Robert Clampett Senior Contributor
Travel is back!
As spring begins to awaken and stretch its post-winter arms, people worldwide are brightening and eager to return to traveling, anxious to escape their pandemic-limited confines and once again explore or marvelous globe.
A recent study, commissioned by American Express Travel (Amex), explored travel behaviors and trip planning with participants from seven diverse countries (Australia, Canada, Mexico, Japan, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States). Also noted is the landmark decision, even China, a country with one of the world’s strictest borders, fully reopened to welcome tourists in mid-March and is once again issuing tourist visas.
This increased travel flexibility means longer-term bookings are also making a comeback. Travel of any stripe, from international to cruising to automobile excursions during the past several years have been stalled, partly caused by ever-changing COVID-19 travel rules.
But now that the dust has largely settled, the world has become a much easier place to roam now that it’s 2023.
While 2022 saw a limited return to travel, 2023 is seeing an enormous increase in trips of all varieties. According to a recently released report by American Express Travel, a majority of respondents say they not only plan to take more trips this year than last but that they will spend more on travel this year than in last.
“As people continue to be eager to take trips, we are seeing a huge emphasis on experiences, especially ones that are personalized and centered around travelers’ passions,” says Audrey Hendley, president of American Express Travel, in an interview with Travel + Leisure Magazine.
According to Hendley, one common theme among travelers worldwide has been the recent rise of “set-jetting,’’ wherein people select travel destination choices based upon popular television shows or Hollywood films. Entertainment-focused tourism during the year ahead is expected to increase more than ever before. Seventy percent of Gen Z and millennial respondents agree that they’ve “been inspired to travel to a destination after seeing it featured in a TV show, news source, or movie.”
Hendley adds, “people are booking trips to destinations like Yellowstone, Paris, or Sicily after being inspired by their favorite TV shows.” It isn’t difficult to surmise that travelers are seeking out the cities, hotels, and experiences that were featured in shows such as The White Lotus, Yellowstone, and Emily in Paris, among others.
In addition to “set-jetting,” there’s a renewed emphasis on food-focused travel, wellness and self-care on vacation, and traveling off the beaten path. Surveyed travelers say they want to shop at small businesses and spend more during a vacation if they know it supports the local community.
Tying all of that together are younger travelers at the heart of these trends. According to the report, 84 percent of Gen Z-ers and millennials surveyed would rather take a dream vacation than purchase a new luxury item, and 79 percent agree that travel is an important budget priority.
“Younger generations are showing the strongest numbers across our trends. We are paying close attention to (Gen Z and millennials) since their habits and interests will continue to shape the face of travel,” Hendley notes.
Once again, the future of the travel and tourism looks bright. Bon Voyage.