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  • Writer's pictureFilippo Milano


Updated: Feb 1

Four consumer trends that will shape the future of the travel market over the next decade.

1. Unconventional Tourism

Travellers are bored of the status quo. They are now seeking out lesser-known, offbeat destinations away from typical tourist paths.

2. Responsible Tourism

Responsible tourism taps into the desire to minimise the impact on the environment whilst positively contributing to the destination.

3. Inclusive Tourism

Society is becoming more diverse and consumers are now expecting brands to cater for their specific requirements or preferences.

4. Wellness Tourism

Consumers are increasingly health conscious with many looking out for travel services that improve their wellbeing.



Whether it be visiting lesser-known destinations or taking part in unconventional activities, holidaymakers are seeking out experiences that are different to the norm.

Offbeat destinations are in demand, 40% of UK adults are more interested in visiting less well-known cities abroad than major cities, 47% of US travellers try to vacation in places off the beaten path and 57% of US parents want to take their kids to less touristy destinations.

European river cruise itineraries typically visit several countries on one trip, enabling passengers to experience a variety of cities, people and cultures.

Luxury means uniqueness

57% of US adults look for “uniqueness” in a luxury trip experience, 43% look for “exclusivity” and 35% of UK luxury travellers associated luxury holiday with exclusivity in 2019, up from 28% in 2017.

For example, in Kruger, South Africa, customers are invited to pay an additional fee to stay in a tree house overnight.

Eat like the locals

44% of UK holidaymakers say the local food and drink often impacts their choice of overseas holiday destination.

In the next 5 years we must be focus in:

  • Interest in 'secret', 'hidden' and 'unknown' destinations/experiences will surge.

  • More consumers will take a 'special interest' holiday (eg wildlife watching/gastronomy).

  • Food and drink tourism to move further in to focus as destinations and providers look to encourage regional/seasonal spread.

By 2030:

  • Major cities and tourist landmarks will respond by offering more 'intimate' experiences.

  • Big hotel chains to offer a more 'local' experience, through championing local food, suppliers and people.

  • Aggregators to allow users to view reviews based on reviewers' personal motivations (eg to learn, to de-stress).

Unconventional: Strategies to thrive in 2030

Promote authenticity

Enable travellers to connect with a destination and learn more about it by offering local experiences led by a local guide.

Dare to be different

Alongside the well-known, promote lesser-known destinations and unusual holiday accommodation and experiences.

Listen to consumers' motivations

Integrate flexible search technology to find out what travellers are looking to experience/get out of their holiday before suggesting destinations.



Consumers, activist groups and the government will exert greater pressure on travel companies to take actions:

  • Reducing carbon emissions

  • Reducing food waste

  • Sustainable energy/water use in accommodation

  • Recycling waste

  • Helping to reduce poverty in poorer destinations

  • Tackling over-crowding in popular destinations

  • Providing sustainable food

  • Animal welfare issues

  • Banning single-use plastics

Almost three quarters of UK holidaymakers would like to do more, supporting the local economy and staying in eco-friendly accommodation top the list

  • Eat in a locally-run restaurant 52%

  • Stay in a locally-run hotel 37%

  • Stay in ecofriendly accomodation 35%

By 2030:

  • More travel brands provide ratings, labels or adding environmentally friendly search criteria to make it easier for travellers to make greener choices.

  • Rising launches of small electric planes for short distances.

  • Airlines face fiercer competition from (international) train operators.

  • Sharing economy services continue to evolve, moving beyond economic benefits to the environmental and social benefits.

  • Eco-hotels have become the norm.

Responsible Tourism: Strategies to thrive in 2030


Know what you stand for, have clear ambitions and emphasise what measures have been/will be taken on ethical issues.

Make a difference

Companies that inspire and provide opportunities for travellers to make a positive impact on


Long-term perspective

Companies investing in long-term sustainable development rather than short term profit.



Serving the underserved

There are many groups that hold specific requirements, but these three represent significant opportunities for travel brands.

An ageing population

The number of people aged 55+ in the UK is expected to reach 26.2 million by 2041, up from 19.4 million in 2016.

This represents growth of 35%, compared to a projected rise of just 1% over this period for under-55s.

The market for solo holidays is growing

17% of UK adults took a holiday on their own in the five years to July 2018, up from 15% in the five years to July 2017.

+88% increase in bookings made by solo female travellers between 2015-19 (Hostelworld).

10.7 million one-person households in the UK by 2039, up 39% on 2017.

For instance, Virgin Holidays launches divorce holidays, there are over 100,000 divorces each year in the UK alone, and the number of over-50s getting divorced has increased significantly over the last decade.

Virgin Holidays is looking to help consumers manage the pain of divorce by offering unique Las Vegas breaks to help ease them in to the next chapter in their lives. These holidays include personal styling sessions and shopping sprees.

Inclusivity: Strategies to thrive in 2030

Celebrate diversity

Ensure that products and services, tone of voice and marketing images reflect a diverse society.

Combat loneliness

Use online channels to connect 'solo silver surfers' with shared travel interests and create bespoke trips.

Have no limits

Consider ways to be even more accessible to those with specific requirements.



This creates opportunities for services that improve travellers' mental and physical health.

Stress is becoming a more recognised health concern, 86% of UK adults experienced stress in the past year, rising to 92% among 25-34-year-olds, 55% of UK adults are actively seeking ways to reduce stress, rising to 68% among those aged 16-34, 38% of US adults rank getting enough sleep as a top three thing they do to stay healthy.

There is a strong desire to escape the 'always on' society:

  • 81% of US consumers agree that it is important to occasionally disconnect from technology.

  • 21% of US adults say they use four or more social media sites or apps on a daily basis.

  • 53% of 16-34 year olds in the UK are actively seeking ways to disconnect from their smartphone throughout the day.

Return to nature will be a growing wellness theme

De-stress and reconnecting with the real world will be key motivations. Clean air will become more sought after in an increasingly over-populated and over-polluted world.

In the next 5 years:

  • More brands will integrate activities that improve wellbeing (eg yoga, mindfullness) in itineraries.

  • More services will be introduced to enable stress-free travel and enable a good night sleep.

  • More travel brands will tap in to consumers’ five senses in order to positively influence their mood. This will involve use of music/sounds, colours/lighting, scents, as well offering food with health benefits.

  • The interest in vegan food will continue to grow.

By 2030:

  • Most travel brands will have a dedicated section on their website to showcase wellness breaks.

  • There will be more wellness specialist brands in the market.

  • Consumers will be able to collect and share their own health data (eg wearable devices, diet records) to get personal wellness travel advice.

  • The desire to connect with the nature/the real world will peak.

  • Places that intentionally do not offer WiFi have become more common.

Brands need to behaving like a superior Brands:

  • Fewer things, done better

  • Invest in reaction, not “reach”

  • Don’t sell stuff, add value

  • Turn your audience into a media channel

  • Integration is more important than investment

Source: @Mintel

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