Rosemary Behan rounds up some of the key travel trends of 2013.
The travel trends of 2013: ‘braggies’, pay-as-you-go lounges, global tourism upturn and more
Upturn in global travel
Despite natural disasters, political instability and an economic downturn in many parts of the world, the global tourism industry grew by 5 per cent in the first nine months of 2013, according to the Madrid-based UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). Taleb Rifai, the UNWTO’s secretary general, said the growth was a significant supporter and driver of the global economy. About 845 million trips took place during this period, which was an increase of 40 million compared with the same period in 2012.
UAE proves bigger draw
According to the UNWTO’s latest World Tourism Barometer report, Europe is still the world’s most-visited region and international tourist arrivals grew by six per cent this year. South East Asia saw an increase of 12 per cent and Africa 5 per cent. The UAE experienced a large increase in visitors – Dubai received 7.9 million visitors in the first nine months of this year, an increase of 9.8 per cent on the previous year, according to Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, and Abu Dhabi welcomed 2.27m visitors from January to October this year, a 16 per cent increase on the previous year, according to the Tourism and Culture Authority. Overall, the Middle East experienced an increase in visitor numbers of just 0.3 per cent, largely a result of the Arab Spring in tourist-heavy economies such as Egypt and Tunisia.
Brazil set for huge gains
With the World Cup being staged in Brazil next year and the Summer Olympics in 2016, all eyes are on the country. Although it was an increasingly popular tourist destination, Brazil only received six million tourists in 2012, but it’s set to see exponential growth next year. New direct routes from the UAE with Etihad and Emirates will boost both business and leisure trips from this region.
Many of the Brazilian host cities have been, or are in the process of being, re-energised, including the traditional tourist draw of Rio de Janeiro. In Barra, where the Olympic Park is being built, a city-wide trend for design hotels and hot new restaurants is being supported by futuristic new museums, art galleries and shopping malls. Shanty towns across the city have been “pacified”. But unless you’re going for the football, the best time to visit will be after the tournament has finished; Visit Brazil has warned that it fears that some hotel rates may be inflated by as much as 500 per cent during the event.
Year of the ‘braggie’
Some 75 per cent of Facebook posts are said to be travel-related, and while 2013 was the year of the “selfie”, 2014 is set to be characterised by the “braggie”. According to a recent report by Hotels.com, one in three people upload travel-related photos to social networks specifically to make other people jealous. Some 70 per cent of people are guilty of “tweaking” photos before uploading them, with men more likely than women to edit photos before posting. Most of these photos are being taken on smartphones, with the increasing use of apps such as Instagram and Twitter being adopted by some travel companies. Business class changes
Pay-as-you-go lounges are becoming more popular as companies cut down on business-class travel. Next year, the growing trend of people mixing business with holiday is also likely to increase, with more travellers booking stopovers to break up their economy-class trips. In the Middle East, where business travel is increasing, low-cost airlines such as FlyDubai and Jazeera Airways, which have begun offering business-class seats, may see others following suit next year.
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