More thought going into travel destinations
The more congested it is, the less appealing it becomes
HOLIDAY hot lists have landed and unpredictable exchange rates and economic challenges notwithstanding, global leisure travel is looking bullish and set to generate close to $1.40 billion (R1 trillion) in 2018.
As reputable surveys flood the internet space, numerous consumer buying similarities have been identified with seamless mobile optimisation, influencer-based decision-making, cruising, personalisation, skip-generational travel, chatbots, women travelling solo and “bleisure” (business combined with leisure) being just a few of the front runner trends.
However, as global warming, habitat loss and the planet’s plastic pollution crisis move centre stage through earth advocates like Lewis Pugh, travellers are planning their getaways more consciously and the overarching theme of Responsible Tourism is on the rise. Environmental degradation is a direct threat to the livelihood of many and the conservation cry to preserve fauna and flora and to respect people has spiked an interest in “voluntourism” charity projects and “last chance tourism” bookings to places like the Arctic and the Maldives and regions that may not be recognisable or accessible in the not-too-distant future. Ethical travellers are shunning animal exploitation for entertainment and adopting a “leave no trace” policy through concerted efforts to lower their carbon footprints.
Travel agencies, practitioners, hospitality brands, tour operators and destination marketers across the world, now under more scrutiny than ever before, are streamlining their offerings to meet the shift towards sustainable travel.
“These types of travellers are 38 to 57% more likely to book travel with brands based on their sustainable practices,” says Danica Helfrich of Big Ambitions SA. Travellers (70%) begin by doing their research and reservations on mobile devices on the move and are also engaging with progressive travel practitioners to further fine-tune their journeys and curate bespoke experiences that take them off the typical tourist beat.
“Overtourism” is causing stress among the citizenry of cities like Venice, which recently banned behemoth ocean liners from entering waterways close to its historical centre, and Barcelona, bombarded by 32 million tourists last year alone, has become blatantly tourist-phobic.
It seems the more popular a place and the more congested it is, the less appealing it becomes. Slow, calm travel, like barging lethargically through the French countryside or drifting down the canals of Amsterdam are frequently optioned above frenetic tour itineraries. Serious travellers these days, averse to mass tourism, prefer to immerse themselves in the “5 C’s” – culture, cuisine, community, content and customisation – according to the experts.
Hotels, hostels and B&B’s are stepping up to meet green traveller expectations as well. Every hotel enterprise in Seychelles integrates sustainability practices in their business operations, and luxury brands like Anantara, represented in 13 countries, has initiated several upliftment and eco projects such as mangrove regeneration and street elephant rescues in Thailand.
As for top destinations on the radar this year? Sights are set on Malta, Montenegro, Argentina, Nepal, Sweden and New Zealand, among others, with Turkey bouncing back after a challenging few years. In Africa and alongside, Kenya, Botswana, Zanzibar, Mauritius and Reunion are prime.
It is anticipated that South Africa will draw close to 15 million tourists to its shores and to the Mother City, Cape Town, one of the most desirable and biodiverse cities in the world.
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on your surroundings. You have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make,” said Dr Jane Goodall.
Let’s not love our destinations to death.
ANIMALS: The writer Allison Foat walking with elephants at the Elephant Nature Park sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Thailand – an ethical alternative to riding these gentle creatures.