Shopping sprees and gadget-free trips among travel trends

Luxury shoppers from the Asia-Pacific region are a major new tourist market.
Luxury shoppers from the Asia-Pacific region are a major new tourist market. Photo: AFP

Luxury shopping trips for the nouveau riche, gadget-free accommodation and booking holidays on smart TVs are some of the travel trends predicted in a report released this week.

The Global Trends Report by market researcher Euromonitor International predicted a continued rise in holiday packages that cater to tourists on shopping trips, and a recovery in Middle East visits following the Arab Spring.

It also suggested Americans would be interested in destinations that have previously been off-limits, such as Myanmar.

Shoppers from Brazil, Russia, India and China — the so-called "BRIC" countries, with rapidly growing economies — were expected to flock to European cities to splurge on luxury goods.

Euromonitor said this trend would be due to the countries' fast-growing affluent middle classes and high import taxes on luxury goods.

"We know that Chinese tourists are more and more travelling in groups across Europe and shopping is one of their main activities," Euromonitor travel analyst Paz Casal said at the World Travel Market in London.

"This will only become more pronounced in the next five years."

Chinese visitors to Europe alone reserve a third of their holiday budget for shopping, the European Travel Commission estimates, and 95 per cent of Chinese visitors to Louis Vuitton shops in Paris are on organised tours, according to Euromonitor.

Hotels in the Middle East are being built within or beside shopping malls to take advantage of the trend, and nine major malls are due for completion across the region between 2012 and 2014. One of these, Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi, will be home to seven hotels.

Tourism to the Middle East is expected to grow after the region experienced a 10 per cent fall last year amid the "Arab Spring" revolutionary uprisings. This growth is forecast to continue into 2013 and beyond.

Indian travellers are helping a tourism boom in the Gulf countries by heading in large numbers to the region's souks to purchase precious metals for wedding gifts and investment.

Although the report says that growth in tourism arrivals will come from the relatively new outbound markets of Asia Pacific, Latin America and Eastern Europe, US travellers are showing a particular interest in travelling to countries that have previously been considered off-limits, such as North Korea, Libya, Cuba and Myanmar, thanks to the easing of travel restrictions.

American tourism to Myanmar is expected to rise by 71 per cent by 2016, says Euromonitor.

Smart TVs are also highlighted in the report as vital new platforms for travel marketers, who seek to use the device to directly connect consumers to the market by enabling them to make immediate bookings through the TV, or via travel apps and internet links.

"The next big thing is to have a presence on these machines," Euromonitor's travel and tourism research head Caroline Bremner told Reuters. "With 50 per cent penetration by 2014, it's going to be fast adoption."

On the flipside, customers will also want to be prised away from their technological gizmos on "digital detox" holidays in gadget-free hotels, or those which offer incentives to put down the "Crackberry" for a while.

Relaxing holiday options like spa, cruise and rail sojourns were also expected to perform particularly well through 2016.

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