The online survey to mark Lonely Planet‘s 30th anniversary year is the world’s most authoritative independent travel survey to date with over 7500 respondents from 134 countries, from the Arctic to Zimbabwe.
Despite SARs and the ongoing threat of terrorism, a third of all travellers nominated Asia to be their favourite region, but Europe followed a close second with 30%. Asian and South American travellers voted their own regions the best.
Thailand is considered the most hospitable country, receiving 20% of the overall vote followed by Australia (13%). Meanwhile New Zealanders demonstrated their patriotism by voting themselves as the most hospitable!
Thirty years ago when Lonely Planet began, the average independent traveller was a hippy backpacker looking for an alternative lifestyle. The survey finds a very different picture now - the typical independent traveller of the 21st century is a professional, with a degree or postgraduate qualification. In general, people are taking trips of 1 to 3 months’ duration which combine adventure, activity, relaxation and culture.
The backpackers of the 1980s and 90s are still travelling but have refined their travel habits and choose their destinations and travel style carefully. Almost half of all respondents have been to over 16 countries and a third travel as a couple.
Travellers were asked to name their dream destination and answers varied widely from Antarctica to South America, from travelling locally to round-the-world trips. The results clearly show how strong the desire is to reach those undiscovered corners of the world - and that travel has become a necessary escape from the pressures of modern life. Remote Island getaways hit the spot for most travellers’ as ideal dream destination.
Asked what the next big thing in travel was, answers included a variety of predictions, including: space travel, more independent travel, more train travel and short breaks, and an increase in travel by older people and Chinese nationals.
Naturally all travellers believed travel is important, the vast majority saying that “it broadens the mind”. Many answers were inspirational: “I’m still optimistic that eventually “the world” will realise that differences between people and places make them exciting and deserving of our appreciation, rather than something to be feared” and “travel is fatal to bigotry and narrow-mindedness”. Others simply made us smile: “it makes you feel like a kid again—everything is new to you” and “who wouldn’t want to be Indiana Jones?”.