When things go bad, people look to new destinations. We’re looking forward to seeing which places take this frown and turn it upside down.
Last month we launched our first ever magazine, “Megatrends Defining Travel in 2015“, where we identify the global trends in travel in 2015 and beyond, and focus on three emerging key themes: Mobile. Seamless. Experiential. Below is an extract from the one of the trends in the magazine.
For many travelers, the world has lost its mystery thanks to globalization of commerce, real- time Instagram uploads, tweets from distant lands, and the access that digital technology gives us to information around the world. Want to see a 360 view of Machu Picchu?
There’s an app for that.
But the world is not as simple as the 1s and 0s of the digital world.
Despite the appearances from tourism brochures and websites, travel doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Armed conflict, economic uncertainty, labor unrest, and political turmoil can turn a sunny paradise or historic site into a no-go zone in moments. On the flip side, once off-limits destinations can turn into overnight tourism hotspots, as we’ve seen in Myanmar.
In 2013, the Arab Spring shut off tourism in a number of north African states, from Tunisia to Egypt. While some countries have bounced back (good job, Tunisia) others still struggle amidst political uncertainty (we’re looking at you Egypt), while others are constantly on the edge of descending into conflict (we’re rooting for you Lebanon). This summer’s conflict between Israel and Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip restricted tourism in both Israel and Egypt.
Southeast Asian tourism has seen a remaking as Thailand’s political battles turned to a military takeover and trampling of human rights and press freedoms for many. And despite the tourism board’s attempt at poorly thought-out plans like a plastic surgery competition, or its attempt to sway the world’s opinion by hosting impressionable bloggers, it hasn’t seen a return to its pre-junta days. China’s crackdown on corruption has lead to record losses in luxury destinations such as Las Vegas and Macau, while the focus on more independent travel has aided Japan and other Asian destinations.
In South America, Colombia is now considered a safe destination, as opposed to Argentina, where currency woes have led to ridiculous restrictions on outbound travel and a rise in violent crime. Brazil weathered its World Cup this year with relative success and is preparing for the 2016 Olympic games with the wind at its back, despite regular flare-ups by anti-development protests. And don’t get the airlines started about Venezuela.
Thanks to mass unemployment and Russian aggression, European tourism is suffering Spain to Crimea. Outbound Russian tourism has plummeted, even to places in occupied Ukraine where Russia is paying people to travel. Switzerland is looking to Asia and North America to make up for the missing Europeans that aren’t hitting the slopes this winter. If nothing else, Europeans are working on mastering the staycation this year.
The continent of Africa was hard hit this fall, thanks to both Ebola and the world’s ignorance of geography; no, you won’t get Ebola in Namibia. Meanwhile, Kenya’s promising tourism sector has been upended by lethal attacks by religious extremists at beach resorts and in shopping malls. It’s truly telling that Kigali, Rwanda is seeing more tourism growth than Nairobi.
Airlines and hotel brands are not immune to being used as pawns. When InterContinental Hotels opened a property in Lhasa, pro- Tibet protesters disrupted World Travel Market in London and hijacked the event’s Twitter hashtag. During this summer’s Gaza conflict, airlines such as Delta became a pawn in the pro/anti-Israel campaign when they cancelled flights due to nearby rocket attacks.
As much as travel can be about escape, we can’t always escape the realities of the world we live in.
This is an extract, get this and all the other trends, download the magazine for full trends for 2015.
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Photo credit: Anti-government protesters gather outside Thailand's Labour Ministry in Bangkok. Athit Perawongmetha / Reuters