Transformative tourism

The transformative travel concept is totally aligned with the life-changing experience concept explained in many articles and White Papers of this blog. It is essentially about living experiences that create positive impacts for the destination but also and mostly for the travelers themselves, as a sort of self-development experience. Making a difference through some kind of volunteering or contribution is itself quite satisfying, but transformative travel goes beyond with the purpose that destination experiences create positive changes in the travelers too. Some examples are yoga retreats, spiritual retreats, voluntourism or community work trips. A more traditional approach to transformative travel are pilgrimages, which nowadays are reviving as tourist hiking routes that attract both religious and non-religious visitors.

Transformative travel usually includes some components such as interaction with locals, developing new skills or contributing somehow to the destination with their talent, knowledge, effort or at least choice of purchase. According to the Tour-operator Perfect Stays, more than 50% look for an experience that is not only memorable but also changes them positively on a personal level. Providing tourists with the chance to carry out creative volunteering activities that are appealing both to their human spirit and stimulating to their mind is a smart move. Actually, voluntourism is one of the fastest growing market niches, which will continue to expand in 2020. The idea of empowering tourists to co-create life-changing experiences and contribute to the open innovation system explained in the presentation of the Vision of Tourism 3.0 is perfectly aligned with this approach.

Beyond entertainment and fun, what really makes the difference and marks the experience are the emotions felt and the spiritual fulfillment, which is possible only through contribution to the greater good. This is an experience that rather few people have had, and so it should be presented in the shape of a stimulating challenge and experience, not just hard work. It is also essential to report participants about the results of their contribution, to let them know how useful their effort has been, as their positive footprint is what brings fulfillment and what makes it likely to engage them again.

Related to this are the so called “upskilling escapes” consisting of holidays facilitating the development of new skills, which are expected to take off this 2020. Most of these new skills development are related to the arts and culture of the destination, such as cooking courses, dance, arts & crafts, etc. but many others may well become the starting point for a new career, as the overstress created by many conventional jobs along with the uncertainty about the future of these careers motivates many people to jumpstart a new career that really fulfills them and lets them live a life that is not only meaningful but also more livable. This may take the shape of meditation or yoga courses, as well as alternative therapies, a vast and emerging field that has its origins in developing countries in many cases.

Sources:,, Perfect Stays, Globetrender

Posted by Jordi Pera

Jordi Pera is an economist passionate about tourism, strategy, marketing, sustainability, business modelling and open innovation. He has international experience in marketing, intelligence research, strategy planning, business model innovation and lecturing, having developed most of his career in the tourism industry. Jordi is keen on tackling innovation and strategy challenges that require imagination, entail thoughtful analysis and are to be solved with creative solutions.

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