A top travel trend for 2012 is returning to well-traveled cities, including Madrid, for a better look at the destination’s offerings. // © 2011 Mindy Poder
The top 10 travel trends of 2012, according to Thomas Stanley, COO of Cox & Kings, will consist of new opportunities to discover experiences off the beaten path. Stanley recently outlined his top 10 predictions in travel trends, drawing attention to cities, countries, itinerary themes and travel modes sure to make a splash in 2012.
Sojourns to the ‘Ends of the Earth’
Travelers will be looking to visit locations far more exotic than the usual Thailand or South Africa. This will allow for a more unique story once clients return home, as well as provide a more intimate experience with the locals while they are visiting.
“These include rarely visited European countries such as Albania and Serbia, the Russian Far East, and Greenland; Central Asian spots such as Uzbekistan; and offshore destinations such as the Falkland Islands and Papua New Guinea,” said Stanley.
Eat, Pray Love
More and more clients are seeking an experience similar to the experiences of the main character from the bestseller Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. There has been a strong trend towards holistic travel in which clients learn about themselves during a transcendent journey. According to Stanley, the most fulfilling and meaningful trip is one that lasts a lifetime. Clients seeking a more popularized destination can travel to Bali to learn new meditation techniques and yoga poses, while more adventurous clients can visit the Himalayas and mystical cities such as Haridwar and Rishikesh.
To many clients, travel is not a frivolous pursuit and many clients are becoming concerned with protecting wildlife and preserving historic sites around the world. Travelers are attentive to ways their money will produce the best environmental return.
“Most Americans do not realize that their tourist money goes towards such noble efforts as the maintenance of the Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia or the protection of endangered wildlife in African game parks,” said Stanley.
Since the hit NBC show “Who Do You Think You Are?” many travelers have set their sights on discovering their ancestral past. According to Stanley, this form of travel has become very popular amongst families who are American-born and wish to discover their ancestral heritage in countries such as Russia, the Baltics, China and Japan.
Closer Look Cities
Many people have hastily traveled though a city because they had a connecting flight or a quick business trip that did not allow for any leisure time. It has therefore become common for travelers, especially of the business variety, to return to destinations such as Madrid, Stockholm and Johannesburg to discover some aspects of these well-traveled cities that they may have been missed the first time around.
Traveling during the off season is cost efficient and full of benefits. A few of Stanley’s favorite trips include: India in May, Botswana during the “Green Season,” Brazil and Turkey in October, Moscow during Christmastime and China in March and April.
Countries that are implementing drastic improvements to their democracies have been gaining support from travelers.
“Visiting countries that are recovering from a national trauma — such as Norway or Japan — is also so appreciated, much like those who visited New York after 9/11,” said Stanley.
The BRICS is an acronym for the emerging world powers of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Stanley urges travelers to explore these countries while they are going through many changes due to the speed of globalization.
“Each of these countries has their own special rhythm, from the contemporary design culture in Sao Paulo, Brazil to the dynamic art scene in Shanghai,” said Stanley.
Small Group Specialties by an Expert
For a more insightful experience, it can be advantageous to travel in a small group with an itinerary especially designed by a best-in-industry professional. This will allow the expert to design a trip to many locations with acute attention to the greatest caliber of detail, intimacy and comfort.
Cox & Kings is soon launching its Dream Trips, in which a member of the Cox & Kings staff leads a specially-designed itinerary.
Top Destination Picks for 2012
For emerging travel opportunities, Stanley predicts hot countries will be Indonesia (“it’s not just Bali”), Ghana, Malaysia, Nepal, Romania, Iceland and Abu Dhabi. For cities, Stanley predicts this will be a great year for South American travel with Sao Paulo; Salta, Argentina; and Lima, Peru all leading the way. Other popular cities Stanley pointed out include Beirut; Luang Prabang, Laos; Hyderabad, India; Stockholm; Tallinn, Estonia; and Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.