Independent travellers from across the UK have rated Australia as the destination they would most like to visit next, the annual Lonely Planet Travellers’ Pulse Survey revealed today.The survey, which was conducted online at www.lonelyplanet.com is arguably the world’s most authoritative independent travel survey to date, with almost 20,000 respondents from 167 countries.
After Australia, UK travellers’ most desired destinations to visit next were Brazil and Chile (echoing recent trends towards South American destinations) with New Zealand and India rounding out the top five.
Australia also topped the list of favourite destinations that travellers had previously visited, followed by the ever popular Thailand, Italy, the US and New Zealand.
In last year’s Lonely Planet traveller survey, Australia also won the top spot as favourite destination visited, with Italy and Thailand following closely.
Lonely Planet Travellers’ Pulse Survey was undertaken prior to the Indian Ocean tsunami but the popularity of the countries affected by the disaster, including Thailand and India,Ê suggests travellers will be quick to return. Both countries appeared in the top 10 favourite countries and destinations to visit next.
A huge 94% of respondents said that travel was very or extremely important to them. Over half have already travelled to 11 or more countries and yet 48% said they are still planning to travel more than ever.
Contrary to the stereotype of boozy Brits on holiday, the survey also revealed that 65% of respondents said that independent travel had a major impact on their respect for other cultures. 44% said it strongly
impacted on the development of their personal values and ethics and 39% said it had a major impact on theirÊ responsible travel habits. The vast majority, 95%, would rather explore a new culture than chill out, with respondents stating that exploring other cultures when travelling is important or very important to them.
Lonely Planet’s Travel Information Manager, Tom Hall, says: “The feedback from Lonely Planet’s traveller
community is a great indicator of upcoming travel trends. They are curious, receptive and independent, thinking for themselves and travelling responsibly. They follow both classic routes and roads less travelled, seeking their own unique and authentic travel experience. They are the first to pick new destinations and fully embrace new technologies such as booking travel online.”
The survey also identified key trends for the travel industry:
*ÊÊÊÊÊÊ 91% of travellers said they always used the web to research travel information before travelling.
*ÊÊÊÊÊÊ 58% of respondents prefer to book their travel online. Of that group, 39% prefer to book their travel directly with the travel provider whilst also 19% prefer to book online with a travel agency.
*ÊÊÊÊÊÊ Only 13% consult travel agents frequently.
*ÊÊÊÊÊÊ The majority of respondents (38%) travel with friends, whilst 28% travel alone and 25% travel with a partner.
*ÊÊÊÊÊÊ 49% identified not enough money as the greatest barrier limiting the amount respondents’ travel, whilst only 23% stated limited free time and a surprising 15% stated interrupting their career.
*ÊÊÊÊÊÊ 65% of respondents were female, highlighting the increasing trend towards females undertaking more adventurous and solo travel.
In a separate annual poll, Lonely Planet staff in its Melbourne, London and Oakland (USA) offices voted on their ‘hot’ destination predictions for 2005. Croatia came out on top, followed by China, Argentina and USA.