Recent Travel Patterns

‘If you put off travelling over every incident, you’d be sitting at home glued to CNN too scared to leave your front door.’
– Traveller’s comment on Thorn Tree.

Recent world events have sent shock waves through the travel industry. So are travellers still travelling, have they been put off, and if not, where are they going?

Sales of Lonely Planet guidebooks and travellers’ messages on the Thorn Tree* have shown that people are still travelling. It’s where they’re travelling to that has changed.

The number one concern for travellers is not terrorism, but SARS. Recent travel patterns however, have shown that both are affecting where people choose to go. Sales of Lonely Planet guidebooks which cover South America, Central America and Western Europe have increased substantially while guidebooks to East Asia are less popular. The trend is mirrored in the increased traffic on the South America, Western Europe, and Mexico branches of the Thorn Tree, as well as South Africa. Croatia remains especially popular.

‘It’s clear that independent travellers are not put off by terrorism or SARS, they’re simply seeking new destinations,’ said Maya Catsanis, Lonely Planet spokesperson. ‘Anyone worried about venturing abroad should ensure they thoroughly research the destination; check out what other travellers are saying on the Thorn Tree, look at government travel advice, not just from the UK but from the US, Australia and Canada, and stay on top of developments in the country they want to visit (see www.newslink.org for example).’

Hot Thorn Tree Topics:

  • SARS still dominates discussions on the Thorn Tree, more so than recent terrorist attacks. It has upset travel plans for many. With border closures in Tibet and China, the overland route between India and Thailand has been disrupted and many are worried about the possibility of quarantine on arrival in Thailand from SARS affected areas.
  • Recent bombings in Casablanca sparked a rush of messages from those planning trips to Morocco. The consensus is to go but keep abreast of the news and atmosphere on the ground. Many have expressed concern about travelling in the USA.
  • Since the end of hostilities in Iraq, traveller’s questions on the Middle East branch have moved on from safety concerns to logistics. Questions about travel to Iraq and postings from those who have recently travelled to the country have generated most interest.
  • Iran and Turkey are the most popular travel destinations in the Middle East. The Thorn Tree is buzzing with advice on the best places to go, places to stay and getting around.
  • Central Asian discussions have recently shifted from safety concerns to problems of obtaining a visa for Afghanistan and how to get travel insurance for the region.
  • There was little discussion about the terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia.

Notes to Editors:
Sales of Lonely Planet’s European titles are up 18.86% on the same period last year; South & Central America by 12% (figures from Bookscan, 2003).

*Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree, the travellers’ bulletin board, receives over 7,000 posts a day from some of its 84,000 registered users around the world.

For more information and to arrange interviews please contact:
Mel Capper, Publicist
Lonely Planet Publications
ph + 44 20 7841 9012: fax + 44 20 7841 9001,
email melanie.capper@lonelyplanet.co.uk