Evolution of the tourism industry
The travel industry has evolved exponentially over the last decade. Megatrends across the globe have affected the industry; from digital advancements to the rise of Airbnb as an accommodation platform, overtourism, and the growth of social media influencers. These factors and more have shaped the way the travel industry looks today and the predicted direction it will go in the future.
The last 10 years have seen significant changes with varying effects. One of these is the impact that social media has created in attracting tourists to a country. In today's digital age, people turn to social media for travel inspiration.
The emergence of Instagram introduced a new type of celebrity to social media, a generation of users called "influencers". This channel has proven its power to influence and even generated a constant state of "FOMO" (Fear Of Missing Out) among its audiences.
The digital space however is oversaturated with influencers and users are now savvier about recognising images that are staged, over-edited and lack authenticity. Some will attest to the fact that influencers are ruining the integrity of travel. Rather than inspiring wanderlust, the images have become more about personalities rather than showcasing the destinations themselves. Before the turn of the decade, the word "influencer" had been deemed as having a negative connotation.
Another challenge faced by the industry today is overtourism. Advancements in mobile app technology have made it easier to plan trips, book hotels and travel the world conveniently. Today, we see that travel apps play an integral role in every stage of planning a trip, a trend that shows no signs of slowing down.
With accommodation apps, the ability to book rooms has contributed to a boost in tourism globally, providing tourists cost-effective lodging. When the shift from renting rooms to entire homes became available, listings skyrocketed, offering travellers the opportunity to live like a local.
Before the decade began, ticking popular destinations off a bucket list was a core motivation. This took the spontaneity out of travel and contributed heavily to overtourism. This wave of over-tourism led to a new trend of discovering unexplored destinations. As this shift began, travellers started considering different countries rather than following the crowd.
There is now an appeal in discovering unexplored destinations and experiencing authentic hidden gems. Tourists have begun globetrotting to places many did not consider only a few years ago, which has made room for lesser known destinations like the Caucasus region and countries like Azerbaijan, which has a rich history and culture and its capital Baku which has emerged as a popular city break destination.
Activists like Greta Thunberg are fuelling awareness of the environmental impact of travel. She has helped inspire a generation of travellers to travel responsibly, think about the planet's wellbeing, and consider the carbon footprint. Greta's flight shaming movement, 'flygskam', is not only about travel accountability but also entails a reminder to travel slowly. The repercussions on airlines.
These trends have dictated the ethos of the travel and tourism industry and of travellers the world over.
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