As the dust settles on the first three months of the year, let’s take a closer look at search trends and analytics emerging from the travel sector, with YoY comparisons for the past three Q1 periods. Using search volume data from Google Keyword Planner for various travel searches, we’ll see who the winners and losers are for 2024 so far - and discover some surprising results along the way!

Q1 2024 headlines

  • Overall travel search volume continues to rise, with more searches being performed on a global scale than ever before.
  • Searches for holidays in Europe continue to edge out Asia, but the gap is narrowing, with a big surge in searches for holidays in Asian countries compared to holidays in Europe.
Q1 Travel Graph image
  • Only Australasia and Asia have experienced double digit % growth in Q1 2024 v Q1 2023. South America has shown the only decrease with demand dropping by 2% overall, the only continent to do so.
Q1 Travel Graph 2 image

Who were the big winners this year v last year?

  • China up 60% (a huge increase from 85k searches to 137k!)
  • Austria up from 20k to 32k (59%)
  • Pakistan up from 9k to 14k (55%)
  • Malta up from 114k to 164k (44%)
  • Tanzania up from 15k to 21k (42%)
  • Albania up from 93k to 132k (42%)

China is the big curveball here; however, this may well be due to the country finally seeing the green shoots of post-Covid recovery following the past few years’ lack of flights, high ticket prices and administrative hurdles in procuring visas. Indeed, at the start of the quarter, China's aviation regulator announced that the number of international flights to and from the country would reach 6,000 per week by the end of this year, approximately 80% of pre-COVID levels. The above factors will all make China far more attractive as a tourist destination, which is potentially why we are seeing an increase in search volume.

Albania is also proving to be quite the dark horse, thanks in no small part to several media outlets showcasing Albania as a tourist destination over the past few months, and airlines such as EasyJet, Ryanair and Wizz Air recently introducing flights from the UK to the capital, Tirana, so it’s perhaps not surprising that search volume has reflected this surge in interest.

Albania travel image

…and what about the losers?

  • Jordan down from 25k to 14k (42%)
  • Israel down from 20k to 13k (33%)
  • Senegal down from 16k to 11k (32%)
  • Iceland down from a whopping 127k to 90k (29%)

Iceland’s drop will come as a surprise to many, but with a recent series of volcanic eruptions on the Reykjanes Peninsula, not far from Keflavik International Airport, it’s little wonder people are hesitant about visiting this year. Many of us will remember all too well the 2010 volcanic eruptions in Iceland which brought European air travel to a standstill and impacted around 7 million passengers, and while there’s no evidence to suggest a repeat of 2010, it’s still a risk many travellers will not be willing to take.

Different types of holidays for Q1

Q1 Travel Graph 3 image

Key points

  • General growth across the board with skiing holidays seeing a 39% boost.
  • Despite recent gloomy reports, UK holidays have experienced 20% growth in search, with interest in cruise holidays also continuing to grow (8%).
  • The only ‘loser’ here are travel agent-related search terms, which have seen a decrease of 10% YoY. It’s unclear of the reasons behind this drop. One theory could be the rise of AI-powered travel planning, with virtual travel assistants or chatbots becoming more commonplace (Expedia, Kayak, etc), reducing the need for human travel agents. This is likely to be one of many contributing factors though, with rising fares and the cost-of-living crisis perhaps prompting travellers to cut out the middle man and seek out budget options themselves.
Type of holiday image

Final thoughts on Q1 2024 travel trends

While search volumes increase globally, the ebb and flow of interest across regions and types of holidays in Q1 reveal fascinating insights into how people are searching for travel related terms. Europe remains a powerhouse, but with China opening its doors to a greater extent, it seems that travellers are ready to take advantage of this increased accessibility.

On the flipside, the decline in search volume for Iceland serves as a potent reminder of nature's unpredictable influence on travel aspirations. With the UK experiencing one of the wettest winters on record, and central Europe grappling with deadly heatwaves last summer, expect travellers to react quickly to breaking weather trends as things continue to change in the months and years ahead.

One thing’s for certain – Q1 2024 has been anything but static. What will Q2 have in store for us I wonder? I can’t wait to find out!

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Meet the author ...

Andy Headington


Andy has been part of Adido since it was an idea in a pub nearly twenty years ago. He loves to work with the Adido team and all of the clients on board asking challenging questions and ...