Despite rising costs, safari tourism continues to dominate

New data indicates that travel to famous safari destinations continues to grow, despite rising trip costs. 

U.S. travel insurance marketplace, Squaremouth.com, reveals that policy sales for destinations known for safari tourism more than tripled from 2020 to 2022, and breaks down how that trend is continuing through 2023. 

Safari tourism trends

In addition to an increase in popularity, the price of safari tourism has also steadily increased year over year.

A handful of popular safari destinations are among the  most expensive destinations, with trip costs surpassing $20,000

  • Botswana averages the highest trip cost this year at $23,577 among safari destinations

  • The cost of travel to popular safari destinations has increased 12% since last year

  • At more than $1,000, safari travellers are paying more for their insurance policies in 2023 compared to the previous four years

 

These are the most powerful passports in the world

Japan has been knocked off the top spot on the Henley Passport Index for the first time in five years and bumped into third place, according to the latest ranking, which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Singapore is now officially the most powerful passport in the world, with its citizens able to visit 192 travel destinations out of 227 around the world visa-free.

Germany, Italy, and Spain all move up into second place with visa-free access to 190 destinations, and Japanese passport holders join six other nations – Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, South Korea, and Sweden – in third place with access to 189 destinations without a prior visa.

Trading places

The UK appears to have finally turned the corner after a six-year decline, jumping up two places on the latest ranking to fourth place – a position it last held in 2017. The U.S., on the other hand, continues its now decade-long slide down the index, plummeting a further two places to eighth spot with access to just 184 destinations visa-free.

Both the U.K. and the U.S. jointly held first place on the index nearly 10 years ago in 2014 but have been on a downward trajectory ever since.

Afghanistan remains entrenched at the bottom of the index, with a visa-free score of just 27.

New research

Henley & Partners has conducted exclusive new research into the relationship between a country’s openness to foreigners – how many nations it allows to cross its borders visa-free – and its own citizens’ travel freedom.

The new Henley Openness Index ranks all 199 countries worldwide according to the number of nationalities they permit entry to without a prior visa.

The Top 20 ‘most open’ countries are all small island nations or African states, except for Cambodia. There are 12 countries that are completely open to all passports and four that don’t allow anyone in visa-free.

While the correlation between a high openness score and a high visa-free access score is not linear or straightforward, it is notable that Singapore and South Korea – highest climbers in the Top 10 over the past decade – boast relatively high degrees of openness compared to the 5 countries with the biggest disparity between the travel freedom they enjoy versus the visa-free access they provide to other nationalities.

U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan have all either slid down the ranking or remained in the same place as their openness stagnates.

Read the full press release.

Two bespoke sleep hotels open in Australia and Taiwan

Two new sleep hotels, operated by Emma — The Sleep Company have opened in Sydney, Australia and Taipei, Taiwan.

As more travellers seek out a truly restful experience during their vacation, these unique hotels provide a revolutionary travel experience on two different continents.

Sleep tourism on the rise

Sleep has become a recurring topic of concern and interest since the onset of the pandemic.

In a study conducted by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, it was discovered that 40 per cent of respondents reported a decline in sleep quality compared to the pre-COVID-19 period.

The global health crisis has undoubtedly affected people’s sleep patterns and highlighted the importance of restful slumber for overall well-being. By embracing sleep tourism, travel enthusiasts can now satisfy their wanderlust while also nurturing their physical and mental well-being. Sleep tourism fosters an appreciation for the importance of relaxation and rejuvenation, acknowledging the crucial role that sleep plays in sustaining a healthy lifestyle.

The Emma Sleep Hotel in Sydney

Upon arrival, guests are greeted by the Snoreman, setting the tone for a memorable and sleep-focused adventure.

The Rest-Ception area provides a cozy space for guests to settle in and unwind, and an onsite snooze-ologist will be available to provide personalized 1:1 sleep consultations, offering valuable insights and guidance to optimize guests’ sleep habits.

