Travel Insights & Industry Trends in 2024-2024

Travel Insights & Industry Trends in 2024-2024

Welcome to our Travel Insights & Industry Trends spotlight, where we delve into the trends apparent in 2024, as well as the 2024 global tourism landscape.

With this report, we aim to offer a comprehensive view beyond consumer activities, focusing on industry-wide statistics and key travel trends in the tourism industry.

Executive Summary

  • Data provided by Mastercard Economics Institute shows that 2024 witnessed a surge in global leisure travel, showcasing a significant 31% increase in March compared to 2019, underlining a 25% year-over-year shift from 2022 to 2024.

  • Commercial flight bookings, paralleling leisure trends, soared by 33% from March 2019, marking a 42% year-over-year change from 2022.

  • Mainland China experienced a resurgence in travel demand, nearing pre-pandemic levels for experiences.

  • Anticipated hotspot destinations for 2024 align with traveler origins, presenting opportunities for the U.S., Europe, Asia Pacific, and China.

  • In 2024, we expect travelers to prioritize unique experiences over material possessions, signaling a 65% increase in spending on travel experiences compared to a 12% increase in material possessions in March 2024. Pent-up demand, notably from the Asia Pacific and the U.S., fuels these projections for sustained momentum in 2024.

  • Summer holiday bookings in 2024 reflected a preference for flexible plans, unique experiences, and outdoor activities, setting the stage for potential changes in planning strategies and destination choices in 2024.

  • Holiday spending trends in 2024 varied across regions, notably witnessing increased spending on leisure activities in the U.S. and Europe, and a surge in APAC's focus on unique experiences. These trends pave the way for projected continued emphasis on travel experiences and sustainability in 2024, accompanied by uncertainties linked to rising costs and inflation.

  • Predictions suggest sustained growth in holiday spending in the U.S., Europe, APAC, and China, underscoring the importance of personalized travel experiences. The report highlights top destinations to watch in 2024, including emerging hotspots like Colombia, reflecting the changing preferences of travelers.

In response to these global travel trends, Travel-Lingual Co-founder, James A. Smith, emphasizes the growing traction of sustainable travel, particularly among Gen Z and millennials.

The increasing interest in cost-effective yet immersive travel experiences redefines the travel and hospitality industry landscape, prompting service providers to align with evolving consumer preferences to sustain growth post-pandemic.

The biggest travel industry trends we saw in 2024

The biggest travel industry trends we saw in 2024

  • Global leisure travel has surged, boasting a remarkable 31% increase in March 2024 compared to the same period in 2019, reflecting a substantial 25% year-over-year change from 2022 to 2024.

  • Commercial flight bookings, which caught up to leisure bookings in the latter half of 2022, are now growing at an equal pace, marking a 33% increase from March 2019 by the end of March 2024, denoting a 42% year-over-year change from 2022 to 2024, driven by regions embracing a return to office culture.

  • Mainland China has witnessed a resurgence in tourist demand for experiences, almost reaching pre-pandemic levels in March 2024 (93% of March 2019 levels). However, the recovery in luxury and retail sectors remains at 69% and 58% of March 2019 levels, respectively.

Hotspot Destinations for Spring and Summer 2024

Hotspot Destinations for 2024

As categorized by traveler origin:

  • North American travelers: Italy, Germany, and France

  • European travelers: U.K., Spain, Italy, and the U.S.

  • Eastern European and Middle Eastern travelers: U.K., France, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Egypt (both countries feature in the top 10 destinations for the first time since the inception of this report)

  • Latin American and Caribbean travelers: U.S., Spain, and Germany

  • Asia Pacific (AP) travelers: U.S. and Australia

Clear to see from findings in the Mastercard Economics report is that we are seeing a shift in travel preferences. Consumers increasingly prioritize unique experiences worldwide.

This is evidenced by a 65% increase in consumer spending on travel experiences compared to a 12% increase in spending on material possessions in March 2024.

Today's Global Travelers

Today's Global Travelers

Anticipated demand remains pent up, poised for sustained momentum in 2024, notably led by travelers from the Asia Pacific region and the United States, driving future bookings.

Summer Holiday Bookings

Summer Holiday Bookings

In 2024, summer holiday bookings in the United States and Europe reflected a surge in last-minute and spontaneous travel decisions, showcasing a preference for flexible and adaptable plans.

