Brazil came in third in a survey by independent travellers from across the globe. Australia was rated as the destination they would most like to visit next. The information is part of the annual Lonely Planet Travellers’ Pulse Survey, which was released today.
The survey, which was conducted online at www.lonelyplanet.com prior to the Indian Ocean tsunami, is arguably the world’s most authoritative independent travel survey to date, with almost 20,000 respondents from 167 countries.
After Australia, the most desired destinations to visit in the future were Chile and Brazil (echoing recent trends towards South American destinations) with New Zealand and India rounding out the top five.
Australia also topped the list of favorite destinations that travellers had previously visited, followed by the ever popular Italy, Thailand, New Zealand and France.
In last year’s Lonely Planet traveller survey, Thailand won the top spot as favorite destination visited, with Australia in third place. Italy has stayed in second place for two years running.
While travellers from all over the world want to visit Australia, Australians themselves are itching to head to South America – Peru was the country Aussies most wanted to visit next, followed by Chile, Italy, Brazil and Canada.
New Zealanders are of similar mind – also wanting to head to Peru, followed by Vietnam, Italy, Chile and Greece. Both and Australians and New Zealanders patriotically chose their own home countries as the favorite destination they had visited in the past.
Globally, while Europe was respondents’ favorite world region (28%), Asia was only just pipped at the post with 24% of respondents voting it their favorite region to visit. South or Central America was third favorite (16%) followed by Australia and the Pacific (15%).
A huge 94% of respondents said that travel was very or extremely important to them. Over half have already travelled to 11 or more countries and yet 48% of them said they are still planning to travel more than ever.
The Travellers’ Pulse survey showed that independent travel has a powerful effect on people.
65% of respondents said that independent travel had a major impact on their respect for other cultures, while 44% said it strongly impacted the development of their personal values and ethics. 39% said it had a major impact on their responsible travel habits.
With several tourist destinations in southern Asia in dire need of tourism support, it is heartening to note that 40% of respondents said they want to give something back to the local community when travelling.
This echoes current trends towards volunteering, studying or working with local communities abroad, particularly by young travellers.
The survey also explored why people travel – and how they make it happen.
A vast majority of travellers would rather explore a new culture than chill out: 95% of respondents said that exploring other cultures when travelling is important or very important to them. Other top motivators were a sense of adventure, and relaxing or escaping life.
91% of travellers said they always use the web to research travel information before travelling, and 68% always use a guidebook. Overall, 58% of respondents prefer to book their travel online.
The Travellers’ Pulse Survey also confirmed a clear continuing trend toward travelling on a mid-range budget. In 2004, Lonely Planet relaunched its guidebooks and included expanded mid-range listings across its City Guide, Country Guide, Multi-country and ‘Best Of’ series, with the ‘on a shoestring’ series still firmly aimed at young low-budget travellers.
In a separate annual poll, Lonely Planet staff in its Melbourne, London and Oakland (USA) offices voted on their ‘hot’ destination predictions for 2005.
Croatia came out on top, followed by China, Argentina and USA.
Lonely Planet partnered with MTV, Hostel International, ISTC, STA Travel and VisitBritain to produce the Travellers’ Pulse survey, which was conducted during November and December 2004 on Lonely Planet’s award-winning website, www.lonelyplanet.com, which receives over 2 million hits per day.
On January 30, Lonely Planet was voted 5th most powerful brand in the Asia Pacific region in the Brandchannel.com Readers’ Choice Awards.