Every room is kitted out with Emma’s mattresses and beds, and a sleep-inspired movie catalogue is available onscreen. Guests are also invited to select their perfect Emma pillow based on their preferences.

On the hotel’s roof terrace, the immersive experience continues with custom cocktails based on Emma’s sleep expertise. Throughout the hotel, a calming playlist provides the perfect ambient backdrop for relaxation and enjoyment.

For more information about the hotel in Sydney, click here.

Emma Sleep Hotel in Taipei

Emma is collaborating with Monka Hotel in Taipei to introduce the first Emma Sleep Hotel in Asia.

Situated close to the iconic Longshan Temple, the hotel underwent a complete transformation under Emma’s supervision. Not even the exterior of the building remains untouched — it was painted to resemble one of Emma’s iconic delivery boxes, setting the tone for the unique experience within.

Every room within the hotel is fitted with Emma products, ranging from the beds to the pillows, ensuring a truly immersive Emma sleep experience for all guests from beginning to end.

For more information about the hotel in Taipei, click here.

New travel program at Canadian airports could reduce screening times

The Minister of Transport, the Honorable Omar Alghabra, announced that the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) will soon be launching a new Verified Traveller program that will offer a faster and more efficient screening experience for eligible travellers at select airports across Canada. 

About the program

This new Verified Traveller program will replace the current Trusted Traveller program.

By June 21, 2023, dedicated Verified Traveller screening lines will be available at select domestic and international checkpoints in the following airports: 

  • Vancouver International Airport
  • Edmonton International Airport
  • Calgary International Airport
  • Winnipeg International Airport
  • Toronto-Pearson International Airport T1 and T3
  • Montreal-Trudeau International Airport

Easing congestion

The new Verified Traveller program will help ease congestion over time, as use of dedicated Verified Traveller lines grows.

The new lines provide eligible travellers with select benefits at security screening checkpoints, such as keeping laptops, large electronics and compliant liquids and gels in their carry-on, and keeping their shoes, belt and light jacket on. Eligible travellers include:

  • Members of NEXUS and Global Entry;
  • Active members of the Canadian Armed Forces and US military, including reservists, with valid ID;
  • Canadian aircrew and airport workers with Restricted Area Identification Cards;
  • International aircrew (in uniform) with valid airline ID; and
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers, Canadian police officers and constables with a badge and proper photo identification issued by their respective organizations.

The Verified Traveller program allows children who are 17 years of age and younger, and adults who are 75 years of age and older, to accompany verified travellers through security, provided they are on the same reservation.

Additional benefits

Several airports will also offer verified travellers with front-of-the-line service and additional benefits at transborder checkpoints (flights to the U.S.).

For more information and a list of airports, visit CATSA’s website.

Filmmaker duo launch accessible outdoor guide for more inclusive travel

Spending time outside significantly improves both mental and physical health.

However, for some, getting outdoors can be a challenge and accessing the natural world isn’t as simple as just stepping outside for many people for a range of reasons. 

This Expansive Adventure‘ is a multi-media website created by world-renowned and respected filmmakers, photographers and writers Fay and Matt Doyle.

With the belief that experiencing the outdoors and nature should not be full of barriers and can be much more inclusive, together, with outdoors retailer Ellis Brighamto, have created ‘The Accessible Outdoors Guide‘ that launched on This Expansive Adventure on May 10, 2023.

About the project

“We worked on creating articles and short film pieces to form an interactive hub,” explains Fay. “The guide aims to help people, through education, learn how to make their experience of the outdoors easier and safer. It also looks at the barriers people face to aid better transparency and to move toward more accessible nature for all.”

This is a subject particularly important to Fay, an adventurer with a disability who has faced many barriers to the outdoors since diagnosis.

Three short films are currently available as part of the ‘Learn Something New’ series on tea:tv Streaming, their original video content streaming platform. They include several interviews with experts and campaigners. 

