Every year I write about travel trends that I think will impact tourism in Belize. I am fairly satisfied with the predictions I wrote for 2015 and unless I feel it’s necessary, I don’t intend to reiterate the same predictions for 2016. Some of these ideas I come up with by myself – through recent travel experience, or I may have stumbled upon an idea while researching, other times, I have seen the predictions on articles, and when that’s the case, I will reference the original author.
1. Urban travel
Urban travel is on the rise. People are becoming more and more fascinated with cities – they are moving to them, and choosing to explore them. According to the Mastercard 2015 Global Destination Cities Index, London attracted 18.8 million visitors, while other cities such as Bangkok and Paris attracted 18.2 and 16 million respectively.
Therefore, I can see an increased interest in Belize City for 2016 and beyond, but with the city’s reputation, the challenge is to make it safe and accessible. Small rant: I am always so annoyed by the lack of foresight and direction of city officials in making Belize City a cool and exciting place to visit. I wonder if those ‘in-charge’ don’t read the news or aren’t able to learn from neighbouring countries such as Costa Rica who turned the gritty sometimes dangerous city of San Jose into an amazing place to visit.
Food continues to be a strong motivator for travelers to visit a place. The year 2015 saw a boom in companies offering specific tours catering to ‘foodies’ and we should see even more food related travel options in 2016.
I’ve noticed that my hometown of San Ignacio has done a great job of maximizing on this trend with places such as AJAW chocolate and crafts popping up.
3. Walking tours
Walking tours are an easy, less intimidating way to explore places. These tours can be done alone or in a group, with a guide or without, and at whatever pace a person chooses. I’ve noticed that now, many cities offer discovery trails with markers that provide users with information about an area. I can only see people taking more advantage of this as technology gets better. On that note, tour guides beware, audio tour apps WILL take your jobs.
The ubiquitous use of audio tour apps will not impregnate Belize in 2016 or anytime soon but towns should definitely look into designing discovery trails with markers at various points of interest.
4. Shorter trips
With more people moving to cities, people are living more busy and hectic lives. Although this is unfortunate for humanity, I can easily see people needing to take more frequent and shorter trips to de-stress. The average individual living in the US has about two weeks off a year and will try to squeeze in two or three 3-4 day trips a year.
The only way Belize can take advantage of this trend is if there are quick and direct flights from various destinations. So far, Southwest and other new airlines such as Copa Airlines have started to fly to Belize, which is a great start.
5. REAL authentic experiences
Travelers have always liked genuine experiences but now more than ever they are able to easily conduct research and also get feedback on things that are actually worth checking out. A place may do great marketing or have a nice and fancy design, but somewhere on the Internet someone will share a conversation they had with a local on how doctored the experience was.
For Belize, authentic experiences come easy since the country is very small and mostly undeveloped (read: not manipulated). I advise that people stay updated on trends and see how they can create a fusion of things. For example, craft-cocktails are really ‘in’ right now, a local establishment can benefit from experimenting with drinks using local flavors and keep rotating/ innovating the recipes.
Buh-bye for now, I hope you enjoyed learning about these travel predictions and are as fascinated as I am about the future of tourism.