Thursday, January 6, 2011

Travel Trends and Top Destinations in 2011

2010 is officially over, and the new year holds pros and cons for the travel industry, as well as some exciting destinations for all of us.

Last year was turbulent in travel, to say the least. According to statistics, more people flew in 2010, but less flights were available to accommodate this 3% increase from the year before. This meant packed flights and barely any overhead baggage space. This trend will most likely continue into 2011 as airlines are still minimizing their flights to cut costs. Plus, airlines are benefiting from baggage and flight change fees, and they need to make a profit wherever they can. On top of that, travelers can expect to pay higher prices for tickets since oil prices have increased.

When it comes to purchasing tickets, it may be even more difficult to reserve through online travel agencies with all the disputes with the airlines that want to cut out the middle man. Southwest only posts their ticket prices on their website, forcing fliers to go there in order to buy seats. American Airlines just pulled its flight listings from Orbitz and Expedia due to the high fees to have them on the sites.

As many of you may have noticed, more flights were canceled in 2010 than in previous years, due mostly to airlines attempting to avoid fees for long tarmac waits, but also because of severe weather conditions and unforeseen natural disasters--a certain volcano comes to mind. It's safe to assume that there will be just as many, if not more, canceled flights in 2011, unless the weather chooses to cooperate--which it never does. The good news is that the same amount of flights arrived on time in 2010 as in 2009, so hopefully this consistency will hold strong. Also, there were far less delays reported last year, a good sign for future travel convenience.

Social Media will continue to play a large part in travel and tourism. For my loyal readers, you may recall a post I did last year talking about travel apps for smart phones, as well as growing websites designed to aid travelers with a number of different needs. Well, more of those will be popping up all over the place. This year, more people will be using Facebook and Twitter to find information on destination, travel deals, cheap airfare and hotel reviews. As far as airlines, hotels and travel companies go, social media outlets will be used to promote exclusive deals and incentives that can only be accessed through networking sites. 

Now for the really fun stuff...the hot spots to visit in 2011!

2011 marks the anniversary of...well...a lot. And industry experts say that's a draw for many travelers. Peru, while always a popular tourist location, will draw even more crowds this year as it celebrates the 100th anniversary of the rediscovery of Machu  Picchu, an Inca landmark dating back to the 15th century. The organization managing the upkeep of this historic site will be holding events and celebrations all year long to commemorate the gorgeous mountain-top ruins.

China is also celebrating a milestone this year with the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Republican Revolution, also called the Xinhai Revolution. This moment was a significant event for the Chinese culture in the 20th century, and numerous events are planned in its honor. It's unknown what kind of celebrations will be held, but expect there to be many parades and impressive firework displays.

Fifty years ago, the Berlin Wall fell, and travelers are heading to Germany to celebrate this historic event. The city is expected to finish a long-term project this year that marks the wall's old path through Berlin.

2011 is also a sad reminder of the horrible attacks that occurred ten years ago on September 11. Millions of Americans and foreign travelers will gather around ground zero to view the impressive National September 11 Memorial, consisting of two pools appropriately named "Reflecting Absence." These are a representation of the footprints left by the towers, as well as those who perished. An underground museum will also be featured as part of the memorial. The collection includes artifacts, photographs, memorabilia and recorded testimonies of the event. The main exhibitions are located at bedrock, the heart of the World Trade Center. Visitors will be able to view the Vesey Street Stair remains, also known as the "Survivor's Stairs," as they were used by hundreds to escape the destruction. Guests can see the foundations of the towers and the "Last Column." In the Memorial Plaza, visitors can gaze at the 3,000+ names engraved around the pools honoring all those who died.

There are many popular locations that are not celebrating an anniversary but are just as noteworthy. After hosting the World Cup last year, South Africa has exploded as a top vacation spot. The great thing about this year is there will not be as many people, so tourists can take full advantage of the renovated facilities left over from the tournament. A number of travel packages are being offered that tour the countries beautiful landscapes and diverse cities, particularly Cape Town and Johannesburg--the two largest cities in South Africa. If you decide to go, look into booking a safari in Kruger National Park, which features 145 different mammals.

Another country with strong ties to soccer is Brazil. With the World Cup coming in 2014, and the Olympics in 2016, Brazil is using their newly found publicity to promote it's beautiful beach resorts and exotic culture. It still has a few years to boost its infrastructure, but all the sporting attention is sure to draw a crowd.

With the royal wedding months away, London is certainly getting a lot of attention. The Prince's marriage to long-time sweetheart, Kate Middleton, is causing not only locals to get excited, but tourists as well. Everyone wants to get in on the action. While London may be incredibly busy come April, the wedding is boosting tourism interest for the summer months, too, as more and more people sign-up for tours of the royal buildings and historic sites--not to mention a tour of all the notable locations around the city that are significant to William and Kate's long courtship.

Other locations of note to visit this year are Stockholm, Sweden--thanks to the overwhelming popularity of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" book series--and Greece--which is celebrating the 2,500th anniversary of the original marathon. For even more exciting places to visit in 2011, check out Bing's Top Destinations Slide Show.

So here's to a new year of exciting travel adventures! Happy trails everyone!

1 comment:

  1. As usual, awesome blog post, very informative and well other place to note that'll be worth visiting this year in July is Detroit - home of the soon-to-be 2011 Stanley Cup Champions!

    Great post again!