According to a study commissioned at the end of 2022 by Radisson Hotels, the global growth of the middle class will create a tourism market of five billion potential tourists by 2030. The impact of this on the environment and cultures around the world is creating a need to reimagine tourism. Here are three key trends and takeaways from the survey that those in the leisure travel industry should be tracking now.
Outside is in—and so is hitting the open road.
Travel benefits your well-being in many ways. A significant amount of scientific research suggests that exploring new places can do wonders for your mental and emotional health.
The importance of enjoying time outdoors must not be underestimated. Spending time in nature has been shown to have a number of benefits, including reducing stress, anxiety and depression; improving sleep quality; and boosting the immune system. Many travelers are looking to road trips to satisfy these needs. Road trips allow travelers to slow down and experience the journey as much as the destination. They can stop at roadside attractions, meet locals and take in the scenery at their own pace.
Work or play, what’s the difference?
Going to work? Since the pandemic, not so much. It’s created a trend called neo-nomadism, a lifestyle choice in which people choose to live a nomadic lifestyle, often by working remotely and some even traveling from place to place rather than having a home. This trend is having a number of effects on the leisure travel industry.
Neo-nomads are challenging the traditional idea of travel as a vacation or a break from work. Neo-nomads are often looking for different types of travel experiences than traditional tourists. They are looking for experiences that allow them to connect with the local culture and environment, and they are willing to spend more money on these experiences.
Called zenventures, this type of travel experience focuses on relaxation, mindfulness and personal growth. It is often designed to help travelers reconnect with themselves and with nature. Zenventures can take many different forms, but they typically involve activities such as yoga, meditation, hiking and nature walks.
Keeping it real, keeping it sustainable, keeping it regenerative.
There is a growing desire among leisure travelers to be more responsible. Travelers are increasingly aware of the environmental and social impacts of tourism. Immersive tourism and sustainable tourism can help travelers to be more responsible by providing them with information about the impact of their travel and creating opportunities to make choices that are good for the environment and local communities.
“Climate change is at the forefront of importance as the travel industry rebounds,” said Cathy Breden, CEO, Center for Exhibition Industry Research. “The natural disasters that have occurred over the past two years have emphasized that climate change is evident and a reality. We are overdue to stop ‘talking’ about it and move to creating actionable change to correct the amount of waste being generated by travel.”
Immersive tourism and sustainable tourism can provide this by giving travelers authentic travel experiences that allow them to connect with the local people and culture, and by giving them a sense of purpose in their travels. “One of the biggest trends to come out of the pandemic is a shift towards kindness, ethics and wholesome living,” said Elizabeth B. Armstrong, President of Association & Society Management International. “Putting more emphasis on our obligations to the planet and society at large when we travel whether it is for business or leisure is a big part of that.”
Beyond sustainability, leisure travelers are becoming more interested in experiencing regenerative tourism, which is a type of tourism that aims to improve the environment and the local community by supporting sustainable practices, such as using renewable energy, conserving water and reducing waste. It also aims to provide economic benefits to the local community by supporting local businesses and hiring local workers. “The scale of the COVID-19 public health crisis was a sobering example of the urgent need for worldwide cooperation to find and advance solutions to our greatest global challenges, including the climate crisis,” said Ken Berlin, President and CEO of the Climate Reality Project.
A large majority of travelers want to stay in sustainable properties and, in response to this, hoteliers are focusing on offering more sustainable guest experiences. “Our guests want to protect the planet. So do we. As part of this commitment, we have partnered with the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) to establish a new globally recognized set of sustainability indicators, Hotel Sustainability Basics.” said Heather Nelson, head of Sales US International for Radisson Hotel Group. Hotel Sustainability Basics is driven by a global collection of hotel groups, associations and destinations, with a vision and commitment, to creating a more sustainable hotel industry.