In a recent survey of its GHA DISCOVERY loyalty programme members, the Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) has disclosed the most sought-after travel destinations for 2024.

Japan and Thailand secured the top spots, followed closely by Spain, Canada and Hawaii. The survey found that the desire to explore new destinations and experiences is a key motivator behind travellers’ decisions.

Europe emerges as hotspot, while staycations surge in Asia

Europe has emerged as the most sought-after region for travel in 2024. Simultaneously, staycations are on the rise in Asia, particularly in China, where members are planning an average of more than five staycations.

Thailand and Malaysia follow suit with more than four staycations on average.

Asian outbound travel rebounds strongly

Asian outbound travel is experiencing a robust rebound, led by China with an average of 6.8 leisure trips planned. Hong Kong, Thailand and Germany closely trail behind.

The Middle East and Africa also stand out, with travellers in these regions planning almost equal numbers of business and leisure trips (4.9 versus 4.0) in 2024.

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Member destination preferences by region

  • Middle East & North Africa: Japan remains popular, but new hot destinations include Canada and Oman.
  • Asia: Travellers continue to book trips to Japan, China and Thailand, showing an ongoing appetite for exploring intra-regional destinations. Residents of these countries favour Thailand and Japan, replacing the 2023 hotspot, the US, with a focus on exploring their own region.
  • Europe: Spain and Italy are top of the list.
  • Australia and New Zealand: Singapore and the UK are the destinations of choice, with Sydney a hotspot for staycations. When travelling to Europe, there is a desire to visit Portugal.
  • North America: Residents plan vacations to Japan and are swappings trips to China for getaways in Hawaii, Spain and Thailand. This market shows the least interest in staycations, with an average of just over two planned.

Social media dominates travel inspiration

Social media emerges as the top inspiration source, with 75% of respondents revealing that they choose new destinations after seeing friends’ posts. This trend is prominent in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and Oceania.

In contrast, travel magazines maintain significance in Europe and North America, while recommendations from friends and family hold the most influence.

Family and foodie breaks on the rise

In a return to “normal” demand patterns, members are opting for travel with their spouse or partner and intimate family trips. Foodie breaks are gaining traction, surpassing wellness getaways as the most desired travel experiences.

Loyalty programme influence decisions and preferences

Loyalty programme websites and apps have become the top choice for travel research and booking across all regions. Quality of accommodation and loyalty programme benefits now outweigh location and price when deciding where to stay.

Room upgrades, early check-in and late checkout are increasingly valued, with 70% of elite GHA DISCOVERY members prioritising room upgrades.

Kristi Gole, executive vice-president of strategy at GHA, expressed optimism for another strong year in 2024, highlighting travellers’ willingness to pay premium prices for quality services and emphasising the importance of loyalty programmes in enhancing each stay.