Slow travel with immersion in the local culture
Along with personalization comes slow & immersive travel, in contrast with the traditional and rather fast paced tours with very limited time to enjoy every site and relax. This trend applies specially to all those over 50s. This trend puts emphasis on cultural immersion beyond sightseeing, making connections with locals, their festivals, traditions and way of life. Needless to mention, local gastronomy is a key element of slow & immersive tourism, not only to taste but also to learn.
In synthesis, this consists of doing what locals do, going where locals go, eating where the locals eat, and building relationships with them as well, beyond the client-supplier relationship. This is why collaborative platforms such as Couchsurfing, Airbnb experience, etc. are being so successful: tourists want to enjoy a social experience living the locals’ way of life and making friends. Many tour-operators are actually integrating these types of experiences in their packages, searching for local collaborators offering special experiences off the beaten track for a small group. Travellers want to experience the destination like locals do.
For these kinds of tourists, travelling is more about enjoying the destination beyond the “must do’s” and less about visiting as many sites as possible. According to booking.com, in 2020, 48% of travellers plan to take slower modes of transport to reduce environmental impacts and 61% prefer to take a longer route to enjoy the journey at a slow pace. Many actually like the feeling of travel as it used to be in the old times. Long train journeys are a good example of this.
Beyond traditional sightseeing and visiting of sites, experiences such as cooking courses, art courses, participation in festivals, volunteering for cultural purposes, etc. are gaining appeal. Eating in clandestine restaurants in family homes is also another kind of activity increasing in popularity.
Slow & immersive travel usually supports more local businesses and community projects, and also reduces the carbon footprint of the journey.
Tourism 3.0 is clearly in line with this new trend, so long as it empowers locals to participate in the tourism business and contribute to the visitors’ immersive experience.