Additionally, there was a notable rise in bookings for destinations offering unique experiences and outdoor activities, emphasizing a shift toward experiential travel. This was a benefit for tour operators and travel companies offering unique experiences in countries such as Costa Rica, Mexico, and other popular destinations offering sustainable travel.

Market analysis suggests a potential evolution in 2024 trends, foreseeing a more structured approach to bookings. Anticipated changes indicate earlier and more strategic planning by travelers, seeking to secure desired accommodations and experiences amidst potential capacity constraints.

Moreover, there might be a continued emphasis on destinations that blend relaxation with immersive cultural and adventure-driven experiences.

However, rising costs for local businesses and inflation do make this predicted trend uncertain. Many travelers may choose to spend time at home and benefit from domestic travel in 2024.

Vacation/Holiday Spending in 2024

Vacation/Holiday Spending in 2024

Data provided shows that in 2024, global tourism numbers increased and holiday spending trends varied across regions. These can be found below.

United States (U.S.)

United States

The U.S. saw a significant increase in holiday spending, particularly on travel and service based experiences. Consumers allocated a larger portion of their budgets to leisure activities, exploring diverse destinations, and indulging in unique experiences during the holiday season.

This led to a year-on-year revenue increase for travel agents and other travel businesses dependent on outbound travel.

Europe

Europe

European holiday spending trends in 2024 indicated a similar inclination toward experiential travel. There was a notable surge in spending on cultural excursions, outdoor adventures, and visits to less-traveled destinations within the continent.

Examples include Cyprus, Malta, and Slovakia. Data provided by Eurostat shows that all of these countries saw a year-on-year increase in tourism numbers in 2024, which has left a lasting positive impact for each destination.

Asia Pacific

Asia Pacific

In the Asia Pacific region, holiday spending exhibited a robust increase, with travelers showing a preference for both domestic and international travel.

The focus remained on unique experiences, leading to a rise in spending on leisure activities and exploration of new destinations.

In particular, digital transformation shows has technology plays a critical role in travel trends for this region. A recent survey conducted by Think With Google shows that "58% of people across APAC prefer to engage with travel brands using an app, and in Thailand, India, and Indonesia, this preference was higher, at 67%."

China

China

China experienced an uptick in holiday spending focused on experiential travel.

Travelers from China exhibited a preference for high-quality experiences, contributing to increased spending on luxury accommodations, unique tours, and cultural experiences around the world during holidays.

Global Travel Trends for 2024

Predictions suggest the following travel industry trends for 2024. We have segmented by region.

United States (U.S.)

United States

Holiday spending is expected to maintain its upward trajectory, with consumers continuing to prioritize travel and experiences. An emphasis on personalized and curated holiday experiences might lead to sustained growth in leisure spending.

Europe

Europe

Predictions indicate a continuation of the trend toward experiential travel. Travelers are likely to explore unconventional destinations and invest in immersive cultural experiences during holidays, contributing to steady holiday spending. Consumer behavior suggests there is a preference to spend money on experiences over luxury accommodation or upgrades on flights.

Asia Pacific

Asia Pacific

Holiday spending in the Asia Pacific region is expected to remain robust, with an ongoing focus on diverse travel experiences. There might be an increased interest in sustainable and eco-friendly travel options, influencing spending patterns during holidays.

China

China

Predictions for China suggest a sustained inclination toward high-quality holiday experiences. Travelers are increasingly aware of the travel options available. 

We anticipate travelers from China to allocate significant budgets for luxury accommodations, unique cultural experiences, and personalized holiday packages in 2024.

Top 10 Destinations to Watch in 2024

Top 10 Destinations to Watch in 2024

The access that we have to post-pandemic data offers travel insights into potential top destinations for 2024.

Whilst Mexico will remain the most popular destination for U.S tourists, travel agents can expect to see travel industry growth in the following countries for the year ahead.

1. Japan

Japan

Known for its blend of tradition and modernity, Japan consistently attracts travelers seeking cultural experiences, diverse cuisine, and technological innovations.

2. Portugal

Portugal

Rising in popularity due to its scenic beauty, rich history, and vibrant cities like Lisbon and Porto, Portugal remains a sought-after destination for travelers seeking authenticity and charm.

3. Colombia

Colombia

Emerging as a key destination in South America, Colombia boasts diverse landscapes, cultural richness, and a growing appeal for adventure seekers and cultural enthusiasts alike.

4. Egypt

Egypt

With its timeless attractions like the pyramids, Egypt continues to draw travelers interested in ancient history and archaeological wonders, especially as it reclaims its place as a top tourist destination.

