Keith Bellows, Editor-In-Chief, National Geographic Traveler

Man is unbuttoned white shirt and blue blazer stands with Arizona travel writer Stacey Wittig
Flagstaff travel writer UNSTOPPABLE Stacey Wittig and National Geographic Traveler Editor-in-Chief at 2009 NATJA Conference

Cleveland, Ohio–Twelve trends that will shape travel journalism in the next five years was outlined by Keith Bellows, Editor-In-Chief of National Geographic Traveler tonight. Travel journalist from Canada and the US gathered to hear Bellows share as the keynote speaker at the 2009 North American Travel Journalists Association Conference (NATJA.)

The ways that consumers receive travel information is changing. Journalists, editors and CVB administrators are looking for new ways to deliver travel content. Bellows urges not only the means of delivery is changing, but the travel needs of the next generation will change, too.

1.) The days of luxury travel are over. When the economy is down, people turn to core values, specifically community, spirituality and family. “There have never been more young people and more older people living at the same time,” states Bellows. The energy and idealism of the youthful generation coupled with the desire of their elders to leave a legacy leads to the trend towards increased generational travel.

2.) The transportation industry in North American will change. Bellows predicts the demise of the airline industry. We will see a new travel landscape.

3.) The USA government needs to get serious about the travel industry, or they will easily lose market share. Bellows sees a need for a National Travel Policy.

4.) Sustainability will become more important as millions of new tourists start traveling from the developing nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China. “The Grand Canyon will be besieged. Venice will become a pay-for-view theme park,” warns the travel expert. “The Taj Mahal will be under glass in a climate-controlled bubble. You’ll be able to visit for $10,000 per visit.”

5.) Travel will continue to become more global. “Our insularity is our undoing,” he challenges the US citizens in the audience charging the US with being a “reclusive, isolationist country.”

6.) Children who learn to travel will travel to learn.

7.) A transforming experience is as important as place.

8.) Authenticity is no longer simply a buzzword. People art traveling to find an authentic experience. Connecting with local people makes for an authentic experience.

9.) The younger generations use travel as a search for meaning. Travel shifts from an external experience to an internal experience.

10.) Self Improvement. Health Travel providers will offer plastic surgery, orthopaedic procedures and even heart surgery in addition to the current spa offerings.

11.) “Journalists, we must reinvent ourselves,” advised Bellows who related that in a recent trip to Peru he did video, slideshows, ambient sounds as well as picking up the pen and taking notes.

12.) Print will be a diminished part of multimedia. How do we make the shift? “We are not going to die as content providers,” predicts the magazine editor.
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Stacey Wittig is a travel writer based in the Southwest USA. The Flagstaff travel writer is probably the newest member of NATJA. In fact, she just learned how to pronounce the acronym tonight.

Photo of Keith Bellows, editor-in-chief of National Geographic Traveler and UNSTOPPABLE Stacey Wittig at NATJA Cleveland Conference. Cleveland Rocks! Photo by Kate Pocock

Today I can’t stop exploring the world (I blame it on my father’s Viking blood) and write about my adventures – many as a solo woman traveler. Life isn’t always rosy; I lost my firecracker reasoning skill to head injury in a horrific rollover accident that should have taken my life. Brain injury hasn’t stopped me from traveling, although it sometimes makes for amusing travel antidotes that I hope you will enjoy. That’s why they call me “UNSTOPPABLE!”

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