by Karin Leperi
4 days ago
This was the year of tourism fallout in Europe due to random acts of terrorism. It was an unwelcome cocktail of terrorism and political instability. These included airport bombings in Brussels and Istanbul and previous year incidents in France. It also includes the death-by-vehicle drives in Nice, France as well as the horrendous Christmas market mow down in Berlin, Germany. The wave of sporadic terror has continued unabated, striking crowds and celebratory events when least expected. Combine this with a fear of the Zika virus and overall political changes worldwide such as the unexpected Brexit vote and the surprise Trump presidential victory in America, it is not surprising that travelers are confused and increasingly afraid to travel to areas scarred with stochastic violence and contagious health threats.
Unfortunately, this trend is expected to continue into 2017, impacting travel to Europe and other areas considered to be soft targets. Not only Americans, but Chinese travelers as well are seeking safer places to spend their money and their time. In large measure, that will define travel in the year 2017.
Here are 10 travel trends this travel writer sees impacting 2017 travel plans:
1. Increased emphasis on security and safety. Travelers are more aware than ever before of the need to research and be prepared for potential disruptions to travel plans, including possible evacuation due to political instability or medical emergency. This will be a boon for companies that provide security protection and trip/travel insurance such as 360 World Wide Security , MedJet Assist , and Allianz Global Assistance.
2. Rise of the solo traveler. Expect to find more solo and single travelers as individuals who are independent, divorced and suddenly single decide to travel the world. This will shine a light on the disparities in single supplements as well as the need for restaurants to have tables for single diners.
3. Continued growth for river cruising. River cruising continues to provide cultural immersions and specialized itineraries that appeal to an active group. Many lines are now including bikes on board as a way for guests to explore the many nooks and crannies of towns where their ship docks. While river cruising is not a new trend, it is expected to be more popular than ocean cruising in the years to come. Look for luxurious value-based experiences with Viking River Cruises , AmaWaterways , UnCruise Adventures , Uniworld , AdventureSmith Explorations , and others.
4. Focused travel on desired and disappearing destinations. These destinations for 2017 include: Cuba, Canada, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, and USA (especially Alaska). With travelers increased concerns for safety and a desire to take advantage of favorable exchange rates while staying closer to home, expect an uptick in travel to safe destinations such as the Scandinavian countries and those within easy reach of the United States. This also bodes well for road trips within the United States.
5. More emphasis on cultural interactions, deeper immersions, and pursued passions. As travelers become more worldly, their desire will translate into journeys that seek inspiration, self-discovery, enrichment and continuing explorations. Travelers are increasingly seeking unique experiences, transformative travel, and enhancements in premium demand. They want to explore their passions and interests such as history, literature, architecture, cuisine, culture, wine, art, music, birding and photography. They expect to savor the moment even as they embrace the concept of high-low luxury for the ultimate in experiential travel.
6. Chinese travelers are on the rise all over the world. China visitation to the US increased by 16 percent in 2015, according to a report from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. By 2019, the U. S. Department of Commerce expects that will translate into about 3.1 million Chinese visitors to the States. Worldwide, the Chinese are traveling to the tune of about 120 million overseas. Their special needs include availability of Asian food, translators, and built-in shopping time for brand-name purses, etc.
7. Millennials as next travel target for marketing. Millennials are the largest generation in history and so it makes sense that marketing will target them more and more. Millennials differ from Baby Boomers in that they are unable to leave internet behind. They need and want reliable, fast-speed, and complimentary internet. They also like themed-events and themed-cruises that cater to their interests. Fast casual is particularly appealing to Millennials.
8. Complimentary WiFi will influence where travelers stay. The availability of complimentary WiFi will largely dictate where Millennials and Gen Z book their overnight stays. Digital connection is more important to them than ever before as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and other social media platforms provide instantaneous connectivity to their circles of friends and family.
9. Alternative travel will grow. With the introduction of alternative travel concepts like Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft, travelers are discovering a new set of easy-to-use, convenient travel tools that give them access to cheaper lodging and transportation in their destination city. Travel is becoming more affordable.
10. Selfie stick injuries and deaths are increasing. Expect more prohibitions in museums, amusement parks, and public areas as overuse of selfie sticks starts to border on the absurd. On my recent trip to the Louvre, I was unable to get close and see the Mona Lisa because of visual interference from a profusion of selfie sticks. Overuse of selfie sticks has also led to distracted tourism along with associated injuries and even death. Users become preoccupied with photo-taking and are oblivious to surrounding dangerous conditions, resulting in mindless actions like stepping out in traffic, backing up over cliffs, and even falling into manholes.
by Karin Leperi