5. New Zealand

New Zealand

Known for its stunning landscapes and outdoor adventures, New Zealand's appeal remains high for travelers seeking natural beauty and adrenaline-fueled experiences.

6. Vietnam

Vietnam

Offering a rich tapestry of culture, history, and stunning landscapes, Vietnam continues to gain attention as a destination offering unique experiences and diverse cuisine.

7. Greece

Greece

Known for its historical significance, beautiful islands, and Mediterranean charm, Greece consistently remains a top choice for travelers seeking a mix of culture, history, and relaxation.

8. Rwanda

Rwanda

Emerging as an eco-tourism hotspot, Rwanda's emphasis on conservation efforts and its remarkable wildlife experiences, especially with mountain gorillas, attract global travelers seeking sustainable adventures.

9. Australia

Australia

With its diverse landscapes, unique wildlife, and vibrant cities, Australia remains a perennial favorite for travelers seeking a blend of urban experiences and natural wonders.

10. Morocco

Morocco

Offering a blend of traditional and modern experiences, Morocco's allure lies in its bustling markets, historical sites, and diverse landscapes, attracting travelers seeking a taste of North African culture.

Morocco was Premier Partner at WTM London 2024, which demonstrated its desire to grow inbound tourism numbers in 2024.

Low-Cost Destinations to watch in 2024

Low-Cost Destinations to Watch in 2024

One of the clear global travel trends that travel agencies are seeing is a desire for sustainable travel and cost-effective holidays, which we expect to continue into 2024.

The following low-cost destinations are expected to see growth from Gen Z and millennial travelers in 2024, with a decrease in all inclusive trips.

1. Bulgaria

Bulgaria

Known for its affordability and diverse attractions, Bulgaria offers a mix of historical sites, scenic landscapes, and coastal areas at relatively lower prices compared to other European destinations.

2. Vietnam

Vietnam

Continues to be a favorite for budget-conscious travelers due to its affordable accommodations, food, and transportation options. The country offers a rich cultural experience, stunning landscapes, and a diverse culinary scene without breaking the bank.

3. Colombia

Colombia

Cities like Bogotá and Medellín provide budget-friendly options for travelers interested in history, culture, and scenic landscapes, offering affordable accommodations, dining, and transportation.

4. Nepal

Nepal

Famous for its trekking routes and the Himalayas, Nepal remains a budget-friendly destination for adventure seekers and those interested in cultural experiences, with low-cost accommodations and dining options.

5. Nicaragua

Nicaragua

With its beautiful landscapes, beaches, and colonial cities, Nicaragua offers affordability compared to its neighboring countries in Central America, attracting travelers seeking budget-friendly yet enriching experiences.

6. Romania

Romania

Known for its medieval towns, castles, and scenic countryside, Romania provides affordable travel options, including accommodations and food, making it an attractive low-cost destination in Europe.

7. Thailand (beyond tourist hubs)

Thailand

While popular tourist areas can be more expensive, exploring less-visited regions of Thailand can offer budget travelers affordable accommodations, delicious street food, and unique cultural experiences.

8. Indonesia (outside Bali)

Indonesia

Beyond Bali, Indonesia offers diverse landscapes, cultural experiences, and affordable accommodations on islands like Java, Sumatra, and Lombok.

9. Portugal (interior regions)

Portugal

While certain coastal areas can be pricier, exploring inland regions of Portugal offers budget travelers a chance to experience the country's culture, history, and beautiful landscapes at more affordable rates.

Global Travel Trends: What it means for Online Travel Agencies & Tour Operators

Global Travel Trends

Below we have listed what the global travel trends referenced in this report mean for OTAs, and the potential impact they will have on the travel industry.

United States Trends, Impact and 2024 Predictions

  • 2024 Trends: In 2024, the U.S. witnessed a surge not only in international travel, but also domestic travel, emphasizing experiential and adventure-based tourism. OTAs experienced increased demand for personalized travel packages, flexible booking options, and niche experiences.

  • Impact on OTAs: This trend highlighted the importance of customization and flexible offerings. OTAs focused on tailored experiences, last-minute deals, and seamless booking experiences to cater to changing traveler preferences.

  • 2024 Predictions: Anticipated continued growth in domestic travel might encourage OTAs to further refine their customization strategies. Emphasis on sustainability, wellness, and local experiences could drive OTA offerings.

