While 2018 was a bumper year for travel, 2019 looks to be even bigger.
While domestic destinations seemed to be the beneficiary of a sluggish Aussie dollar, that same poor-performing dollar became one of our biggest tourism drawcards, with more international tourists taking advantage of the lower cost to visit our shores.
Many travel commentators are spruiking space travel as the big trip in the near future, but this year expect to see Aussies seeing more of their own country, as our weak dollar may make overseas travel less attractive for many. But there are still some countries to which flights are inexpensive and on-ground costs cheap, but we’ll cover that along with my top seven travel predictions for 2019.
Short breaks and micro-trips
While travelling around Australia will provide value for money for locals, the cost to see our sunburnt country can still be high – even for us. So, I’d expect to see an increase in short-break and long-weekend trips, with travellers taking two or three shorter holidays each year. I’m tipping Melbourne, Tasmania and South Australia will be hot spots, as they all provide plenty of things to do and see within an hour or two of the capital cities in which tourists will base themselves.
I also think short-break cruises will become more popular, as will two to three-day coastal getaways. Expect tourism to the Whitsundays to bounce back, along with the reopening of some island resorts, too. I recommend touring there in the low season – the weather is still great and the crowds much smaller.
Southeast Asian escapes
One region where Australians still get great value for money is Southeast Asia, and I’m betting more will take advantage of the incredible value to be found there. Nations such as Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos have been working hard to improve their tourism reputations, and all offer amazing luxury hotels and resorts for the cost of a three-star room in outer metropolitan Australian capitals. These countries also offer incredibly colourful culture, fabulous food and opportunities to see world wonders such as Ha Long Bay, Angkor Wat and the Irrawaddy River, to name just a few. Return flights to these countries can be found for a few hundred dollars, too.
Moving through airports will become easier
Aside from strict new baggage laws slowing down a few queues, expect airports to up their game on getting you through to the gate lounge much quicker. Improved self-check in kiosks, bag scanning technology, streamlined security protocols (as long as you follow the rules) and the ability to check in with your phone will reduce queues and unnecessary interactions, making moving through airports a breezier experience.
More Australians will hit the road
As with point one, Australians will be looking to make the most of their travel dollars, so I think many will hit the road and stick to their own state. I don’t know a single traveller who can say they’ve seen everything their state has to offer, but I’m tipping after this year, more will be a lot closer to being able to make that claim.
Over-tourism is one of the biggest problems facing the industry in the coming years, and many destinations have started introducing anti-tourism policies such as visitor caps, increased tourist taxes and ticket prices, as well as limiting accommodation options and restricting access to attractions. How do you get around it? Travel during shoulder seasons or low seasons, or, even better, seek alternative destinations. I’d expect travellers to get creative when it comes to holiday planning in 2019, seeking remote island and outlying destinations over inner-city spots, as well as ‘forgotten’ countries such as Moldova, Greenland, Kazakhstan and Hungary. I’m also thinking that some countries that have been considered off-limits over the last decade, such as Turkey, Iran and Egypt will again begin receiving more intrepid Aussie tourists this year.
Sustainable, responsible travel will build momentum
Companies such as G Adventures and Intrepid long ago set their sights on promoting sustainable tourism, also known as eco-tourism and responsible tourism. Whichever label you prefer, the sentiment is the same. Expect increasing numbers of travellers to seek out experiences that don’t exploit the locals – be they human, animal or flora. Tour companies that promote enviro-friendly, carbon neutral tours that support local communities should see an influx of custom this year – I hope!
From cooking classes in Tuscany to learning a language on the French Riviera, expect more retirees to spend longer times overseas immersing themselves in the culture and lifestyle of their chosen destination. Again, companies such as G Adventures offer non-exploitative tours that connect you to the locals, while protecting animals and featuring programs designed to empower and enrich the lives of rural and indigenous communities. Expect the social conscience to catch up to these pioneers of responsible tourism. I also predict a rise in older solo travellers looking to find unique experiences in rural and remote regions.
What are your travel predictions for 2019? Do you agree with any of these tips?