Travel & tourism trends in 2024

Photo by PixMeta Studio 2023

Exploring tomorrow: What to expect in travel and tourism industry in 2024?

It’s the end of the year, which means it’s time to analyze the travel industry’s figures and make predictions for 2024. While some crave the sun-kissed shores of Bali and others yearn for the ancient mysteries of Machu Picchu, traveling remains one of the best things people have in this world full of anxiety. For the true explorer, 2024 promises to be a year brimming with unexpected delights and groundbreaking trends.

If you are with a team of travelers, think of new off-beaten paths to explore this year. For the travel industry community, this is going to be a deep dive into insights and trends that will shape the travel industry in 2024. 

Current travel industry: overview and AI revolution

Before we delve into the exciting trends of 2024, let’s take a quick pulse of the current travel industry. The past few years have been a period of recovery from the seismic shifts of global events. While 2022 saw a strong rebound in travel demand, fueled by pent-up desires and relaxed restrictions, 2023 has been a year of cautious optimism. It is a period of recalibration and reassessment, especially amid the Generative Artificial Intelligence expansion. And yes, AI managed to penetrate the travel industry and have a groundbreaking influence on shaping the sector. 

The biggest innovation AI will bring to the industry is personalized recommendations. By analyzing user data, preferences, and behaviors, agencies leveraging AI will be able to give personalized travel recommendations and suggest relevant destinations, activities, and accommodations. 71% of customers expect to have personalized service throughout their experience. Such innovation has its obvious benefits in terms of user experience and drawbacks for business owners who become dependent on algorithmic bias. After all, AI is trained on data that can be biased, leading to unsatisfactory outcomes.

Travel is about emotions, experience, and the moments travelers live through, so user-generated content will still be leading in the industry, meaning businesses should continue heavily investing in HUMANS and user-generated content rather than AI and algorithms.  

Quick stats and numbers for the 2024 travel industry

  • The biggest trend that draws attention with numbers is online and app bookings, which are predicted to reach $833 billion by 2025 and $1.569.25 billion by 2030. It means that over 70% of customers will be using smartphones or websites to book tickets, hotels, and tours. By the way, here are some interesting statistics, 72% of customers spend around two days searching the web before making a decision. I may predict that the search will be twice as short with the expansion of AI personalized offers. 
  • Online sales will generate 74% of total revenue. Here we have another interesting tendency. Travelers rely more on other travelers’ experiences and feedback than on the information provided by travel agencies or businesses. This means there is no way to cheat and only the best will win. 
  • Caravanning is increasing in popularity, as shorter trips closer to home have been the trend since the pandemic. Europe will remain the largest shareholder in the camping and caravanning market. 
  • The global passenger traffic will be 9.4 billion (in 2019 it was 9.2 billion, the highest number we ever had).
  • The opening of the Chinese market will skyrocket activity in the Asian-Pacific region. The passenger numbers are predicted to reach 3.4 billion. 
  • The biggest trend in travel is the shift in customer behavior. Travelers are more interested in food and connecting with people and local cultures rather than simply wandering from site to site. 86% of travelers search for eating local when choosing a destination.

2024 travel trends we deserved

Sustainable tourism will get more sustainable

Sustainable tourism is no longer just a new word we’ve been searching for on Google; it’s a necessity. With growing concerns about climate change and environmental degradation, travelers are increasingly seeking out eco-friendly travel options. Actually, 69% (mostly millennials) of travelers choose sustainable travel options

In response, the tourism industry is embracing sustainable practices at all levels. Hotels are implementing energy-efficient measures, reducing their reliance on single-use plastics, and supporting local communities. Travelers are more eager to share their travel experiences if they are related to sustainability or have a positive impact on the environment. 

If you are a business owner and want to stay afloat amid these crazy days of sustainability (don’t get me wrong, with all respect to nature and me, being proactive to keep it clean; sometimes things get too far in their craziness), you’d better adopt sustainability best practices. It’s time to think about eco-leisure options and agritourism offers.

Leisure will get blended with business – bleisure is the new term

The lines between work and personal life are blurring (fortunately or unfortunately), and so is the distinction between leisure and business travel. Bleisure, the combination of business travel and leisure activities, is on the rise as professionals seek to make their work trips more enjoyable and productive. This trend is being driven by the rise of remote work and flexible work arrangements and the increasing desire for work-life balance. In 2024, 40% of business trips will be counted as bleisure. 

