Here at TOPOSOPHY we believe that you can only take the best decisions when you can see the bigger picture – so we’re starting the New Year with in-depth analysis of the biggest trends emerging in global tourism and

Will the Apple Watch break new ground where other tech wearables have failed to do so?

Will this be the year when we see Airbnb take the leap and merge with a major online travel agent?

Will we ever reach ‘peak selfie’?

Will DMOs take more initiatives in community and economic development?

Discover our top 15 travel trends for 2015…

Want to know more about TOPOSOPHY? Find out here.

Tourism on the Rise Globally

International tourism continues to grow above expectations, supporting economic growth in both advanced and emerging economies. International tourism generated US $1.4 trillion in 2013 while tourism arrivals at an international level also grew by 5% reaching 1087 million last year. Growth in international tourists last year was equal to growth in income generated by over one billion tourists that traveled the world in 2013, for business, leisure, visiting friends and relatives or other purposes.

Among the 25 largest international tourism earners, receipts saw double-digit growth in ten destinations: the United States (+11 percent), Macao (China, +10 percent), the United Kingdom (+18 percent), Thailand (+28 percent), Hong Kong (China, +21 percent), Turkey (+13 percent), India (+13 percent), Japan (+23 percent), Greece (+15 percent) and Taiwan (+12 percent), according to UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.


The U.S. specifically is on track to exceed the tourism goal of 100 Million Visitors by 2021, as unveiled in the nation’s first-ever National Travel and Tourism Strategy (NTTS) by President Obama in May 2012.

Two years later, the United States is on pace to not only meet its goal, but to exceed it, according to the U.S. Travel Association, which last month published an NTTS progress report showing that in the past two years the nation has achieved a 5.5% annual growth rate in international travel and tourism. Given the president’s target, the United States should have added 6.2 million new international visitors in the last two years; instead, it’s added 7.1 million.

Despite a slow but steady economic recovery, it wasn’t until last year that Americans picked up the pace of their leisure travel, according to a new consumer travel report from PhoCusWright.

It’s “U.S. Consumer Travel Report Sixth Edition” found that consumers have finally moved on from the recession. 65% of consumers took at least one leisure trip in 2013, compared to 63% in 2010, 62% in 2011 and 61% in 2012. In the pre-recession year of 2008, some 70% of consumers took leisure trips.

The two market segments that registered the biggest spikes in travel were families with children under age 18 and travel parties of two adults, couples or otherwise. Family travel grew to 36% last year, up from 31% in 2012, while travel by two adults rose from 53% to 57% last year, according to the same report.


In Europe, the world’s most visited region, international tourist arrivals grew by 6% led by above-average results in Central and Eastern Europe (+7%) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6%). This growth exceeds the initial forecast for 2013 and is double the average growth rate of international tourism in Europe since 2000 (+2.7% a year between 2000 and 2012) according to the UNWTO.



Considering the most important markets for Europe, the European Travel Commission’s ETC latest report ‘European Tourism Portfolio Analysis’,  reports  5.4% growth in foreign visitor arrivals to Europe in 2013, a positive result on top of 4 years of sustained growth.

Traditional European markets remain the key source of international travel, but some emerging markets have recently become important as well.


As to the growth forecast for the next 3 years, Europe is expected to reach a 3.8% annual growth in foreign visitor arrivals.

The UK, Germany & USA are expected to retain lead positions, accounting for a total of 27% of European travel demand. Russia is forecast to make the 3rd largest contribution to total growth in the next 3 years, while China is less likely to emerge as a big player as an origin market for Europe.

Sources: ETC, UNWTO Tourism Barometer, PhoCusWright

Know Your Markets! Summer 2012 – What Lies Ahead?

According to the Travelhorizons™ quarterly report by MMGY Global and the US Travel Association, the outlook for summer travel continues to brighten for the second consecutive year,  with more than three in five US adults (64 %), or an estimated 154 million Americans, planning on taking at least one trip for leisure purposes during the next 6 months. The percentage of Americans planning to travel between May and October is up from 61 (%) last April and 56 (%) in April 2010.

The results are based on a survey of 2,200 US adults taken in April 2012. “The April travelhorizons results come as welcome news for destinations and travel companies ahead of the summer and fall travel seasons,” said Roger Dow, President and CEO of the US Travel Association.

Business travel is expected to improve slightly in the next six months, compared to the same timeframe as last year, with 17% of US adults planning at least one business trip between May and October, a typically slow period for such travel. An encouraging sign that general business activity in the US is on the mend is that business travelers took an average of 6.3 trips in the past 12 months, the highest average number in the past 5 years.

