The Rise of Secondary and Tertiary Destinations in Global Tourism - Istanbul Airport Meet and Assist

The Shift Towards Lesser-Known Cities

In recent developments within the aviation and tourism sectors, there is a noticeable shift in focus from major capitals to smaller, less renowned cities. These cities, often referred to as secondary or tertiary destinations, are increasingly becoming the focal points for new flight routes. This trend suggests a strategic move by airlines and tourism boards to explore fresh markets that offer unique experiences but are less burdened by the challenges of over-tourism.

Pre-Pandemic Trends and Developments

Even before the pandemic disrupted global travel, there was a growing interest in exploring non-traditional destinations. A report from Expedia in 2018 highlighted this trend, with destinations like Chiang Mai, the Azores, and Cartagena gaining popularity among travelers seeking new cultural experiences and less crowded environments. This shift was further supported by insights from industry experts like Luca Franco, who noted that over-tourism in popular capitals was prompting tourists and developers to turn their attention to secondary cities.

Post-Pandemic Travel Dynamics

As travel restrictions eased and ‘revenge travel’ emerged, people began to flood back to their favorite destinations. However, this resurgence also brought back the old problem of over-tourism, prompting governments and tourism boards, especially in Asia Pacific regions, to promote secondary cities as viable and attractive alternatives. For instance, Thailand’s Tourism Authority is now focusing on cities like Kanchanaburi and Chanthaburi, enhancing their appeal as tourism destinations through various cultural and economic initiatives.

Role of Airlines in Promoting Secondary Cities

One clear indicator of the rising interest in secondary cities is the strategic expansion of airline routes to these destinations. Airlines are not only launching flights to these lesser-known locales but are also investing in smaller aircrafts suited for these routes. For example, Scoot, a low-cost carrier in Singapore, has recently incorporated Embraer E190-E2s into their fleet specifically to serve these markets.

Focus on Central Asia

Central Asia is emerging as a significant region of interest for both economic and tourism-related reasons. The region, rich in cultural heritage and largely untapped by mainstream tourism, is now seeing new flights from major airlines, including Qatar Airways and AirAsia. These developments are not only enhancing the tourism potential of the region but also strengthening economic ties with other countries.


The expansion into secondary and tertiary cities is a strategic response to multiple challenges and opportunities in the global travel industry. By diverting tourist traffic to less crowded, yet culturally rich destinations, airlines and governments are not only enhancing the travel experience but also promoting sustainable tourism practices. This trend is set to reshape the future of travel, making it more diverse and inclusive.

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