Jan. 23--PETALING JAYA (The Star/ANN) -- People were travelling more frequently and seeking new destinations from traditionally popular routes last year. That is what travel metasearch site Wego found on 2013's hottest travel hotspots in flight search throughout their core markets.
"We saw a lot of shifting trends in all our markets last year," Wego CEO and co-founder Ross Veitch said, adding that accessibility has dramatically increased traveller options to go anywhere in the world.
The findings, revealed by the company recently, were derived from its key areas in Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Middle East, North Africa and India. There are also predictions of travel trends for this year.
For starters, the top 10 destinations for Australians included neighbouring Asian capitals such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong. Bali, Manila and Phuket, meanwhile, remained popular holiday resort locations.
Wego chief operating officer Matthew Varley, however, said that the weakened Australian dollar might prompt the Aussies to go more for domestic travel.
"However, popular short-haul destinations such as Phuket, Bali, Fiji and New Zealand will still resonate with Australians and may even develop further. The Qantas and Emirates alliance continues to provide connectivity; Dubai, and onwards to Europe, is a route that we expect will remain strong in 2014," Varley said.
As for Singaporeans, Bangkok has long been a top destination due to its close proximity, flight promotions galore and the availability of budget-friendly accommodations.
Dave Lai, Wego marketing development manager for Singapore and Malaysia, noted that the strong Singapore dollar against the Thai baht continued to make Bangkok an attractive choice among Singaporean travellers.
"Taipei and Seoul have also become increasingly popular with Singaporeans, who are expected to explore other North Asia destinations besides Hong Kong," added Lai.
Vietnam, too, has seen an increase in Singaporean visitors due to its location within South-East Asia and low-fare flight promotions.
"Business travel to Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi has gone up owing to Singapore's increased direct investment in Vietnam, which has seen it becoming the largest foreign investor in Ho Chi Minh in 2013," he said.
For Indonesians, Bangkok was found to have overtaken Kuala Lumpur as the preferred destination.
"Given the decline in the value of the rupiah in 2013, we expect growth to international destinations to slow down this year with more Indonesians opting to holiday at home," said Lai.
Indonesia itself will remain a very affordable place for regional travellers, "so we expect to see growth in inbound travel from markets like Singapore, Malaysia and Australia," said Wego Indonesia managing director Graham Hills.
Travel between the Middle East and Asia continues to grow with more flight options between both regions.
"Key tourism destinations such as Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok continue to lead the search results from the Middle East and North Africa region," Wego Middle East and North Africa managing director Mohamad Ibrahim Masri pointed out.
"In 2014, when the European Union works to further relax visa requirements for Gulf nationals, more travellers will choose to holiday in Europe during the summer. And Britain's visa exemption for United Arab Emirates nationals will change the rankings of top destinations for Emiratis as it helps to increase holiday and business trips," he said.
Given the falling rupee, 2013 saw many Indian travellers preferring domestic travel and weekend getaways to overseas holidays.
However, according to Jackson Fernandez, Wego India managing director, the flash sales offered by airline companies did make South-East Asia an attractive option among Indian holidaymakers.
"In 2014, we'll see the emergence of the niche traveller, once referred to as backpackers, although in today's parlance could be termed 'well-?informed individual travellers,'" predicted Fernandez.
Wego has 50 country sites in more than 30 languages.