The Future of Travel: Emerging Trends and Predictions for 2024
From train travel to space travel, here's a look at what's gaining popularity this year.
From train travel to space travel, here's a look at what's gaining popularity this year.
It's 2024, and the travel industry is abuzz with words that didn't exist 20 years ago. From over-tourism and bleisure travel to slowcations and destination dupes (thanks TikTok!), let's look at what this year has in store for the tourism industry.
Destinations ready to rise in 2024
As we gear up for yet another exciting year in travel, a handful of destinations are stepping into the limelight. You might want to book them now so that you don't find yourself confused later in the year, wondering what you were doing when all your friends, family and coworkers collectively decided to go to Japan.
Yep, Japan is first up. International tourist arrivals officially surpassed pre-pandemic levels in October last year, and we're expecting this growth to continue into 2024. With the cost-of-living crisis in full swing, we're all looking for ways to save money these days and the Japanese Yen is currently the weakest it has been in about three decades.
At the time of writing, 100 Australian dollars will get you around 9,700 Japanese Yen. Compare that to March 2020 when the same amount would have bought you around ¥6,500 and you've got yourself a bargain.
Timeless charm, incredible food and an enviable slow-paced culture have people excited to explore Italy this year. But with over-tourism a major problem in the country (you might have heard about Venice's soon-to-be-implemented entrance fee), travellers are choosing more immersive travel experiences off the beaten track than major cities. Think Bologna, Verona and the Dolomites instead of Rome, Venice and Florence.
The warm hospitality and diverse landscapes of the Land of Smiles has Thailand climbing to the top of lots of travel wish lists. Whether for a tropical family getaway or a wellness retreat (or both?) there's plenty to see here.
Fun fact: Thailand was recently voted the Best Affordable Long-haul Destination by Swedish travellers for the third year in a row! So it's not just Aussies that are obsessed.
Offering a unique blend of Eastern and Western cultures, Turkey is emerging as a destination for travellers looking for something a little different in 2024.
On top of iconic drawcards like Cappadocia, Istanbul's Grand Bazaar and the pristine beaches of Bodrum on the Aegean Sea, Turkey also has the allure of being an affordable vacation spot. Similar to Japan, the value of the Turkish lira has been declining which helps stretch your dollars further.
With the effects of climate change being felt more and more every year, travellers are heading further north in search of more temperate holiday spots, like Norway. Mix in some majestic fjords, the country's commitment to sustainability and the fact that scientists are forecasting strong northern light activity over the next couple of years and you've got yourself the perfect destination.
On-screen inspiration to look forward to this year
Movies and TV shows can entertain and inspire us in so many ways. They transport us to far-off lands, introduce us to cultures we didn't previously know about and ignite a wanderlust in us powerful enough to transcend the screen.
In fact, the trend of booking travel based on famous filming locations even has a name: set-jetting.
From enduring classics like The Lord of the Rings in New Zealand to more recent shows like The White Lotus in Hawaii (the HBO hit was recently confirmed to start filming season three in Thailand next month), fictional cinematic experiences can result in very real tourism boosts.
Here are five movies and TV shows slated for release this year that will make you want to pack your bags and book the next flight out:
Emily in Paris season four will continue to show off the glitz and glam of the City of Light (not to mention this year's Paris Olympic Games)
Squid Game season two is expected to feature more of South Korea's Seoul
John Wick spinoff movie, Ballerina, spent three months filming in Prague
This year’s trending travel styles
Now that we've covered where travellers are going in 2024, let's take a look at how they're choosing to get there and what kind of experiences they're hoping for once they arrive — because there's much more to international tourism than air travel.
A railway renaissance
Exploring Europe by train isn't a new concept, but with a growing sustainability mindset among travellers (more on that later) and an exciting array of shiny new rail routes set to debut over the next few years, a rail renaissance is well and truly underway.
According to Pinterest, 2022 saw a 205% increase in searches for "Train trip aesthetic" and a 105% increase for "Interrailing Europe aesthetic", which gives us some idea of train travel's growth and trajectory over the last couple of years. Add to that the consistently sky-high cost of flying and the post-pandemic desire for slowcations and you've created the perfect environment for a train travel boom.
Planning your next rail adventure? Here are some new itineraries that will make exploring the European Union by train that much easier (and more fun) this year and in years to come.
Cruising ages down
Cruising isn't just an experience; it's a lifestyle, and one that will only continue to grow in popularity for the foreseeable future. Once considered a holiday option for a pretty specific demographic (our average cruise customer in 2023 was around 59 years old), recent findings released by the Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) indicate that younger generations are finally succumbing to the cruising life.
According to the TTF's 2024 Cruise Survey, 35% of Aussies under 35 will cruise in 2024, compared to a meagre 18% of those over 65. One in four of the Australian travellers surveyed were also 'cruise curious', and would consider cruising as a potential future travel experience.
With cruising in such high demand, we'd suggest booking as early as you can to avoid missing the boat on this trend!
In 2024, tourists want more from their holidays than to just tick off the typical attractions and pose for a quick Instagram pic. Instead, they're searching for ways to weave themselves into the very heartbeat of a destination through a more community-based style of travelling.
