It’s been a bumpy ride for travel and tourism over the past four years. The sector initially faced a near standstill, grappling with lockdowns and travel restrictions across the globe. As borders reopened, the ensuing staff shortages seriously impacted airlines and the hospitality industry. Throw in a cost of living crisis, and it’s been a complex scenario.
However, in 2023, the industry bounced back and trends looked more positive, with global tourism close to 90% of pre-pandemic levels. Today, all the signs point towards further growth.
We explore four trends shaping global travel and tourism in 2024.
The rising awareness of environmental issues has significantly influenced travel choices. A striking 87% of travellers now express a desire to travel more sustainably, as reported by Booking.com.
This shift is not just a passing trend; it’s a response to the pressing issue of climate change. The industry is responding with an increase in eco-friendly accommodations, carbon offsetting options, and experiences that promote conservation and local communities.
Travellers are becoming more conscious of their carbon footprint, seeking out destinations and travel methods that align with their environmental values. This has permeated across the travel sector, from the upturn in domestic tourism in many countries to the proliferation of private jet companies offering carbon offsetting services.
Technology and Personalisation in Travel
The digital transformation in the travel industry is not just about convenience; it’s about personalisation. In 2024, technology is playing a pivotal role in tailoring travel experiences to individual preferences. From AI-driven recommendations for destinations and activities to VR previews of hotels and locations, technology is enhancing the planning phase of travel.
Moreover, the use of big data analytics in the travel sector is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Travel companies are utilising data to understand traveller behaviours and preferences, enabling them to offer more targeted and relevant services. This personalisation extends to on-trip experiences as well, with hotels and tour operators using technology to provide guests with customised recommendations for local experiences, dining, and entertainment based on their interests.
Shifting Priorities of Gen Z and Millennials
Generation Z, the cohort born between the late 1990s and early 2010s, is reshaping the travel industry with its unique preferences and habits.
According to Morning Consult Pro, 52% of Gen Z adults are considered frequent travellers, embarking on at least three leisure trips in the past year. This generation prioritises experiences over material possessions, with American Express reporting that 79% of Gen Z see leisure travel as a budget priority and 84% stating that they would rather take a vacation than purchase a luxury item.
In addition, the explosion in those choosing to live a “digital nomad lifestyle” blending travel with work is also having a positive impact on travel and tourism. 37% of digital nomads are classed as millennials, while 21% are Gen Z.
Today’s travellers are seeking more than just a holiday; they’re looking for authentic experiences that offer a deeper connection to the places they visit. Travellers are keen to immerse themselves in local cultures, traditions, and lifestyles, moving away from the generic tourist traps.
Travellers are increasingly interested in activities like local cooking classes, homestays, and off-the-beaten-path adventures. This desire for authenticity enriches travel experiences and positively impacts local economies and communities.
As we step into 2024, one thing is clear: many of today’s travellers seek more than just a destination. They are instead looking for experiences that are tailored to their needs. The industry’s response to these evolving preferences will not only shape the travel experiences and tourism trends of tomorrow but also positively impact the global economy and the environment.
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