As the leading provider of comprehensive global air travel intelligence, ForwardKeys is delighted to release the 2023 Global Travel Trends Report. The report examines the emerging patterns of global tourism and evolving traveller behaviour that have shaped the industry through 2023 and beyond.
The year 2023 marks a significant milestone as many destinations and travel businesses are still focused on recovering from the impact of COVID-19. While the speed of recovery varies by region, it is expected to be complete by the end of 2024, even for countries that recently lifted travel restrictions. This means that destinations can now turn their attention to pre-pandemic issues such as determining the type of tourism, destinations, and purposes that they want to promote. However, the context in which these questions are asked has changed. It is now shaped by geopolitical events, technological advancements, and concerns about sustainability.
Trends for DMOs and tourism partners to take note of include:
Urban Tourism is on the rise
Over the last two years, due to the post-pandemic scenario, travellers have developed a strong preference for destinations that offer ‘sun and beach’. However, in the year 2023, there has been a remarkable shift in the trend. Urban destinations are now becoming more popular among tourists, with a growth rate of 52% as compared to 26% growth in ‘sun and beach’ destinations over the same period in 2022.
Climate change matters in the long-term
In the summer of 2023, the Northern Hemisphere experienced extreme temperatures, wildfires, and floods due to climate change. However, these events did not have a significant impact on travel patterns. Despite the Rhodes wildfires, ticket sales returned to normal levels within a month. Nevertheless, climate change is expected to have a long-term effect on travel preferences. As temperatures rise, summer demand in hotter destinations is likely to decrease, while cooler regions will become more appealing to travellers.
Family travel is back.
Many travellers value shared experiences, and this is evident in the popularity of family group travel, where three to five passengers travel together. Compared to 2019, this segment has shown the fastest recovery across all regions, particularly in the Americas, where it has already surpassed 2019 levels. Although the recovery has been slower, couple travel is the second most resilient segment in every region and is only slightly behind family group travel in APAC and the Americas.
Luxury beats Economy travel worldwide.
The Asia-Pacific region has seen a faster recovery in the demand for luxurious travel experiences compared to regular travel options. This can be attributed in part to the “revenge travel” phenomenon. However, in the Americas, the Middle East and Africa, where this phase has passed, the demand for premium cabin classes is showing a stronger recovery compared to economy seats. This suggests that, despite the widespread concerns about the cost of living, consumers are still willing to pay more for high-end travel experiences.
Travellers desire variety the most in 2023
An analysis of international tourist arrivals in 2023, including forward ticket data for Q4, reveals several noteworthy trends when compared to the figures from 2019. The analysis reflects the continued recovery of global tourism post-COVID-19.
In 2022, the Caribbean and Southern Europe were the most popular destinations, as pent-up demand for “sun and beach” destinations boosted international tourist arrivals. In 2023, however, more diverse travel patterns emerge. The Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Greece still maintain high positions but the mix is more varied overall, with the Middle East and Africa (MEA) particularly well-represented among the top performers.
This year, Colombia ranks second, surpassing 2019 levels for international tourist arrivals by 5%. This marks a return to growth and a considerable outperformance compared to its peer destinations in South America. This growth is attributable to the country’s improving reputation for tourist safety, paired with relatively high affordability and substantial connectivity improvements.
The 2023 Global Travel Trends report features 21 pages of travel intelligence and insights using the latest air ticketing data from ForwardKeys in addition to the 2023 Global Destination Rankings, per region too. To grab a copy, click the download button below.