Soft tourism destinations are created by small-scale, locally owned businesses that combine to create a unique appeal. These destinations focus on employing local people, respect the local way of life, and are in harmony with local traditions. These priorities could attract younger travellers due to their specific demands and behaviours.
Soft tourism could attract Millennials and Gen Z
Soft tourism is often associated with sustainable tourism, as both types of tourism help to conserve the natural environment and are considerate of the needs and wants of host communities. According to GlobalData’s Q3 2021 consumer survey, when asked “How important are environmental issues to you?” 45% of global respondents answered with “extremely important”. While this is in itself a strong indication that environmental issues are at the forefront of many travellers’ minds, the younger generations, Millennials and iGen (Gen Z), are more conscious of environmental issues than the global average, with 48% and 46% responding with “extremely important”, compared to just 35% of the Silent Generation. Soft tourism caters to this rising demand for responsible experiences by offering access to small, independent businesses that are often otherwise unseen. The development of soft tourism is important, as the additional revenue streams created by tourism can be fundamental for the continued success of small, sustainable businesses and communities.
Soft tourism meets growing demand for more immersive experiences
These trips can be either in the form of an experience, ranging from guided walks and cross country skiing, to a fully immersive stay in which guests participate in regular interactions with locals and their culture for several days. These are all strong strategies to help independent communities and businesses with the mounting uncertainty regarding modern agriculture. These experiences could be attractive to younger travellers, namely iGen (Gen Z) and Millennials, as this demographic is more likely to travel for involved experiences, as opposed to older generations who prefer sun and beach holidays. According to GlobalData’s Q3 2021 consumer survey, while only 5% of the Silent Generation and 11% of Boomers took eco holidays, 20% and 23% of iGen (Gen Z) and Millennials chose this type of holiday, respectively.
Soft tourism could be a force of good for the travel industry
Soft tourism can help to diversify local economies by creating jobs for vulnerable and underemployed communities. Soft tourism focuses on bringing together, and creating, travellers that are passionate about people and planetary health, with the idea of low impact travel being high up on their agenda. However, as with many types of travel that aim to draw out the charms of local communities, the introduction of more tourists can lead to drawbacks such as strain on the lives of locals and heightened foot traffic, which can damage the natural environment. This element has the potential to tap into the growing environmental concerns of younger travellers, creating a wider market for soft tourism to aim for.
It is important to note, that like many aspects of tourism, there are benefits and drawbacks to the development of the soft tourism sector. However, in the case of soft tourism, the positives far outweigh the negatives. With more environmentally friendly and sustainable travel options emerging as a priority for many travellers in recent years, trips offered by soft tourism destinations are as varied as the travellers taking them, meaning the growth potential for the sector is strong.