A recent ranking by a brand consultancy saw Australia slip from first place to third as a global country brand. That might be bad news for Tourism Australia, but what does it all mean for the typical traveller?
Picture by rietje
The annual FutureBrand Country Brand Index rates (in effect) the overall attractiveness of destinations to global tourists, surveying 3000 business and leisure travellers from nine countries. Australia had topped the index from 2006 to 2008, but has been overtaken by the USA and Canada this year. If you want FutureBrand's assessment of why that is, check out the (somewhat static) video below:
From a practical traveller point of view, Australia's ranking on the list isn't as interesting as some of the broader trends evident in the survey in terms of travel booking. Here's the main ones I noticed:
We've got a permanent expectation of cheapness
Discounted travel was very much the norm in 2009, as airlines, hotels and everyone else involved flogged off products at hugely reduced rates. While the economic picture isn't quite as gloomy nowadays, we seem to have permanently adopted the notion that this is how things should be. As the press release announcing the results put it:
Whatever type of vacation travellers are able to afford, whether this be basic or luxury accommodations, consumers expect a bargain. Consumers are thinking like financial analysts in choosing destinations and properties that are undervalued and booking trips that allow them to maintain the style they were accustomed to in boom times.
Business travellers staying at home
The cheapskate factor doesn't just apply to leisure travel: global business travel expenditure has dropped by 11.6 per cent to $US745 billion. While that's a substantial fall that suggests business types are looking to videoconferencing (or perhaps Google Wave) to replace meetings, it's still a seriously large amount of money. If you are travelling for business, don't forget to pack the business trip essentials and look over the gadget-packing checklist.
Places to get to soon before the crowds arrive
The study also identified six countries as "rising stars" — places which are likely to see a major boom in tourism over the next few years. Those six locations — China, Croatia, India, South Africa, the UAE and Vietnam — already have relatively well-developed tourism infrastructures, but if you prefer avoiding packaged tourist experiences, it might be better to get in sooner rather than later. (This is one context where using a travel agent probably won't make sense.)
No mobile signal could be a plus
At Lifehacker HQ, the first question we tend to ask about almost anywhere is "What's the mobile signal like?" closely followed by "Will there be free Wi-Fi?" While that's unlikely to change, FutureBrand is predicting a growth of destinations chosen precisely because they allow people to completely switch off from their hyper-connected lives:
The opportunity is for off-the-beaten-track destinations to offer people an oasis from their data-driven lives. Whether it’s a high-end spa or river-rafting in an isolated location, people will seek out ways to enjoy genuine connection with family, friends or experiences.
What travel trends are shaping your own plans? Share them in the comments.
Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman is only slightly worried that his own behaviour runs entirely contrary to these trends. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.