The first is ‘How to Access the Outdoors with a Hidden Disability’. This short introduction includes lots of invaluable information to help develop confidence, especially with conditions where the goalposts can move during flare-ups. Ani Barber, a disabled outdoors enthusiast and founder of the ‘Outside Our Way’ blog, offers five suggestions on accessing nature and the outdoors with a hidden disability. 

Soraya Abdel-Hadi, founder of ‘All the Elements’ is featured in the second film, ‘Creating Change Around the Things You’re Passionate About’. She gives six tips to get you thinking about using your voice and actions to enact positive change. Activism can seem daunting. However, it doesn’t need to be. Soraya shares invaluable inspiration, creative ideas and thoughts on creating change around the things you feel passionate about and avoiding burnout.

‘Tips to Enjoy the Outdoors Safely’ is the third film’s title. It includes invaluable information to help make your time outdoors more accessible and enjoyable. Advice on how to make your adventures and time outdoors safer comes from Simon Pitman, a member of the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team and Ellis Brigham’s Fort William branch manager. 

Promoting more inclusive travel

‘The Accessible Outdoors Guide’ focuses on three key areas of the outdoor experience where problems can present themselves – safety, accessibility, and diversity.

In collaboration with experts, a series of informative articles have been produced that explore ways to break down some of the barriers faced. These are currently available on the ‘This Expansive Adventure’ website.

Fay and Matt created ‘This Expansive Adventure’ with the aim of moving away from ‘the idea of unrealistic travel, adventure and lifestyle goals and to make it more approachable, sustainable, achievable and inclusive’.

They hope that this initiative and ‘The Accessible Outdoors Guide‘ can help many more to enjoy the benefits of exploring nature.

Virtuoso lists 2023 travel predictions for Canadians

Virtuoso has identified when, where and why upscale Canadians will be venturing in 2023.

In Virtuoso’s 2022 Brand and Travel Trends Research, conducted in collaboration with YouGov, more than 500 Canadian travellers were surveyed. The majority – 75 percent – listed relaxation and disconnecting as the primary incentive for taking a leisure trip, followed by adventure, which is almost twice as important for Canadians than for global travellers (41 percent versus 25 percent).

Additional revelations include an affinity for sunny destinations, expedition cruises and a willingness to spend big and stay longer.

Warm weather getaways

Virtuoso’s study showed 61 percent of travellers preferred beach vacations, followed by city exploration (47 percent). Canadians are equally as likely to travel to Europe as they are to travel within their own country, and they showed a preference for the Caribbean or West Indies (36 percent versus 20 percent globally) and Mexico (30 percent versus 16 percent globally), which is likely due to a desire to escape to warmer climates during the winter months.

Reasons for family travel 

Canadians indicated the most popular ways to travel are with a spouse or significant other and multi-generational family travel.

Travelling with school-age children is consistently popular. Interestingly to note while heading into March Break, over half of those surveyed believe travel is important to the development of children under 18.

Spending big and staying longer

Relative to 2019, travellers plan to spend 12 percent more in 2023 and the anticipated annual spend for Virtuoso-advised travellers in 2023 is even higher at $20,000 CAD per person.

While Virtuoso clients took about the same number of trips in the past year as other travellers, Virtuoso-advised travellers took longer trips, spent more nights in hotels, rentals and cruises, and skewed more towards international trips.

Top travel destinations for 2023

Virtuoso tapped into its data warehouse of more than $63.6 billion (USD) in transactions to determine the top destinations of 2023, as determined by Canada-based travellers: 

  1. MexicoCancun, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos
  2. Canada Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary
  3. United StatesOrlando, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas
  4. Dominican RepublicPunta Cana, Puerto Plata       
  5. United Kingdom London
  6. JamaicaMontego Bay
  7. Italy Rome, Venice
  8. France Paris, Nice
  9. Australia Sydney
  10. Portugal Lisbon, Faro

For more information on how to connect with a Virtuoso travel advisor who can turn travel dreams into reality,  visit www.virtuoso.com.

