/ 1 March 2024

Binge travel: Reinventing the bucket list for 2024

Flight Centre

Fans are travelling to locations where their favourite shows are shot, and where their top artists perform

Pack your bags, charge your devices, and get ready to update your bucket list — 2024 promises exciting travel journeys inspired by what you’re binging on Netflix, your favourite music act, and even new openings across the globe. 

According to Antoinette Turner, General Manager for Flight Centre South Africa, immersive pop culture escapes rank among 2024’s leading attractions. “In 2023, destinations that featured in popular shows like The White Lotus and Emily in Paris ignited travel surges across Hawaii, Sicily and France. Not only that, but the ‘Swift effect’ led to destinations reporting a huge surge in interest and bookings coinciding with Taylor Swift and other pop stars’ tours. We expect this trend to continue as fans pursue similar experiences brought to life on screen and stage.”

Riding the wave of screen tourism

As filming kicks off this month in Thailand for The White Lotus Season 3, Four Seasons resorts are bracing for an influx of travellers when episodes debut later this year. Season 1’s Hawaiian setting saw web traffic for the Four Seasons Maui rocket 425%, with Sicily’s San Domenico Palace instantly booked out for months after appearing in Season 2.

In fact, HBO’s hit dark comedy-drama has sparked a surge of bookings at both prior locations — a phenomenon dubbed the “White Lotus effect” that is expected again as fans scheme Thailand getaways to channel the latest scandal-filled storyline.

Flight Centre has already observed a spike in Thailand bookings by South African travellers last year. Comparing October to December 2022 versus 2023, Flight Centre saw a 108% increase in Thailand package bookings by South Africans gearing up for a White-Lotus-style vacation. Thailand also shot up to the number 3 spot for most popular destination booked in 2023, just behind Mauritius and Dubai.

1309680036 Images For Mail Guardian 200x1250 Concert

“The ‘White Lotus Effect’ is going to be very real, with fans rushing to soak up the backdrop of all that drama at the next White Lotus resort location. So if you’re keen to soak up a Thailand vacay this year, get booking soon,” advises Turner. 

Beyond boutique hotels, Paris anticipates its own influx following the airing of Emily in Paris Season 3. Netflix has yet to confirm a release date for the new season, but on January 19, 2024, revealed that the show is now back in production.

Other destinations to watch (excuse the pun):

  • Bucharest is the cultural epicentre of Romania and No. 1 on this year’s list of set-jetting destinations. Nicknamed ‘Little Paris of the East’, the city shot into the spotlight after it was featured in Wednesday, a coming-of-age mystery series based on the adventures of Wednesday Addams of The Addams Family franchise. Here, fans can find the best gothic sets from The Addams Family reboot.
  • And if the steamy romance series, Bridgerton, has you longing for a “romantic rendezvous” in Britain, hold onto your bloomers. Now with the third season in production, popular filming spots such as Bath and Greenwich are predicted to be popular travel destinations for fervent followers of the show. 

Gig-tripping: Music festival mini-breaks

Yet pop culture alone won’t define 2024’s travel landscape. With live events fully reawakened after the pandemic lull, concert getaways are hitting fever pitch as travellers prioritise experiences with their favourite artists. Skyscanner reveals 44% of US vacationers are willing to grab last-minute domestic flights for concerts, with 18% embarking abroad. In fact, 34% already have music festivals and shows earmarked for 2024, rising to 50% amongs 25-34-year-olds.

Look no further than Taylor Swift’s blockbuster Eras Tour sparking a surge in Japanese travel interest. Per research group Economic Impact Net, Tay Tay’s Tokyo performances alone stand to generate $228 million in revenue. 

Other major world tours like Blink-182’s reunion trek across North America and Metallica’s 72-date romp across Europe and North America promise to drive similar travel spikes. Meanwhile, Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday European tour will likely also send “Pink Friday Girls” dancing their way to the continent. 

“We expect to see gig-tripping reaching an all-time high, with travellers zeroing in on concert locations to build holidays around seeing their favourite performers live,” notes Turner. 

New openings: The art of food and travel

Still, dynamic dining and drinking promise more momentum for 2024 tourism. Global research indicates that 47% of US travellers have visited destinations purely to taste coveted restaurants, with 37% seeking similar culinary quests. Top tables consistently rank amongst top holiday to-dos as well, tying travel tightly to exceptional eats.

With abundant openings across leading destinations, go-getters have ample inspiration updating their 2024 bucket lists. Flight Centre reveals their top destinations for most South African bookings — Johannesburg, Dubai and London — continually debut developments driving return visits. From swanky Dubai hotels like Atlantis the Royal to Joburg’s experiential Latitudes art fair in May, these hubs promise fresh opportunities that render traditional lists obsolete.

Reinventing the bucket list

So bid farewell to predictable planners — 2024 demands reimagining our travel musts. Whether finding inspiration in HBO’s latest layers of scandal or gallery-hopping South Africa’s creative capital, adapting our itineraries promises more fulfilling, unexpected journeys ahead. 

For more information, visit: https://www.flightcentre.co.za/