With the New Year having just kicked off, it’s time to look ahead to what 2017 has in store. At Cheapflights, that means it’s time for our annual forecast of travel trends and key destinations for the next 12 months and beyond.
Travel Trends for 2017
Finally, some love for unbundled airfare – Travellers have voted with their wallets, fuelling the growth of low-cost carriers and spurring airfares to continue to drop, hitting a five-year low in 2016. Becoming increasingly savvy about how to pick and choose “perks”, 2017 is the year when fliers will finally embrace bag check fees and other pay-as-you-go costs and services to take control of their budgets. While such travel is still not for everyone, the nostalgia for the “good old days” when airfares were all-inclusive will largely fade away as people focus on getting where they want to go for less.
Overseas experiences for all – With airlines offering more budget options, international travel will be more accessible than ever. Look for more moves like the overhaul of Air New Zealand’s narrow body aircraft as well as the expansion of several fleets to ensure lighter, more streamlined flying. The continued low fuel costs will also help keep airline spending (and thus airfares) in check. Agreements between Chinese and New Zealand airlines will aid this phenomenon too, with China Southern Airlines tipped to ramp up flights between Guangzhou and Christchurch from early in the year.
More airport innovation and investment – 2017 will see some important New Zealand airport changes start to impact travellers’ airport experience. Already Queenstown Airport has rolled out fresh facilities, with Auckland Airport set to follow suit with a major upgrade to its international departure area, including a new security processing zone, a new passenger lounge and a shopping hub. Rotorua Airport will start a capital expenditure programme, which will see a significant upgrade to its terminal and fire station, while Nelson Airport has also confirmed it will build a new airport terminal on its existing site.
Portable travel search – Mobile technology has changed the face of travel planning and search. Globally, Cheapflights already receives 60 percent of demand and over 40 percent of revenue from mobile, and this is only set to increase. At the most basic, it’s the simple step of pulling out your phone for an impromptu vacation planning season over dinner, but increasingly, expect text alerts for sales, or to get a price from your favourite voice-based Internet device or through Facebook Messenger. Coming soon: drag an article about a sporting team, festival or concert into a search window and get the flight options from Cheapflights for attending upcoming events back right away.
The decline of the generic vacation – Travel as an experience increasingly eclipses just the basics of getting away. Next year will see an uptick in people looking to travel with purpose:
Living like a local – Thanks to the popularity of homestay services like Airbnb, travellers can easily take up residence in a new city or a remote bit of countryside for a few days, weeks or even months. This is giving rise to the search for a more personalised and authentic experience.
Working holiday – While total immersion is one increasingly popular option, there is also a trend for combining work and travel in new ways. One is the so-called ‘bleisure’ trip, where you tack on time and possibly an added destination or two to work travel. Done right, this is the ultimate in multitasking – add another outfit or two to your bag and have work pick up the bulk of your travel tab. Another spin is the ‘have laptop, will travel’ habit. If you can work wherever you are (an increasing phenomenon in today’s tech-driven, remote employee world), there’s no reason not to take your job with you on the road.
Ecotourism – The ticking clocks of climate change and overdevelopment are getting louder for many people, driving an added sense of urgency to see destinations that are endangered and supporting tourism services that sustain vulnerable lands and species.
Hot 2017 destinations
Whether you prefer churches, castles and old-world architecture, a scenic waterfront, or popping into pubs and fish and chips shops, the charming spot of County Cork has you covered. A visit to Cork’s English Market, which dates back to 1788, is a feast for the senses. Acclaimed as one of the finest covered markets in Europe, Queen Elizabeth insisted on a stop here during her historic visit to Ireland in 2011. The most recent proof of the region’s allure: West Cork’s Clonakilty claimed the 2017 Great Town Award, naming it the best town in Britain and Ireland.
With saunas, snow and the Northern Lights in the winter, and hiking, beaches and cultured cities (as well as endless sunshine to enjoy it all) in the summer, Finland should be on everyone’s travel to-do list. 2017 may well be the best year to visit too, with 100th birthday celebrations kicking off on New Year’s Eve, and building through the summer, right up to the country’s Independence Day on 6 December. Celebration spots include a giant SnowCastle, housing a SnowRestaurant, SnowHotel and even a SnowChapel for those with marriage in mind (cold feet understandable!). There’s also a wine festival with five 100th anniversary wines and, of course, a grand ball to mark the birthday itself.
After Disney brought the winter wonderland of Scandinavia to life in Frozen, visits to Norway have increased by 20 percent. Now, the recently released Moana shines the spotlight on the picturesque South Pacific, with visits anticipated from a swelling tide of fans and those discovering Polynesia from the media attention. While this may not be the most accessible destination for many travellers, for Aussies, these islands are only a short flight away.
New flight routes are shining a light on China and with something to suit all travellers –from the bustling cities of Hong Kong and shopping in Shanghai, to the historical sites of Guangzhou, the scenery of Zhangjiajie, and the irresistible city of giant pandas, Chengdu – it’s no wonder it is a go-to for 2017.
In 2017, Canada’s no-holds-barred plans for celebrating its 150th birthday will be the draw. This is a year when every event, from New Year’s Eve to the Calgary Stampede, will be bigger and better, with all cities and towns getting in on the festivities and celebrations.
Feeling inspired? Then start searching for your next getaway on Cheapflights.co.nz. Our smartsearch travel tools will help you find the best deals on flights, hotels and car hire.