As we are about to start a new decade, it´s a good time to analyze the trends that are shaping the evolution of the industry and will continue to do so in the coming years, as well as noticing some new trends that will soon start to influence the industry´s evolution and the way we travel. These are the following:
- Tourism activities concerning the environment
- Cash free travel
- Transformative tourism
- Travelling with pets
- Off-season travelling
- Undertourism: travelling to least popular destinations
- Personalized experiences
- Slow travel & local culture immersio
- New technologies streamlining the customer experience
- Digital nomads & combining business and leisure travel
These 10 trends will be explained in detail in a series of articles throughout the coming months.
- Tourism activities concerned about the environment
Concepts such as Ecotourism and Veganism exist since many years for the market segments that are the most conscious about the environmental challenges and related issues. However, this time, the concern about the environment is going mainstream and therefore far beyond these already traditional market segments. Tourists’ concern about the environment makes them consider their carbon footprint related to every tourism activity such as the accommodation, transport, dining and other activities, and so there are actually many trends shaping the industry as a result of the growing concern for climate change.
FOOD. Food preferences shift towards veganism, organic and ecologic food, up to the point that not only vegan menus are being offered in conventional restaurants but also vegan restaurants and hotels are popping up in many of the most popular urban destinations. Furthermore, vegan tours, retreats and cooking classes are also on the rise.
A survey carried out in the UK predicted that 25% of British citizens would become vegetarian or vegan by 2025, and the Vegan Society states that if the whole world went meat-free by 2050 it would save 8 million human lives and nearly 66% of the world’s greenhouse gases would be eliminated. Vegan hotels not only offer vegan food, but also have no wool, silk or feather duvets in their rooms.
Apart from vegan food, other healthy food options such as organic or ecologic food are also becoming popular. People are not only concerned about the environment but also about their health, and know that it is possible to enjoy good gastronomy and ensure beneficial nutrition at the same time.
ACCOMMODATION. Beyond food issues, accommodation choices are also affected by the concern for the environment. According to Booking.com, 73% of global travellers intend to stay at least once in an eco-friendly facility during 2020, and 70% say that they are more likely to book an accommodation facility with environmentally-friendly credentials. For instance, ABTA’s latest Holiday Habits survey reports that 50% of travellers say that eco-friendly credentials are important or essential when choosing a travel service, showing the highest concern ever.
Travellers are also concerned about other positive impacts of the tourism activity, like those related to the local economy, favouring businesses that bring employment and revenue to the local communities. Other impacts considered are those related to the plastic and waste reduction, as well as the use of recyclable goods and materials. Eco labels such as TRAVELIFE are becoming popular in the industry not only among operators but also among travellers when making their accommodation choices.
When it comes to booking accommodation there are some interesting initiatives such as the search engine Ecosia Travel, which uses profits to plant trees in order to balance the negative impact of the tourism activities with positive ones. There are also many brands and labels indicating that the travel partners are committed to ensuring sustainability. Carbon neutral holidays are increasingly available in a rising variety of options and destinations.
LOCALS, HERITAGE AND CULTURE. When analysing this megatrend, not only the natural environment and climate change are included within the main concerns. The locals’ economy and culture is also an issue. Responsible travellers do not want the tourism activity to change the way the locals live, but to help them live as they want and as they are accustomed, respecting their traditions and culture to the greatest extent. This is especially highlighted in the tours organized to visit First Nation communities, for example in Australia, when visiting the Aboriginal lands and its inhabitants.
The Himalayan country of Bhutan is probably the best benchmark when it comes to caring about both the environmental and socio-cultural impacts of the tourism activity in the destination. The local government has a “high value – low impact tourism policy” constraining tourism flows to a minimum that avoids spoiling the country’s cultural authenticity and yet generates very high revenues thanks to the daily visa fee policy.
Bhutan is actually the world’s only carbon-negative country and it will soon become the only fully organic country worldwide. The visitors are always accompanied by local guides explaining them the history, traditions and local way of life in order to make it a fully immersive experience like no other.
TRANSPORTATION. Needless to say, transportation is one of the worst contributors to the carbon footprint, and so the growing concern about climate change is generating very serious shifts both in the industry and the travellers’ choices. Recently in Sweden, activist Greta Thunberg has been championing the fashion of the “flight shame”, fostering the use of train instead of flying to reduce each traveller’s carbon footprint.
Many high-speed railway operators are experiencing significant demand increases, and are also expanding their offer and creating low-cost brands, such as the Spanish AVLO (low-cost high-speed train) to compete more fiercely with low-cost airlines. Other industry moves are those related to new technologies being developed to create electric-driven aircrafts, which are expected to be operating already in the next decade. The rise of electric bicycles, bikes and cars is also impacting the tourism industry, as these services are increasingly becoming the travellers’ first choices to rent at the destination.
Would you consider any other trend with regards to the concerns about the environment?