Where are the hot destinations for 2018? What kind of travel will Singaporeans do in the coming year. Floyd Cowan has a few thoughts on the topic.It is that time of the year when lists are being published about the hot travel trends for 2018. I get a steady stream of media releases on the subject. I did a great deal of travelling this year, attended events hosted by tourism boards explaining their plans for the coming year, and I’ve talked to a lot of people in various sectors of the industry.
Lake Toba, Indonesia
I am starting with Indonesia because I think they are going to increase their tourism numbers greatly not only in 2018, but in coming years. While Bali is being struck off people’s list, for many it has become overcrowded and lacks the charm it once had, there are many new and exciting destinations that are opening up throughout the archipelago. Those areas and islands have been there for a long time, but what is different now is that President Joko Widodo has made it a priority to make them attractive destinations for foreign visitors. And they are putting in resources to make it happen.
One very good example of this is Lake Toba. It has long been on people’s radar, but they haven’t gone because it was a bit of a haul to get there. Now that the government has put radar in at the new Silangit Airport more people will be landing there. Roughly an hour from Singapore, not only will locals be going, but many people from around the world who use Changi Airport as a hub will take the short hop.
National and local tourism officials are greatly excited at the thought of having more visitors. There is now an energy that is directed at improving what they offer. However, the new destinations need to develop and improve facilities before they are going to attract big numbers.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Thailand
Even though Thailand is one of the most popular destinations in the world they are determined to draw even more people. As with Indonesia, they are focused on presenting to the world the not so well-known places of beauty and interest. And they are not stopping there. They want to enhance the awareness of the attractions that people are already enjoying when they visit the country – the food – the beaches – the mountains – the shopping – the spas; and I could go on. They are actively building on their assets.
The Shanghai Sisters from Kuala Lumpur performing at the inaugural Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival
Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival 2017
Malaysia should continue to draw visitors, but I am not sure it is going to. With the ringgit so low there is good value to be found for travelers, but Tourism’s budget has been greatly reduced at a time when their competitors are increasing their spending . Sarawak has its own tourism budget and they are focused on developing this industry. The State of the Festival can be found in Sarawak where they enjoy music, food, cultural and religious festivals – and they keep dreaming up more.
Hiking in Korea
Hiking and biking are becoming more popular for holiday activities. They are healthy activities and the entire family can do them together. Walk Japan has been doing walks for years, and the number of walks they offer continues to grow. Walk Japan takes people into areas they would not likely see. In Singapore, the vibrant group at NTC Travel, has teamed up with Singapore Adventurous Nature-Lovers to do hikes in Korea and stay at Buddhist temples. For hikers, these are beautiful unexplored areas that they are anxious to visit. Biking has been growing in recent years and NTC Travel is organizing trips to Korea for enthusiasts.
Singaporeans are known for taking holidays in urban environments where they can shop, eat and spa. The younger generation is walking, jogging and biking like their parents, uncles and aunties never did. The shift to more active vacations will continue.
Sit Still & Die
There are beautiful destinations throughout Asia, but if they don’t step up, offer something new and promote what they have, they will lose ground. There are tourist organizations that know they have to work hard to attract people and they are doing everything they can to do that. I am just hoping they recognize the value of print and spend a little more with Asian Journeys.
Those who don’t work at it, will only wistfully read stories of ‘overtourism’ and wish they had that problem.