There are some forces that are sending such reverberations through the travel industry that to call them “trends” would bely their significance and long-term staying power. And owners, developers, and operators looking to appeal to the new luxury traveler ought to consider these industry undercurrents when investing in new projects and operational campaigns.
Like wellness tourism — which grew at double the rate of overall tourism in the last two years, and is now a $563 billion global industry.
Or sustainable travel, which is arguably the benchmark for all tourism businesses as travelers becoming increasingly impassioned about issues like the empowerment of local people, the conservation of local environments, and the safeguarding of animal welfare.
As we look forward to 2019 and beyond, these travel “movements” are coming into even sharper focus. Not only is experiential travel on the rise; experiential travel with a focus on purpose — be it gaining a new skill, or volunteering for a cause— is gaining traction. And as more people are traveling than ever before, we’re noticing an uptick in visits to emerging and developing countries.
For a more in-depth look at the travel forecast for the years ahead, read on.
Travel to Developing Countries is on The Rise
The desire among North Americans to travel abroad is increasing each year, with U.S. resident outbound travel to international destinations in 2017 totaling 87.7 million — a nine percent increase from 2016. And while the top destinations were Mexico, Canada, and countries in Western Europe, the UN World Tourism Organization forecasts that 57% of tourist arrivals in 2030 will be in emerging economies. Reads one of the UNWTO’s tourism reports, “Between 2010 and 2030, arrivals in emerging destinations (+4.4% a year) are expected to increase at twice the rate of those in advanced economies (+2.2% a year).” Countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia-Pacific are expected to see unprecedented tourism numbers, which explains the explosion of high-end properties in these markets — Luxury Frontiers’ Nayara Tented Camp, which opens in Costa Rica in fall 2019, and Kiho Gorilla Safari Lodge, an intimate camp that will also debut next year in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, being two of them.
Modular and Semi-Permanent Structures are Becoming an Industry Favorite for Sustainable, Eco-Friendly Design
Modular construction is becoming one of the fastest-growing “trends” in the biz. For one, offsite construction can help mitigate a range of safety and security risks, as these structures are often manufactured and/or assembled in environments that are less hazardous than your average construction sites. They’re also more sustainable: the natural environment suffers minimal disturbance and the construction process generally yields less waste. And in areas that have strict building regulations or formidable topographies, modular and semi-permanent structures can help developers circumnavigate complex permitting processes and design challenges. Notes Daniel Lesser, president and CEO of LW Hospitality Advisors, in an article from Hotelsmags.com, “Modular construction allows for efficient, cost-effective and high-quality development.” The rise in modular construction is, of course, related to another “trend”. Lesser points out in the same report: the “continued expansion of industry sustainability and eco-friendly initiatives.” As a leader in sustainable, environmentally-conscious design, Luxury Frontiers has implemented a number of cutting-edge, eco-minded technologies in the design and redevelopment of several high-profile properties. Take Belmond Eagle Island Lodge, where Luxury Frontiers introduced an advanced solar-battery system that saves the lodge from consuming 100,000+ liters of diesel and 5,000+ kilograms of gas per year.
Travelers are Going Plastic-Free
Every minute of every day, the equivalent of a truckload of plastic enters our oceans. The epidemic is such that no person can afford not to think of our planet’s plastic pollution — even on vacation. The good news is that Millennials and Gen Z travelers are tackling the issue through travel. According to a Booking.com study that culled insights from over 163 million verified guest reviews and research from 21,500 travelers, “An overwhelming majority of global travelers (86%) say they would be willing to spend some time on activities that offset the environmental impact of the stay, with over a third (37%) willing to clear plastic and litter from a beach or other tourist attraction.” And brands are taking note: British tour operator Thomas Cook has pledged to remove 70 million pieces of single-use plastics within the next year and the train company Eurostar is targeting a 50% reduction in plastics by 2020. Wilderness Safaris is a pioneer in this regard: for years, the brand has used only metal or glass water bottles at its properties. And Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts — which has an upcoming resort and residences at Caye Chapel, the privately-owned island in Belize where Luxury Frontiers developed a pop-up tented camp for residential sales — has also followed suit: by the end of 2018, all 110 of their hotels will be plastic straw-free.
Experiential Travel is Taking a Purposeful Turn
Experiential travel is more than just being immersed in a destination’s natural scenery; it’s also about being enriched through the culture, norms, and traditions of a place. The aforementioned Booking.com study predicts that “2019 will see a rise in people’s desire to learn something new whilst away, as well as an increase in volunteering and skills-based vacations across generations.” At Abu Camp, visitors can partake in a flurry of educational activities, from going bird-watching on a mokoro to learning about animal conservation on expert-led game drives and veterinary care at the on-site elephant sanctuary. Meanwhile, at the forthcoming Nayara Tented Camp, you’ll be able to do everything from pick your own coffee beans to learn about Costa Rica’s increasingly endangered sloths at the property’s dedicated sloth sanctuary.