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How the travel trends of 2024 are playing out
How the travel trends of 2024 are playing out
WYSE News | June 4, 2024

Recent findings from Mastercard Economics Institute’s Travel Trends 2024: Breaking Boundaries Mastercard report and WYSE Travel Confederation’s New Horizons research provide valuable insights into global post-pandemic travel trends. The popularity of destinations like Japan, demand for meaningful and immersive experiences, strategic travel planning amidst cost increases and the economic impact of longer stays are among the trends observed by both global studies.

Popular destinations

According to the Travel Trends 2024: Breaking Boundaries report, Japan has emerged as the number one destination for summer 2024 travel, driven by its now fully open borders and favourable exchange rates. WYSE Travel Confederation’s New Horizons 5 survey found a renewed interest in visiting major cities post-COVID-19. Young travellers also ranked Japanese cities of Tokyo and Osaka as the top two cities to return to, reflecting a return to exploring vibrant urban centres.

WYSE Travel Confederation - Popular destinations - Travel trends 2024

Length of stay and economic impact

The Travel Trends 2024: Breaking Boundaries report found that travellers are planning slightly longer leisure stays compared to pre-pandemic, particularly for lower-cost destinations. Destinations in the Middle East and Africa appear to have benefited most from this while Latin America and the USA have benefitted the least. Noting that longer stays usually mean greater spend, Mastercard highlights the economic opportunity for local economies. New Horizons research, over its twenty plus years, has consistently found that on average international youth travellers stay longer and spend more than typical leisure tourists. New Horizons 5 data found that globally the average youth trip was 41 days with spend of EUR 2,914 — sixty-nine percent of that being spent in the destination. While this is shorter than the pre-pandemic average length of stay, the total youth trip spend remains at a similar level.

Opportunities in the near future

Both studies highlight the resilience and evolving behaviours of travellers young and old, despite rising consumer prices. Strategic planning around cost-efficiency while prioritising new and memorable experiences means that lesser-known destinations have an opportunity to attract international travellers of all ages. What factors into a destination being one to return to for young travellers? New Horizons found some surprises on this front. While Mastercard mentions Albania as a trending new destination, driven by savvy travellers seeking authentic experiences, New Horizons found high ratings for destinations such as Athens, Belgrade and Prague. While the growth in passenger traffic and trend towards longer stays underscore a robust rebound in international travel, the desire for meaningful experiences and affordability point to future possibilities and trends.  

Read more about youth travel for 2024 from WYSE Travel Confederation, the global network of youth and student travel specialists.