Tourism figures out: from ‘slumber gurus’ to ‘flying nannies’, what are the big travel trends for 2014?

Short-term tourism to Australia was up 0.3% in November on the previous month, according to figures just released from the Australian Bureau Statistics.

There were 548,100 international visitors, compared to 546,400 in October.

The ABS reports this followed monthly increases of 0.7% in September and 0.5% in October 2013, showing an upward trajectory for the sector.

The current trend estimate for arrivals is 4.5% higher than in November 2012. This followed a monthly increase of 1.8% in September and a decrease of 0.9% in October 2013.

However, seasonally adjusted, the figures show that in November 2013 short-term visitor arrivals were at 542,100 movements, which was a decrease of 0.9% compared with October 2013 at 546,900 movements.

In terms of departures, the ABS found that Australians were leaving less in November, with 735,100 movements down 0.1% on October figures of 735,900 movements.

It reports this follows a monthly increase of 0.1% in September and no change in October 2013.

This is in line with seasonally adjusted estimates, which also showed an 0.1% increase compared with October.  

The ABS predicts that the current trend estimate for departures is 6.4% higher than in November 2012.

November coincided with the Melbourne Cup Carnival, for which IBISWorld predicted that interstate visitors would make up 18% of visits, and international visitors would comprise 3.5% of attendees.

The Australian Financial Review reported today that tourism operators say the lower Australian dollar has helped to boost bookings over the Christmas period. Events such as The Ashes and the Australian Open draw international crowds.

The AFR reported that tourism company AAT Kings managing director Anthony Hayes said bookings for day tours were up 30% for the same time last year.

Following a busy start to 2014, what can tourism business and travellers expect to see throughout 2014?

Global boutique travel site Mr & Mrs Smith has released its predictions for travel this year, with some unusual trends forecast.

The UK-based site, run by James and Tamara Lohan says the most prominent trend is engaging with “local life” when travelling.

“Beyond boutique bedrooms, there’s a string of services promising instant immersion with the locals – Eat With, for example, which hooks up hungry visitors with hosts happy to cook dinner for guests in their own homes,” they said.

Another trend to watch is ‘Sleep Swamis’, in which boutique hotels have a ‘slumber guru’ to ensure guests have a great night’s sleep.

“The Slumber Guru’s bag of tricks includes soothing milk baths, relaxing massages and a pillow menu,” they said.

Social media will continue to be embraced by travellers, the site predicts, with hotels using mobile marketing more than ever.

“Take 1888 Hotel in Sydney, whose design was mapped out to maximise its Instagram-ability, and some of the Melia group hotels, where specialist concierges respond to guest requests via Twitter; we think hotels are going to get even more switched on to social in 2014 and beyond.”

Mr & Mrs Smith also predicts that travel will become more of a “family affair” this year, even in the upmarket sector.

“Etihad is even introducing a Flying Nannies service on long-haul flights, with their nannies (specially trained cabin crew members) accredited by Norland, the UK’s leading childcare training college,” they said.

Treehouse hotels will continue to make their mark, while hotel bars will keep upping the ante, the site predicts.

Businesses catering to travellers facing delays could emerge, with Apps providing short stories based on expected waiting times.

An upgrade in room service is also expected, with breakfast in bed on the agenda, along with the ability for guests to book food and services with iPads.

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