Eco-travel set to dominate Scottish tourism

Visitors, aware of the environmental cost to travel, now seek to immerse themselves in a destination whilst limiting their impact

CLIMATE change and sustainability is set to dominate Scottish tourism, led by a rise in the eco-traveller, says VisitScotland.

Visitors, aware of the environmental cost to travel, now seek to immerse themselves in a destination whilst limiting their impact and even “giving something back”, in what is being described as “transformational tourism”.

The concept forms the basis of the first Trends paper of the decade produced by the national tourism organisation and revealed today (26 February 2020) at the Travalyst summit in Edinburgh.

“The future of tourism is ensuring that visitors receive the transformation they seek while understanding the needs of locals and the environment,” reads Trends 2020: Travelling towards transformational tourism.

Eco-Travel has been identified by the tourism body’s Insight team as one of six travel trends expected to impact the industry over the next 18 months.

Searches for “eco-friendly travel” on Pinterest have risen by 73 per cent this year with “eco-city concept” searches up by 46 per cent.

Destinations with “green credentials” are increasing in popularity while opportunities for visitors to contribute to sustainable projects are key attractors, the Insight paper notes.

Other trends include:

  • Transforming the typical: Businesses and providers are looking at disrupting their brands to attract new markets. By taking a root and branch look at your current offering, can new, radical products be incorporated into your business model?
  • Water-Ways: With 2020 being the year of Coasts and Waters we expect to see a wave of aquatic interest in tourism-related to seas, lochs, rivers and canals.
  • Solivagant (pronounced ‘Soul-I-Vay-Gant’ translated as Spirits) and the Rise of the Global Nomad: Derived from the Latin for lone wanderer, it reflects the growth of single households due to declining or rejecting attitudes to marriage, and increased numbers of divorced households, who have a strong desire to travel.

The paper notes that over the last decade there has been a “seismic shift” in the supply and demand approach to tourism in the industry, from a focus on visitor growth to using the sector as an “economic lever” for employment and social cohesion.

For travellers, it has moved from looking for experiential destinations, driven by picture-led social media channels, to “transformational tourism” on the back trends such as wellness and mindfulness, in which their trips should have “meaning, challenge, connection and impact”.

In 2010 there were 14.7 million visitors to Scotland, contributing £4.1 billion in expenditure to the economy. The paper estimates that in 2019 we may see 16 million visitors, spending £5.5 billion, representing an annual average growth rate of about 2% trips per year and 4% expenditure.

The Travalyst coalition, a global partnership founded by The Duke of Sussex together with leading brands, Skyscanner, Tripadvisor, and Visa, has invited key

stakeholders in travel and tourism from across Scotland to the EICC for a series of workshops and discussions to explore sustainability challenges and opportunities for further collaboration in Scotland.

Chris Greenwood, Senior Insight Manager at VisitScotland, said: “For tourism businesses in Scotland to remain competitive, it is important to be informed of the trends and drivers which will be influencing the behaviour of travellers now and in to the future.

“Visitors are continuing to seek an authentic experience but one which isn’t at the expense of the destination. This presents an exciting opportunity for Scottish tourism to develop a world-class experience that benefits both the visitor and the local community, whilst protecting the environment which attracts travellers in the first place.”

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