Research from World Travel Market London 2023, the world’s most influential travel & tourism event, has revealed that more holidaymakers are abandoning their sun loungers in favor of nature, foodie, and wellness experiences.
The report, unveiled at WTM London on 6 November, cites social listening data curated by tourism intelligence specialist Mabrian in 2023.
This “revealed that experiential activities such as wellness, nature, and food tourism increased by over 10% compared with 2019”.
“Meanwhile, traditional activities such as sunbathing were less important in travellers’ motivations compared with 2019,” says the report.
It also notes how people “crave more opportunities to reconnect” in an increasingly digital world, with more meaningful in-person experiences “fast becoming the raison d’etre for travel”.
Furthermore, climate change looks set to play a bigger role in consumers’ choice of holiday destinations and timings.
“This is already influencing travel patterns after successive hot European summers,” according to the report.
“In 2023, data from the European Travel Commission found that the popularity of Mediterranean destinations dropped by 10% compared with 2022, which was influenced at least in part by perceptions of weather.”
The climate crisis has other influences over consumer trends and government policies, says the report.
“This could mean fewer but potentially longer long-haul trips, and more local, short-haul trips,” it adds, noting a growing demand for volunteering and interacting with local communities.
“Slow travel, which involves undertaking longer but potentially fewer trips, may also become an increasingly popular trend.”
Meanwhile, many destinations have been grappling with the problems of overtourism, such as Thailand which had closed Maya Beach as thousands were lured there after it featured in The Beach.
And next year, Venice will trial a new tax on day visitors, who have a significant impact on the city’s infrastructure.
Elsewhere, outbound markets in emerging economies are continuing to grow, including China, India and Indonesia.
As these countries become more affluent, more people can afford leisure travel, prompting new trends with different demographics and cultural preferences.
“The ‘travelling class’ in China is expected to nearly double over the next 10 years,” says the report.
“However, this represents only a very small portion of Chinese citizens (2.3%) which highlights huge potential for future growth. Similar growth opportunities exist also within India and Indonesia, to name just a few.”
It also highlights how older people in China will become more affluent over time, which could mean more demand for holidays such as cruises.
Furthermore, the report notes a resurgence in the demand for travel agents as consumers seek help to make the most of their time on holiday.
Juliette Losardo, Exhibition Director at WTM London, said: