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A massive survey of 18,000 travelers worldwide suggests that 2024 is shaping up to be a year when tours, activities, and experiences are decisive. Now if only marketers will catch up to reality.

So much of travel marketing focuses on the transactional, with tons of airtime and budget given to selling hotels and other classic travel products. Yet a mammoth survey of 18,000 travelers underscores how experiences are rising in importance.

Experiences, such as food, concerts, art, and hiking, increasingly help drive trip-planning decisions — though in different ways for different nationalities. Clues to the importance of the experiential in travel appeared in a striking chart released on Tuesday.

The data came from surveys in 15 markets by Skyscanner, a price-comparison service run by the Group.

Experiences to Drive Travel Choices

This chart lists countries where Skyscanner surveyed travelers, followed by each nationality’s average interest in different experiences.

Take UAE residents: When going abroad, only about 26% of Emirati travelers are interested in sampling local food. In contrast, 57% of Spanish and French travelers say culinary exploration is an important consideration in their trip planning.

Rising Destinations

Destinations that successfully market themselves as offering unique experiences may punch above their weight in the travel recovery.

To get a sense of which destinations are on the rise, Skyscanner’s latest travel report combined survey data with its search and booking data over the next year.

Many American travelers are looking for the experience of either a tropical island or an urban escape in a culture they lack familiarity with. Search queries and bookings for 2024 are disproportionately up for the Cayman Islands and French Polynesia, as well as Japanese cities such as Osaka and Tokyo.

In Europe, some travelers are opting for both lesser-known and popular tourist areas. The top five destinations for travelers from this region ranged from Rayong’s beach retreats in Thailand to the shores of Klagenfurt set along Austria’s Lake Wörthersee and small towns like Castletown in the Isle of Man.

Morocco is the leading destination for travel to Africa. Low-cost airlines adding new routes from Europe, are driving demand with better affordability, Skyscanner said. It highlighted Ouarzazate in Morocco as receiving notable interest.

Perhaps the ultimate overall takeaway is that, in 2024, experiences will drive travel decisions differently, as the euphoria of “revenge travel” will give way to more intentional journeys.

That could include “gig trippers” traveling to see their favorite musicians perform, foodies looking to discover parts of culture through local cuisine, or art aficionados visiting museums and landmarks.


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Tags: adventure travel, art, arts & culture, culinary experiences, culinary tourism, cultural tours, experiences, museums, music, music festivals, online booking, skyscanner, survey data, surveys, tour operator, tours, tours and activities, travel advisors, Travel Trends, group

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