Payment card services corporation Mastercard has released its Travel Trends 2024 report which looks at the travel industry across 74 markets.

Drawing on an analysis of aggregated and anonymised transaction data and third-party data sources, the company finds that an all-time high of 15.9m Americans travelled internationally in Q1 2024, while Japan welcomed more than 3m arrivals in March 2024 alone. The surge in travel reflects greater activity, fuelled by a strong labour market.

The increase in travellers is benefitting the cruise market, as the widening price difference between cruises and hotels has made the former a more budget-friendly option for a getaway.

GlobalData’s travel and tourism intelligence highlights that cruises are important players as they are not only taking tourists from place to place, but also provide a multifaceted experience.

According to Mastercard, global cruise passenger transactions reached around 16% above 2019 levels in Q1 2024. Booming cruise demand is also seen at key ports. The Bahamas has welcomed an additional 2.9m passengers above 2019 levels arriving by sea from 2023 to 2024.

Travellers are also spending an extra day on vacation on average – and those from Europe and the Middle East and Africa roughly two – with the trend driven by affordable destinations and warmer climates. For each extra six degrees Celsius of temperature, the estimated increase in length of stay is approximately one day.

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Japan has emerged as the global frontrunner for the top trending destination in the 12 months since May 2023, while Munich ranks as the top trending destination for summer 2024.