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Responsible Wanderlust

Decoding Festive Travel Season & Celebrating Togetherness

June Mukherjee, October 20, 2023


Around the world, festive seasons provide a perfect opportunity for a delightful journey filled with joy, celebration, and the warmth of togetherness. Global travel trends have adapted to shifting dynamics. Contemporary travelers now seek authentic experiences, sustainable adventures, and a deep connection with the destinations they explore during relaxed festive holidays.

Technology has become essential, streamlining travel arrangements, from booking accommodations to seamless navigation. Moreover, the rise of remote work has popularized "workations," blending work commitments with the excitement of discovering newer places and extending holidays around festive days. Elevated health and safety concerns have fuelled a growing demand for wellness tourism and eco-friendly accommodations. With a heightened environmental awareness, travelers are increasingly embracing eco-tourism and responsible travel practices. These global travel trends highlight the pursuit of meaningful experiences, sustainability, and adaptability, reflecting the evolving travel landscape worldwide.

The festive season is a time for family gatherings and strengthening bonds. Asian tourists prioritize family travel during this period, creating lasting memories, sharing experiences, and deepening relationships. Destinations that offer a mix of adventure and relaxation are particularly appealing to families.

For the Asian tourists, the period between Diwali and New Year is the perfect time to explore new horizons, experience diverse cultures, and create lasting memories. The festive season in Asia commences with the iconic celebration of Durga Puja, steeped in cultural richness and heritage. Durga Puja heralds the festive season, bringing together families, exchanging gifts, lighting traditional oil lamps, and savouring sumptuous feasts, creating an ambiance of love and togetherness. Recently, this significant cultural celebration has been honoured with UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage status, emphasizing its global significance and cultural richness.

During the festive season of Eid, people embark on journeys that transcend mere physical travel; they embark on journeys of the heart, reuniting with family and loved ones to celebrate this joyous occasion. Eid is a time when families come together, and the spirit of togetherness extends to travel plans. Many individuals prefer to travel with their families during Eid, seeking destinations that allow them to revel in the joy of shared traditions, culture, and spirituality. While some opt for a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city in Islam, others gravitate towards their ancestral hometowns, where they can reconnect with their roots and engage in communal festivities. Whether by plane, train, or car, the journeys taken during Eid are a testament to the profound significance of family bonds and the celebrations that unite them.

The major festive travel season in most parts of Asia kicks off with the grand celebration of Diwali, the Festival of Lights. Diwali, celebrated with enthusiasm and grandeur in various countries, often serves as a precursor to the upcoming holiday season. People enjoy the holiday while basking in the warm glow of lights and colours. While Diwali starts the festive season in many parts of Asia, the region offers a rich tapestry of celebrations and travel opportunities that extend beyond this iconic festival. Thailand's Loy Krathong festival captivates travelers with floating lanterns and offerings on waterways, while Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations in cities like Bangkok, Phuket, and Chiang Mai offer a blend of local customs and global festivities. Japan attracts travelers with its enchanting autumn foliage and unique cultural experiences like tea ceremonies and temple visits. South Korea's grand Chuseok celebration, often called Korean Thanksgiving, highlights the nation's rich heritage and customs. Malaysia boasts a multicultural and diverse festive landscape, and Dubai comes alive with extravagant New Year's Eve celebrations. Sri Lanka allows travelers to immerse in Diwali celebrations and the charm of Christmas in cities like Colombo and Kandy. In this evolving travel landscape, Singapore combines tradition and modernity, making it a captivating choice for travelers, particularly in cruise tourism.

Global travel trends during Thanksgiving and Halloween offer a truly magical experience. Although travel during Thanksgiving and Halloween is more prominent in the United States, it is spreading to other parts of the world. Thanksgiving travel mostly occurs within the United States as families gather to celebrate and give thanks, but with a significant Asian population living in North America, they often take the opportunity to visit their home countries or other destinations. Halloween has its roots in various cultures, but the contemporary celebrations with costume parties, trick-or-treating, and decorations are popular in the United States and some parts of Canada. Many Asian countries are introducing Halloween-themed holiday packages and events, such as haunted houses and trick-or-treating. Families embark on exciting trips to haunted destinations during Halloween, immersing themselves in spooky festivities and haunted houses.
Asian countries, each with its distinctive cultural celebrations and traditions, beckon travelers during the festive season, offering a rich tapestry of experiences to create cherished memories. Whether it is witnessing local customs, savouring traditional cuisine, or taking part in unique festivities, festive travel in Asia promises an array of enriching experiences.

