According to a Booking.com survey, 67% of travelers worldwide are planning water-centric getaways in 2024.
The travel website surveyed 27,000 travelers across 33 countries and found they’re looking for sun, sand, and surf. This trend will be a boon for many destinations as projections for travel in 2024 accelerate past pre-pandemic levels.
The Allianze Vacation Confidence Index reports that 61% of Americans planned to book a summer trip 100 or more miles away from home for at least a week in 2023, up significantly from pre-pandemic levels of 43%, and drastically higher than the pandemic low of 26%. Vacations are back and are just getting started. Daniel Durazo, a spokesman for Allianz, told the Seattle Times, “We expect that 2024 will set a new record.”
Vacationers are not only traveling more but also spending more. According to Skyscanner’s 2024 Travel Trends report, 39% of globetrotters plan to delve deeper into their pockets, aiming to spend more on their 2024 voyages than they did in 2023.
One big question remains: as vacationers travel more and spend more, where will they go? Skyscanner, a travel metasearch engine with over 100 million users per month, evaluated millions of searches on its platform to find the fastest-growing destinations heading into 2024. These locations have experienced the most significant year-over-year search query growth in 2023. They are poised to be the biggest winners of the 2024 water-centric travel trend.
Rising Stars: Top Three Trending Waterfront Locations for 2024
Cayman Islands +483%
The Cayman Islands are number one on the Skyscanner list. The islands are located 480 miles south of Miami in the Caribbean Sea. This destination has garnered a 483% rise in search queries on Skyscanner in 2023 compared to 2022.
As a popular cruise port, the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism predicts they will end the year with 1.2 million cruise visitors. However, the Caymans want to be known as more than a pitstop for cruise ships. In 2023, the Department of Tourism launched a series of advertising campaigns targeting luxury travelers.
The ads promoted the Caymans as a “luxury destination for discriminating travelers, divers, honeymooners, and families,” according to the Department of Tourism.
Honeymoons.com ranks the Caymans as the second-best honeymoon destination in the world for 2024, indicating the Caymans’ attempt to entice luxury travelers has been successful. For cruise-goers, honeymooners, and people seeking water-centric destinations, the Cayman Islands are an ideal high-end destination.
French Polynesia: +227%
French Polynesia is an archipelago made up of 118 islands and atolls in the South Pacific. This paradise is not just about Bora Bora’s picturesque overwater bungalows. Moorea’s lush landscapes and the historical significance of the Marquesas Islands paint a more complex picture. With a 227% uptick in interest on Skyscanner, it’s evident that more travelers are keen to discover French Polynesia’s more profound stories and hidden gems.
The area was becoming a trendy destination before the pandemic, and the government considered capping the number of tourists at one foreign tourist per local resident or 280,000 tourists per year. But as the tourism industry recovered from the pandemic, French Polynesia received just fewer than 250,000 visitors in 2022. Given the increase in interest for 2024, tourists may soon be approaching the previously considered cap.
While interest in French Polynesia is up, it’s a pricey trip, which may temper overall travel demands. The average price for a one-week vacation to Bora Bora can be as high as $7,000, and a stay in one of the iconic overwater bungalows can be $26,000, according to data from HoneymoonGoals.com. Flights halfway around the world aren’t cheap, and neither are the luxurious accommodations on the islands.
U.S. Virgin Islands: +198%
The U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) offer a unique blend of American modernity and Caribbean allure, and they’re more popular than ever. From St. Croix’s rich history to St. John’s protected national parks and St. Thomas’s bustling harbors, there’s something for everyone on this diverse archipelago. Searches on Skyscanner for flights to the U.S. Virgin Islands have nearly tripled this year.
Travel Pulse says the islands are leading the Caribbean in tourism growth in 2023. Joseph Boschulte, the Commissioner of the Department of Tourism for the USVI, recently announced the number of tourists is up 15% compared to 2022. With exponential search interest leading into next year, no passport needed for U.S. citizens, and 67% of 2024 travelers seeking waterfront destinations, the USVI will surely see continued growth into 2024.
Making a Splash: The 2024 Travel Tide Turns Seaward
The yearning for aqua adventures is emblematic of 2024’s travel scene. As the world embraces post-pandemic freedom, water-centric locations emerge as champions of travel aspirations.
From the allure of the Cayman Islands to the beauty of French Polynesia and the diverse offerings of the U.S. Virgin Islands, each destination is becoming a symbol of the world’s newfound enthusiasm for travel. Skyscanner’s search data shows an apparent inclination towards waterfront paradises.
Whether driven by pent-up desires, economic growth, or the sheer joy of rediscovery, travelers in 2024 are setting their sights on the sea.
This article was produced by Honeymoons.com and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.