This week in travel industry statistics, the data continued to look good for travel. The World Tourism Barometer posted an increase in international tourism for 2014, and a tour operator saw a spike in solo travel.
World Tourism Up 4.7 Percent in 2014
International tourist arrivals reached 1,138 million in 2014, a 4.7 percent increase over the previous year, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. For 2015, UNWTO forecasts international tourism to grow by 3 percent to 4 percent, further contributing to the global economic recovery.
This is the fifth consecutive year of above average growth since the 2009 economic crisis.
By region, the Americas (+7%) and Asia and the Pacific (+5%) registered the strongest growth, while Europe (+4%), the Middle East (+4%) and Africa (+2%) grew at a slightly more modest pace. By subregion, North America (+8%) saw the best results, followed by North-East Asia, South Asia, Southern and Mediterranean Europe, Northern Europe and the Caribbean, all increasing by 7 percent.
For 2015, UNWTO forecasts international tourist arrivals to grow between 3 percent and 4 percent. By region, growth is expected to be stronger in Asia and the Pacific (+4% to +5%) and the Americas (+4% to +5%), followed by Europe (+3% to +4%). Arrivals are expected to increase by +3% to +5% in Africa and by +2% to +5% in the Middle East.
Solo Travel Up at OAT
Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) reports that last year, 44 percent of its travelers were flying solo -- up from 35 percent in 2013 and 27 percent in 2007.
"We're seeing a sea change in the way many boomers and seniors are traveling," said OAT CEO Kara O'Toole. "Married couples no longer feel the need to take every trip with their spouse or partner, and this frees them to explore parts of the world that might interest them, but not necessarily their significant other. At the same time, single travelers are embracing the advantages of group travel, especially when they're not penalized for traveling alone, and have become a critical presence on all of our tours."
Eight in 10 of OTA's solo travelers are women.
"We're not surprised that so many of our solo travelers are women, although we can't entirely explain such a high percentage," said O'Toole. "About two-thirds of our overall travelers are women, so we know they like to travel in small groups, both for the camaraderie that intimate groups foster and the access to local people, cultures and communities that a small group size provides. An aging U.S. population, with a majority of women, clearly has something to do with our having more female solo travelers. We also know that many older Americans have long bucket lists of destinations they wish to see, and that when you take steps to make it easy and affordable for them, there's really no stopping them."
Most Romantic Cities for Valentine's Day
For clients looking for a last-minute getaway this Valentine's Day, OpenTable has released an analysis of the 25 most romantic cities in America.
We've compiled a map of the winners below.
The OpenTable Most Romantic Cities Index was calculated using three variables: the percentage of restaurants rated "romantic" according to OpenTable diner reviews; the percentage of tables seated for two; and the percentage of people who dined out for Valentine's Day last year.
Cuba Joins Up and Coming Luxury Destinations
Results from a luxury travel survey by Travel Leaders Group anticipate very strong luxury travel bookings for 2015 and increased interest in Europe as the U.S. dollar strengthens.
While Europe is the most popular destination for luxury travelers from the United States, the top “up and coming” luxury experiences and destinations for 2015 include African Safaris, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Croatia, Vietnam and Cuba, according Travel Leaders Group.
Four of the top five international luxury travel destinations outside of North America are European destinations, led by European river cruises and followed by Italy, Mediterranean cruises and France.
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