6 mins

Here's to the next 25 years!

What’s in store for travellers over the next quarter of a century? Dr Ian Yeoman, one of the world’s top travel futurists, offers his predictions...

A Virgin Galactic space plane (Dreamstime)
Reaching the top of Kilimanjaro (Shutterstock)

Reaching the top of Kilimanjaro (Shutterstock)

Almost everyone will be able to climb Kilimanjaro 

Switzerland is already heavily promoting e-bike tours through the mountains – and it’s a trend that Dr Yeoman sees continuing."Generally, adventure will get easier,” he says. “There will be more e-bike routes like those in Switzerland, but there will also be more extreme developments. With so much work being done on exoskeletons, in 25 years the unfit or even infirm will be able to compete in a desert ultramarathon or climb Mount Kilimanjaro."

The world will get smaller and hotter

“Supersonic and maybe even hypersonic planes will make New Zealand a weekend destination from the UK or Europe,” says Dr Yeoman. “Plus, climate change will make cooler climates more attractive, and people will want more natural escapes,” so prepare for crowds.

Crowds in Romanian countryside (Shutterstock)

Crowds in Romanian countryside (Shutterstock)

China will keep rising 

China (Shutterstock)

China (Shutterstock)

“China will become an all-rounder destination, a little like America is today,” says Dr Yeoman. “With the rise of the middle class, I think we’ll see a lot more sophisticated adventure tourism there, and in 25 years China could be the New World when it comes to wine. “There will also be a huge rise in outbound independent Chinese travellers,” he adds, so expect sought-after experiences to become even more competitive.

An eco-friendly electric boat in Barcelona (Dreamstime)

An eco-friendly electric boat in Barcelona (Dreamstime)

Travel will be less guilt-inducing

The move towards electric planes and ships is already afoot, with the likes of Airbus and Boeing-backed Zunum Aero working on hybrid fuel-electric planes that they hope will be flying by 2020. Cruises are even further ahead, with Norway’s Hurtigruten ferry company due to launch a hybrid cruise ship in early 2019.

Tours will be increasingly niche

“Niche tourism is already growing,” says Dr Yeoman. “You just have to look at cyclists following the Tour de France route, or companies like Craft Cruises, which o­ffer knitting voyages. That will only accelerate, and I see specialist photography tours as a big growth area, as cameras become more and more sophisticated and there are more and more photography hobbyists. A century ago, people went to Africa to shoot animals with guns; now and going forward, we’ll shoot them with cameras.”

Photographing the desert (Dreamstime)

Photographing the desert (Dreamstime)

Space will be the ultimate passport stamp 

Virgin Galactic's space plane (Dreamstime)

Virgin Galactic's space plane (Dreamstime)

“In 25 years, the really adventurous travel destination will be space,” says Dr Yeoman. “By then, companies like Virgin Galactic will be offering suborbital day trips, and the view of the Earth’s curvature will be the ultimate shot for travel one-upmanship. It will still be very expensive, but it won’t just be for the super-rich.”

And we’ll still be reading Wanderlust 

A lot will emerge in the next 25 years, from automated cars to AI and smart lenses that will do everything current smartphones can do and more. But Dr Yeoman says quality information will still be important. “Robots still won’t be able to provide interesting, informative and entertaining content like humans can,” he says. “And print won’t die – because the digital world can’t match the experience of holding a real thing in your hands.”

Meet the Expert

Dr Ian Yeoman is the author of the New Zealand government report 2050 – Tomorrow’s Tourism, and is a pioneering futurist in the travel sector. A senior academic researcher at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, he is also a visiting professor at the European Tourism Futures Institute in the Netherlands.

Related Articles