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COVID-19 gives travel an “opportunity for change” as consumer values shift, says Bruce Poon Tip

From flights with no destination to vaccine certificates a lot has changed in the travel space over the past two years, but one thing is for sure – travellers want change.

Lockdowns and major global events have given consumers the opportunity to reflect on what really matters to them and will bring new values with them as they begin to travel again.

To provide more scope on what this means for the travel industry, G Adventures has consulted with its panel of avid adventurers to identify the top 10 trends for travelling in 2022 providing insights into how people want to travel and where they want to go.

Bruce Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures, said the trends clearly reveal the pandemic has produced a more conscious traveller and has presented operators with a huge opportunity for change.

“This pandemic has woken travellers up and given them a chance to reflect on how they were travelling before,” he said.

“The data tells us people have become more purposeful and intentional about how and why they are travelling, and where they are going, and that they are recognising the positive impact travel can have on local communities when decisions are made wisely.

“These trends point towards a seismic shift in travellers’ habits. It only takes a small number of people to make a huge difference, and travellers are finally seeing how smart choices can positively benefit local people, and deliver a richer travel experience at the same time.”

Here’s a rundown of what G Adventures uncovered:

  1. Community tourism is the solution to responsible travel

Bhutan Punakha Dzong (supplied)

According to G Adventures’ latest panel research, close to a third (28 per cent*) of Aussie and Kiwi respondents said they will place more focus on travelling responsibly in 2022.

With the increased focus on community and support of locally-owned businesses fostered during the pandemic, it makes sense that this mindset carries over into international travel plans.

Travellers are looking for adventures that support community tourism, and trails are a great way for tourists to spread wealth through multiple smaller villages.

Destination: In April 2022, following two years of extensive restoration, the Kingdom of Bhutan will reopen its historic and sacred Trans Bhutan Trail for the first time in 60 years, supporting remote communities through community tourism.

Serendipitously, bookings to Bhutan are up 60 per cent globally for 2022.

  1. Travellers care most about supporting local people

The most important factor for Aussies and Kiwis when they travel is that their money benefits local people, at 68 per cent.

This trend has been intensified by the impact of the pandemic on countries that rely on tourism for their economic survival and came in well ahead of other important considerations such as minimising one’s carbon footprint and/or reducing plastics consumption (both at 15 per cent globally).

Egypt Pyramids Carriage (supplied)

Destination: Egypt’s tourism industry was devastated by the Arab Spring and again by the pandemic, but it was one of the first to reopen to tourism this year.

In 2022, Egypt has increased its share of bookings by 22 per cent globally and with the reopening of the Grand Egyptian Museum, the opening of the Pyramid of Dozer, the reopening of Luxor’s Avenue of Sphinxes, and the release of Kenneth Branagh’s rebooted Death on the Nile film, it’ll continue to be firmly in the media spotlight.

  1. Travellers will have a bit more cash to splash 

With staying in spurring a savings boom, 24 per cent of travel-starved Aussies and Kiwis said they had increased their travel budget for their next international holiday, which means their travel dollars are likely to take them on bigger adventures than they might have thought possible before.

Destination: Japan was expecting a huge tourist boom as a result of the summer Olympics, and had been heavily spotlighted before COVID closed the country’s borders.

Although it remains closed, there is pent up demand, and those with a little extra savings may turn their attention to a dream trip to Japan as restrictions are lifted.

  1. ‘Workations’ increase in popularity 

As the world shifted to remote working, companies realised office confines were no longer required to ensure productivity. Previously the domain of the digital nomad, ‘workations’ have hit the mainstream.

Costa Rica Nosara Selina Deck (supplied)

20 per cent of respondents to G Adventures’ most recent survey said they are able to ‘work from anywhere’ – with that number rising to 46 per cent for those aged 18-34.

An increasing number of people plan to combine work with travel in future at 20 per cent, up from 14 per cent in December 2020.

Destination: Only one of four countries to lift all restrictions for travel according to the UNWTO, Costa Rica has firmly positioned itself as open to travel.

Keen to attract young digital nomads, the country passed a bill to allow remote workers and digital nomads to stay for up to one year.

