It’s officially 2015, so we’ve scanned our inbox to see what tour operators and other industry insiders are saying about travel trends in 2015. Here’s the scoop from our inbox to yours.
Africa & Asia
Safaris are always popular, but now travelers are looking for more than just a safari escape. Namibia offers safaris, sea, and sand, plus watermelon wine, skydiving, dune riding, kite surfing, champagne dolphin sailings, and hot air balloon rides over Namib. Kensington Tours offers many tours through various destinations in Africa, as well as nine tours to Namibia ranging from 7- to 20-day itineraries. Rates start at $2,695 pp for the 7-day Namibia Sand & Sea Discovery to $11,268 for the 18-day Journey through Namibia itinerary.
Speaking of safaris, Cox & Kings’ president, Scott Wiseman, points out that travelers are “more interested in learning about the benefits and uncommon experiences of ‘off season’ travel versus the more popular and expensive times.” With that in mind, there are a few migrations that would add to your client’s safari experience such as the annual migration of the wildebeest between Kenya and Tanzania, which also includes zebra and gazelle. Your clients can take in this experience through Natural Habitat Tours’ East Africa migration safaris, which feature private and secluded luxury mobile camps, giving your clients views within close proximity to the herds. The Great Kenya Migration Safari starts at $7,695 pp for eight days from July to September, and the The Great Tanzania Migration Safari starts at $7,395 pp for eight days from December to March. There are also photo safari tours available for both of these migrations starting at $9,995 pp.
According to Travel Leaders Group, Costa Rica is on the rise with 30.5 percent of the votes from the 2015 Travel Trends Survey— a survey based on actual book data, responses from 1,226 U.S.-based travel agents, and those affiliated with Travel Leaders Group—marking it as an “up and comer”; and though Cuba is at only 9.4 percent on the survey, the recent announcement in December that the U.S. is normalizing relations with Cuba and easing travel restrictions is sure to make this a destination that will rise up in 2015. In fact, many tour operators have been offering people to people programs to the island, with huge success, and, in fact, Cox & Kings lists “international peer to peer” experiences among the type of travel guests are now looking for. Noting that guests are interested in meeting like-minded individuals in a destination rather than visiting another tourist stop; travelers want to engage on a more personal level with their peers and share common interests and experiences. Cox and Kings adds that both Central and South America are trending for 2015, recognizing Bolivia, Colombia, Nicaragua, and Panama as the destinations that have risen to the top of the “must see” list for their clients.
Those traveling to Europe are looking to experience a few destinations while across the pond. Kensington Tours refers to this as a “hop-scotch with multi-country combinations.” Popular combinations for Kensington Tours include England-Scotland-Ireland, Italy-Switzerland-France, Portugal-Spain-Morocco, and Slovenia-Croatia-Albania. As for the Travel Leader Group’s survey, it lists Croatia as a top European destination, with the Greek Isles at a close second.
This year, North America’s top go-to vacation destinations, including Chicago, Orlando, Las Vegas, Maui, New York, and Washington, D.C. have been bumped by Alaska on the “must see list” of several trends surveys. This rugged destination is definitely a front-runner, especially for those opting for a cruise experience. “For the past decade and a half, Las Vegas and Orlando have jockeyed for the top spot in our survey. So what we are seeing—even if mere tenths of a percentage point separate our top four destinations—is a seismic shift for American travelers in 2015,” says Barry Liben, CEO of Travel Leaders Group. “Alaska is vast, so cruising enables one to see so much more of this enormously and stunningly beautiful area—plus this type of vacation, which can be perceived as slightly rustic, can be as luxurious as one desires,” he adds. The form of transportation while traveling is also important to travelers this year. Cox & Kings notes that guests are requesting authentic and unique ways to see a destination. Whether it’s a train ride in India, a bicycle ride through Brooklyn, or even cruising in Alaska, transportation is among the unique experiences they’re seeking and adds to the experience for the destination itself.
Other destinations to keep in mind, as indicated in the surveys we looked over, are Myanmar, New Zealand, South Korea, and Tasmania, as well as spiritual journeys in India and Nepal.