A few years ago, international newspapers headlines showed the effects of over tourism in some destinations such as Thailand. However, the world stopped abruptly in 2020, and people’s consciousness increased about how contact with nature helps their health and wellbeing.
Today, almost finishing 2021, we’ve learned some lessons, and there are some trends to have our eyes on. That is the case of non-consumptive tourism that is related to experiencing nature and wildlife freely in their natural habitat.
According to the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI), established by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 7% of tourism worldwide is concerned with wildlife.
Therefore, with “normality” on the way, there is an increase in people’s travel sentiment basically to nature destinations. Ecotourism, wildlife tourism, and nature tourism, all within the spectrum of non-consumptive tourism, can offer meaningful experiences to travelers while offering fresh air, non crowded sites, and a positive impact on the environment and local communities economy.
Today, we will discuss how non-consumptive tourism is the best way to rebound the travel industry and offer peace of mind to travelers worldwide.
Reason 1: Reconnection with nature
According to the CBI, since COVID-19, people have become more interested in their local natural environment. Moreover, nature offers the perfect setting for socializing in a safer environment where social distancing and natural air flows among persons. Also, nature is and always will be the best way to reconnect with your inner self.
As tourism companies or travel designers, we should focus our message on the benefits and sentiments that travelers will have by choosing a nature destination instead of listing characteristics of the sites.
Reason 2: Digital Detox Holidays trend
Since we are in the digital era, it is more difficult to unplug from social media, emails, apps, and work. Therefore, many people are willing or needing a “Digital Detox.”
Consequently, many nature and wildlife destinations are using the term Digital Detox Holiday. As Ozdemir and Goktas published in their recent study:
“…travel agencies are now offering digital detox holidays to enable customers to disconnect from their digital devices and participate in detoxification treatments. These products attract tourists wanting to stay away from technology to experience a healthier lifestyle, physically, mentally, or spiritually.”
With this trend and the interest in reconnecting with nature and wildlife destinations, travel experiences can use psychological motivations to draw travelers’ attention: natural wellness, reconnection with the inner-self, relaxation, and stress relief.
This tourism strategy is ideal for destinations with limited internet connections or “death zones” of the internet due to isolation. Moreover, tour operators must develop nature-based experiences on three pillars: outdoors, experiential, and health and wellbeing.
Reason 3: Positive impact on local economies
After the covid outbreak, everybody’s economy suffered. Thus, people are more conscious about the family economy being also more empathetic with people in need.
Tourism, hospitality, and restaurateur activities have been one of the most affected. Therefore, travelers want to know how their visit can impact on local economy on the destinations they are visiting.
As tour operators, we need to be transparent about the contribution of every passenger to local socio-economic development, especially by considering that tourism has a significant impact on the local services supply chain and the support on the conservation of local wildlife (CBI).
We encourage you to click on the following links to read our previous articles about the impact of cruises on the Galapagos Islands’ development or the economic situation in the Galapagos during the pandemic and how Galagent contributed to improving it.
Reason 4: Tailor-made experiences are the requirements of travelers
According to the CBI study, people are craving to connect with nature uniquely, and to do so, they are looking for tailor-made trips and experiences.
The demand for tailored trips has increased in recent years, but the trend came to stay due to coronavirus. Mainly because travelers want to avoid crowds, be sure they have the slightest contact with people with the highest quality and attention to detail.
We now can say that luxury is in nature!
The CBI stated that Europeans are willing to pay significantly more to see animals in the wild. At the same time, they want to travel with knowledgeable guides to ask various questions about local culture, wildlife, and ecosystem conservation.
In conclusion, we can say that there are many challenges tour operators of nature destinations need to overcome. Some of them are: devise meaningful off-the-beaten-path experiences; increase the tailor-made trips offered in their catalogs; guarantee the minimum impact on the ecosystem of tourism activities; showcase the local culture and environment with experienced guides, and inform travelers how their trip affects local economies development.