To support this trend, G Adventures to partner with Hostelworld to launch the Roamies programme of tours in late-2021, which are all ideal as a way for digital nomads to take a few days to get to know a destination before settling in at the beach for a few weeks of remote work.

  1. Hostels will make a big comeback 

The need for social connection amongst young travellers is strong with 55 per cent of Aussies and Kiwis aged 18-34 saying they were likely to try a hostel experience following the pandemic, and 50 per cent of those expressing that meeting people to socialise at the hostel, and possibly travel with, is the most important factor when selecting a hostel.

Mexico Merida Cenote Visit (supplied)

Destination: Mexico is super hot right now and another new ‘Roamies’ trip designed to maximise social connection and build community, both in the handpicked-hostels and on the road, is this new six-day trip travelling from Mérida to Tulum which packed with highlights.

  1. Travellers want to disconnect from their devices 

Ecuador Galapagos Sea Lion Pup (supplied)

Workationers aside, while travellers want to reconnect with people and places, they are desperate to disconnect from the online world while on holiday.

47 per cent of respondents want to take time out from their devices and social media, with 26 per cent saying socialising and meeting new people is their top wellbeing priority when booking their next holiday.

Destination: G Adventures will debut its new build boat, Reina Silvia Voyager, in 2022 for sailings to Galapagos Islands. Accommodating 16 passengers, with two solo cabins, she is purpose-built for comfortable small-group touring.

Travellers will also be the first to visit a new G for Good project developed in partnership with Planeterra – Galapagos Coffee in Puerto Ayora – a community-owned organic coffee farm educating visitors about sustainable coffee production while providing income for 59 local families.

  1. The staycation is over – travellers want to go further afield

The domestic holiday appeal is wearing off as the pandemic rolls on.

Only 17 per cent of respondents said they would prefer to stay closer to home as opposed to heading further afield on their next international holiday, with close to a third – 30 per cent – saying they were less likely to take a ‘staycation’ in 2022.

Uzbekistan Bukhara Kaylan Mosque (supplied)

Destination: Uzbekistan was a rising star pre-pandemic, and looking ahead to 2022 travel, with the trend for more remote destinations, the country has increased its share of sales by 24 per cent.

2021 marked Uzbekistan’s 30th anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union, and a new airport opened in Samarkand. 2022 will also see the opening of the Silk Road Samarkand Complex which will host the inaugural Silk Road Literary Festival, bringing even more attention to this lesser-visited nation.

  1. Lockdown life has led to a desire to be more active 

Grand Canyon Sunset, Arizona (supplied)

67 per cent of those surveyed want to be physically active on their next holiday and with 63 per cent of travellers polled saying their physical and mental wellbeing is a top consideration when booking a holiday, taking a hike never sounded more appealing.

Destination: The US increased its share of bookings for 2022 by 58 per cent when compared to pre-pandemic booking levels.

This led G Adventures to launch a new programme of ‘United States of Adventures’ trips that are perfectly positioned to cater to active travellers looking to exert a little more energy on their next holiday.

  1. Travellers are prioritising wellbeing and mental health 

With an overwhelming 93 per cent of people saying travel is important to their wellbeing and mental health, travellers are also looking to take their next holiday in a way that not only helps them to reconnect but optimises travel as a means of revitalisation, too.

Sanur Garden Statue, Bali, Indonesia (supplied)

Destination: Indonesia has been dormant for the duration of the pandemic so there will be a tonne of pent up demand when it reopens.

What better way to experience it than with this Wellness trip full of rest, relaxation and revitalisation moments, including an organic cooking class and healing ceremony in Tabanan?

  1. Revenge travel is out, reconnection travel is in 

Consumers are hungry for new experiences and connections. Although the term ‘revenge travel’ – the urge to travel to make up for lost time in lockdown – gained popularity over the course of the pandemic, reconnection travel is the top reason for travelling at 40 per cent, with revenge travel – booking a trip to make up for lost time – coming in at just 16 per cent.

Iceland landscape (supplied)

Destination: A high pandemic performer, Iceland’s bookings are up 317 per cent globally for 2022, and what better way to experience it than with this Active trip which enables travellers to connect with the local community on hikes, walks and visits to local businesses. The owner of the guest house leads this trip so it really is all about reconnecting with the planet and its people.


Featured image: Torii Gates at Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Kyoto (supplied)



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