Post covid-19, the most concern of tourists is health and hygiene. Travel behavior has changed. New travel trends are forecast to shape tourism 2021 and further.

The pandemic and climate emergencies have raised many discussions about the impact of mass tourism. This motivates tourists as well as businesses and destination management organizations to pay more attention to sustainable tourism. In 2021, the priority for most visitors will be to experience, change living spaces, and spend time with family and friends. This requires businesses to change products, ensure strict hygiene measures and meet flexible booking requirements.

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1. Wilderness tourism

After months of cabin fever, there is a universal hunger for wide-open spaces. In the US, for example, state and national parks have experienced huge influxes of visitors post-lockdown, and the trend is set to continue in 2021 and beyond as time spent in the wilderness is felt to be an antidote to modern urban life. With ever-greater numbers of tourists, the number one priority of destination management organizations will be to preserve wilderness locations, imposing immediate caps on visitors if necessary. 

Re-connecting with the natural world is becoming increasingly important in the future. Up until now, most people plan holidays around what they do in the daytime but as the call of the wild becomes more pronounced, post-dusk experiences such as campfires, starlight cinemas, astronomy classes and sleeping under the heavens will become more popular. 

2. Eco tourism

According to the International Ecotourism Society, ecotourism is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people and involves education”. It takes many forms, and has been a type of travel that has grown in popularity over the past decade. In the wake of the pandemic, people will be thinking far more carefully about the way they travel, and seeking out hotels and companies that are doing everything they can to minimise their impact on the planet. 

Social distancing because of the pandemic shows a chance to start afresh and do things better in the years ahead. Cultivacations” (a portmanteau of “cultivation” and “vacations”) is one kind of eco-tourism that took off in the age of Covid-19. Places that are manifesting this trend include Hoshino Resorts’ Risonare Nasu in Japan, which opened in 2019 is a working organic farm; and the Newt in Somerset (UK), which is a country house hotel that has incredible gardens. The Torgglerhof Apple Hotel Italy, meanwhile, is a high-end, farmcam hotel that gets people fruit picking and riding around in tractors. 

3. Nomadic tourism

The point-to-point holiday, whereby travellers fly to a single location and then return home, will be rivalled by an emerging trend for trips that take in multiple domestic locations, occur at a slower pace, and are as much about the journey as the ultimate destination. Connected to the trend for digital nomadism that sees people able to work from anywhere,and allowing holidays to last longer. In the future, being “on the go” will be a far more common state, be it among untethered Gen Z singletons, millennial professionals who can earn a living from a laptop or free-from-responsibility retirees. Nomadic tourism has a lot of room to grow when “workations” will be a buzzword in 2021 as a consequence of Covid19 border restrictions.

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4. Wellness tourism

Travel has, for centuries, been seen as a gateway for personal betterment – from accessing European “cure towns” to signing up for yoga retreats in India. In the viral age, the quest for improved health and immunity will be a powerful motivation for tourists globally. According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness tourism will be worth US$919 billion by 2022, representing 18% of all tourism globally. Longevity Retreats is a facet of wellness tourism. The world’s “Blue Zones” (found in Greece, Sardinia, California, Costa Rica and Japan) are places that have been identified by experts as places where people live the longest. In the future, these will become hotbeds for longevity tourism. On the Japanese island of Okinawa, for example, the Halekulani hotel has already been offering “Secrets of Longevity” retreats, while in Puglia, Italy (not far from Sardinia), luxury hotel Borgo Egnazia is selling Blue Zone-inspired “Longevity Programmes”.

5. Authentic tourism

In the Instagram age, authenticity has become an ideal to be aspired to, particularly when so many aspects of Western people’s lives are curated and seemingly flawless online. When it comes to travel, visitors want to immerse themselves in destinations and experience something “real”. Engaging with local communities in a safe and respectful way will be an important aspect, with tourists keen to learn and form human connections. By creating opportunities for outsiders to have direct contact with local communities (when it is safe to do so, post-pandemic), a mutually beneficial ecosystem will be created. For many travellers, staying in a hotel or resort means being isolated, but as the overarching trend for Authentic tourism continues to gain traction, so too will the sub-trend for “Community Immersion”. Airbnb does a great job of helping people “live like a local” (its Experiences and Adventures platforms are great add-ons to the home -let element) but this is just the beginning. In 2021 and beyond, spending time with economically marginalised residents (sometimes staying with families themselves) will build and revitalise human connections and direct funds straight into the pockets of those who need it most.

6. Mindful tourism

Mindful tourism is about forging deeper connections with the places people visit and travelling with an attitude of “less is more”, eschewing itineraries packed with “the highlights”. “Mindful travel” is a term that has been popping up in magazines and on social media for a few years (on Instagram there are almost 60,000 posts with the #mindfultravel hashtag). Mindful travel has never taken on such resonance as during the pandemic when people truly gained an appreciation for the damage that “over tourism” has had on the environment, historic cities and protected sites.

To catch the trend, tourism business also provided new products that offer visitors to stay for a long time. Ethos Remote Habitat debuted in autumn 2020, with events, fitness classes, co-working facilities, accommodation, “family” dinners and wifi included. The idea is that individuals and companies can relocate to an exotic remote work campus for between one and six months, with rates starting from US$1,450/€1,223 a week. Janko Milunovic, CEO and co-founder of Ethos Remote Habitat, says: “Unlike just renting your own Airbnb or staying in a hotel, with us, you get to live in a community alongside inspiring individuals and revitalise your mind and body through nourishing and organic food, transformational workshops, group activities and learning immersions.”

View more about Globetrender 2021 travel trend report here.

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