Report: Big Changes Looming For Travel, Tourism Category

TBWA’s cultural intelligence unit Backslash is out with a new report that details looming changes in the travel and tourism category and how brands may need to pivot to exploit new opportunities that the shifts are fostering.

As you would imagine, COVID has been one factor driving change. Also, more people are becoming woke to the harmful effects that previously unlimited travel has had on the environment and on many popular destinations.

“Incessant travel has taken a catastrophic toll on our planet, and a tendency to prioritize tourism dollars over residents’ well-being has destroyed the cultural fabric of our most cherished destinations,” the report states.

The report touches on “anchorless living” and the mainstreaming of the digital nomad lifestyle thanks to work-from-home models set during the pandemic. That, in turn, has triggered more travel from remote work locales. A study earlier this year found that more than half of Americans had already taken a trip, or were planning to, as a result of working remotely.



The hotel business is being transformed as many have begun to focus on subscriptions versus nightly rates.

The insurance business also stands to gain from the shifts. A recent survey found 70% of Europeans and 64% of Americans indicated they would be more likely to purchase travel insurance as a result of the pandemic.

According to the report, wellness-related travel “has officially taken over” the category. The global wellness tourism market reached $735.8 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at an annual clip of 6.6% to reach $1.2 trillion by 2027. And nearly half (47%) of those polled in a survey indicate wellness and mental health as a top motivator for traveling in 2021.

The report predicts an increase in “responsible restrictions” that will help preserve more popular destinations. “Trips personally planned by locals will distribute visitors more evenly. And a nomadic new business class will stay longer, marking the end of disposable turnaround trips.”

Also, off-grid destinations are gaining in popularity, especially among those who have already done grand tours of Europe and Asia multiple times. The report points to Antarctica’s tourism boom. Over 56,000 tourists visited Antarctica during the 2018-2019 season, and the figure for the 2020-2021 season is expected to surpass 78,500 — more than double the total from a decade ago.

“So if even Antarctic travel is edging toward the mainstream, what’s next?” the report asks. It partially answers the question, noting the fledgling space ventures being developed by Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, and others.

The full report can be accessed here.

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