Article from Travel Pulse by Lisa Iannucci
What’s trending in the travel industry right now? It depends on who you ask.
Based on our conversations with various travel agents, couples are yearning for smaller locales, while others are seeing an increase in popular family-oriented destinations.
Travelers are also still working on bucket lists but are not as interested in Cuba anymore.
“We notice that couples are starting to move away from the top tourist areas, like Cancun and Punta Cana, in exchange for the charm of smaller niche locales, like Huatulco, Mexico and La Romana in the Dominican Republic,” says Megan Velez, Destination Weddings Travel Group.
“Rather than stick to the large, opulent tourist resorts, travelers are after a full-blown authentic experience that takes them off the beaten path. With that in mind, we are predicting an uptick in off-the-radar destinations such as these, while still getting that tropical island flair (and still all-inclusive, to boot!)."
Velez sees this as a way for couples to immerse themselves in their destination and embrace all that it has to offer.
“From booking excursions to seeing local wildlife to taking traditional classes like hula dancing in Hawaii or guacamole making in Mexico, the opportunities to enjoy the local culture are endless,” she said. “To capitalize on the regional flavor, many resorts are even bringing in local artisans to decorate and host small workshops for their crafts—like basket weaving or painting—to show people their way of life.”
Steve Griswold of Pixie Vacations said he has not seen a slowdown in business so far this year, while popular family destinations like Universal Orlando Resort in Florida are still trending: “Our all-inclusive vacations to the Caribbean and Mexico are also up a whopping 400 percent,” he added.
To encourage travel, Griswold believes that more vacation deals will be offered to US residents, especially if it seems that fewer foreign travelers plan to come to the United States.
“It would increase travel to popular destinations here at home,” he said.
Tom Karnes of LaMacchia Travel in Kenosha, Wisconsin believes that Iceland’s geysers and volcanos, hot springs and waterfalls will continue to be a trendy destination this year: “The key trends to look for are emerging destinations with unique experiences, and Iceland is experiencing this right now."
On the other hand, Samarah Meil of Amarillo, Texas said that Greece is hot with her clients.
Nina Fogelman of Ancient Summit Travel has specialized in travel to Peru and said that, thanks to Machu Picchu, the area is still trending, though there are restrictions which could change that: “Our Wonder of the World – Machu Picchu – is beyond overcrowded. The Ministry of Tourism is creating new rules for entrance, and many areas are now restricted.
“While this should not be missed on the first visit to Peru, we are also offering more visits to different areas which now have more infrastructure for receiving tourists.”
For example, a cable car addition makes it much easier to visit the Ancient City of Kuelap, which is the sister city to Machu Picchu. “It’s up in the north of Peru which is a completely different world from the Cusco area where Machu Picchu is located,” Fogelman said. “We are looking forward to more interest in the North of Peru.”
If Peru is on your bucket list, that’s a good thing. Greg Geronemus, the co-CEO of smarTours, a guided tour company based in New York City, said bucket list travel will continue to be popular this year.
“More than ever before, our clients are thinking about how they can reach their dream destinations—not simply how they can escape the cold in the winter to a beach resort,” said Geronemus. “Destinations like Cuba, South Africa, Ireland and Japan have been hot destinations, and we expect it to continue in the New Year.
“With Americans feeling some hesitation surrounding mainstream Europe—in light of the Paris [and England] attacks and lingering terror threat—we will see boomers more than ever before opting for Asia, Africa and South America over the traditional European trip.”
Geronemus also expects to see significant downward pressure on international airfare due to a dramatic increase in competition across the globe.
“International airfare will become so attractive that it will often be less expensive to fly halfway around the world than it will be to fly domestically within the US,” he said. “This, of course, is also a product of the nonexistent competition among US airlines.”
Don’t expect Cuba to still be the talked-about destination it once was either.
“The latest round of 30-40 percent price increases by Cuban hotels will, unfortunately, make this previously forbidden island forbidden once again for most Americans who simply can't afford these outrages prices,” Geronemus explained. “Four-star hotels in Havana are now twice as expensive as hotels in London and Paris.”
We will continue to follow the travel trends every few months to see how things are changing in the industry.