The overall Traveler Sentiment Index™ (TSI), which tracks Americans’ evolving attitudes toward travel, reached 93.5 in April, nearly 10 points higher than April 2011 (March 2007=100). It was also significant that April’s TSI remained essentially unchanged from the level of 93.6 in February, bucking the concern and speculation that higher gasoline prices earlier in 2012 would depress travel sentiment, as it did in 2011.

An other survey, Expedia’s 2012 Flip Flop Report, examines summer vacation behavior and preferences across 5 continents.

Among other findings, Expedia’s Flip Flop Report revealed that the beach is by far the favorite destination for the majority of the world’s travelers. The average beach holiday is just about one week in length, at 7.7 days. Combined with results from Expedia’s Vacation Deprivation® study,  in the US, Americans spend a full 40% of their allotted vacation days at the beach. In fact, when Americans were asked to choose between spending time at the beach and spending time with family, the beach won handily.

Main Findings:

Despite the carefree nature of a sun-drenched week at the beach, beachgoers worldwide remain cost-conscious. In the US, the most important factor for 78% of beachgoers is the total trip price. The beach itself matters too – total vacation price and beach quality are the #1 and #2 criteria for travelers in 14 of the 21 countries surveyed – but the cost of the visit is the top consideration.

The Popularity of the Beach is Unsurpassed

More than half (52%) of respondents plan to holiday at the beach in the next 12 months, compared to 45% who said they took a beach vacation the year prior. And while the average stay for a beach vacation is 7.7 days, this is less true of Koreans, Japanese and Singaporeans, who seem more likely to prefer beach weekends to extended stays.

For Most Beachgoers, the Most Popular Activity is No Activity At All

Relaxing and sunbathing were among the top two activities for beachgoers across all five continents. The Irish, at 75%, were the most likely to relax, while Mexicans (79%) seem to be happiest with lying in the sun. Brazilians (40%) were likeliest to exercise on the beach; when doing so, they may well stumble over the Japanese, who were 14 times likelier to relax (28%) than exercise (2%).

Germans are Likeliest to Sunbathe Nude

Germans displayed the most permissive attitudes towards nude sunbathing. A full 15% of German respondents indicated that they sunbathed naked. Indians and Spaniards (8%) were the second-likeliest to shed their clothing, while the French (5% clothing-free) were more aligned with Americans (2%), the British (2%) and the Japanese (1%). Perhaps unsurprisingly, Germans seem to be the most popular beachgoers: when asked if they’d spent beach days with strangers, the Germans (23%) and Brazilians (19%) were likeliest to say they had.

The Flip Flop Survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of from February 14 – March 21, 2012 among 8,599 adults, 18 and older, in the following countries: the United States (501), Canada (1,249), Mexico (400), Argentina (312), Brazil (308), United Kingdom (402), Germany (423), France (414), Italy (437), Spain (418), Norway (300), Sweden (300), Denmark (300), Ireland (300), Netherlands (300), Japan (429), India (438), South Korea (346), Singapore (321), Australia (400), and New Zealand (301).

Full Surveys Details: Expedia FLip Flop ReportTravelhorizons™ quarterly report

Gamification Trend- Social Gaming Audience Shift

Gamification is already spreading to travel companies and tourism organisations who increasingly use gaming techniques through social media channels to generate brand awareness and build loyalty as also revealed in the WTM Global Trends Report 2011.

Spending on gamification in the US alone is expected to reach US$2.5 billion by 2016 while Gartner predicts that by 2015 more than 70% of Forbes Global 2000 organisations will have at least one gamified application.

A recent report by eMarketer shows that this year, 26.7% of US internet users, or 61.9 million Americans, play social games at least monthly. That number will rise to 73.6 million by 2013, and research suggests the audience for those games is changing in some ways.

In early 2010, the average age of social gamers was 45, and 18- to 29-year-olds accounted for just 15% of the total audience. By September of this year, the average age had dropped by nearly 4 years, and 30% of social gamers were ages 18 to 29.

Older users make up correspondingly less of the total, though those ages 60 and older have held their share steady at 20%. The gender split of gamers has not changed at all according to PopCap, with women holding steady at 54% of the audience.

This drop in audience age could be a boon for the virtual currency and virtual goods markets associated with social gaming—younger gamers are more likely to spend real cash on such items, PopCap found.

