7 developments within the sustainable travel trend

The new year has just started, and new environmental and social developments within the tourism industry are in full swing. According to Tessa aan de Stegge (PurposeLab), 2019 is going to be the tipping year for sustainable and conscious travel. We have all been talking about it for years, but 2019 will finally be the year of implementation. Let’s hope she is right!

Personally, I couldn’t be happier for these developments as its again a step closer towards the ultimate goal: sustainability as the norm. But what do these sustainable developments entail exactly? Below I have listed 7 developments including short guidelines how you as tour operator can respond to them.

7 developments within the sustainable travel trend

1. Off the beaten track

Overtourism has become a serious concern for many destinations. Think Barcelona, Venice, beaches in Thailand and even the Chinese wall. No one wants to be an over-tourist, and more and more tourists are looking for hidden gems and destinations where they can experience and enjoy the local nature and culture without sharing it with too many others.

How to respond?

Start to think about hidden gems in your area, what would fit perfectly in a travel itinerary that is not included by everyone? Spread your tourists and give them a unique experience, while spreading social impact by including remote areas into tourism benefits.

2. Closer to home

While travellers are looking for hidden gems all around the world, they also started to find them close to home! Short weekend trips in their own country are trendy, think of staying in castles or a small B&B. Personal, authentic experiences to get away from their busy lives, just a few hours away from home. This is the new way to destress!

How to respond?

This trend is probably only relevant if your target group is also living in your destination, but for those who fit the description are in the rare position to promote a new type of experience with the purpose of de-stressing and low CO2 emissions!

3. Slow travel

Another way to destress is taking the time to truly experience a destination and not only quickly visiting its highlights. Travellers are taking their time to travel and stay longer in one place. They prefer to connect to a destination, its local communities and to take time to take it all in. Slow travel is being away for longer but travelling less and experiencing more. Thereby, the negative impact of the flights is reduced if they stay longer!

How to respond?

Create travel itineraries that do not only visit the highlights but let clients experience and connect to local life. Include public transport, have them stay in places longer and have them interact with locals to truly connect with them. Creating more positive than negative impact while travelling in a fine pace.

4. Alternative transport modes

Travellers and tour operators have not only noticed the high negative impact on the environment by taking (domestic) flights but also the downsides! Stressful days, long waits on airports, uncomfortable small airplanes and barely any entertainment. The alternative? Taking the (sleeper) bus or train! Comfortable, fast, affordable, a great possibility to interact with locals who are also travelling, and a great view.

How to respond?

Replace all domestic flights from your travel itineraries (where possible) for both long and short distance buses and trains. It’s important to communicate their pros well and make it an attractive alternative for travellers. Where possible, let the train be the main transport mode!

7 developments within the sustainable travel trend

5. More interaction with locals

Connected to off the beaten track and slow travel, travellers want a unique experience and they are looking for more interaction with locals. They are interested in their culture, their way of life. While looking for self-development, they are also longing to make a positive impact and to provide direct benefits for local communities. Win-win!

How to respond?

Include activities with locals such as a cooking or crafts classes, village walks with local guides and overnights in homestays. Make it easy for travellers to directly benefit local communities and to have an authentic experience at the same time.

6. Compensating flights

It is not a final solution, but when flights are compensated, positive impact is made elsewhere. Compensating flights does not lower the CO2 emissions but it does good for the world. The collected money is used for projects in developing countries such as cleaner cooking stoves in Ghana and large tree planting projects.

How to respond?

Give your clients the opportunity to compensate their flights (or even their whole itinerary) or do it for them. Communicate this well and provide a background story for the project you support to commit your travellers to creating positive impact.

7. Doing good while travelling

More and more travellers have discovered conscious travelling wherein they are determined to make a positive impact on the destination and to support locals and their environment during their holiday. Beach clean ups are organised all around the world with hundreds of participants. They also carry re-usable straws, bottles, bags and cutlery to bring down single-use plastic on the destination. This is hardcore leaving nothing but footprints!

How to respond?

Advise travellers on reducing single-use plastics and offer refill water stations so they can use their reusable bottle. Point them to beach clean-ups or organise one yourself. It is important to work together with local partners to achieve this!

Want to learn more?

Fair Sayari can help you address these sustainable travel trends and develop a personal approach to respond to them.

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