Global travel started with a bang last year according to Lonely Planet as international tourist arrivals from January to April rose 6% worldwide compared to the same period in 2016. Middle East visits, in particular, rose by as much as 10%. No official figures have yet been released for the entire year, but the World Tourism Organization has been buoyant towards the increase in global travel.
So, will this surge in global travel continue in 2018? It’s hard to tell this early, though, as all three possibilities are in play: a continued surge, a status quo, and a drop off. But these six travel trends for 2018 may very well shape how global travel will look this year.
The Middle East Boom
The Al Dier in Petra, Jordan
The Middle East is one of the fastest-growing travel regions in the world, and that surge will continue this year. Travel companies have taken notice, and are now offering more Middle East tours. Meanwhile, seven new hotels from Hilton Worldwide are set to be opened this year in Egypt, while renowned and controversial street artist Banksy has opened a hotel in Bethlehem.
New Europe Destinations
Volkovysk Chalk Quarries in Belarus
Europe has long been a hotspot for travelers, and it will continue to be this year, but with a slight twist. Instead of all-time favorite destinations such as France, Croatia and Italy, the continent’s lesser known jewels will be explored by more travelers. Among the countries that are predicted to be widely visited in the next 12 months are Belarus (now offering five-day visa-free travel), Moldova (now more accessible thanks to new routes launched by Air Moldova), Cyprus, and Poland.
AirBnB Will Remain Popular
AirBnB has become ultra popular these past few years, especially for vacationers looking for a more affordable alternative to hotel accommodation. Expect things to stay rosy for AirBnB this 2018 as Lola CEO Paul English is predicting continued growth for the company, more so now that business travelers are beginning to take full advantage of this service.
The Rise of the Travel Concierge
Paul English is also predicting a rise in personalized service via what he calls “travel concierge,” which is now being offered by various service and hospitality companies. A travel concierge is simply someone who assists travelers 24/7 (often via calls, chat, and other communication channels and not necessarily in person) with all their needs, including making flight reservations, booking hotel accommodations, and creating an itinerary. A travel concierge is particularly useful when something goes wrong, like when a flight gets cancelled, for instance, or when a traveler needs to check in earlier than expected.
That Vegas Paradigm Shift
Lots of people are still trooping to Vegas, but not necessarily to enjoy Sin City’s casinos anymore, as there has arguably been a shift in playing behavior among casino players worldwide. This shift is unsurprisingly coinciding with the rise of digital gaming, notably online casinos, which are now offering casino players the opportunity to play a game of blackjack, slots, and poker, without stepping foot in a physical casino. Expect this shift to be a pervading trend in 2018 and beyond, especially with advancements being made in online gaming. One such innovation is the use of live action technology as shown through the Live Casino games on digital provider Slingo. Through this innovation, online players can enjoy the most immersive online casino experience possible with live dealers. The New York Times reports that in response to the online gaming industry, Vegas is now focusing on the video game market to bring in Millennials. A dedicated eSports area will open in the first quarter of 2018 and will be a big attraction for travelers.
A Year of Extreme Adventures
A glimpse of Antarctica
Adventure-seeking travelers will be looking for their next great escapes either in the spine-tingling cold of the Polar Regions or in the sweat-inducing heat of deserts. Arctic and Antarctic expeditions will be popular in 2018, and so will desert journeys (hello, Morocco, Oman, and Death Valley!).