Seven travel trends for 2023
From Rebel Spending to Modern Family Travel, a new report from travel trend forecasting agency Globetrender has revealed a vision of what travel will be like in the year ahead, where people will be going to and what will be motivating their booking decisions. Download the full report here, but read on for the seven biggest takeaways.
Globetrender’s number-one travel trend for 2023 is “China Boom”. After three years of closure during the pandemic, the country has finally dropped its ‘zero Covid’ restrictions and opened its borders to international travel.
This promises to be very positive for the global tourism economy – in 2019, spending from Chinese travellers amounted to $255 billion – more than any other nation. (In second place was spending from the US, which totalled US$132 billion.) At the moment, a number of countries are imposing Anti-Viral Arrival protocols on Chinese travellers but we hope this will be short-lived.
Tim Hentschel, CEO of HotelPlanner, says: “2023 will be the year of the Asia-Pacific comeback, as China comes out of lockdown and allows unfettered travel. At HotelPlanner we are forecasting about an 8 per cent average increase in hotel occupancy globally this year, largely due to China relaxing travel restrictions, coupled with the on-going return of group and corporate travel.”
While low-income and middle classes struggle financially, those at the top keep profiting. In
fact, according to investment bank Credit Suisse, there has been a post-pandemic “explosion
By 2026, they predict there will be more than 87.5 million people worldwide with at least $1 million in wealth, up from 62.5 million in 2021. (That’s five million more millionaires per year – or an average of 13,698 new millionaires per day.)
What does this mean for tourism? High-earners will be splashing the cash in 2023, taking advantage of open borders and unparalleled luxury travel inventory – from new jets and yachts to resorts and VIP experiences. Even the HENRYs (high earners, not rich yet) are defiant when it comes to curbing their enthusiasm. Against a backdrop of global recession, Rebel Spending means the money will keep flowing, and the luxury travel market has a unique opportunity to cash in.
New horizons are opening up for travellers globally, which is giving rise to greater confidence in taking on ambitious, complex, multi-destination dream trips. On the whole, last year was a much better year for travel but country re-openings were staggered – looking back, it’s important to remember that it was only March 2022 when all UK travel restrictions were lifted.
Some of the last countries to relax border protocols last year were New Zealand (August), Bhutan (September), and Thailand and Japan (October). The biggest news, of course, is the reopening of China. This means that for the first time since early 2020, tourists around the world can embark on Long-Term Planning, filling their calendars with trips not just for the year ahead, but in 2024 and 2025.
MODERN FAMILY TRAVEL
In liberal countries around the world, increasing numbers of Millennials are redefining what parenthood looks like. When it comes to marketing family holidays, the large majority of travel companies present a nuclear version of family – mum, dad and a couple of kids diving into a swimming pool.
However, the dynamics of caregiving have evolved hugely in the last few years, especially with the rise in LGBTQ+ Millennials having children. According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2019 there were 212,000 same-sex families in the UK, an increase of 40% since 2015. In 2021, one in six adoptions in the UK were made by same-sex couples, compared to one in 22 ten years before.
Modern Family Travel is something every operator, hotel, airline and travel agent needs to be sensitive to and make efforts to accommodate in 2023 and beyond. Kurt Macher, general manager of the Shangri-La the Shard, London, agrees: “At Shangri-La the Shard, London, we’re an LGBTQ+ friendly hotel and have made efforts to ensure that all of our guests feel welcomed and included, whether that means using correct pronouns on welcome letters or providing slippers and bathrobes that are inclusive and respectful of all genders.”
He adds: “We even welcomed our first ‘throuple’ this year, showing that the average traveller is not always a traditional heterosexual couple.”
For decades, Indigenous people have been overlooked and exploited, especially by the tourism industry. In 2023, greater sensitivity will lead to positive change. A number of innovative companies are making concerted efforts to place the spotlight on Indigenous Appreciation – and consumers are showing interest. According to the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, Indigenous tourism has been the fastest-growing sector in Canadian tourism.
Zina Bencheikh, managing director EMEA of Intrepid Travel, says: “Post pandemic, people
are looking for genuinely sustainable and community-led experiences that benefit both the
land and its people. As well as generating income and empowering local communities, these
kinds of experiences give travellers an amazing insight into traditional ways of life and a
better understanding of a destination’s diverse legacy. At Intrepid Travel we have put a
major focus on developing more Indigenous tourism experiences, especially in the United
States and Canada, and in Australia, in 2023.”
As the desire for personal optimisation ramps up in 2023, travel will increasingly be undertaken as a transformative experience or gateway to betterment. Life-Hacking Retreats will help consumers in their quest to become their “best self” and achieve their full potential.
Part of the wider Transformation Economy, which sees people travelling to change themselves, this trend specifically relates to neatly packaged and curated group programmes that have certain objectives. Over in France, Mind Environment is hosting fast-track personal development retreats that help participants craft a “plan for better living in the world, so they can maximise their contribution to it”.
At the Aerial BVI, a private island retreat in the British Virgin Islands that is owned by self-made millionaire, philanthropist and Christian missionary Britnie Turner, guests can attend themed “Elevate Summits”. For example, the “Abundance Summit” focuses on how to generate wealth and use it as a force for good. Itineraries comprise motivational speaker sessions, meditation, equine therapy at the island ranch, and sharing revelations with the group at dinner. Up until now the retreats have been out of reach for most (priced at $10,000 all-inclusive) but in 2023, clients will be able to pay in instalments.
For many people, especially Westerners, going on holiday has been closely intertwined with the consumption of alcohol. But all this is changing. Abstention from alcohol among younger generations, and a greater appreciation for health, is inspiring a new era of sobriety- seeking travellers and booze-free hospitality.
Looking at data for ten key markets, including the UK, US, Australia, Canada and Germany, drinks consultancy IWSR has revealed the market value of low- and no-alcohol products rose from $8 billion in 2018 to more than $11 billion in 2022. What this suggests is that people won’t just be giving up booze for Dry January. (There is also a growing trend for more of us drinking low alcohol drinks, or alcohol less often, as we seek to find moderation in our lives.)
Leading the way with delivering Dry-Cations is small group tour company We Love Lucid, which was founded by sober entrepreneur Lauren Burnison in 2019. Why is sober travel taking off as a trend? She says: “Sober travel is taking off because people are waking up to how much more of an epic time you can have without the booze. You can get up early, there are no hangovers, you have meaningful conversations and make meaningful connections.”
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