Ecotourism and wildlife offerings are holding more sway among European travellers as they start to tire of the traditional beach holidays in Asia.
Diana Lozanova, director of Sofia Luxury Travel in Bulgaria, said while Asia remains the most popular destination, she has seen a recent rising trend in clients wanting more than the usual popular Asian beach destinations that initially drew travellers to the region.
She said: “Bulgarians love the beach, but now they want to explore something new. They normally go to Phuket or Bali for the beach. They want wildlife and nature, so we are looking for destinations that can provide that.”
Lozanova noted that interest in wildlife, adventure and trekking trips are on the rise, with Cambodia and Japan on their radar. She added: “Japan is a new market and is very different, but it has been hard to find a travel agent with reasonable prices.”
Jana Oberreiterova, product manager of Fun Express in the Czech Republic, said while Asia remains the most popular longhaul destination with clients, they are searching for emerging destinations.
Said Oberreiterova: “They are no longer looking at Thailand and Indonesia and the beaches. (These beaches are) too touristy now and people looking for somewhere else. They want wildlife and nature.”
A strong economy in the Czech Republic is fuelling demand for longhaul travel, with 40 per cent of clients at travel agency Jedu interested in Asia. Project manager Martina Patova said while Bali is one of the top destinations, Czechs’ desire for something different is shining through.
She believes countries such as Laos and its wealth of nature and expanding ecotourism options as well as the Philippines will fit the bill.
Micheline Hardy of Toronto-based Club Voyages Mont-Tremblant, hopes to beef up his Asian offerings while catering to travellers’ changing needs for more nature-based activities such as scuba diving, trekking and golfing.
“Travellers are looking for more exotic destinations where they haven’t been before. They want to do more active travel.”