europe have created a larger European tourist market. At
the same time, Europe's primacy is slipping, as other major
destinations begin to mature. In particular, the emerging and huge
economies of China and India are luring ever greater numbers of
tourists for both business and pleasure travel, and some experts
predict that China will be the world's largest tourist destination in
a decade or so. Other growing tourist hot spots include Dubai, South
Africa, and Australia.
Cruises: There appears to be almost universal agreement that the
cruise industry is booming, and will continue to do so in the
forseeable future. The combination of giant luxury ships, improved
ports, the hassle of air travel, and a demographic shift towards
older, financially comfortable travellers are all favorable omens for
the cruise industry.
Restructuring of the airlines: Technology, security, fuel prices, the
aftermath of deregulation and the emergence of new business models are
all causing profound upheaval in the air travel industry. Though it's
hard to predict the outcome, observers are agreed that the continued
use of the internet to plan and book air travel, will grow, and will
be better integrated with other travel arrangments (hotels, cars,
tours, etc). In addition, there is a general sense that consumer
expectations will lead to increased use of bargaining on prices, based
on lowest available fairs.
Themes: Themed travel is growing, and includes such specialty area as
eco-tourism, heritage tourism, sports tourism, personal growth
tourism, topical tours around art, history, architecture, culture.
There are even niche activities taking off: rave tourism, as groups
go globe-hopping in search of the perfect party; space tourism (which
has generated a lot of buzz, though not much actual travel yet);
there's even coffee tourism, as coffee plantations take a lesson from
vineyards, and are beginning to attract tourists with tours of the
plantation and tastings of the coffee. And in spite of international
efforts to stop it, sex tourism appears to be on the rise as well.
Traditional destinations. These seem to be, in general, thriving,
even as they change to meet new conditions. Tourists still flock to
New York, London, Paris, Sydney, Las Vegas, and the various Disney
properties around the world, and similar desinations. If anything,
the glitzy, overdone destinations like Las Vegas will get even more
outlandish in pursuit of their market share. Security and terrorism
concerns cast a large shadow in these destinations, however.
Demographics. The aging of the affluent baby-boom populations of the
US and Europe are changing travel accomodations. Seats are becoming
larger, and hotel steps are smaller, both to accomodate older
travellers. The trend towards building-in comfort and emphasizing
services aimed at an older population should continue unabated.
Here are some of the key resources I found that address travel trends:
This first one is probably the best, single overview of some key travel trends:
Executive Report: January 2006
Others definitely worth a look are:
Trends of International Tourism
Tourism Trends by Tourism Control Intelligence
TOURISM TRENDS CARIBBEAN
Travel, Airline, Hotel & Tourism Trends
Travel: Caffeine Tourism
Identify the Trends Driving the World's Travel and Tourism Market
Executive Report The magazine for the Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure industry
U.S. Travel and Tourism Outlook and Trends- Highlights
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