Luxury global travel operator Scott Dunn shared its 2024 Luxury Travel Trend Report which forecasts the world of luxury travel in the upcoming year.
The report was based on its recent annual year-end guest survey of 3,200 luxury travellers in Asia, and from insights gleaned from its travel experts around the world.
Mike Harlow, general manager of Scott Dunn Asia, said: “We’ve witnessed remarkable changes in the world of luxury travel over the past few years which has reshaped the way we explore the world. As the new year approaches, we believe that 2024 stands as a beacon for all of us to venture both further and deeper. My team and I are excited to help our guests venture out further afield, to unlock new horizons, and to immerse themselves in cultures and landscapes like never before.”
Luxury travellers are looking forward to discovering a new destination come 2024, with close to half of all surveyed guests putting this as their top motivation for travelling in the new year. These jet-setters show an eagerness to explore locations typically considered off-the-beaten-track, and some of the most popular destinations for adventure-seekers include places such as Tanzania, Peru, Chile, and Bolivia.
There is also a renewed emphasis on ultra-private travel, especially for private yachts – Scott Dunn has seen interest in private yacht holidays increase two-fold in recent times, a trend they expect to continue into 2024.
Young travellers are increasingly seeing their holiday as an opportunity for learning and self-cultivation, and have a role to play in deciding the next family vacation. This ranges from in-depth history tours to the likes of Egypt – one of 2024’s top destinations – to expert-led activity tours, like photography.
Dramatic landscapes for urban city-dwellers
The majority of luxury travellers often have their home base in urban metropolises and sprawling cityscapes. It only stands to reason that when they seek to travel, they want a complete escape, and to go somewhere that’s entirely disconnected from their everyday lives – which is why increasingly, luxury travellers are looking to experience dramatic, unique, and remote landscapes in style.
Central and Southern America, in particular, emerge as the most popular destinations for city-dwelling luxury travellers seeking experiential travel. Interestingly, the destination is gaining popularity among one specific group: retirees. Scott Dunn observes that this guest segment, in particular, is now more partial towards Central and Southern America as many have the time and means to fully immerse themselves in the continent’s distinctive flavour. As Scott Dunn’s second-most booked destination for 2024, Peru’s otherworldly natural wonders hold a particular draw. After the iconic Machu Picchu citadel, the next popular stop is at Lake Titicaca, one of the largest lakes in South America said to be the birthplace of the Incas, and is home to numerous ruins, many of which are underwater.
Expert guides provide meaningful and immersive visits to local communities, and arrange for once-in-a-lifetime experiences such as a local Aymara constellation observation against the region’s crystal-clear night skies.
Luxury travel as a vehicle for learning and self-cultivation
A trend that started during the pandemic, more travellers are now looking to their holidays as a time to develop their special interests with hands-on experiences and expert-guided tours, especially in hyper-specialised areas; especially popular are tours focusing on history, culinary arts, wildlife conservation trips, and even ancestry tours. These travellers want to be immersed in each location they travel to, with their itineraries filled with unique and authentic experiences that allow them to dive deep and get as hands-on as they can with activities that align with their interests. Egypt is one of Scott Dunn’s top most-booked destinations with many guests particularly keen on immersing themselves in the region’s ancient history. Experiences range from privatising an entire Pyramid structure for breakfast at sunrise, to personal tours of the famed Wahtye tomb in Saqqara by the very team that discovered it, and even a rare visit to the elusive Saqqara Tomb, which requires special permission from the Ministry of Antiquities to enter.
Travellers can opt for personally-guided tours and chats with world-renowned figures (with Scott Dunn), such as the famed archaeologist Zahi Hawass, who was part of the excavation of the Great Sphinx of Giza and led numerous studies into scans of the mummy of King Tutankhamun.
Ancillary to the trend of travel as a form of learning is another interesting development – children are playing an increasingly active role in influencing family vacations, including where they go and what they do. These requests are often linked to what they are studying at school or university, and can range from expanding their book knowledge by seeing wild animals in their natural habitats on safari, or by refining their practical skills in a refreshing environment, like picking up survival skills from Masai tribe members.
The rise of private yacht trips and explorative sea travel
If there’s one mode of travel that has come into vogue after the pandemic, it’s undoubtedly private yacht travel. High net-worth travellers are venturing away from more traditional yachting hotspots and are using their trip as a chance to explore more remote locations by sea, away from the crowds and the usual suspects when it comes to lush oceanside getaways.
Travelling on a yacht often keeps the group small and intimate, with no need to mingle with crowds. A big plus is also the flexibility that comes with travelling by boat – being able to island hop at their leisure and discover new locations, especially places that are hard to get to, and to use the well-appointed yacht as a comfortable base to return to each night.
Regions such as Galapagos Islands in Ecuador are especially ripe for private yacht trips. The remote islands are a burgeoning favourite among luxury travellers looking for a yacht holiday where they can immerse themselves into an unspoilt paradise. Experiences include guided nature walks led by trained naturalist guides, clear-bottom kayak or boat rides, up-close experiences with the friendly sea life in the region in the form of swims with sea lions, penguins, sea turtles, and more.
Closer to home, the Indonesian archipelago has become a hotbed for luxury yacht holidays, with more travellers discovering the region’s vast beauty and lesser-known islands. Some of the region’s most beloved luxury yachts take inspiration from the phinisi, a traditional Indonesian sailing vessel recognised by UNESCO. The region surrounding UNESCO World Heritage Site, Komodo island, has emerged as an especially attractive destination for guests looking for a new sort of island holiday. Here, travellers can participate in diving, guided treks through volcanic craters, and private meals on deserted beaches.
Beyond the safari
Right out of the pandemic, one particular holiday type took centre stage: the safari holiday. Exhilarating game drives out of a plush tented camp, the thrill of spotting a lion up close for the very first time, drinking in the raw expanse of the savannah are just some reasons why the safari holiday was one of the most popular ones post-lockdown.
Taking the crown as Scott Dunn’s most-booked destination for 2024, Tanzania is the perfect place to view East Africa’s Great Migration – the world’s largest terrestrial mammal migration, and one of the wonders of the natural world. Other experiences include a private hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti, riding safari on horseback, flying safaris, and even traditional African canoe safaris.
Another East African destination coming back into the spotlight is Rwanda. There, one of the most sought-after experiences among guests in 2024 is a guided gorilla trek where participants come face-to-face with the majestic mountain gorilla for a humbling experience.