As the audience shifts, it also appears to be becoming more committed. The overall percentage of internet users playing social games for more than 6 hours each week doubled between January 2010 and September 2011. And among social gamers, there was a shift away from those playing for 1 hour per week or less and toward greater amounts of weekly game time.

Visit our Trendspotting Page for more Travel & Tourism Trends.

Now Trending: Travel Expenditure and Holiday Planning on the Rise! Are you Ready?

Good news for the Tourism & Travel Industry!

Two recent surveys reveal that holidays will be the last thing to go from the agenda, despite economic difficulties, while an other survey results predict an increase in travel expenditure! What better combination could destinations and the tourism industry ask for? Are you ready for them though? Travellers are willing to travel, as the following surveys show, but do not forget that they have a lot to choose from! Now that you know they are willing and you know what they look for, are you going to be on that list?

Amex Survey Predicts Increase in Holiday Travel Spending

42% of Americans plan to increase their holiday travel budget compared to last year, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. The average family of four intends to spend $2,636 on holiday travel, or $659 per person, an increase of nearly $200 from last year.

No matter where consumers choose to go, there is a clear interest in getting more out of travel, according to the study. From dining to adventure, it’s all about making memories. More travelers are flying, with just over one-third (36 %) flying to their destination (versus 26 % last year). More consumers also plan to dine out (31 % versus 20 %  in 2010) and take part in entertainment-focused activities (24 %versus 20%  in 2010).

21 % are taking a longer trip, 19 % are staying in better accommodations and 17 % are traveling with more people. 12% are choosing a more-expensive destination and 6% are flying first or business class.

A growing number of consumers expressed interest in doing more while they’re away this holiday season. When asked how they would spend an extra $500 if it were available, nearly one quarter (24%) of consumers said they would rather use the extra funds for new experiences than to extend the length of their stay (18%).

When asked which travel experiences they would be most interested in trying, consumers ranked outdoor adventure first (19 %), followed by a mystery vacation (16%), culinary-focused experience (13%), holistic spa retreat (12 %), volunteerism trip (5%) and a ski holiday (4 %).

Even though consumers expressed a desire to have more unique travel experiences, budget (40%) still trumped all as the key decision making factor when making holiday travel plans. Destination (25%) and experience (11%) came in second and third.

26% of travelers are turning to rewards points or miles as a primary way to pay for all or part of their trip. 56% of Americans do not plan to travel this holiday season, significantly down from 61 percent in 2010. On average, Americans are early birds when it comes to booking holiday travel, with most booking their holiday travel three months in advance. However, 21 % will book less than a month before their trip, with the vast majority of late bookers (73 %) waiting until one week or less before holiday vacation. Late-bookers are also more likely to purchase using online travel engines and drive to their destinations.

Consumers are also looking to travel experiences as a source for creative gift giving this holiday season. More than one in four consumers(41 %) have received and given a vacation as a gift. Many affluents and young professionals similarly have given a vacation as a gift (38 %).


ABTA research confirms holidays will be ‘last thing to go’

Nearly four out of ten consumers say holidays are the last thing they will cut back on, according to research among over 2,000 consumers.

The 2011 ABTA Consumer Trends survey has found that consumers would rather make savings on eating out or home improvements than lose out on their holiday.

When asked ‘which of the following would you be most unwilling to cut back on?’, 37% said a holiday, 20% opted for eating out and 17% claimed leisure activities such as cinema and theatre would be the last to go.

One in five are so keen on their foreign breaks that they regard a longer trip overseas as a necessity they couldn’t do without, while one in four see a short break in the UK as equally essential.

Women appreciate the relaxation and opportunity to recharge their batteries on holiday more than men, with nearly one in four, 38%, unwilling to forego a trip as opposed to 35% of men. The love of holidays clearly grows with age, with 27% of 15-24 year olds unprepared to cut back, climbing to 43% of the over 65s.

“Consumers have been telling us for years just how important their holidays are,” said an ABTA spokeswoman.“In tough economic times we all have to think of ways in which we can tighten our belts but it is very reassuring for the industry to hear that holidays are the least popular choice for the chop and for many, something they simply cannot live without.”

Meanwhile, the research also found that holidaymakers expect travel companies to take responsibility for protecting the environment.

Half of consumers, compared with 47% last year, believe that their holidays should help local people and the local economy. This belief was particularly notable among 55-64 year olds where 60% said they wanted their holidays to benefit communities, compared with 54% in 2010.

One in five holidaymakers believe that sustainability credentials are essential or important when they book their holiday, and this is particularly the case among a younger age group: the figures escalates to one in four among 15-24 year olds and one in three of 25 to 34 year olds.