The annual holiday that we have adopted as part of our Summer schedule originated in the Roman era- yet decades later, we are still enjoying our yearly escape. Whether we’re holidaying across the UK or taking a trip abroad, we always look forward to our short break away from work. However, did you know that a lot of wealthy Romans took holidays that lasted two years?
More people than ever before are taking a temporary break from their 9-5, even if their holidays don’t have the grandeur of a Roman getaway. So much so, the Office for National Statistics reported that in 2017 there were 72.8 million visits overseas by UK residents, showing a 3% increase on the previous year. This figure is only set to increase even further after a survey of 25,000 British travelers found that 11% of respondents would like to travel more in the future.
The rise in alternative holidays is a result of new trends emerging within the travel and hospitality sector. But what does that actually mean for holidaymakers, local communities and businesses across the globe?
An eco-friendly holiday
British holidaymakers are being enticed towards something different, as shown by a positive pattern in search terms including ‘eco-friendly holidays’, ‘eco-friendly hotels’ and ‘green holidays’, as people begin to look for sustainable alternatives to their classic getaway. Along with veganism, flexitarianism and the rise in other lifestyle choices, these types of holidays have captured the public’s attention and will likely become the norm for future generations who will be more environmentally conscious. Some people have replaced their cupboard essentials in favour of new alternatives- such as vegan chocolate!
Recent findings from a Booking.com Sustainable Travel Report found that 87% of global holidaymakers say that they want to travel sustainably. With such high figures, it’s clear that this is a market more businesses in the hospitality and travel market should be tapping into. You could argue that sustainable travel is subject to a person’s environmental standpoint, and while this is true, the same report also revealed that 46% of people believe sustainable travel is staying in an eco-friendly or green accommodation.
Many factors have influenced the shift in popularity of these alternative holiday options. For example, 40% said that they wanted to reduce their environmental impact. On the other hand, 34% said this was to have a locally relevant experience and a further 33% said they wanted to feel good about where they rested.
Holidaymakers took various factors into account when choosing to opt for an alternative holiday. 60% said that this idea sparked from taking in the natural sights from their previous trips – such as coral and rain forests. Also, 54% said that they had noticed the visible impact tourism had on places that they themselves had visited, while 47% went on to say that their decision was after seeing the positive impact sustainable tourism had on local communities. Furthermore, 32% said they felt guilty about how their holidays impact the environment.
Affordability often determines the feasibility of a sustainable holiday, as they contend with the falling prices of package holidays. As these trips tend to require fine planning and research, they could potentially be more costly than your average trip to Spain. However, 67% of travellers in the report said that they were prepared to spend up to 5% more on their travel to ensure it had a low impact on the environment.
The conventional booking process is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Figures from the same survey found that four in 10 people say that booking sites should offer an eco-friendly filter. Although this doesn’t seem like a step a lot of travel sites are taking, some have began adding pages to represent these trips and advertise them publicly. As well as this, 32% of people call for an international standard that can identify eco-friendly accommodation.
In order to stay ahead of the competition, travel companies and hotels should acknowledge this growing requirement from their customers now. Hopefully, 2019 will be the year where we see more sustainable trips!
Steps towards sustainability
Fair trade holidays are gradually picking up in popularity, and they offer a unique customer experience.
Holidaymakers can integrate themselves into the communities who are behind the products we frequently buy.
New approaches to embracing cultures while on holiday include The Meet the People Tours, whereby a small group of tourists will visit locations such as Bangladesh, India and Nepal to uncover unknown sacred practices and experience the diversity between eastern and western culture. Just like the fair-trade products we buy, these trips are organised so that the people living and working in these communities are better off as a result.
These new experiences can be an awakening to a whole new kind of holiday. From visiting development projects and having your ideas of developing countries challenged, you’ll truly feel that you’re making a difference from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave.
People who have been on alternative holidays often never revert to the conventional getaway, as the time spent holidaying sustainably can provide a new perspective on spending both your time and money.