John Golicz is a veteran tourism industry expert and CEO of The Travel & Adventure Show, the largest series of travel trade shows in the United States.
When talking to Jetting Around, John shared his thoughts on general trends affecting travel and emerging urban destinations in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
What are some current trends in city travel?
One of the interesting urban trends right now are second-tier cities here in the United States, typically starting to evolve around cuisine or things that go along with cuisine, like drinks or alcohol.
One of the hot spots is Louisville, Kentucky. It’s where you start the Bourbon Trail, and bourbon is red hot. Louisville has a great food scene, there are new hotels popping up, and you see a lot of young people moving into the city. It’s a happy place for drinks, food and fun, and it takes you to Americana.
Another place is Cleveland, Ohio. There is a lot of development downtown and repurposed buildings in the old industrial areas. It’s a hot trendy spot for young and old people alike. You’ve got the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame of course, but also tons of new museums and hotels. It’s a great, great foodie place to go, so Cleveland is seeing a lot of increased traffic these days.
In general, you see a lot of renaissance in these industrial towns of the past – as people come in, tech moves in, medical services grow, all those kinds of things.
What about international destinations?
I’m going to call it semi-international, because it’s so close to the US: Havana. Cubans are a friendly people, and you will find some sights, sounds and food that you can’t get anywhere else. If you can go, do it soon, before Cuba gets changed. It’s a race against the industry, building up the next tourism spot. All that is going to take 24-36 months.
Colombia is also up and coming. The political situation has become stable and you see some great cities there. Cartagena is wonderful – it’s the oldest port city in the Americas, you’ve got a Spanish and Afro-Cuban vibe going on there, some great new hotels, shops, and food. It’s a Baroque city that’s going to take you back in time, almost like in a movie.
One other place you want to look at is Pilsen, Czech Republic. Europe’s Capital of Culture 2015, it has a nice cultural vibe and lots of museums (also beer is made there). It’s another Baroque city, and you’re going to find the European atmosphere that takes you back to old movies again.
“Old World Europe” that you thought was gone is not. Kosovo, Slovenia etc. are really starting to pick up a lot of speed in tourism, as people go for value and a different sense of what Europe is all about.
Going forward, what other cities or regions are likely to gain momentum?
I’ve seen Taiwan growing in the past 4-5 years in terms of departures from the US.
It’s a beautiful island. You’ve got Taipei, which is full of modern culture, and the food scene there is just incredible. And you’re 2-3 hours by a fantastic train system to see different parts, e.g. coastal adventure towns on the east shore, which are exciting and yet to be really discovered and developed. You can go on the west side and get into the Oriental culture that gives you a taste of China without the hassle, i.e. smog and crowds.
Taiwan has a great golf scene going on, a great cycling scene, and adventure sports.
Can you think of general trends affecting travel these days?
You see more and more people, especially Millennials, traveling to discover foods and experiences that are meaningful to them. They’re very intuitive as far as the food and culture scene. It’s not that they don’t want to go to museums, but they’re more focused on theme trips (e.g. the Bourbon Trail).
There is also what I call the “on-demand travel” that’s starting to emerge. It’s because of the mobile device in your pocket. The phone knows what you like and offers you solutions. This trend is going to be hot in the next five years as technology comes along – all you need is going to be on that phone, even your passport and credentials. It’s going to change the way we travel.
Which of these cities would you like to visit? Can you think of any others likely to become popular? Leave a comment!