2023 could well be considered as the year travel goes ‘back to normal.’ More and more countries are relaxing their Covid-19 restrictions and, even in the face of a global cost-of-living crisis, young people are continuing to prioritise travel. Here are some of the top global travel trends to expect from the year ahead, including multi-country trips, musical pilgrimages, and sustainable travel.
1. Bucket list travel
With airlines returning to normal and more and more countries relaxing their travel restrictions, 2023 is tipped to be the year that travellers finally embark on the trips they’ve spent the last three years dreaming about.
‘The prevailing sense is that travel has been, and could again be, taken away from us,’ says Natasha Lawrence, Commercial and Product Development Director of Contiki, the worlds leading social travel brand. ‘2023 is the opportunity to make it count.’
2. Sustainable travel
Another travel trend is travellers who are becoming increasingly aware of the need to travel responsibly. Young people are loyal to brands that share their values, and that are committed to reducing their carbon footprint.
Also linked to sustainability is the rise in plant-based living. Rebecca Gade Sawicki, Creator of Veggies Abroad, says that ‘at least 15% of greenhouse gases are attributed to animal agriculture. Consumers are concerned about what’s on their plate and its impact on the planet.’
Read: 9 ways to travel sustainably in South Africa
3. Young people are travelling more than others
During the past year, 18 to 34-year-olds averaged 2.2 more international trips and 1.3 more domestic trips than those aged 65+ and over.
Adam Armstrong, Contiki’s CEO says that ‘young people were arguably the quickest to recover. (They) expect this trend to continue into 2023, albeit the older demo will play a strong catch-up game.’
4. Long trips are in
Pre-pandemic, long trips were declining in popularity. In 2023, they’re soaring.
‘Our average length of trip has increased,’ says Natasha Lawrence. ‘Pre-pandemic it was around 10 days;’ whereas this year it’s around two weeks.
‘I think the rising cost of flights and air plays into this… if you are going to take a long haul flight, you want to spend more time in the destination at the other end.’
5. Multi-country trips are making a comeback
Multi-country trips, where travellers often visit 8-9 countries in two weeks, have also increased in popularity.
‘During the pandemic, people were more cautious about crossing borders…’ says Adam Armstrong. ‘Now that it’s easy to cross borders, multi-country trips are rock-and-rolling again.’
6. Social travel is becoming more popular
It’s safe to say that 2-3 years of missing out on birthday parties, festivals, and other social gatherings has affected young people more than their parents and grandparents. A 10% increase in multiple bookings (as opposed to solo bookings) highlights an elevated hunger for human connection among young people.
7. Travel inspired by music and TV
According to Expedia, ⅔ of global travellers have considered visiting a destination inspired by a movie or TV show they’ve watched. Grassroots music scenes have also become a huge draw for young travellers, offering up the chance to discover new artists before they break.
Neither of these travel trends are surprising given that TVs and headphones were most people’s only escape during the pandemic. The ‘musical pilgrimage’ trend has had positive consequences for destinations such as Israel which, according to TikTok superstar Brooke Alexx, has one of the ‘most underrated music scenes in the world.’
8. Local experiences
Given the rise of sustainability and a hunger for human connection among young travellers, it’s hardly surprising that culturally immersive local experiences have also continued to rise in popularity.
In a survey conducted by Hilton, 49% of respondents said they were looking to undertake such experiences while travelling in 2023.
9. Planning ahead
As with other luxuries, travel has become more expensive recently. The good news is that more people tend to view travel as crucial for their welfare, so they’ll continue to explore the world – but they’ll definitely be more careful with their spending, and will want to make sure they get the best deal.
We can expect to see travellers planning their trips in advance, and subsequently a reduction in spontaneous bookings.
Budget accommodations are also set to become more popular. As Lauren Gonzales, Principal at L&L Hospitalities, says that they ‘saw this a lot during the recession following 2008. A lot of travellers who might have otherwise considered more expensive hotel options expanded their searches to different types of accommodations.’
10. Travel affected by remote working
Five days a week in the office seems like a relic of a past life to many travellers, and the remote working trend looks set to continue into 2023 and beyond. The added flexibility is great for travellers, but also for the tourism industry.
Rax Seun, Founder of NomadsUnveiled, stated that ‘the combination of travel and remote work will continue to proliferate in the travel space. There will be more businesses (or modifications in businesses) catering towards this group, such as co-living spaces, hostels/hotels with better coworking facilities, and experience retreats that combine business and travel experiences.’
11. Virtual travel
With the Metaverse whetting an already growing appetite for immersive virtual experiences, virtual travel is tipped to play a much bigger role in tourism in 2023 and beyond.
In a survey conducted by booking.com, 32% of respondents revealed that they would be more likely to travel to a new place if they experienced it virtually beforehand.
Read Contiki’s full article on the travel trends for 2023 here.
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