SAN FRANCISCO, CA. - Sojern released its Q1 Global Travel Insights Report based on the rigorous analysis of more than 800 million traveler intent data points across the globe.
From a currency perspective, the report reveals that the weaker euro is attracting large numbers of global tourists to European countries this summer, while the stronger dollar has yet to have a negative effect on worldwide search and booking to the US. In February, Japan benefited from an increase in inbound travelers from countries celebrating the Lunar New Year. In March, Tunisia and Egypt suffered the ill effects of a recent terror attack and the announcement of tighter visa rules, respectively. Throughout the quarter, searches to Cuba were on the rise from the US, as well as from other countries around the world.
“Sojern’s first quarter report analyzes new patterns in travel around the globe, including seasonal events like Easter and Lunar New Year,” said Mark Rabe, Sojern’s CEO. “But it also serves as a crystal ball into summer 2015, as we distill millions of traveler intent data points into actionable insights for travel brands that want to reach consumers as they research summer holidays.”
Overall, the most searched destinations during the first quarter of the year were the United States, Spain, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, France, Mexico, Turkey, Greece and Thailand. Compared to last quarter, Mexico moves up three places, Russia and India exit the list (the former in spite of its current affordability), while Thailand joins in last position, the only Asia-Pacific destination in the top 10. Greece re-enters the list after a quarter break.
Weaker Euro Spurs Summer Travel Planning to Europe, Globally
This spring, currency fluctuations (a stronger US dollar and flagging euro) have pushed Europe into the limelight of global travel, as travelers worldwide are able to explore the continent on a smaller budget. Europe is the top international destination for summer travel in three of the four other markets we studied: 45% of the Middle East and Africa, 33% of Asia-Pacific and 22% of North America ranks it number one for non-domestic travel plans. Seventy-one percent of Europeans are also planning to explore their own continent this summer.
Summer Travel: Preferred Months, Destinations and Party Sizes
Half of Q1 searchers in North America looked to travel in June, compared with Latin American travelers who were almost evenly split between June (42%) and July (39%) and Europeans, for whom the later summer months take a bigger share of the travel pie - August, in particular, at 23 percent. Asia-Pacific travelers also seem to favor June and July while in the Middle East, July will be taking the lion’s share of summer travel at 47 percent.
The top destinations for summer travel across the globe are: Los Angeles, New York, Paris, London, Barcelona and Bangkok. A whopping 27 percent of Europeans are planning to travel in groups of three or more, followed by Middle East & Africa travelers at 20 percent, 19 percent of Americans, 14 percent of Latin Americans and 12 percent of travelers in Asia-Pacific.
Terror Attacks and Tighter Visa Rules Prompt Drop in Travel to North Africa
The March 18 terrorist attack on the Bardo National Museum in Tunisia’s capital Tunis seems to have impacted travel searches for the North African country: searches dropped as much as 28 percent in March, from across all continents. Egypt’s announcement of tighter visa rules for all travelers on March 17 was also greeted with a drop in searches: an average decline of about 7 percent across regions, but as much as 14 percent in searches from Europe, arguably the region of origin most affected by the new rules. Most recently, restrictions have been postponed and searches climbed back up.
The Impact of New US Rules on Travel to Cuba and the Caribbean
The relaxation of travel restrictions from the US to Cuba has also taken effect this quarter and fueled continued interest from American travelers: searches from the US were up 184 percent over the previous quarter. searches also increased 41 percent from Canada and 45 percent worldwide. For now, the new rules do not appear to have had a significant effect on travel to the Caribbean region overall, although Cuba did move up three spots in the list of top 20 Caribbean destinations for US travelers, swapping spots with St. Kitts.