Europe Trends, Impact and 2024 Predictions

  • 2024 Trends: Europe saw a rise in eco-tourism and off-the-beaten-path destinations, with travelers seeking authentic cultural experiences. OTAs adapted by promoting sustainable travel options and unique local experiences.We have seen a shift away from all inclusive offerings post-pandemic.

  • Impact on OTAs: OTAs in Europe focused on promoting lesser-known destinations, eco-friendly accommodations, and curated experiences. They also prioritized local partnerships to offer authentic experiences.

  • 2024 Predictions: OTAs might continue to promote sustainability initiatives and expand partnerships with local businesses. Additionally, enhanced digital experiences and personalized recommendations may become more prevalent.

Middle East (ME) Trends, Impact and 2024 Predictions

  • 2024 Trends: The Middle East saw a rise in holiday spending, particularly among travelers seeking luxury experiences and cultural immersion. Destinations like the UAE, Oman, and Qatar attracted travelers with upscale accommodations and unique cultural offerings. The region continues to see year-on-year incrases in business trips and bookings for intercontinental and charter flights.

  • Impact on OTAs: OTAs in the Middle East emphasized curated luxury travel packages, exclusive experiences, and collaborations with high-end hotels and luxury brands. They focused on providing personalized concierge services and seamless booking experiences.

  • 2024 Predictions: OTAs in the Middle East may continue to cater to luxury travelers by offering enhanced premium experiences, VIP services, and bespoke travel itineraries. Additionally, they might further expand partnerships with luxury brands and upscale accommodations to meet the demand for exclusive holiday experiences. Integration of technology for tailored recommendations and convenience in luxury travel bookings could also be a focus area for OTAs in the region.

Asia Pacific (APAC) Trends, Impact and 2024 Predictions

  • 2024 Trends: APAC observed increased interest in wellness travel, culinary tourism, and intra-regional travel. OTAs capitalized on this trend by offering curated wellness packages and culinary experiences.

  • Impact on OTAs: OTAs in APAC prioritized wellness-oriented travel packages, food tours, and collaborations with local chefs and wellness centers. Enhanced mobile experiences were also crucial.

  • 2024 Predictions: OTAs might further diversify offerings to cater to evolving wellness and gastronomic trends. Increased integration of technology, like AI-driven recommendations, could enhance guest experiences for services in hotels and other trip/accommodation related areas.

China Trends, Impact and 2024 Predictions

  • 2024 Trends: China witnessed a resurgence in outbound travel, especially for experiential tourism. OTAs focused on providing seamless booking experiences, emphasizing local cultural immersion.

  • Impact on OTAs: Chinese OTAs prioritized tailored travel itineraries, exclusive experiences, and partnerships with local guides or attractions. They also improved mobile payment options to cater to traveler preferences.

  • 2024 Predictions: OTAs in China might continue to emphasize customized experiences while leveraging technology for enhanced personalization. Further integration of social commerce and community-driven travel may also evolve.

Travel-Lingual: What do we make of these travel trends?

Travel-Lingual: What do we make of these travel trends?

Travel-Lingual Co-founder, James A. Smith, shares his thoughts on the data provided by key travel industry players:

"We will continue to see a preference for sustainable travel amongst Gen Z and millennial travelers in particular. Tourists from these subgroups continue to seek eco-friendly destinations that resonate with their values.

Millennial travelers like me continue to look for immersive yet economical experiences. This has reshaped the travel landscape, as we gravitate towards lesser-known, budget-friendly destinations that offer cultural depth without financial strain. I think we are seeing this with destinations like Morocco, as example.

Data suggests that customers are thinking carefully when deciding which hotel to book, which country to visit, and which company to book through. Service providers of all types need to keep up with these global travel trends in 2024 if they want to continue to experience post pandemic growth."

About Us 

We are a travel marketplace and price comparison platform. We provide travelers with access to over half a million tours, activities, day trips, and transfers all over the world. We help travelers from across the globe by allowing them to research and book unforgettable travel experiences at the best possible prices. We work closely with travel brands and tour providers to connect our audience with exceptional travel experiences, curated from the finest offerings and exclusive deals available.

About the Author

James A. Smith is a travel consultant, writer, and entrepreneur. He has been featured in multiple travel news outlets including Wanderlust Travel, The New Zealand Herald, In The Snow, The Daily Express, The Sun, The Mirror, MSN, and British News Today. He is the founder of Travel-Lingual, a popular travel marketplace and price comparison platform that provides travelers with access to over half a million tours, activities, day trips, and transfers all over the world.