Online travel services provider Trip.com has provided insights into the trends it believes will shape the travel industry in 2024, highlighting the surge in Chinese travel, the transformative role of AI, the appeal of global attractions and the growing significance of sustainable and event-focused travel.

China’s border re-opening sparks global travel surge

Trip.com Group reports a significant surge in outbound travel bookings following the re-opening of China’s borders.

With a six-fold increase in bookings compared to 2022, Chinese travellers are showing a strong interest in Southeast Asian destinations. The top five preferred outbound destinations in 2023 were Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia.

Trip.com also observed a steady recovery in China’s inbound travel, exceeding 60% of its pre-pandemic level. South Korea, Japan, Singapore and the United States are the top source markets for inbound tourism.

AI takes centre stage with TripGenie

AI has become a key technology used by online booking partners, with the rise of internet users and the extraction of consumer data.

Trip.com has introduced TripGenie, an AI travel assistant integrated into the Trip.com mobile app. Utilising large language model technologies, TripGenie will reshape travel planning by offering personalised itineraries, instant bookings and quick responses to user queries.

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With AI-powered curated lists such as Trip.Best, Trip.Deals, and Trip.Trends, Trip.com provides users with dynamic recommendations based on real-time data, offering a glimpse into the future of travel planning.

Music festivals and theme parks lead the way

In 2024 theme parks and music festivals emerge as focal points of global travel.

Theme park bookings saw a 65% increase in 2023 compared to 2019 levels, with Hong Kong Disneyland, Universal Studios Japan and Ocean Park Hong Kong topping the list.

Concerts and music festivals, such as Jay Chou’s Carnival World Tour in Bangkok and Wang Leehom’s ONE concert, have also become sought-after global events.

Sustainable travel and event tourism on the rise

Trip.com Group identified sustainable travel and event tourism as pivotal trends shaping the travel landscape in the year ahead.

According to Trip.com Group’s latest ESG [environmental, social and governance] report, more than 16m customers have chosen low-carbon travel options, signalling a rising interest in eco-friendly travel.

The ascent of event tourism, fuelled by the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, underscores the growing importance of events in influencing travel choices.