Travel trends, like most other trends, come and go. However, now that COVID restrictions have eased, people are satisfying their wanderlust a little bit differently than pre-pandemic. SafetravelRX, an app designed to keep you safe and healthy while you travel, explores some of the Ins and Outs of travel trends for 2023.
1. Revenge Travel
No, this is not about traveling to make your significant other jealous. This is about people wanting to make up for lost time while locked down during the pandemic. It's a mentality of living for the here and now and not waiting any longer to book that trip you have always dreamed about taking.
2. Smaller Cruise Ships
Whether cruising along the Seine sampling French cuisine and wine along the way or exploring quaint towns along the Mississippi river, smaller cruise ships are becoming increasingly popular.
In addition, many hotel brands, such as The Ritz Carlton, are launching their own versions of luxury yachts. Their audience comprises discerning travelers who want smaller, more intimate venues where they can really explore the places they visit while also being pampered with five-star food and wine.
3. Sustainable Travel
In a 2022 study from Expedia, 90% of respondents in 11 global markets said they look for sustainable options when traveling. While U.S. airlines are pledging to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, other airlines are fulfilling that promise today. Flying Green is a French airline aiming to be the first zero net emissions airline in the sky, scheduled to launch sometime in 2023.
Hotels are committing to sustainability by eliminating single-use plastics, and reducing water usage and landfill waste. And carbon-neutral hotels are under construction worldwide, including a Populus property in Colorado that claims it will be the first carbon-positive hotel in the U.S. to open in 2023. For travelers, there will be more sustainable options than ever before, so they can travel without guilt.
4. Bleisure Travel
While predictions indicate that business travel may not fully return to normality until 2026, remote work continues to increase. And that gives the average person the flexibility of working from more exotic locations than their home office. Combining business with leisure travel even has its own name called, Bleisure. Many countries embrace digital nomads, with Spain and Malta, among others creating digital nomad visa programs. Hotels are also looking at this as an opportunity to make it easier to work remotely by increasing technology offerings and co-working spaces. Airbnb has also advised their hosts on the importance of providing high-speed Wi-Fi and dedicated workspaces.
5. Experiential Trips
More and more tourists are looking for authentic cultural experiences. And Indigenous communities globally are recognizing this as an opportunity to provide their own travel offerings. Guests can stay with resident hosts, take guided tours conducted by locals, and experience native cuisine. This ensures that tourism dollars provide a sustainable income for the local community and allows travelers genuine interactions rather than staged performances.
Countries and cities globally are witnessing the negative impact of too many tourists. Increased congestion, pollution, water shortages, monument degradation, and locals' frustrations are all increasing demands for action. The residents of Hawaii actually went on social media begging tourists not to come, and one mayor on Maui asked airlines to reduce the number of flights from the U.S.
Cities like Venice have taken it one step further by requiring tourists to book ahead online and pay a tourist fee to enter. Other cities are decreasing congestion by closing off large areas of the center to traffic and allowing pedestrians only. And for many years, Bhutan has guarded against over-tourism by limiting the number of travelers that can enter the country, charging a daily tax of $200 to $250 per day, and requiring all visitors to book an arranged tour and be accompanied by a guide at all times. Tourists are also starting to get the message by self-selecting less well-known locations.
2. City-Size Cruise Ships
While demand for larger cruise ships is still high, travelers are starting to gravitate to more bespoke trips with smaller vessels, allowing for more cultural immersion and less crowded destinations. More travelers also recognize the environmental effects of large cruise ships. According to The Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the average cruise ship with 3,000 passengers generates 1 million gallons of "gray water," 210,000 gallons of sewage, 25,000 gallons of oily bilge water, 100 plus gallons of hazardous or toxic waste weekly, and can severely damage surrounding ecosystems. As a result, popular destinations like Mallorca are starting to limit the number of cruise ship arrivals per day. "A very positive trend we've seen throughout the pandemic is that travelers are increasingly eco-conscious, meaning they do their homework on brands, including cruise ships, to make sure they align with their values," said Daniel Skjeldam, the chief executive of Hurtigruten Group.
3. Generic Resorts
As travelers increasingly focus on authentic experiences, they are looking for hotels that will cater to that. Even global chains must start thinking about each property as distinctive in terms of reflecting the destination in their design choices, services, food offerings, and overall atmosphere. While the brand may remain consistent, the physical hotel must be localized to reflect its surroundings. That's why many sophisticated travelers seek our more boutique properties. Hotels, regardless of size, must also collaborate with surrounding communities and businesses to provide an immersive experience for guests and take advantage of local knowledge.
4. The Off Season
There used to be a traditional off-season for most destinations, and off-peak usually meant lower prices and fewer people. However, that's changing as pent-up demand means more people are hitting the road all year. In addition, with more remote workers, i.e., digital nomads, they are not limited to traveling only during certain holidays or times of the year. And with so many people taking trips in the off-season, finding those "quieter" times of the year or cheaper options may be more challenging.
5. Economy Travel
With inflation, fuel costs, and increased demand combined with labor shortages, there are not a lot of travel bargains to be had these days. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t travel unless you camp out or stay in a youth hostel. There are still destinations that are relatively inexpensive once you get there, such as certain parts of Asia and South America. Travelers are also using more points for hotels and airfare. Although that’s not always easy, there are resources like The Points Guy that can help you learn how to take advantage of rewards programs. That said, even with higher costs, one travel trend that seems here to stay is that global tourism is increasing and is predicted to rise by 30% in 2023!
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