Tourism industry leaders convened in London for the World Travel Market trade event to discuss the latest trends shaping the sector.
The World Travel Market trade event in London showcases the latest trends shaping the tourism and travel industry, now and into the future.
Thousands of representatives gathered in the UK capital to do deals, debate and discuss as the industry continues its bounce-back from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Leisure travel is back to only 10% below 2019 levels,” said Dave Goodger, the Managing Director for EMEA at Tourism Economics. “But we’ve got to remember 2019 was a peak year. So, the level of travel we’re seeing this year has only been surpassed in three years in history.”
The recovery comes despite economic and geopolitical uncertainties, on top of a summer of high temperatures and devastating wildfires in countries like Greece.
“I would say that the biggest challenge for the long-term period in the future is the climate crisis,” revealed Dimitris Frangakis, the Secretary General at the Greek National Tourism Organisation. “Greece has a specific plan until 2030 in order to achieve sustainability in the environment, tackle climate change consequences and, of course, adapt to the new era.”
Valencia, in Spain, attracts tourists with its beaches, natural beauty and history. Recognised for sustainable tourism, the city has been named European Green Capital 2024.
“The old source of the river is now a big green area, a big green boulevard,” Carlos Mazón Guixot, the President of the Valencia Region Government told Focus. “We’re working so hard, related to public transport. It’s very important for us. For new energy technologies. Just not for one year, but for the rest of our lives.”
Post-pandemic, sustainability is also about keeping traveller numbers in check. Venice, for example, plans to impose a five-euro tax on day-trippers next year, as it attempts to tackle overtourism.
Other destinations, like Croatia, are also mulling over what they should do.
Martina Srnec from the Croatian National Tourist Board told Focus, “We cannot use the word overtourism, maybe just in a few cities like Dubrovnik.”
“We still, as a country, didn’t bring any specific measures. But now, this is the right time for the local authorities and for the decision-makers to start thinking about it. It’s important because we want to preserve our country as it is today,” Martina added.
When it comes to traveller numbers, Thailand says its approach is quality over quantity. Cooling down the traditional hot spots, and opening up other places within the country.
“We are more focused in terms of the value that the tourists spend in Thailand,” explained Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, the Deputy Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
“The second thing is also about the dispersal of the numbers of tourists. Connect to their local community, connect to the other destinations, across the destination. That is the way that we’re moving forward.”
Traveller tastes are also evolving. For Millennials and Gen Z, it’s increasingly about experiences and bucket lists, according to World Travel Market research. And there’s a wider trend of longer stays.
“With sustainability conscience, what we see, they call it slow holidays. So, it’s fewer holidays, but they are much longer. And they’re more focused, rather than on sunbathing, more on experience,” said Vasyl Zhygalo, the Portfolio Director at the World Travel Market.
One country that’s providing some of those experiences is Morocco. It wants to attract 26 million tourists a year by 2030, nearly double this year’s number.
“People are looking to have authentic experiences,” said Fatim-Zahra Ammor, the Minister of Tourism for Morocco. “They want to be in touch with nature, taste the local cuisine, and meet local communities. They’re also looking for open air: experiences in the wild, long walks, the mountains.”
The global travel and tourism sector is expected to fully recover over the next couple of years. But this is an industry that’s also changing, as it maps out 2024 and beyond.
Source: Euro News