How would you travel this year?

SINCE the start of the year, we have heard and seen various travel trends that experts believe will influence the global tourism and travel industry in 2012. The list keeps expanding, shifting to suit different markets and group of travellers. Here’s our top five:

Discover virgin lands: Venice’s gondolas, Kerala’s backwaters, the Mediterranean cruises, and thrills of Thailand – everyone has heard of them, many have experienced them. This year could be the dawn of brand new experiences – destinations that are unexplored and undiscovered. From North Pole expeditions, a trek across Tanzania, rock climbing in Moab, Utah and mountain biking in Bosnia and Herzegovina, travellers are looking for something ‘mystic.’

Live local: Tourists are now making an extra effort to study the local lifestyles, eating habits and living conditions of their choice of holiday destination. And what could be a better than to live like a local, working and interacting with the residents and townspeople and rediscovering a new way of life.

Turning keen eye towards the Bric nations: Where once they were nations that were struggling to revive economies, today they are pillars of economic and development strengths enriched with deep rooted history and cultural splendour. The Bric nations consisting of Brazil, Russia, India and China have opened doors to tourists. From the Amazon to the Pantanal Brazil is a green hiker’s haven. Russia has been the mysterious magnificence – its architecture, intelligence and wide cultural Diasporas are opening doors to many curious travellers. China has always held a charm amidst travellers and the country expands to be the next business hub; the hilly city of Chongqing to the pilgrimage city of Lhasa and historic Si’an are beckoning travellers. India is not a fresh face in tourism, however, tourists want to explore part of the country that have been hidden away, moving away from the Golden triangle and the beaches of Goa.

Gastronomic delight: Food is an integral part of any holiday and while there might be few who can adapt to any delicacy, mostly people like to know what they are swallowing. Food connoisseurs may particularly be interested to check out the Gourmet Festival at the Sani Resort in Greece from May 11 to 20 where four Michelin Star chefs will whip up contemporary delights. The Singapore Food Festival is another attraction, which takes place in July. It will feature authentic traditional food from Chinese, Indian, Malay and Peranaken cuisines – which highlight the culture of the island country. Come April and tourists looking westward can drop into to Austria to take a sniff of the Wachau Gourmet festival.

It is also about the money, honey: There was a time when many a wily trader or hawker sold his goods for a much higher bargain to his foreign customers. Times have changed and since the advent of the internet and the power of blogging, people are aware and alert about choosing the right bargains and remaining vigilant of trade vultures. While it is not the concern to spend much money, it is the thirst to experience a destination from its soul and soil.

Speaking Out

By Shirley Matt