Stats show that the travel industry is booming, despite a turbulent 2014. And new ideas – some admittedly more useful than others – are already shaping the way we’ll explore our planet in years to come. From single-pilot flights to sweet-smelling travel jewellery, we’ve rounded up some of the latest happenings here…

Tourism up almost everywhere

Figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) show that in 2013 the number of international travellers exceeded a billion for the first time in history. Now new numbers have been released, showing that the global travel industry has grown again – and could be on track for another record year. It’s thought that more than 1.1 billion people will have travelled from one country to another by the end of 2014, with much of the growth coming from the Americas and the Asia-Pacific region.

There are a couple of surprises in the UNWTO’s preliminary figures, which cover the first ten months of 2014. For example, tourist arrivals to the Middle East, parts of which have seen continued unrest, are up 4% on last year. Meanwhile, tourism in Central and Eastern Europe seems to have flatlined completely.

Vietnam, Bai Tu Long Bay

Single-pilot flights are on the radar

With an increase in the number of people travelling abroad (see the UN’s figures above) and more tourists able to fly, a shortage of trained airline pilots could be looming on the horizon. One potential solution is to allow flights to take place with just one pilot.

Currently, all big passenger and cargo jets are piloted by at least two humans, ensuring there is always someone to land the plane if one of the pilots falls ill. But now NASA and the American company Rockwell Collins, which sells guidance systems for weapons, are looking at how single-pilot flights could be conducted safely. Ideas include using ground-based ‘virtual co-pilots’ who would be able to assist the airborne pilot during crucial phases of a flight.

Like driverless cars and unmanned drones, single-pilot flight may be another step towards a future where travel is fully automated – and potentially safer as a result.

More news on Indian visas

Bundela Rajas, Orchha, India

If you’ve been to India you’ll know that the visa application process is fraught with bureaucracy. We’ve reported on India’s efforts to simplify this process before, and now it looks like things are finally getting easier – for some travellers, at least.

Residents of 43 countries around the world can now pay for an ‘electronic travel authorisation’ (ETA) online, rather than applying for a visa at their nearest Indian embassy. On arrival at one of the designated entry points in India, they’ll be stamped in and given 30 days to explore the country (the regular tourist visa grants up to six months in one go).

So far, the ETA is available to citizens of Australia, New Zealand and the USA, among others – but not residents of the UK, who still need to apply in the usual way.

Earn by sharing your travel tipsYonderbound

This month’s most intriguing discovery is Yonderbound, a website that lets you “share your travel knowledge and make money along the way”. The idea is that you sign up and begin sharing your travel tips and recommendations on the site. If your work inspires other people to book their trip through the website, then Yonderbound will pass on a slice of the profits (apparently around 7% of the total value).

The catch here is that you won’t get to withdraw your earnings in cash; the credits that appear in your account can only be used to book trips through the Yonderbound website.

Soapy travel jewellery

Just when you think you’ve seen all of the unusual travel inventions that Kickstarter can throw at you, something even stranger comes along. This 3D-printed travel soap jewellery is designed to help you ‘feel fabulous in the shower’, and can be customised according to the kind of jewellery you ordinarily wear. Apparently, the soapy rings, necklaces and bracelets can be worn outside of the bathroom too.

“You’ll never have to worry about your fragrance fading ever again!” says Lily Su’s bubbly pitch, which had attracted more than $1,500 in backing at the time of writing.

Travel video: Yukon, Canada

It’s only right that snow finds its way into the December edition of our travel news round-up and this video from Yukon, Canada, has it by the bucket load. But away from higher ground, the landscapes of Canada’s westernmost territory are surprisingly diverse, taking in seas of skinny pine trees and deep, emerald lakes.

Y U K O N from Cereal on Vimeo.

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