 

Here’s what Canadian travellers can expect in 2023

CheapOair.ca has looked into its crystal ball to share some of the top trends that Canadian travellers need to be aware of in the coming year.

The tourism industry rebounded in 2022, reaching 70% of its pre-pandemic levels globally, however, the year was not without its own challenges, as travellers were met with staffing issues, long airport waits, and cancelled flights.

Will travel in 2023 continue to bring new challenges and opportunities? Taking into consideration the continuing inflation, fluctuating fuel costs, and global instability, CheapOair.ca anticipates that 2023 will see further surprises for travellers.

Here are some of the top travel expectations that Canadians should be aware of:

New Domestic and International Flight Routes: Let’s start with some good news: a number of domestic and international airlines are planning to add new national and transatlantic routes to their schedule.

United, Air Canada and Porter are a few of the airlines that have already announced new routes and increased flight frequency. The increase is, in part, due to markets reopening and travel demand recovering particularly with stronger demand for transatlantic flights.

Daniel Hayter, Senior Product Manager for CheapOair.ca, noted that: “We are seeing more airlines be aggressive in launching and promoting new in-demand routes, which help give more options to consumers. With over 500 airline partners, CheapOair.ca will be on the forefront of offering these routes for eager Canadian travellers.”

Rising Airline and Airport Fees: Forecasts for 2023 show that travellers might want to prepare for slightly more expensive flights and fees for the new year. Despite the new routes and frequency listed above, airfare prices are expected to rise moderately for North American flights and further for international destinations. The expected airfare price rises can also be attributed to inflation, rising fuel costs and capacity issues.

In fact, Toronto Pearson International Airport announced that starting Jan. 1, 2023, it was increasing its aeronautical rates and airport improvement fee (AIF), which could impact the cost of flight tickets further.

Hayter observed: “With the light recession being predicted for early 2023 and the continuing inflation, it stands to reason that rising costs would trickle down to travellers.”

And he continued: “To combat rising flight costs, CheapOair.ca offers our Price Match Promise. If consumers find a lower price (including taxes and fees) for the same flight itinerary offered by and available for booking on a major competing online travel agency (OTA) web site the same day of their booking, CheapOair.ca will match that lower price by refunding the difference in price.”

European Travel Visa Requirements in Late 2023: As of Nov. 23 2023, Canadian citizens will be required to complete a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) application prior to boarding any aircraft, sea carrier, or coach vehicle headed for Europe – this includes travellers who will be passing through or connecting through Europe enroute to their final destination outside of Europe.

ETIAS is being implemented to pre-screen visa-exempt travellers travelling to any of the over 22 Schengen member destinations including France, Germany, Spain and Italy, and 4 non-European Union countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. The decision has received unanimous support from all the EU member countries. Further information on ETIAS and the application form can be found at https://www.etiasvisa.com/etias-form-application

Said Hayter: “What this means for Canadians is whether you are planning to travel to or even just connect through Europe, you will need to apply for ETIAS and go through the security screening process in advance. While this may seem like a hurdle for travel planners, it is important to note that this will be mandatory.”

Go to www.CheapOair.ca for more.

High-end travellers willing to pay more for sustainable trips, survey says

A major new report by World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and Trip.com Group, together with Deloitte, reveals a heightened appetite for sustainable tourism amongst consumers, with 69 per cent of travellers actively seeking sustainable travel options.

In this follow-up report, WTTC joined forces again with global travel service provider, Trip.com Group and its major consumer brands Trip.com, Ctrip and Skyscanner, with additional data sourced from Deloitte, to analyze the trends that shaped the Travel & Tourism sector last year and will continue to do so over 2023.

Rise in sustainable trips

The report, “A World in Motion: Shifting Consumer Travel Trends in 2022 and Beyond,” shows that sustainability is a key element of the travel agenda, with travellers eager to reduce their carbon footprint and support sustainable tourism.

