Did you know that the Romans were the pioneers of the annual holidays that we still enjoy to this day? 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?
Our holidays might not be as luxurious as a Roman getaway, but more people than ever are sending holiday requests to their bosses. 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 change in the tide for alternative holidays is largely due to new trends taking over the hospitality and hotel industry- such as organic chocolate!. But what does that actually mean for holidaymakers, local communities and businesses across the globe?
More holiday makers are searching for terms such as ‘eco-friendly holidays’, ‘eco-friendly hotels’ and ‘green holidays’, which embodies a change in the typical British attitude to a holiday. Along with veganism, flexitarianism and 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.
A staggering 87% of global travellers say that they want to travel sustainably, found in the Sustainable Travel Report by Booking.com. 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.
A whole host of factors are behind the surge in popularity for alternative holidays. 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.
People choose alternative holidays for various reasons. 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 underpins the practicality of taking an alternative holiday, as the classic package getaway continues to fall in price. 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.
Customers are constantly looking for a new way to book their holiday. 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.
2019 could certainly be the year we see more sustainable trips, if travel companies and hotels recognise the growing demand from their customers. By providing an alternative, companies can tap into a unique market and appeal to a wider audience.
A sustainable itinerary
A current emerging trend is the concept of fair-trade holidays, which provide insightful learning experiences. Holidaymakers can integrate themselves into the communities who are behind the products we frequently buy.
Activities such as The Meet the People Tours allow small tour groups to travel to get a first-hand experience of a new culture, in places like India, Bangladesh, Nepal. The tours are an opportunity to discover more about sacred cultural traditions and how this differs from the west. 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 experiences could enlighten your broader perspective. 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.
You will return home with more than just a tan, instead you will have stories to tell and a new found understanding of a culture which contrasts that of our own.