A host of new travel trends have emerged in the global travel-sphere in the run up to the new year. I’ve taken a closer look at some and added a few tips of my own about how to be a more considerate traveller. (This story is in todays’ Cape Times)
1.4 billion international arrivals anticipated
With international arrivals set to push past the 1.4 billion mark in 2019, the global travel industry is clearly as robust as ever. Opinions differ on what’s trending in the coming year but there are a few traits that stand out across the board with dynamic tech innovations and an ongoing shift towards conscious travel among them.
Tech in travel
Exciting innovations are expected within the tech travel sector in 2019. Most journeys begin and end seamlessly in the palm of a hand and there’s an App to assist with every aspect of a trip to suit every type of traveller, no matter their smartphone IQ. From scrolling through destination galleries on Instagram, tapping up to the minute weather reports or creating bespoke itineraries, Apps are winning when it comes to holistic holiday planning. Generic e-brochures are being eclipsed in favour of paperless digi- guides and voice maps (self-guided audio tours) are providing an excellent way to explore solo and at one’s own pace. More personalized attention is expected too, as AI (Artificial Intelligence) collates behavioural data gleaned through Cookies, Facebook posts and other info- sharing sources with individualised touring suggestions being sent straight to mobile.
A mindful approach
The good news, especially for those who have spent decades advocating for it, is the continued upswing in a more mindful approach to travelling, across the board. Online exposés and documentaries highlighting the backstories behind animal entertainment have seen more people shun elephant riding, avoid marine mammal performances and resist interactions with captive dolphins, lion cubs and suspiciously docile tigers. Travellers are woke to the backstories and looking to support activities that uphold admirable ethics, and the better educated tourist is also less likely to purchase goods made of ivory, exotic skin products and the body parts of endangered animals.
‘Going & Doing’
Philanthropically-minded travellers are showing an interest in ‘going and doing’ projects next year by volunteering at well-established animal sanctuaries, going in with beach clean-ups and going on cultural exchanges to engage with locals on a more personal level. ‘Voluntourism’ has unfortunately had a bad rap thanks to volunteer organisations being more interested in a well-meaning person’s wallet than in making a positive difference on the ground. Sharing a skill set or giving of one’s time for no financial gain is certainly admirable but should happen only where tourism is not done to people but rather becomes something in which local people can be a valued part.
Over-tourism & the search for lesser known destinations & seeking the digital disconnect
The over-tourism crisis, nothing new but increasingly topical, has led to greater awareness of responsible tourism, defined as minimising negative social, economic and environmental impacts and enhancing the well-being of host communities. As residents in fragile cities like Venice protest behemoth cruise ships docking in the Marco Polo Basin and rail against the intrusive seasonal tourist invasions, crowd-shy travellers are casting an eye at lesser known places and more uncharted territories that are tick the remote destination box and are not quite yet on the common radar. Like the Micronesian Islands in the North Pacific, Lake Abbe in Djibouti, Friesland in Holland and the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in Botswana for instance, where aside from the breathtaking natural beauty showcased, there is a desire to disconnect from gadgets, the wifi break that has materialised as one of the most coveted luxuries of a digitally driven age.
Safaris are coming in hot, plus community & conservation commitment is key
Doing the ultimate safari in Africa is coming in hot for 2019 with a sense of urgency as the world’s great Eden’s face threats that range from habitat loss to poaching, trophy hunting and human encroachment. Beyond offering the most unforgettable adventure, lodges with appropriate sensitivity to surrounding wildlife (best achieved sans 4X4 convoys and a decent distance from animals), have conservation high on the agenda and are giving back to local communities, are the ones that will attract the conscious traveller. Says Jennifer Lalley, co-owner of Natural Selection Travel that manages camps like Shipwreck Lodge in Namibia and Planet Baobab in Botswana, “it’s important that eco-conscious travellers at what a tourism company is actually funding as opposed to what their guests are funding. There’s certainly merit in drawing guest attention and donations to good causes, but tourism companies should be digging into their own pockets as well to make sure projects have sustainable funds available.”
Travel = wellbeing but tread lightly as you go
Studies have shown that travel makes you healthier, relieves stress, enhances creativity, boosts happiness and lowers the risk of depression. Brilliant benefits but they should not come at the expense of people or animals. Let this be the year for us to enjoy high value, low impact travel and leave no trace.