Cities, shopping, nature to fore as global travel trends return to ‘business as usual’

Cities, shopping, nature to fore as global travel trends return to ‘business as usual’

Shopping and exploring the world’s urban hot spots have made a comeback during this year’s northern summer, according to the latest report from analytics company ForwardKeys.

The research shows that while ‘sun and beach’ destinations recovered quickly from the Covid-19 downturn as travel routes gradually opened over the last couple of years, alternatives such as shopping destinations are the stars in 2023.

‘This indicates a welcome return to business as usual, with Covid-19 travel patterns no longer apparent in forward ticket data for international travel in 2023, resulting in a healthy balance of destination types and activities,’ says the report.

The indexed demand for the most popular urban destinations (+42%) this summer has seen a growth of almost double that of traditional sun and beach destinations (+22%) compared to the previous summer.

This shift in consumer preference has been influenced by the return of Asian megacities as potential summer destinations, as well as an increase in indexed demand for global shopping hotspots (+53%) like Dubai, Singapore, Paris and New York — creating significant opportunities for travel retailers and luxury brands.

The growth trend is similar for nature tourism destinations (+45%), showing an increased appetite for health, fitness and outdoor activities among leisure travellers, perhaps in response to missed opportunities during the lockdowns of the previous years.

Family travel is recovering well — realising the demand for vacations built up over two or three years in which travel conditions were not as favourable for this segment. Bookings have returned to within 10% of pre-pandemic levels as international air travel is once again seen as family-friendly.

Couple and solo travel are also close to a total recovery across all regions.

‘It remains to be seen whether group travel — the slowest to recover — will reach pre-pandemic levels in the short term, or whether changes in consumer behaviour developed during Covid-19 will reshape how groups approach travel entirely,’ ForwardKeys.