In an uncertain world, one industry that continues to grow steadily is travel and tourism. Indeed, in the decade between 2007 and 2017, its value to the global economy rose from six to eight trillion US dollars. Yes, that’s trillion. As in, a thousand billion. It seems whatever happens in our own countries, the urge to see other landscapes, attractions and cultures remain undiminished. But what does the future hold? Here we take a look at some trends that seem likely to impact on how that money is spent in 2019 – and beyond.
As global warming continues to dominate the headlines, many travellers are starting to take their carbon footprint seriously, and the younger generations especially – millennials and generation Z – are increasingly willing to pay for ways to offset their holidays. For example, people said they’d be willing to spend sometime clearing plastic litter – unpaid – from a beach or some other beauty spot.
Meanwhile, hotels are likewise realising they can attract such conscientious guests by acting to reduce their own waste. The huge Marriott International chain has already committed to cutting food waste by 50% over the next five years, and others will surely follow.
And it’s not just environmental factors that are influencing the choice of holiday destinations – almost 50% of the travellers surveyed said they considered a region’s commitment to human rights, equality and fair working conditions when deciding whether to spend their money there.
One of the surprise TV hits of 2018, Netflix’s Dark Tourist, explored the growing popularity of pilgrimages to places made infamous by human tragedy or natural disaster.
While sites of centuries-old bloody battles have been part of the heritage industry for decades, the shift highlighted by the programme was how people are increasingly visiting the locations of much more recent trouble. In fact, in some of these areas – such as Chernobyl or Fukushima – the perceived continued danger to visitors is part of the appeal.
The huge demand for true crime media has also led to an abundance of tours serving those who’ve become fascinated by particular killers and the neighbourhoods where they acted.
Finally – and, thankfully, a little less dark – there is also a growing interest in visiting the modern ruins of ghost towns, though these must be supervised by guides since the structures are often unsound.
Like all areas of modern life, technology continues to change how the tourists of today interact with the industry – in some ways, radically.
For starters, the days when a travel agent might be a holidaymaker’s main source of information are long gone. Although there is still respect for specialist agencies offering very specific (or very new) experiences, most travellers will research their destination long before booking tickets.
And, in terms of convenience, there are now apps that allow your smartphone to become your hotel door key or to track your luggage in real-time.
Looking ahead a little, many surveyed said they’d welcome being able to interact with an artificial intelligence bot who could translate their language to staff or locals – and would be happy to ride in self-driving vehicles to and around their destination.
But, for all the uses of technology, there’s also an equal and opposite reaction – those who increasingly want to holiday off grid. Recently there’s been a drive to unplug, to switch off notifications, and to take it slow.
Instead of planning a busy itinerary with a short exposure to a lot of attractions (and plenty of travel to get between them), many are preferring to really immerse themselves in a smaller space. The rise of homestays certainly feeds this trend toward a home away from home, allowing more focus on independence and relaxation.
While it’s commonly seen for budget airlines that passengers will bring less and less luggage to avoid fees, one trend that’s growing bigger would just be less luggage entirely. Having too much luggage can make you feel strapped down anyways. So, you could either carry around less luggage, or you could opt for something such as luggage storage instead. In general, there is a growing trend of packing less for trips, and it certainly seems like this trend will keep coming back.
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