According to the latest global report from the Mastercard Economics Institute, consumer spending on travel is robust with significant increases in passenger traffic through March 2024. “Travel Trends 2024” provides comprehensive insights into the evolving landscape of the travel industry across 74 markets.

Despite fluctuating exchange rates and varying levels of affordability, the desire to travel remains stronger than ever. In 2024 the travel sector is flourishing, with nine out of the last 10 record-setting spending days in the global cruise and airline industry occurring this year. Further, travelers are also extending their trips by an extra day compared to pre-pandemic. Drawing on an analysis of aggregated and anonymized transaction data, including Mastercard SpendingPulse and third-party data sources, the “Travel Trends 2024” report takes a deep dive into key travel trends globally for the year and beyond

Key findings include:

  • Record traveling – An all-time high of 15.9 million Americans traveled internationally in Q1 2024, while Japan welcomed over 3 million passenger arrivals in March 2024 alone. The surge in travel reflects greater activity, fueled by a strong labor market and a stronger desire to travel.
  • Leisure for longer – Tourists worldwide have spent an extra day on vacation on average—those from Europe and the Middle East and Africa roughly two—with the trend driven by affordable destinations and warmer climates. For each extra six degrees of temperature, the estimated increase in length of stay is approximately one day.
  • Experience economy on the go – Consumers have prioritized meaningful experiences over material goods, even when traveling. Spending on experiences now totals 12 percent of tourism sales, according to SpendingPulse Destinations, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment. This was the highest point in at least five years as of March 2024. Ahead of the pack, Australians tend to spend one of every five dollars on experiences and nightlife compared to the global average, which is closer to one in every 10.
  • Cruising: full steam ahead – Cruises are making a comeback with the count of global cruise passenger transactions roughly 16 percent above 2019 levels in Q1. Booming cruise demand is also seen at key ports. Over the past 12 months, the Bahamas has welcomed an additional 2.9 million passengers arriving by sea versus 2019 levels. For many travelers, the widening price difference between cruises and hotels has made cruises a more budget-friendly option for a getaway.

In addition, while Japan has emerged as the global frontrunner for top destination in the past 12 months, Munich ranks as the top trending destination for this summer (June to August 2024). Notably, Albania’s Tirana ranks third in the list of top trending destinations this summer, according to the Mastercard Economics Institute, driven largely by savvy travelers seeking authentic Euro-vibes à la neighboring Italy and Croatia, but for less. Tokyo ranks second, Nice ranks fourth and Cancun ranks fifth on the list. Other destinations include Bali, Bangkok, Corfu, Frankfurt and Oranjestad.

Source: Mastercard

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