With consumer preferences leaning heavily towards immersive and meaningful travel experiences, community-based tourism allows visitors to feel more like guests than tourists. It's a way of ensuring that you're travelling responsibly and that your trip will leave a positive impact on the local communities you visit.
Whether it's a cooking class in Italy, an Indigenous medicine walk in Canada or a coffee tasting in Colombia, the lessons learned while participating in community-based travel will stay with you long after you say goodbye.
Bleisure travel continues
Another trend continuing to shape the future of tourism is the idea of bleisure travel. The term “bleisure” (a blending of business and leisure) has existed within the travel and tourism industry for some time now, but thanks to the pandemic and the rise of remote work it has become a much more realistic option for more travellers.
While many businesses are doing everything they can to get people back in the office, the rise and continued desire for remote work is something the tourism industry is embracing. Combining business with leisure allows tourists to explore the world with more flexibility, for longer periods of time and outside of peak seasons.
Sustainability takes priority
Between overtourism threatening some of the world's favourite holiday destinations and climate change heating up the globe at an alarming rate, the future of travel (and of the world in general) depends on both tourism businesses and travellers adopting a mindset of sustainability.
In 2024, sustainable travel is taking priority for many when booking travel experiences (see community-based tourism above), particularly for younger generations. In Contiki's recent Voice of a Generation 2023: Australia survey, the company found that, of their Gen-Z and Millennial travellers, 77% would choose to travel by coach, 64% by train and 59% by ship instead of by plane in a bid to help the environment.
The challenge, of course, is converting good intentions into practical action, especially when we factor in things like traveller convenience and the cost of living crisis.
Here are some things we can all do today to travel more sustainably this year and into the future.
Support responsible travel and tourism businesses by booking eco-hotels and sustainable tours.
Avoid air travel and swap it for a train ticket where possible to help reduce carbon emissions
Travel to lesser-known destinations to combat unsustainable visitor numbers or overtourism
It's important to remember that even tiny actions compound and make a huge impact over time. For example, in 2024 Intrepid Travel have adjusted their itineraries and swapped 18 short-haul flights for land travel across 14 of their tours. The company predicts that this action alone will keep "an estimated 4,000 travellers out of the skies for those legs of their trip" over the next 12 months.
Tech innovations and the future of travel
Most of us can hardly remember a time before online flight check-in, eGates, translation apps and Google Maps (how many of us would actually make it home if we had to rely on paper maps?). With the future of travel inextricably linked to innovations in tech, let's take a look now at where the tourism industry is headed.
Facial recognition technology is a trending topic at the moment, and it's a development set to drastically speed up the airport experience over the next few years. In fact, a quick automated face scan and biometric check could soon eliminate the need to travel with a physical passport altogether. Singapore is set to become one of the first countries in the world to bring in "automated, passport-free immigration clearance" this year, with many other countries like Canada, the UK and the UAE having already run or planning to run similar trials.
While that very first trip to the international terminal sans passport will undoubtedly be a bit of an adjustment, the idea of less time spent waiting around in airports and more time in destination is certainly appealing!
AI and space tourism
Ah, AI and space tourism: two of the buzziest buzz words tied to the future of travel. It's probably safe to say that most of us have mixed (at best) feelings about the recent developments in AI.
On the one hand, it's been fun to play around with ChatGPT and marvel at this new kind of tech-sorcery. On the other hand, the World Economic Forum's “Global Risk Report 2024” has just named AI-generated misinformation and disinformation the biggest short-term threat to humanity. So… you know, pros and cons.
Love it or hate it, AI is here to stay and as far as the future of travel is concerned, AI technology can help provide a more personalized customer experience, especially within the hospitality industry. Think customization of hotel rooms, more efficient guest services and highly-optimized processes behind the scenes. Outside of hotels, AI has already been used for reconnecting lost bags with their owners and powering customer service robots in airports.
Moving away from AI now, we can't talk about the future of travel without checking in on the ever-developing world of space tourism. As technology advances the dream (or, depending on how you feel about extreme speeds and confined spaces, the nightmare) of leisurely orbiting the Earth drifts closer to reality — even if it's well outside of the average vacation budget for now.
Virgin Galactic successfully launched its first commercial flights to the final frontier and back again, with some passengers paying around $250,000 USD 10 years ago for the ticket! The next commercial launch, Galactic 07, is scheduled for later this year. However, the company plans stop these suborbital flights by the middle of 2024 to focus on developing their next fleet of ships.
Another persistent topic of discussion in space tourism going forward is the colonization of Mars.
A few months ago long-time space enthusiast and destroyer of Twitter, Elon Musk, spoke at the 2023 International Astronautical Congress and said, "I think it's sort of feasible [for his company, SpaceX] within the next four years to do an uncrewed test landing" on Mars. He also confirmed that he "has not seen any evidence of aliens". So that's disappointing.
Whether it happens within the next four years or not, it seems likely that we'll see developments in this area over the next decade. Mars, not the aliens... probably.
Ready to jump on the 2024 travel bandwagon? Check out our current deals or speak to your Flight Centre travel consultant about your next holiday today!