Asian tourists are increasingly drawn to a diverse range of trending destinations. Japan's stunning autumn foliage and rich cultural experiences continue to captivate travelers. South Korea's scenic beauty and traditional festivities during Chuseok are gaining popularity. Southeast Asian gems such as Thailand, Bali, and Malaysia remain hotspots due to their vibrant cultures and stunning landscapes. Vietnam's picturesque landscapes and rich history are also on the rise. Nepal, known for its breathtaking Himalayan landscapes and cultural heritage, is becoming a sought-after destination. Sri Lanka's blend of history, natural beauty, and welcoming hospitality is drawing travelers. The Maldives provides a luxurious escape for many Asian tourists. The United Arab Emirates, especially Dubai, offers a blend of luxury and tradition that entices many travelers. As tourists seek unique experiences, these destinations display the rich shades of experiences available in Asia.

A trip to India during the festive season offers a unique blend of culture, tradition, and spirituality. Famous destinations like Agra, Varanasi, Amritsar, Kolkata, Goa, Kerala, Rann of Kutch, and the palaces of Rajasthan are especially popular during this time. Travelers can witness the grandeur of Incredible India, its festive celebrations, and immerse themselves in the vibrant local culture.

Thailand remains an all-time favourite among Asian tourists, with its picturesque beaches and vibrant cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Krabi, and Phuket offering a mix of tradition and modernity. Japan's autumn season is a visual delight with its vibrant foliage, drawing travelers to destinations like Kyoto, Tokyo, and Osaka to witness mesmerizing autumn colours, explore ancient temples, and enjoy seasonal delicacies. South Korea's autumn foliage is equally captivating, with destinations like Seoul and Busan taking the spotlight, where visitors can experience the traditional Korean tea ceremony, vibrant lantern festivals, and the breathtaking beauty of the country's national parks. Malaysia boasts a rich cultural diversity, and during the festive season, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and Malacca come alive with Diwali, Christmas, and New Year celebrations, making it a top choice for holidaymakers. Bali, Indonesia, is an evergreen favourite, offering serene beaches, lush landscapes, and vibrant culture. During the festive season, Bali offers a unique spiritual experience with its grand Nyepi celebrations, followed by a festive atmosphere during Christmas and New Year.

Dubai has emerged as a hotspot for Asian tourists during the festive season, attracting visitors with its luxurious lifestyle and grand celebrations, and now, emirates like Ras Al Khaimah, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and others are emerging as destinations that can be combined with a Dubai trip.

Cruise holidays are on the rise, offering a unique way to explore multiple destinations during the festive season. Asian tourists are increasingly drawn to cruises that offer a range of entertainment, gourmet dining, and cultural experiences on board. Popular cruise routes include those in Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean, where passengers can celebrate Christmas and New Year's in style while exploring diverse destinations. Sustainable and responsible cruising options are also available, with a focus on minimizing the ecological impact of these journeys. Many cruise lines are actively working to reduce their carbon footprint and promote eco-friendly practices.

As travelers explore diverse destinations during the festive season, there is a growing consciousness about the impact of tourism on the environment and local communities. Sustainable tourism and responsible travel practices are gaining prominence. Tourists are increasingly looking for eco-friendly accommodations, supporting local businesses, and participating in community-based tourism activities. For example, in India, many travelers opt for eco-resorts and homestays, contributing to local economies and minimizing their carbon footprints. Today's travelers seek more than just sightseeing; they crave immersive and experiential tours that allow them to engage with local culture and traditions. This trend is especially prominent during the festive season.

The festive season is a time for celebration, exploration, and togetherness. Asian tourists are increasingly embracing sustainable and responsible travel practices while exploring new destinations during this period. As we travel the world, let us remember the importance of spending quality time with our loved ones, creating cherished memories, and spreading the joy of the season to all corners of the globe.

June Mukherjee, October 20, 2023

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