As spring approaches and we solidify our vacation plans for 2018, it is worthwhile to consider the big picture of tourism and the travel trends in 2018.
This year, the global tourism industry will likely achieve record-breaking growth. In fact, throughout the last decade, worldwide tourism has been consistently outpacing the growth of the global economy, as well as the retail and financial services sectors.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), worldwide travel and tourism directly contributed over $2.3 trillion to the global economy and supported over 109 million jobs last year. When taking into account indirect tourism (i.e. fuel used to power planes and supplies needed for hotels), these figures reach an astounding $7.6 trillion and 292 million jobs.
As global tourism continues to climb, traveling becomes more affordable and accessible to people across the world.
What makes 2018 such a special year for tourism is the ongoing rise of technology and accessibility of emerging markets. Zealous travelers around the world have countless options for seamlessly sharing their favorite places and experiences on social media.
Additionally, exotic places once thought to be inaccessible are now welcoming more visitors than ever before. This is particularly visible in Southeast Asia and Latin America, which have overcome the political and economic hurdles impeding tourism. As such, it is an exciting time to recognize and experience the dynamic trends within the travel industry. Based on my travel experiences, insights from my Instagram travel community, and independent research, below are the top travel trends shaping the industry in 2018 and beyond.
Disruptive Technology in Tourism
During the past few years, we’ve seen start-ups such as Airbnb make substantial gains against conventional players in the industry. However, as the battle for reasonably-priced accommodations ensues, it’s clear that there won’t be a definitive winner any time soon.
As long as people desire luxury, amenities and convenience, hotels will not be replaced by this platform. Furthermore, as the global travel industry continues to flourish, it is expected that both lodging options will reap the benefits of a more globalized and travel-minded world.
The real battle entails providing a personalized travel experience, which up until recently was only offered by travel agents. Companies such as Expedia are now using chat bots to answer customer inquiries and provide personal travel guidance in real-time. Marketing specialists are now equipped with tools that tailor messages and emails for the end-user.
We are increasingly seeing big players in the travel industry develop blockchain technology and artificial intelligence to satisfy all travel-related needs. Though many are skeptical of this technology, it won’t be long until everyone feels comfortable booking their own flights, accommodations, and itineraries.
Experiences over Things
Nowadays, people are choosing to pay more for experiences and less for things. Airbnb—arguably the world’s most popular hotel provider—does not own a single property. So why should we own things when we can instead gather meaningful experiences?
Given this lifestyle choice among millennials, we expect that travelers will seek adrenaline and cultural immersion in their upcoming getaways. Expect more zip-lining, food tours, and cultural endeavors in the travel trends for 2018 and beyond.
Social Media Hype
In 2018, I consider social media to be the ‘Wild West’ of online innovation. Platforms such as Instagram are constantly developing their algorithms to provide the best possible user experience.
Likewise, travel companies such as hotels and airlines are taking advantage of this hype to best position themselves in the digital marketplace. When the smoke clears and the major travel players firmly assert their online presence, it will be difficult for newcomers to infiltrate the social media sphere.
In addition to companies influencing the social media space, global travelers and photographers will continue to shape the industry. I don’t know about you – but when I see pictures of India’s Taj Mahal or Peru’s Machu Picchu – I immediately get the travel bug and browse flights on Skyscanner.
For those who don’t have time to read Lonely Planet’s travel guides, follow your favorite travelers on Instagram instead. The travel pictures and captions may inspire you, and perhaps even bring you to places you would have never imagined.
As our world becomes closer and more intertwined, it is becoming more feasible to visit faraway, exotic places.
In particular, many hotspots in the southern hemisphere are catching fire in the social media realm. Countries such as Indonesia and Colombia are becoming the new craze among avid travelers.
Similarly, mainstream tourists are beginning to consider places like Estonia and Morocco over the conventional European hubs. This redistribution of preferred destinations is beneficial for global tourism—as some countries simply do not have the bandwidth to accommodate the rapid growth of visitors. For example, tourists visiting Iceland outnumbered the resident population 5 to 1 last year, while Croatia experienced a 3:1 ratio.
An increase in tourism within these emerging destinations will help alleviate the infrastructural and environmental pressures that these places encounter. In 2018 and beyond, I predict that you’ll see more of Latin America and Asia on your social media feeds.
#GlobalViewpoint and Travel Trends in 2018
With almost a quarter of 2018 underway, curious travelers are embarking on journeys far and wide. Adults are increasingly choosing experiences over tangible gifts for the family. ‘Digital nomads’ are creating travel blogs and producing Instagram content in record numbers to share their global travel experiences. And students are more frequently choosing to study abroad and live in a setting much different from home.
Needless to say — in 2018 and beyond — these travel trends show that we are moving closer to a world in which people cherish and foster a #GlobalViewpoint.
To follow my journey through Europe and around the world, feel free to connect with me on Instagram: @Global.Viewpoint!
Happy Travels! -Jon
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