Future of Travel (2)

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Where we’ll go
If some people are to believed, we will soon be taking holidays on the moon, but the reality within our time frame is likely to be more prosaic for most. Yes, space tourism has some potential – even at the low level of zero gravity trips and Antarctica is becoming an aspirational tourist destination, but both are likely to remain the preserve of (super) wealthy travellers for the foreseeable future. A more likely prospect sees Britons travelling further and faster thanks to developments such as low-cost long-haul flights and long-distance, high-speed, rail. Conversely, we will also rediscover old places, especially places closer to home, and choose to get there more slowly in some instances (hiring a vintage Citroen 2CV for a week of slow travel in Normandy, for example).

One development that we are already experiencing is a growth in tourist numbers, especially the rise in those from countries with a rapidly developing middle class such as China, India and Russia. Chinese tourists are already the third most important inbound market for Italy, and 1.4 million of them visited France last year. Half a million Indians flock annually to the Bernese Oberland, where many Bollywood productions are now set.

As many resorts fill up with such tourists, many UK holidaymakers will either be priced out or will choose to stay somewhere else. Travel is often tribal and most people prefer to holiday with people similar to, or exactly the same as, themselves. Witness the English and Germans occupying sun loungers in Majorca or the Russians invading bar stools in Kemer (Turkey). In fact some Russian tour companies are already offering trips for discerning Russians to where their fellow countrymen don’t go.

Countries such as China and India are, of course, developing their own resorts and we can expect at least some Britons to travel in the opposite direction. How about booking for 2 weeks at a 5-Star eco beach resort in Sanya (China) in 2030, for example. Other nations that should enjoy an influx of holidaymakers, especially from the UK, include countries that are developing economically (e.g. Ukraine), those transitioning to stable democracies (Burma etc.) or those set to benefit from changing weather patterns (Dubai, Oman et al). There is, of course, also the thought that there are more than 200 countries in the world, but the average person only regularly visits 20 or fewer in a lifetime. There are countries, especially in Asia and Africa that British holidaymakers haven’t even heard of let alone visited.

Future long distance holiday hot spots may include: Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Argentina, Iran, Syria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Angola, Cape Verde, Cambodia, Gabon, Zambia and Namibia.

As a counter-trend to this exoticism, many will also choose to stay at home and the significance of domestic tourism should not be ignored, especially given that many people perceive a UK break to be cheaper than one abroad, although a recent (April 2013) survey by the Post Office revealed that many European resorts have become cheaper of late (Spain is highlighted as being up to 20% cheaper than in 2012). And at the further end of the spectrum, in our economically straitened times, 30% of Britons can’t afford a holiday anywhere

Overall, as people’s thirst for variety and discovery grows, allied to the increased speed and convenience of long haul, what we’ll see is the popularity of Hybrid Holidays – either a weekend in a tent in Wales and a week in Majorca or one or two weeks in Spain that includes a couple of nights in a stylish air-conditioned tent. Similarly, more people may opt for a week in a traditional hotel in the Algarve, but twin this with a motorhome to explore the unseen side of Portugal.

Destinations will clearly evolve, but overall, what most holiday-makers will want in 5, 10 or 15 years time will be much the same as what they wanted 5, 10 or 15 years ago – value for money, reliable weather (generally warm and sunny) safe adventure, personalised experiences and above all the opportunity to get away and relax and spend time with people they care about.

In 2012, Wanderlust Magazine, asked independently minded travellers for their top emerging destinations and the list included Sudan, Greenland, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Pakistan , Cook Islands, Taiwan, Lebanon, Fiji, Iran. The WTTC have also compiled a list of the world’s fastest growing destinations. Clearly many (if not most) of these are not obvious sea and sand destinations, and future political circumstances are always uncertain. but where the pioneers go, the mass market tends to follow.
World’s Fastest Growing Holiday Destinations

1. Qatar
2. Azerbaijan
3. Kyrgyzstan
4. Montenegro
5. Uzbekistan
6. Belarus
7. Panama
8. Philippines
9. Tunisia
10. Chile

Source: World Travel & Tourism Council
Top destinations for the 19th Century British Traveller

1. River Nile
2. Paris via Brussels and the Rhine
3. Davos
4. The Holly Land
5. Niagara Falls
6. French coast (Nice, Biarritz, Deauville)
7. Italy
8. Scandinavian Fjords
9. Bath, UK
10. Shanghai
Source: The Guardian.

To be continued…

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