loader image

Mastercard Travel Trends 2024 is breaking boundaries with strong consumer spending on travel

Mastercard Economics Institute anticipates this momentum will continue as consumers prioritise meaningful experiences and allocate more of their budgets to travel.

Despite challenges like fluctuating exchange rates, climate concerns and varying levels of affordability, the desire to travel remains strong. People are becoming more strategic about how, when, and where they travel, with 2024 seeing significant shifts in travel patterns.

Analysis found that travellers are extending their trips by an extra day over the 12 months ending March 2024 compared to the same period in 2019, highlighting a growing desire for more immersive and meaningful travel experiences. In addition to air travel, vacationing by cruise has experienced extraordinary growth, surpassing 2019 records. Through March 2024, consumer spending on travel remains strong, and passenger traffic has soared. Globally, nine out of the last 10 all-time record spending days in both cruise and airlines have happened in 2024.

Longer Leisure Stays

Couple on a leisure holiday
Couple on a leisure holiday

Tourists are spending more time on vacation – about one extra day relative to what was normal pre-COVID. Longer stays in destinations generally translate to longer spend per trip, too, which benefits local businesses. The Middle East and Africa (MEA) region and Europe have been benefitting the most from this trend, both with roughly two extra days spent while in destination. Conversely, the United States has benefitted less from this new trend, having seen a smaller increase in extended trip lengths.

Travelling for Events

Music Concert
Music Concert

Consumers are traveling for memorable events ranging from Solar Eclipses to Taylor Swift shows, Carnival in Brazil, and the Cricket World Cup. These events provide strong incremental spending lift to businesses near and adjacent to the area. The rest of 2024 is earmarked with a range of notable events that the Mastercard Economics Institute expects to attract record numbers of travelers from around the world.

Motivated Travellers

Exclusive Luxury Travel
Exclusive Luxury travel

Prices remain elevated, but the travel industry is well positioned with a resilient consumer. A demand-pull inflation throughout the course of the year, in part due to the experience economy and extremely high extent of travel intentions is likely on the cards. For example, when more people want to attend their favourite sporting event than there are available rooms, accommodations services providers can increase prices and remain fully occupied. While it is relatively more painful to shell out extra money for consumers, the rooms will still be fully booked, and this serves as a relief to hotels & motels, which were among the most severely impacted due to protracted shutdowns in 2020-2022. The pent-up demand has been providing a breath of fresh air to the hospitality industry in 2024.

Cruises are on full steam

Luxury Cruising
Luxury Cruising

Cruises are making a strong comeback with the count of global cruise passenger transactions roughly 16% above 2019 levels in Q1. The number of transactions made by consumers on cruises (while on-board and for booking) had an impressive start in 2024, comfortably surpassing 2019 levels. Mastercard Economics Institute analysis found that the count of global cruise transactions in Q1 of 2024 is roughly 16% above 2019. As consumers crave new and different experiences, it’s not just travel by air that is growing impressively. Given persistent price increases in the hotel industry, the price difference between cruises and hotels has widened, making trips by cruise a relatively more budget-friendly option in many cases.

Top 10 Trending Destinations

Tokyo ranks number two on the list, where a historically weak yen and a full year of no restrictions has brought tourists back in waves, higher than historically normal levels. Tirana, Albania is a short drive from many coastal hotels and is notably much more wallet-friendly compared to the major tourism hubs in other coastal European countries. What do Nice, France; Cancun, Mexico; Bali, Indonesia; Bangkok; Kerkyra, Island of Corfu, Greece; and Aruba have in common? The beach. These areas each rank in the top 10 worldwide trending destinations. Munich will be hosting the opening game of the European Championship in football (soccer) in June.

Travel Trends 2024; Breaking Boundaries

Share This Story With Community

Recent News

Get Travel Trade Bulletin straight to your inbox