Business & Leisure
Business & Leisure | It’s a way to make business travel more enjoyable by incorporating some leisure time into the trip. Photo by Thought Catalog.

Wellness tourism will become healthier

Wellness tourism is a booming industry as people seek ways to improve their physical and mental health. This trend will only continue in the years to come as wellness becomes an even greater priority for individuals.

In response, the tourism industry is offering a wider range of wellness experiences, from yoga retreats and meditation sessions to spa treatments and detox programs. 

Travelers will love contactless payments

Contactless payments that started during the pandemic will be everywhere during your travels. This trend is only going to accelerate in the travel industry. Travelers are looking for convenient and secure ways to pay for goods and services, and contactless payments fit the bill perfectly.

Traveling in AR and VR dimensions

I stand for real emotions and experience but it’s hard to ignore AR and VR, which are transforming the way we interact with the world around us. With AR and VR, travelers will experience destinations, hotels, museums, sites, and restaurants in a whole new way.

AR overlays digital information onto the real world, while VR creates a completely immersive virtual environment. Both technologies have the potential to make travel more immersive, educational, and engaging, contributing to faster decision-making. 

Robots will be everywhere

While artificial intelligence works in the back office, shaping your travel experience, physical robots are already marching in the hotel lobby and restaurants. From check-in robots at hotels to luggage-carrying robots at airports, robots are making travel more efficient and convenient. This trend is under huge question because it can backfire and customers may want humans back at their workplaces. Will see. 

Tourism is now in the blockchain

This decentralized technology is having a major impact on a variety of industries, and the travel industry is not the next. This may not be a huge trend, but blockchain has started getting used to create more secure and transparent travel booking systems, manage travel loyalty programs, and combat fraud in the travel industry. Such successfully implemented platforms are, TravelChain, Winding Tree, and Dtravel. 

Music tourism will create some serious vibes

Music tourism is on the rise as travelers seek out experiences that allow them to immerse themselves in the music and culture of a destination. This trend is being driven by the growing popularity of music festivals and world-known artists holding world tours. Tours get booked months before the big day, along with concert tickets.

Social media influencers as the best advertising “agents”

Influencer marketing performs best in fashion and travel, becoming an inspiration phase of trip planning. Now, working with booking services and e-commerce marketplaces like Luxury Travel Hackers, Thatch, and TrovaTrip, social media influencers have become some kind of “agents,” offering personal links for booking at exciting prices. 

Traveling for people instead of places

This year we will have a “priorities shift” in travel, where customers value quality time with family more than trying new activities. The travel industry is shifting away from being about simply visiting places and towards being about connecting with people and having meaningful experiences. 

Trending destinations: Where to get your fix in 2024

Time to pack bags and set off to new travel destinations. Well, they are not new; they always existed but fewer travelers found it worth a visit. 

The average trip to Europe increased by 16 days, which means Europe continues to be overpacked (most of Europe). Skip tours to Italy and consider one of these trending destinations. 

  • The reopening of China will boost Asian destinations, with an almost 98% increase in traffic to India, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. 
  • Undertourism is the new tourism, which means you are encouraged to visit remote destinations like Namibia, Armenia, New Zealand, Romania, Guyana, and Mongolia. These destinations are perfect for practicing adventure travel.
  • This year, instead of the beaches of Greece and Cyprus, choose the beautiful beaches of Albania and Brac Island in Croatia. 

The bottom line. Be on-trend. Travel smart. Follow trends

Life is getting crazier every year. We saw virtual reality in travel that seemed useless but still, we use it now. We have NFTs in the travel industry and blockchain in HORECA, digital technologies that seem to have nothing to do with hiking, camping, or canoeing. Things change really fast and keeping up with the trends will make you a smart traveler or a successful business if you are in the opposite camp. This was a short recap of the 2024 travel landscape, with more interesting trends soon to come.

Anush Bichakhchyan
the authorAnush Bichakhchyan
Content writer
Anush is a freelance content writer and columnist. Writing on tourism and recreation, technology, high-tech and design industries.