With the New Year having just kicked off, it’s time to look ahead to what 2017 has in store. At Cheapflights, that means it’s time for our annual forecast of travel trends and key destinations for the next 12 months and beyond.
Travel Trends for 2017
Finally, some love for unbundled airfare – Travellers have voted with their wallets, fuelling the growth of low-cost carriers and spurring airfares to continue to drop, hitting a five-year low in 2016. Becoming increasingly savvy about how to pick and choose “perks”, 2017 is the year when fliers will finally embrace bag check fees and other pay-as-you-go costs and services to take control of their budgets. While such travel is still not for everyone, the nostalgia for the “good old days” when airfares were all-inclusive will largely fade away as people focus on getting where they want to go for less.
“Golden age” for international travel – With airlines offering more budget options, overseas travel will be more accessible than ever. Look for more moves like the growth of Tigerair’s ‘narrowbody operation’ and BYO entertainment to ensure lighter, more streamlined flying and continued low fuel costs to help keep airline spending (and thus airfares) in check. Agreements between Chinese and Australian airlines will aid this phenomena too, with Virgin Australia tipped to launch daily flights to Hong Kong and Beijing from June 2017. The first direct flight linking Australia to the UK (via Perth and London) is also a game changer – reducing a long and tedious journey that required stopovers to one 17 hour flight.
More airport innovation and investment – 2017 will see some important Australian airport changes start to impact travellers’ airport experience. Brisbane Airport will roll out $3.8 billion worth of major projects over the next decade, including terminal expansions, car parks and building upgrades. Canberra Airport is undergoing redevelopment too. Dubbed the ‘AirVolution’, there will be more retail, food and beverage outlets, as well as a business centre and kids play area. The Australian Government will also invest $3 billion on a second airport in Sydney at Badgerys Creek, which is expected to be up and running by the mid-2020s.
Portable travel search – Mobile technology has changed the face of travel planning and search. Globally, Cheapflights already receives 60 per cent of demand and over 40 per cent of revenue from mobile, and this is only set to increase. At the most basic, it’s the simple step of pulling out your phone for an impromptu vacation planning season over dinner, but increasingly, expect text alerts for sales, or to get a price from your favourite voice-based Internet device or through Facebook Messenger. Coming soon: drag an article about a sporting team, festival or concert into a search window and get the flight options from Cheapflights for attending upcoming events back right away.
The decline of the generic vacation – Travel as an experience increasingly eclipses just the basics of getting away. Next year will see an uptick in people looking to travel with purpose:
Living like a local – Thanks to the popularity of homestay services like Airbnb, travellers can easily take up residence in a new city or a remote bit of countryside for a few days, weeks or even months. This is giving rise to the search for a more personalised and authentic experience.
Working holiday – While total immersion is one increasingly popular option, there is also a trend for combining work and travel in new ways. One is the so-called ‘bleisure’ trip, where you tack on time and possibly an added destination or two to work travel. Done right, this is the ultimate in multitasking – add another outfit or two to your bag and have work pick up the bulk of your travel tab. Another spin is the ‘have laptop, will travel’ habit. If you can work wherever you are (an increasing phenomenon in today’s tech-driven, remote employee world), there’s no reason not to take your job with you on the road.
Ecotourism – The ticking clocks of climate change and overdevelopment are getting louder for many people, driving an added sense of urgency to seeing destinations that are endangered and supporting tourism services that sustain vulnerable lands and species.
Hot 2017 destinations
Whether you prefer churches, castles and old world architecture, a scenic waterfront, or popping in to pubs and fish and chips shops, the charming spot of County Cork has you covered. A visit to Cork’s English Market, which dates back to 1788, is a feast for the senses. Acclaimed as one of the finest covered markets in Europe, Queen Elizabeth insisted on a stop here during her historic visit to Ireland in 2011. The most recent proof of the region’s allure: West Cork’s Clonakilty claimed the 2017 Great Town Award, naming it the best town in Britain and Ireland.
With saunas, snow and the Northern Lights in the winter, and hiking, beaches and cultured cities (as well as endless sunshine to enjoy it all) in the summer, Finland should be on everyone’s travel to-do list. 2017 may well be the best year to visit too, with 100th birthday celebrations kicking off on New Year’s Eve, and building through the summer, right up to the country’s Independence Day on 6 December. Celebration spots include a giant SnowCastle, housing a SnowRestaurant, SnowHotel and even a SnowChapel for those with marriage in mind (cold feet understandable!). There’s also a wine festival with five 100th anniversary wines and, of course, a grand ball to mark the birthday itself.
After Disney brought the winter wonderland of Scandinavia to life in Frozen, visits to Norway have increased by 20 per cent. Now, the recently released Moana shines the spotlight on the picturesque South Pacific, with visits anticipated from a swelling tide of fans and those discovering Polynesia from the media attention. While this may not be the most accessible destination for many travellers, for Aussies, these islands are only a short flight away.
New flight routes are shining a light on China and with something to suit all travellers –from the bustling cities of Hong Kong and shopping in Shanghai, to the historical sites of Guangzhou, the scenery of Zhangjiajie, and the irresistible city of giant pandas, Chengdu – it’s no wonder it is a go-to for 2017.
In 2017, Canada’s no-holds-barred plans for celebrating its 150th birthday will be the draw. This is a year when every event, from New Year’s Eve to the Calgary Stampede, will be bigger and better, with all cities and towns getting in on the festivities and celebrations.