The year may be at its end but it was a year marked with travel stories that owned headlines for days at a time. From the Costa Concordia disaster in January to the countless delays and cancellations caused by Hurricane Sandy in October, travellers had to contend with their fair share of woes.
So what does the new year hold in store for jet-setters and globe-trotters? Well,in terms of location, a few new names are emerging as up-and-coming travel destinations. Countries like Tunisia, Ireland and Sri Lanka — all once plagued by civil strife — have opened their doors to travellers looking for something more than the typical tourist hot spots. Tunisia in particular has become popular for its "year-round sunshine and low cost of living in resort", reports the Daily Mail.
The demand for river cruises, on the other hand, is anything but low. Once found only in Europe, like those carried out on the Seine River in France, river tours have exploded in popularity. Travellers looking to explore rivers outside of Europe can now do so in places like the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar or Southeast Asia's Mekong River, according to Kensington Tours, a vacation tour group.
And in what could be the most welcome news of the year, for those who'd rather stick to the skies instead of water, airfare is expected to get cheaper — but not for everybody.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, the International Air Transport Association's chief economist, Brian Pearce, said that failing oil prices in 2013 would result in cheaper air fare for passengers flying economy.
“Economy fares are more flexible in their reaction to oil prices,” said Pearce, adding, “I expect the best deals will be at the back of the plane, although there will be bargains throughout the aircraft."
But the costs for business travellers heading to places like China, India, Russia and Brazil are expected to rise modestly, mirroring companies' interest in doing business with those countries. As the International Business Times reports, that could spell for more expensive hotel bookings, plane tickets and car rentals for visitors.
At the same time, 2013 is expected to see a new wave of smarter, savvy travellers who do their homework online to stay informed about destinations and deals but still use travel agents as fact-checkers of sorts, according to David McCaig, chief operating officer with the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies.
“Because travellers are more social media savvy, they will be looking to agents to use their credibility to interpret all the information they have researched,” said McCaig at a tourism conference in Toronto in December. While industry professionals expect more and more Canadians to use the internet as well as apps to help plan before their trip, the same can't be said for during the trip.
Pegged as "digital detoxes", more and more hotels have begun to offer customers technology-free packages as a means to travel without emails, texts or phone calls, according to a report by World Travel Market. The rise in technology-free spas, cruises and even safaris come at a time where 80 per cent of smartphone users do not leave their home without their phone.
What travel trends does 2013 holds in store for you? Feel free to sound off in the comment section below.
Earlier on HuffPost:
Bag a bargain for this Bucket List travel experience: an Alaskan cruise. Cruise lines such as Princess and Celebrity have announced that they are adding more ships and itineraries to Alaska in 2013. More ships and sailings mean more cabins to fill...and cruise lines hate to see a cabin go unoccupied. We predict the strongest Alaska cruise deals to emerge for spring and late-summer sailings.
A sure sign that this South American country has emerged from the shadows of its infamous past: Major airlines and hotels are quickly staking their claim here. Airlines such as JetBlue, LAN, Spirit and American Airlines are all eyeing growth in Colombia, increasing direct service to cities such as Bogota and Cartagena. Also, popular chain hotels such as Marriott, Hilton and InterContinental are sprouting up across the country. This tourism boom is breeding competition and deals -- in a country where the U.S. dollar already goes far. All of this is helping to change perceptions about a nation that boasts the tongue-in-cheek tourism tag line: "The only risk is wanting to stay."
With a weakened Irish economy, this country is banding together to woo foreign tourism dollars to its emerald-colored shorelines. Spearheaded by the Irish government, The Gathering 2013 is a yearlong event highlighting festivals, concerts, cultural celebrations and clan gatherings across the island. Airlines, tour companies, hotels and castle resorts are joining this "Come to Ireland" battle cry by unleashing special deals for 2013 travel. (They've been encouraged to do so by the government, after all.) Add to this a weakened euro -- aka your dollar goes a wee bit further than it has in years past -- and this is great incentive for the 45 million Americans who claim Irish ancestry to make their way "home" for a visit.
This country has director Peter Jackson to thank for reinvigorating its tourism industry. The "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, which was filmed in New Zealand, helped to catapult this country into the consideration set for travelers enchanted with the movie settings. With the launch of the <em>Hobbit</em> trilogy, its status as an outdoorsy travel destination will be elevated even more. Tour operators will seize this move-inspired buzz to craft compelling itineraries at competitive prices. And airlines such as Air New Zealand and Hawaiian Airlines have already announced expanding service to New Zealand -- more seats to fill mean a better opportunity for flight deals.
Hotels here seem locked in a fierce battle of "Who can craft the most outrageously good deal?" Niagara Falls hotels have gravitated toward deal-endemic travel sites such as Travelzoo with vigor this year, saturating the market with perk-packed deals that essentially make the hotel room free! The constant deal one-upmanship of these hotels will continue producing a flood of deals for Falls-bound travelers.