Pent-up demand for immersive travel experiences with no set time limit could see ‘slow travel’ becoming the next big tourism trend.
Slow travel mainly refers to the speed at which a trip is taken, where travellers take a train through Europe instead of flying, for example. But it also has a broader meaning of tourists staying in destinations for longer, emphasising a connection with local people, culture, food and music. This means that slow travel is also more sustainable for local communities and the environment. With tourists opting for longer stays due to many being able to work remotely and sustainability featuring more heavily in travel decisions, it is clear that slow travel could become a global phenomenon in the next few years.
Consumer trends point to slow travel post-pandemic
A trip longer than ten nights is more highly desired (22%) than a day visit (10%) or a short break away from one to three nights (14%), according to a live poll from GlobalData*. The added hassle and cost of additional Covid-19 related travel requirements such as PCR tests and potential quarantine periods means that short trips lose their value, justifying a longer trip.
There is also a larger remote workforce across the globe due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Over 70% of global respondents opted to work remotely full time or have a mixture of both remote and office work in another GlobalData poll**. Many offices are likely to be more flexible regarding working hours and the location of an employee as a result of the pandemic, meaning blending work and leisure will come more easily for employees.
Sustainability is also at the forefront of consumers decisions. ‘Supporting social causes’ was identified as a key driver for 25% of global respondents in GlobalData’s Q12021 consumer survey*** and for 45% this was ‘nice to have’ for product purchases. Preference for products can reflect on service trends and this identifies that consumers may feel more inclined to support local communities post-pandemic, which is a gap that ‘slow travel’ can fill.
There is already competition
Competition is already intensifying between both niche and major travel intermediaries, suggesting that slow travel is sure to make its mark in post-pandemic travel. Travel intermediaries that offer ‘slow travel’ holidays range from niche operators such as Intrepid Travel and Responsible Travel to more mainstream providers such as Airbnb and Expedia Group.
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Slow travel reflects on consumers’ growing desires for more experiential forms of travel, going above and beyond the hordes of tourists gathered for sun, sea and sand. Its potential growth could further rival the concept of mass tourism and the all-inclusive package holiday concept in travel’s recovery post-Covid-19.
(*) GlobalData’s Verdict Poll – live since 19th April 2021 – 366 respondents
(**) GlobalData’s Verdict Poll – 5th June 2020- 19th March 2021 – 5,284 respondents
(***) GlobalData’s Q12021 consumer survey –10,122 global respondents