With international tourist numbers predicted to rise further over the next year, Hotels.com unveils its top travel trends and predictions for 2014.
Alison Couper from Hotels.com summarises what to expect in 2014: “The coming year presents exciting opportunities for the travel industry. We’re expecting to see the rise of less traditional destinations such as Latvia and Budapest, while Brazil is just one of the destinations benefitting from some high-profile international sporting events. In the UK, we’re hopeful that the promised changes to the visa application process for Chinese visitors will soon come into force, encouraging more travellers from China to visit the country for business and pleasure.”
Here is a detailed summary of Hotels.com’s predictions for 2014:
Sports tourism to kick off demand for hotels
2014 is set to be an important year for sport, thanks to a plethora of international events such as the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil; the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi; the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow; the Ryder Cup in Gleneagles; and the Tour de France starting in Yorkshire.
The growing profile of cycling in the UK – thanks to the recent success of the two British knight riders Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins – is expected to help increase visitors to the county. The race is likely to bring in excess of £100m in economic benefit to the region, according to Welcome to Yorkshire.
Elsewhere in the UK, Glasgow is expected to enjoy a significant economic boost as the city hosts the Commonwealth Games in the summer. With more than a million tickets available for the 250 medal events, and millions of sporting fans watching the Games at home, Glasgow could see an extra 100,000 visitors and a £30m increase in tourist spend in the three years following the Games.
This year’s Confederations Cup gave Brazil a taste of what to expect in 2014, with international searches for hotels across the country increasing in the lead up to the event. Searches for the three host cities of Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Manaus – where England will play their qualifying rounds – were given a big boost following the recent World Cup draw. Equally, Rio de Janeiro, where the team is expected to make its base, is already seeing a fourfold increase in searches for the duration of the event
Russia expects a similar boom, with the number of tourists to Sochi expected to grow to 4.4 million in 2014. An estimated £33b is being spent to build the infrastructure for the event from scratch. New Olympic facilities, including stadiums, skating rinks, ice hockey arenas and alpine ski trails – as well as 30 new four- and five-star hotels and 54 three-star hotels – could help Sochi deliver strong economic benefits long after the games end.
Latvia set for tourism boost
2014 is expected to be a big year for Latvia. Not only is the country replacing its currency, the lats, with the Euro on 1st January, its capital city will enjoy 12 months in the spotlight as the 2014 European Capital of Culture. With a year-long calendar of events taking place, including Northern Europe’s largest festival of light, Riga has much to offer tourists over the next year.
Riga is also home to some of the best-value hotel rooms in Europe, with an average price paid of just £60-a-night according to the latest Hotels.com Hotel Price Index, so tourists can make their Euros stretch further than in many other cities on the continent.
Las Vegas and Budapest could reap rewards of movie tourism
The silver screen continued to inspire travellers during 2013, with searches for hotels in Las Vegas rising by 159% following the release of the Hangover III in May. In 2014, Nevada’s famous ‘sin city’ looks set for another influx of film fans as it plays host to Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline in Last Vegas, a film about a group of 60-something friends throwing a stag do as the last of the group ties the knot.
Elsewhere in the US, Seattle and Portland could enjoy a resurgence in interest as filming begins on the 50 Shades of Grey film. New York could also see growth, with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 filmed entirely in the city.
Other films that could inspire visitors to travel abroad in 2014 include Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel and Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: There and Back Again, which could bring more Lord of the Rings fans to New Zealand’s Hobbiton resort.
Visa changes could attract more Chinese visitors
After growing calls from businesses to make it easier for Chinese travellers to visit the UK, George Osborne announced plans in October to streamline and simplify the visa application process with the introduction of a new pilot scheme, which will allow selected Chinese travel agents to apply for UK visas by submitting the EU’s Schengen visa form, rather than two separate applications.
While a date has yet to be announced when these changes will be introduced, the move could help make the UK a more attractive destination for Chinese visitors. The ease of applying for a visa is a key factor for a fifth of Chinese travellers when deciding where to visit, according to the Hotels.com Chinese International Travel Monitor.
Mobile booking driven by in-car technology
More travellers are using mobile phone apps to book trips away, and this trend is expected to continue in the New Year. In 2013, Hotels.com surpassed 25 million total downloads of its suite of apps. Mostly used for same-day booking, Hotels.com data shows that rooms booked by mobile tend to be for short getaways – 89% of rooms booked are for two-night or one-night stays, while 68% of mobile bookings made during H1 2013 were for stays within two days of the booking date.
In 2014, apps will take the leap into private cars, fueling spontaneous hotel stops as drivers are able to book their hotel though a controlled, hands-free app in the car dashboard. The Hotels.com mobile app is the first from the travel sector to be compatible with Ford SYNCAppLink, and will enable car passengers to find somewhere to stay with ease.