Global tourism trends to watch throughout summer 2016


With the 2016 summer season drawing close travel agents are keeping a close eye on big trends both in the UK and globally.

Looking ahead to this year ABTA reported ‘that almost a quarter (23%) of the UK population are expecting to spend more on their holidays, up slightly from 20% last year. Almost one in five people (18%) say they will travel to a country they have never been to before in 2016, compared to 9% who said this last year.’

According to UK travel experts tourists are looking to maximise their holiday experiences more so than ever. Whether that be through discovering an untouched place, getting a taste for some pure luxury, ticking a Unesco World Heritage site off the bucket list, going somewhere off the grid to disconnect or simply staycation somewhere nearby – vacations in 2016 mean something different to everyone.

Taking a look at ABTA’s 12 destinations to watch for 2016 one observes a healthy mix of those aforementioned elements. Abu Dhabi, Canada, China – the Silk Road, France, Hawaii (USA), Iceland, Iran, Naples and Apulia (Italy), Peru, Poland, Queensland (Australia) and Sri Lanka over a vast array of experiences for travelers.

China makes an appearance on that list with its huge landmass, widely varying geography and centuries of ancient history. But it is not just tourism to China which is on trend.

The Chinese have been traveling abroad in steadily increasing numbers over the past decade with the country’s population now spending around $500 billion on foreign travel. Recent fluctuations in the Chinese economy may affect that number over the course of 2016.

For British and European tourists meanwhile there is a growing trend for unplugging and completely disconnecting from work whilst on holiday. Wifi, 4G and the ubiquitous smartphone have changed our relationship with work and travel.

But here the choice ultimately sits with the tourist and the travel agent simply has to make options available. Still want that 4G connection when exploring the wilderness or deliberately going off the grid to escape the grind? Whatever your preference there is a perfect destination out there for you.

The world is becoming ever more connected. Cheaper flights, more flights, a growing awareness of the requirements of tourists in an ever expanding number of destinations, dissolving language barriers, a growing worldwide population and the expansion of horizons means greater opportunity for tourists and for travel agents.

Likewise, that untouched, undiscovered or exotic and remote destination is becoming ever more sought after. Whilst for older tourists a comfortable cruise in the Caribbean or luxury train journey across southern Spain might be the ideal break, millennials in particular are looking for adventure.

Younger travellers are less likely to be concerned about luxury accommodation and more interested in having unique and authentic experiences, getting a true taste of a destination by living like a local, having opportunities to learn something new and trusting word of mouth recommendations from people they meet along the way.

Over the past couple of years, meanwhile, city breaks have taken over from beach holidays as the most popular style of travel. According to, London remains the most visited city in the world, having welcomed 18.82 million international overnight visitors in 2015, whilst Bangkok, Paris, Dubai and Istanbul complete the top five.

New York sits in sixth place on the list, with the Big Apple hosting just two thirds the amount of international visitors as London. Rio does not feature in the top 20 of most visited international cities but the beautiful Brazilian city’s unique atmosphere will be promoted throughout August as the 2016 Summer Olympics roll into town.


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