Macau city skyline.
A World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) report said China’s tourism sector has seen phenomenal growth over the last decade as the country has invested in new hotels, transport infrastructure and new tourist destinations. [Macau city skyline] Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Travel trends for 2023 show a major shift in the way people are booking their trips and in their chosen destinations. For instance, while value is still important, luxury travel is on the rise.

In another trend, industry reports reveal that travellers are booking way in advance for their 2023 trips, showing spontaenous travel is going to see a drop.

Among these trends is also the rising popularity of Southeast Asia on travellers' plans for the year. AFP reported that data from, a major travel services company, showed that reservations for travel to Southeast Asia were up 10-fold, with Thailand a top choice, followed by Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Indonesia.

Also read

Travel to other favorite places, like the tropical resort island of Bali and Australia, has been constrained by a lack of flights. But that is changing, with new flights being added daily.

China has also seen a sharp increase in domestic travel, in addition to international visitors flocking to their cities. The Chinese territories of Macao and Hong Kong appear to be the most favored destinations here. Just days before Sunday's start of the Lunar New Year, iconic tourist spots in the former Portuguese colony, like historic Senado Square and the Ruins of St. Paul’s, were packed.

Choosing the destination: Money matters

Global tourism this year should improve considerably to reach approximately 80 to 95 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, according to the tourism recovery outlook issued by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation on January 17. The number of nights spent in tourist accommodation in the European Union in 2022 approached pre-pandemic levels, the bloc's statistics office Eurostat said on Wednesday.

The 27-nation bloc recorded 2.72 billion nights spent in tourist accommodation last year, down by only 5.6 per cent from 2019 levels, before COVID-19 inflicted heavy losses on the tourism industry due to border closures and lockdowns.

However, revenge travel trends of spending huge amounts will dwindle, experts predict.

The Middle East and Europe, the regions recovering fastest, are predicted to meet pre-pandemic visitor volumes in 2023

The Middle East and Europe, the regions recovering fastest, are predicted to meet pre-pandemic visitor volumes in 2023. But contrary to the freewheeling "revenge travel" narrative of pent-up, price-agnostic tourists, the UNWTO projects rising financial worries will see travellers seeking more value for money and staying closer to home this year.

For Europeans, price and proximity were determining factors in choosing destinations in 2023, according to a December 2022 report on consumer travel attitudes from the European Travel Commission. As with the UNWTO, value for money is now the overriding decision factor. Half of American travellers said concerns over their financial situation will impact travel decisions in the coming six months, according to a January 2023 sentiment survey from tourism market research firm Longwoods International.

Dubai, Paris on top of travel rankings

Dubai was ranked as the most popular destination in the world for the second year running by the Tripadvisor Travelers' Choice Awards and a second ranking by World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) adds credence to the emirate's position.

WTTC rated Dubai first based on money spent by travellers in 2022. Tourists spent a whopping $29.42 billion in the city in 2022, and the top five cities include Doha, London, Macau and Amsterdam.

By 2032, WTTC predicts that this spend will reach $42.98 billion. The report also said that travel and tourism would be a main contributor to GDP across the world, adding 126 million new jobs over the next 10 years.

The report, sponsored by Visa and researched in partnership with Oxford Economics, revealed that Paris was the most powerful destination among the cities ranked in 2022. The city's travel and tourism sector was worth almost $36 billion in 2022 - the highest contributor to GDP among the cities studied.

- Inputs from AFP, Bloomberg, IANS