22 November 2023
Travelling matters to people. You need only visit Paris in summer, take a selfie at the Great Wall of China, or scour a beach in Barcelona for an empty spot to know that the concept of tourism is changing.
Travelling matters to people. You need only visit Paris in summer, take a selfie at the Great Wall of China, or scour a beach in Barcelona for an empty spot to know that the concept of tourism is changing. From being something luxurious that one would do once a year at most, it has become a lifestyle choice, almost a basic human right. 50% of millennials state they would prefer to spend their money on travelling rather than on a mortgage or a car.
International travel has become a rite of passage, especially for younger generations. Cheap flights and chain hostels are a quick ticket to transformative wanderlust. Well that’s the myth, anyway.
By some measurements, tourism is the world’s largest industry – even bigger than oil and gas. In 2019, airports reported 1.4 billion international tourist arrivals globally and the rate of international travel is growing by 3-4% each year.
But as tourism explodes, locals and tourists are kicking against the status quo. Anti-tourism campaigns have surfaced across the world, especially in Europe and Asia. Demonstrations have broken out in Venice and Barcelona against the ‘tourist takeover’ and Amsterdam had to ban souvenir shops. In the Philippines, Boracay was closed to tourists because of environmental degradation.
From contributing to pollution to making real estate unaffordable to locals, mismanaged mass tourism causes harm to locals and may dilute the very culture that makes a destination famous in the first place.
Young travellers now look for experiences that are more authentic and more responsible. They don’t want to share a dorm with a stag-do in Amsterdam. They’re done with tiptoeing through the trash on a crowded beach in South-East Asia. 87% of tourists now want to travel sustainably, and recent studies have shown millennials travel mainly to experience a new culture, with the cuisine being an important element to that goal. This is something most people would agree with if you asked them – no one finds hordes of other tourists delightful and may only choose a crowded destination due to a lack of practical alternatives. However, 67% of travellers are also willing to spend up to 32% more to travel responsibly.
This is good news for the companies that recognise this growing demand and are willing to create those experiences in unconventional parts of the world which are just as beautiful, albeit less overrun than their famous counterparts.
It’s the age of mass tourism, but that doesn’t mean every traveller wants to be a part of it.