1. It does, but not in this context. Here it means a slow trend, or a gradual movement. It refers to a suggestion that more people these days are taking independent holidays as opposed to package tours.
2. I think you can probably guess from the context, can't you? If people are choosing to take independent holidays rather than package tours, then independent holidays must contrast with package tours. Think about what a package tour is, then think about what the opposite must be.