Oliver Smith, The Daily Telegraph, September 29, 2014
The third and final part of the Future of Travel report, published by Skyscanner – the flight comparison website – looks at how hotel rooms and holiday destinations could change over the next decade.
It suggests that the desire to secure social media “bragging rights” will lure tourists to areas of the world currently considered off-limits. “Travellers will want to be the first to go to places that their friends have never been to,” said Dr Ian Yeoman, a “travel futurologist”. He predicted that Lebanon would become “the new Dubai”, while Bhutan would become “one of the big global players in luxury travel.”
“In Africa, Botswana is one to watch,” he added. “It has a successful economy, it’s safer than South Africa and there are good national parks there. Angola is also seeing a lot of investment from China and could take off too.”
Angola’s potential was also highlighted in a report by the World Travel and Tourism Council in May . It listed 50 destinations that could emerge as holiday hotspots over the next 10 years, ranking them according to the projected growth per annum of tourism as a direct contribution to GDP. Angola came 4th.
“Over a decade has passed since the end of Angola’s civil war,” the report explained. “Although the damage is still widespread, the country is gradually recovering. The national parks are slowly being restocked with wildlife from neighbouring states, and tourism is set to grow exponentially.”
Other surprises in the report were Gabon, which came 6th, Mongolia (13th); Kuwait (15th); Uzbekistan (20th); and Iraq (24th).
The ‘extinction race’
Skyscanner also claimed travellers will be increasingly driven by the desire to see endangered species before it’s too late – “the extinction race”, it calls it.
“Many of our current travellers have an urgency to see the polar bears before the full effects of global warming affect them further,” says Rick Guthke, General Manager of specialist tour operator Natural Habitat Adventures.
Other species at risk of extinction in the next decade include leatherback turtles (the Indian Ocean), bare-faced tamarins (Manaus, Brazil), the black rhino (eastern and central Africa), the Chinese alligator (Yangtze river), the sheath-tailed bat (the Seychelles), the Dama gazelle (Chad), the Bactrian camel (Gobi Desert), the hairy-nosed wombat (Australia), the Iberian lynx (Spain), and the Sumatran orangutan (Borneo and Sumatra), the report says.
In to space; under the sea
Unsurprisingly, Skyscanner predicts that space tourism will be a reality in 2024. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic project has been beset with delays but will surely be off the ground by then – last week he claimed test flights will take place by spring . Other firms in the market for space tourists include World View Enterprises, which hopes to take travellers 20 miles into the sky using a high-tech helium balloon. A launch date of 2016 was announced last year .
“Without question, space tourism will grow and get cheaper,” said Skyscanner’s CEO Gareth Williams. “But what is affordable for the general public is a very arbitrary question given we’re a planet of seven billion people.”
For those who cannot afford a trip to space (Virgin Galactic is asking for $250,000 per person), there will be Barcelona’s Mobilona Space Hotel, the reports says, which will supposedly include “immersive” suites that provide “panoramic impressions of the Universe”, as well as a “zero-gravity spa”.
Other hotels will be looking down rather than up – the Water Discus Hotel in Dubai is due to open next year. Designed by Deep Ocean Technology, its 21 suites will be housed in two main discs – one above water, one below – and facilities include a bar and a dive centre.
Thanks to advances in technology, the experience for hotel guests in 10 years’ time will be vastly different, the report claims.
“Travellers will have no need to encounter a single human being from the time that they enter their chosen hotel to the time that they check out of their room,” said Nik Gupta, Skyscanner’s director of hotels. “Hotel software will key in to a guest’s social media profiles to enable him or her to book a particular room where everything is set specifically for them. Guests will be provided with menus of things to do, restaurants to eat in and theater performances to watch, that exactly meet their individual needs and preferences.”
Ian Pearson, another “futurologist”, suggested that hotel rooms could even monitor guests’ blood sugar levels and offer dietary advice. Baths could offer “chromatherapeutic lighting – violet to relax muscles, yellow to aid digestion… ”, the reports adds, while showers could use sound technologoy to “literally agitate dirt from our bodies”. If that all seems a bit far-fetched, it should be noted that the Stay Well room at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas already has room lighting to combat jet lag and shower water infused with Vitamin C.
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This article was written by Oliver Smith from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.