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VOL. 131 | NO. 3 | Tuesday, January 5, 2016


Lance Wiedower

2016 Could Be Banner Year for Travel

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Every new year is filled with possibilities.

And in travel, a growing economy is just part of why travelers will seek new experiences.

TripAdvisor Insights surveyed more than 44,000 travelers and hoteliers about their travel plans for 2016.

Globally, 69 percent of travelers are planning to try something new in 2016, with one in five global travelers saying they will try a cruise for the first time and 17 percent trying solo travel for the first time.

And one of the new destinations is Cuba, where Americans largely have been forbidden to travel for some 60 years. As restrictions ease, more Americans find themselves seeking out this island destination that has been frozen in time before the crowds alter prices and bring permanent change.

The TripAdvisor Insights survey reveals 33 percent of travelers plan to spend more on trips in 2016 than in 2015.

The dollar has performed well against the euro and if that continues, it could lead to more travel to European countries.

Some trends that picked up in 2015 will continue in 2016. Airfare declined last year in part because of low oil prices. Expedia, in partnership with the Airlines Reporting Corp., analyzed global air traffic data, and based on changes seen in 2015 compared to 2014, predicts airfares will continue to decline in 2016.

The analysis revealed that economy air ticket prices declined about 8 percent year over year in October from October 2014, and that those savings should continue into early 2016.

For Americans looking to travel to Europe, the Expedia analysis shows that intra-Europe flights are declining with Sweden to Berlin, Brussels to Rome, Austria to Barcelona, and Ireland to London leading the way in routes with declining prices.

The sharing economy also will continue to grow as travelers use services such as Uber and Lyft instead of local taxi providers, and lodging options Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO and others.

These companies continue winning legal decisions that open services in more cities. Memphis, for example, approved ride-sharing services at Memphis International Airport last year. In November, San Francisco voters rejected Proposition F, which would have limited users of Airbnb and other short-term rental sites to renting out rooms, houses or apartments for no more than 75 days a year.

In turn, Airbnb could lean on that win as it’s expected to launch a national campaign to create 100 home-sharing political clubs in 100 U.S. cities this year. Other cities around the world are grappling with the legal issues of room-sharing, from Nashville to New York. It will be an interesting story to watch develop while on vacation in a rented studio apartment overlooking the Pacific Ocean in sunny Santa Monica, California, for example.

Finally, America’s baby boomer generation continues to travel, according to a survey from AARP Travel. It projects that a vast majority of baby boomers will take some sort of leisure trip in 2016, with four to five trips in the works. Nearly 50 percent of those surveyed said they plan to take both domestic and international trips this year.

Lance Wiedower can be reached at tripsbylance.com.

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