According to a survey included in the report, three-quarters of travellers are considering travelling more sustainably in the future and nearly 60 per cent have chosen more sustainable travel options in the last couple of years.

Luxury travellers willing to spend

Another survey also found that around three-quarters of high-end travellers are willing to pay extra to make their trips more sustainable.

Last year, following more than two years of travel disruption, travellers made clear their wanderlust is very much alive, with a 109 per cent increase of international overnight arrivals, compared to 2021.

According to the report, last year consumers were willing to stretch their budget for their holiday plans, with 86 per cent of travellers planning on spending the same amount or more on international travel than in 2019, with U.S. tourists leading the list as big spenders.

But 2023 is looking even better in terms of travellers’ spend. Despite concerns about inflation and the cost-of-living crisis around the world, nearly a third (31 per cent) of travellers said they intend to spend more on international travel this year than in 2022.

A major comeback

Additionally, according to Deloitte’s ‘Global State of the Consumer Tracker,’ last year more than half (53 per cent) of global consumers surveyed during the summer said they plan to stay in a hotel over the following three months.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “The demand for travel is now stronger than ever and our report shows that this year we will see a significant bounce back. 2023 is set to be a very strong year for travel and tourism.

“Sustainability is top of travellers’ agenda, and consumers highlight the value they put on protecting nature and traveling responsibly.”

“The Asia-Pacific Region, with its rapidly growing middle-class and dynamic economies, is well-positioned to capitalize on the growth of the industry and take its place as a leader in the global tourism economy,” added Jane Sun, Trip.com Group CEO. “I’m optimistic about the positive momentum for the global resumption and growth of travel in 2023, primarily driven by mainland Chinese consumers, which will help accelerate worldwide recovery and development.”

Scott Rosenberger, Deloitte Global Transportation, Hospitality & Services Sector Leader, said: “Travel is rebounding from the pandemic while innovating and meeting the demands of more modern alternative travel-types, sustainable travel, luxury travel, and much more.

“Even the rise in inflation-driven financial concerns is not slowing the pace; incredibly travel is being prioritized and flexible/remote work arrangements are creating new opportunities. We are actively engaging with our clients as they embrace these new trends and create memorable experiences for consumers.”

Other findings revealed in the report include:

  • 2022 sun and sea package holiday sales are estimated to be up 75 per cent compared to the previous year
  • Last year during the summer, international arrivals in European sun and beach destinations were just 15 per cent below 2019 levels
  • According to WTTC’s recent ‘Cities Economic Impact Research’, in 2022 visits to major cities are expected to see a 58 per cent year-on-year increase, less than 14 per cent below 2019 levels
  • Luxury holidays will prove particularly popular, with sales of luxury hotels expected to reach $92 billion by 2025 (compared to $76 billion in 2019)
  • In a survey, nearly 60 per cent of travellers said they were either already paying to offset their carbon emissions or considering it if the price was right

To access more information and read the report in full, please click here.

Luxury cruise line partners with Rocky Mountaineer for Alaska journey

Luxury cruise line Cunard is offering guests the opportunity to experience the world-famous Rocky Mountaineer train when they sail through Alaska on Queen Elizabeth this summer.

Guests will be able to extend their Alaska voyage with either a four-night pre-voyage train experience or a three-night post-voyage package, depending on the sailing date. The three-night Rocky Mountaineer tour takes guests on an eastbound journey from Vancouver to Calgary, while the four-night train tour goes the opposite direction and gives guests an additional day of sightseeing in Banff, where the highlight is an impressive trip on the Banff Gondola.

Rocky Mountaineer pre- and post-cruise tours

  • The three-night post-voyage tours starts at $2,850 per person based on double occupancy, available on two Japan to Alaskavoyages (Q318A, Q319) and four Alaska voyages roundtrip out of Vancouver ranging from 10 to 11 nights (Q323, Q324, Q325, Q326).
  • The four-night pre-voyage tour starts at $3,250per person based on double occupancy, available on three Alaska voyages roundtrip out of Vancouver ranging from seven to 10 nights (Q321, Q322, Q323).

