Approximately 1.2 billion people travel the world each year, according to the World Tourism Organization. Tourism is a powerful economic driver that not only contributes to the economy but can impact cultural and social aspects of our world in ways that other industries cannot. Tourism is often seen as a beacon of light in tough economic times, a resilient sector that helps us share our natural and cultural wonders through experiences. As more and more people recognize the value of tourism, it becomes increasingly important for destinations to differentiate themselves among the options for travellers. That means staying up to date on research and trends in travel and tourism to ensure a high-quality tourism product or experience, one that exceeds the expectations of guests. Travel and tourism exist in all corners of the world, so trends in the industry are usually global. As the provincial tourism industry association, Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador strives to ensure local tourism operators are equipped to understand global tourism trends and to provide the experiences that guests are seeking.
While specific trends stand out annually, several have been growing consistently in recent years. Millennial travellers play a significant role in the direction the travel and tourism industry is taking. As one of the largest generations in history and the youngest generation with disposable income for travel, millennials are truly influencing the direction of the industry. For the millennial generation, advances in technology drive the trip-planning cycle. From the inspiration stage to the research and narrowing stages, right through to the booking stage, technology is ubiquitous and dictates how tourism operators reach and market to travellers. Through the TourismTechnology.com program, Hospitality NL helps tourism operators across the province understand technology and the ways it impacts their business through mentoring, training, and technology support.
A noticeable shift in how travellers book a destination has taken place in recent years with the rise of the sharing economy. As defined on Investopedia, the sharing economy is an economic model in which individuals can borrow or rent assets owned by someone else. While this model has existed for many years, technology and the Internet have allowed the peer-to-peer (P2P) rental market to flourish, making it easier than ever for people to connect and facilitate the sharing of assets. The online platforms that are essential to the sharing economy are no longer newcomers in the market, but have grown into leaders in the sectors of service, transportation, and hospitality. Two of the most popular and relevant platforms in Canada are Uber, a ride-sharing service that connects drivers and passengers, and Airbnb, a platform for sharing accommodations that connects hosts and guests. Criticism of the sharing economy often relates to regulatory issues. For example, jurisdictions all over the world are struggling with the proliferation of unlicensed and unregulated accommodations that has been facilitated by platforms such as Airbnb or VRBO. What is clear, however, is that today’s traveller is seeking cultural immersion in a destination, whether that be in local, one-of-a-kind accommodations, authentic experiences, or cuisine.
Experiential travel is about more than just seeing a destination. It is about connecting with a destination through authentic experiences of its people, culture, and history. Under the guidance of the private public partnership of the Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism Board, the provincial tourism industry is working toward a collective goal (Vision 2020) of increasing visitor spending to $1.6 billion annually by 2020. The Vision outlines seven strategic directions, one of which is product or experience development. Recently, the provincial Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation launched the 2017–2020 Provincial Tourism Product Development Plan, which focuses on enhancing and creating high-quality, high-value people- and program-based experiences that celebrate our people, place, and culture. By delivering on our brand promise and providing these authentic experiences to travellers, the provincial tourism industry is poised for continued growth and success and the achievement of our vision.
Culinary tourism is another global trend, but what’s more, it is a major aspect of who we are as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. The rise of the culinary scene in both urban and rural Newfoundland and Labrador has skyrocketed in recent years, with world-class local chefs creating an amazing cuisine using traditional ingredients and techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation. Travellers seeking out authentic experiences of a destination, especially through food, coupled with a younger generation’s realization of the importance of preserving and protecting traditional aspects of our unique culture and heritage, represent a major component of our tourism picture.
The Trekksoft Travel Trend Report lists many other global tourism trends that impact our local industry, such as responsible and sustainable tourism, travel photography, adventure tourism, solo travel, and offline experiences. Just as there are thousands of unique destinations in the world, there are countless types of travellers and travel motivators to consider. Newfoundland and Labrador has established itself as a must-see destination and through the hard work and investment of a passionate tourism industry, this province will continue to deliver unforgettable experiences that have lasting effects on our visitors and residents alike.
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