2020 proved to be a game changer for individual travellers as well as the business of travel as a whole. Though the conversation around ethical and sustainable travel was just getting sparked among regular travellers, the pandemic accelerated the change in the mind set and made these conversations even louder and more public than ever. Within one year, travel has seen a drastic change because the traveller mind set has seen a drastic change. Travel was no longer just about exploring the world externally but also taking a pause, introspecting within and find some sort of meaning in a world that went absolutely haywire.
The decision to travel itself required a lot more thought and planning due to the limitations of global lockdowns and hence, it facilitated more mindful decisions. With rapid threats to one’s health, deteriorating climatic conditions, natural disasters and the repercussions over-tourism, sustainable travel isn’t just a choice anymore but rather, a compulsion. Here’s looking at some observations and trends around sustainable travel that are definitely here to stay:
Sustainable travel is the new ‘cool’
In the past decade of digital age, the motivation to travel was largely driven by the desire to see new places and tell the world about them. This gradually gave rise to the trend of bucket list travel which was mostly about ticking a few places off your list. But in the last couple of years, the definition of a savvy traveller has changed. From one who has seen the most places to one who travels responsibly.
Advent of ‘slow tourism’
The trend of slow tourism encompasses two aspects of travel: one, not having a jam-packed itinerary during your stay and two, opting for longer vacations that allow you to explore one place completely and without a rush. This kind of mindful travelling reduces the carbon footprint significantly as you’re not hopping from place to place. It also allows you to form an emotional and spiritual bond with the destination, its culture and its people.
Staycations focused on wellness and rejuvenation
If there’s one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it’s that prioritising your physical and mental health is more important than ever. Travellers today choose to focus more on inner exploration than just external wandering. This will hopefully help in bringing down the adverse effects of mainstream, commercial tourism on the environment in the long run.
Opting for nature-centric vacations
Bonding with nature, nurturing it and experiencing it without causing damage to it is another form of therapeutic, meaningful travel that has seen emergence over the last few years. This mindfulness and gratitude towards natural landscapes and resources is a desirable change in the average traveller mind-set. That also encourages hotels, authorities and the government to take better care of the environment. At the same time, make it more attractive to the new age travellers.
Preference of eco-conscious stays and hotels
With the average traveller become more and more aware and choosing mindfully, boutique stays and hotels that follow sustainable practices are likely to be given preference. This has already changed the entire ballgame of how hospitality chains function on a day to day basis and also how they market themselves.
Choosing less popular destinations to avoid overcrowding
In a bid to stay as socially distanced as possible, people have started choosing destinations that are not usually preferred by travellers and don’t have the risk of overcrowding. This is important to make sure that highly popular touristic places share the burden with equally beautiful neighbouring but less popular destinations and are able to maintain their environmental sanctity.
Embracing cultures and giving back to local communities
Another dimension of sustainable travel involves not disrupting the local life of a destination. And not depleting its native communities of their own resources. This has given rise to travellers choosing to learn and embrace new cultures in a bid to be more respectful towards them. And also give back to these native communities by shopping local, paying for authentic local experiences, choosing local home stays and even taking out time for volunteering activities.
Demand for transformational travel
Last year’s lockdown forced people to re-evaluate their priorities and what they want from life. Personal and spiritual growth ranked a lot high on our collective agenda and travel became a bridge between who we are and who we want to be. This accelerated the demand for travel experiences that allow travellers to evolve, grow or even learn a new skill while following a minimal, sustainable travel approach.
After being physically distanced from immediate and extended families, people are now relying on group family vacations more than ever as a way to re-bond and make up for lost time. Hence, accommodations and experiences that allow families to have some quality time with each other, without the disturbances of outside world, are highly in demand. Families travelling sustainably also pass on the values and ethos of meaningful travel to the younger generation, who would be the torch bearers of sustainable practices.
These developments have been taking shape even before the pandemic but have gotten a much needed push in 2020. Every small initiative by the stakeholders of travel and hospitality industry,
including you as a traveller contributes in a big way towards making travel a more sustainable life experience.