Panoramic views

Guests travelling on the legendary Rocky Mountaineer train – the only passenger rail service on this historic rail route – will experience expansive glass-dome windows and luxurious coaches. Breathtaking 180-degree panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, shimmering lakes and winding canyons are offered from all angles.

Renowned for its GoldLeaf Service, Rocky Mountaineer offers an onboard dining room where guests can indulge in culinary delights inspired by the region with a new 2023 menu as well as full complimentary bar service.

Queen Elizabeth’s summer in Alaska will be a season full of adventure and discovery, with the onboard Insights program featuring experts from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, TV personality Bear Grylls, and famed explorer Mensun Bound, to name a few.

Other highlights on Queen Elizabeth include the bespoke Alaska Afternoon Tea, the elegant Ice White Ball and a new dining concept called Frontier, which offers a taste of Alaska.

 

Marriott planning to open 35 new luxury hotels this year

Marriott International plans to introduce more than 35 luxury hotels in 2023, delivering the unique and meaningful experiences desired by today’s luxury traveller.

Boasting an unrivaled portfolio of luxury brands including The Ritz-Carlton, Ritz-Carlton Reserve, St. Regis, W Hotels, The Luxury Collection, EDITION, JW Marriott, and Bulgari Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International continues to push the boundaries, reimagining travel with a globally inspired perspective that defines the future of luxury.

With an unparalleled footprint of nearly 500 luxury hotels and resorts in 68 countries and territories today, Marriott International is poised to further its position as the global leader in luxury hospitality with more than 200 luxury properties in the development pipeline. From Kenya to Singapore and Japan to Mexico, more than 35 new hotels are slated to open next year in sought-after and emerging destinations around the world.

The Ritz-Carlton

In 2023, the brand expects to open two new hotels in North America, including its first property in America’s Pacific Northwest region with The Ritz-Carlton, Portland, and The Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley, The Palmeraie in Arizona’s coveted Scottsdale area.

Set above the city skyline, The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne, is slated to grow the brand’s footprint in Australia next year, while The Ritz-Carlton, Fukuoka, is expected to deliver a new offering in the business district of this southwestern Japanese city. Ritz-Carlton Reserve anticipates expanding its exclusive portfolio in 2023 with Rissai Valley, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve close to the historic Chinese valley of Jiuzhaigou and Nujuma, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve located off the West Coast of Saudi Arabia and part of the country’s Red Sea project.  

St. Regis Hotels

In 2023 the brand expects to debut The St. Regis Kanai Resort, an enchanting haven nestled in a 620-acre nature reserve along Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula with ocean views from every guestroom. In the year ahead St. Regisalso anticipates expanding its footprint in North America with The St. Regis Chicago.

The iconic brand is also slated to bring its acclaimed Butler Service and storied legacy to Belgrade and is expected to open its first two properties in Saudi Arabia by debuting a hotel in Riyadh and a resort located on its own private island within the Red Sea project. This past year also marked St. Regis openings in Qatar, India, Kuwait, and Indonesia.

W Hotels

Looking ahead to 2023, W Hotels anticipates debuting in Prague, Budapest, Edinburgh, Sydney, Macau, and Milan.

Also slated for later next year, W New York – Union Square and W Hollywood are expected to emerge newly transformed, embodying the fully reimagined W experience.

EDITION Hotels

EDITION Hotels is rapidly expanding internationally in 2023 with new openings planned across several regions, including the brand’s first properties in Italy, Mexico, and Southeast Asia.

With 15 hotels currently in the global portfolio, EDITION is projected to grow its personal and intimate hospitality experience to 21 total destinations by the end of 2023, with expected openings next year to include Rome, Riviera Maya at Kanai, Tokyo, Ginza, Singapore, Jeddah, and Doha.