An analysis of travel demand changes in the last two years has led Hotels.com to come up with its Top 10 Travel Predictions for 2016. “We’re foreseeing an interesting mix of trending and often overlooked destinations with something for every type of traveler no matter your budget, climate preference, preferred language or lifestyle,” says Josh Belkin, VP and general manager, North America for Hotels.com.
The online hotel site says new offerings, attractions and experiences are making travelers more apt to explore unique and underrated domestic and international destinations to satisfy their wanderlust. Some of the picks will surprise you, but read on to see if you agree with its Top 10 line-up and the rationale behind them:
Queens will overtake Brooklyn as the most popular destination for New York visitors staying in the outer boroughs. While the hipster haven has experienced steady growth in travel demand over the past two years (approximately two-thirds increase in travel demand), Queens is catching up quickly (nearly 150 percent increase) with an eclectic food scene and several boutique hotels like The One Boutique Hotel in Flushing and Z NYC Hotel in Long Island City.
Dallas will make a significant leap in popularity after seeing a nearly 40 percent increase in travel demand since last year. In addition to offering great shopping, arts and dining options, Dallas has made a focused effort to welcome more diverse visitors including LGBT travelers.
Anaheim will see a large surge in tourism beyond theme park visitors. The city is increasing in popularity faster than any other major California destination (up 40 percent over 2014), and with a convention center expansion and new hotel openings in the coming year, that trend will continue.
Milwaukee will become a Top 50 Domestic Destination in the Hotel Price Index™ (HPI®). As the 2nd most popular Midwestern city, Milwaukee has seen a more than 70 percent increase since 2013, and has been included on countless lists of underrated cities due to its strong food and beer scene and great shopping and entertainment options.
Oregon’s smaller cities will benefit more from marijuana tourism than Portland. Portland saw a more than 25 percent increase in travel demand compared to 2014, but Ashland – the closest city to California with recreational marijuana shops – and Eugene – closest to Idaho – experienced the two largest increases in the state at 65 percent and 70 percent, respectively.
Buffalo will emerge as a top travel destination. The Rust Belt cities have all experienced significant growth in travel demand over the last two years. Cleveland (up more than 70 percent), Detroit (up nearly 70 percent) and Pittsburgh (up more than 60 percent) each benefited from the upswing in visitors, but Buffalo, with the highest increase in demand (over 90 percent) will be the city to watch in 2016. The city is developing its waterfront and Main Street areas and is growing as a foodie destination.
Mexico will attract more travelers beyond its top destinations. Major Mexican destinations such as Mexico City, Cancun and Riviera Maya have experienced a surge in tourism in recent years and Hotels.com expects that trend to spill over into other Mexican cities as well. Since 2013, cities such as Ciudad Juarez (more than four-fold increase in travel demand) and Tijuana (more than three-fold increase) have benefited from local tourism efforts and increased safety.
Phuket will become a Top 40 International Destination in the 2016 HPI. Thailand’s tourism council is expecting a record 30 million visitors this year but it’s not just Bangkok that is attracting travelers. Phuket, the country’s largest island, has experienced significant increase in travel demand (over 70 percent over 2014).
Under-the-radar Canadian destinations will continue to shine in 2016. The province of Ontario is home to perennial Top 15 International Destinations – Toronto and Niagara Falls – but over the last two years, the region has seen the most growth in travel demand in lesser-known destinations such as Toronto’s neighbor Mississauga, the border city of Windsor and the scenic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, with each more than doubling.
The Norwegian capitol of Oslo will become a top Scandinavian destination for American travelers. Known as one of the world’s cleanest cities, Oslo has experienced the largest increase in travel demand among all European destinations since 2013 (up over 180 percent).