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1. Travel is becoming more mobile
Tickets, passport, technology
It used to be the case that travellers rarely used their phones abroad, for fear of racking up monstrous bills. The odd text was as far as it went. Now that’s changing, thanks to more reasonable overseas charges and easily accessible and comprehensive sources of information such as offline apps. A recent survey by Tripadvisor found that almost half of US travellers in 2012 expect to use their mobile device at their destination to research attractions, restaurants and accommodation, whilst a third intend to use travel apps such as GuidePal. So next year, be sure to pack your smart phone before heading off for your adventures.
2. Off-season travel
Bear the weather for a bargain
If you’re prepared to accept less than ideal weather conditions, dream destinations that were previously financially out-of-reach become accessible - and are far less crowded to boot. Think of a snowy Grand Canyon at Christmas, China in wet April or India in scorching May. However, even ‘bad’ weather can work to your advantage. During an Indian summer you’ll want to follow the locals and head for the hills, where you’ll see scenery and a way of life you might otherwise have missed, whilst in Botswana the rainy ‘green season’ is actually a great time of year to watch wildlife, as birds flock to the lush vegetation.
3. Supporting recovering societies
Showing solidarity with the disaster-stricken
2011 saw an unusual amount of dramatic news around the world, much of which has deeply affected the nations involved. Japan’s tsunami is the obvious example, along with the countries engaged in the Arab Spring and, on a different scale, Norway. Visiting countries that have recently suffered a national trauma lends support, both morally and financially. Obviously, safety is a consideration – some of Japan’s east coast remains contaminated by damaged nuclear plants, and visitors to Egypt are advised to avoid crowds and demonstrations. But a little planning and care is a small price to pay in order to give stricken countries a much-needed boost.
4. Eco & sustainable travel
Protecting the planet as we explore it
Responsible travel is not a new concept, but there are signs it’s becoming ever more important to travellers that their trip does not negatively impact on the environment. Those notices in hotel rooms requested that towels are re-used are increasingly being heeded, overland travel has seen a rise in popularity and new hotels are selling themselves on their green credentials, realizing that what’s good for the planet is also good for business. Take the recently opened London hotel Rafayel on the Left Bank, described as ‘eco-luxe’, with environmentally-conscious initiatives including advanced energy efficient technology, rainwater harvesting and a no-plastics policy.
5. China’s growing influence
The world in China’s hands
Now that China is well on its way to becoming the world’s biggest economy, the travel industry is taking heed of the vast potential of this relatively new market. Until recently the state didn’t encourage foreign travel and, besides, people couldn’t afford to. Now, the Chinese have well and truly caught the travel bug, and their number one destination is Europe - welcome news for the troubled Eurozone. Hotels are also catering to the booming Chinese market, with more Mandarin-speaking staff, Chinese menu options and television programming. And the rest of us are returning the compliment: 53 million people visited China in 2010, and the UN predicts it’ll be the world’s leading travel destination in the next five to seven years.
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