Research: Conscious travel will define APAC’s tourism rebound

Two young man  enjoying a hike up on a mountain in Auckland, New Zealand.

As tourism starts to rebound after a lull, travellers are thinking deeply about their holiday preferences, choices and actions, Economist Impact research shows.

The rise of the ‘conscious traveller’ is presenting an opportunity for communities to grow their local economies off the back of the travel rebound, and also welcome an evolving form of win-win tourism that emphasises genuine connection.

New research carried out by Economist Impact for Airbnb has found that people are thinking deeply—and holistically—about sustainable travel, and their understanding of it encompasses social, economic, cultural, community and environmental aspects.

When asked what the two most important aspects of sustainable tourism are, economic (46.7 per cent) and social (41.3 per cent) aspects were ahead of environmental (32.1 per cent), cultural (31.6 per cent) and community (21.5 per cent) considerations.

More than two in three people said it’s important to them to create a positive impact for locals and 58 per cent said it’s important they do not contribute to issues such as overtourism.

In keeping with their desire to travel to less crowded destinations, many want to travel off the beaten path—about half the respondents plan to travel more frequently to rural destinations that haven’t caught the fancy of tourists yet. Additionally, 57 per cent plan to travel more domestically than in the past, and aim to allocate more of their travel budgets within their countries.

Travellers are also mindful about the ways in which tourism can positively impact communities that are in need of economic recovery, and want to factor this into where they travel and how they spend their money. Almost three in five travellers say they will be more conscious about familiarising themselves with what is important to the communities they’re visiting and how they can make a contribution.

The desire for conscious travel is also being supported by technologies that are shaping travel practices with 87 per cent of respondents of the view that technologies are either enabling or can enable sustainable tourism, particularly by making information more widely and easily accessible.

Separately, 43 per cent believe that technology is making tourism in Asia-Pacific more inclusive by enabling more stakeholders to benefit.

“As tourism recovers across Asia-Pacific, we’re seeing a sharp focus on conscious travel among travellers of all ages,” Pratima Singh, senior manager for policy and insights at Economist Impact said.

“The shifts in traveller behaviour—and motivations—could leave an indelible impact on tourism in the region if all concerned stakeholders play their cards right.”

The research was published in a report titled ‘Rebuilding tourism inAsia-Pacific: A more conscious traveller?’ and was based on a survey of more than 4,500 respondents in Australia, India, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

Image: iStock/nazar_ab

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