The future of tourism – 10 Megatrends

The first five will have a major influence on demand in the tourism sector but will also impact the second set of trends, which concerns changing supply. Together, they represent forces that will shape the future of tourism.


The global population is aging and as a result a significant tourist segment is emerging – “silver hair tourists” – with specific desires and needs in terms of customization, service consumption, security and desired products.

In addition, Generation Y, also known as Millennials, and Generation Z, known as iGen, are likewise appearing as an influence. These are tech savvy, technology driven age groups, very different from one another, with specific needs for communication, consumption and tourist experience.

The increase in average income and the fall in levels of absolute poverty are resulting in a growing middle class. The middle-class population is expected to increase further, up to 4.9 billion by 2030, where most of the growth is expected from Asia. Their characteristics will have a growing importance and impact on the tourism sector.

There are also new destinations emerging, sought after by the above segments. The emerging markets will soon overtake developed markets in terms of international arrivals with 58% of the share. As it stands, in the top 20 global destinations by international overnight visitors (2015), 10 cities are from the Middle East and Asia, and half of them experienced double digit growth between 2009 and 2015.

Today, there is more need than ever to secure political, economic and social stability in order to prevent terrorism and ensure safety for all tourists. Political tension, terrorism and civil riots are unpredictatble and impose a threat to the future of tourism in any destination.

Technological (r)evolution in the hotel industry is a game changer, and is already dominating how the industry operates. Although this provides more possibilities to entice Millennials and iGen, the speed of change is hard to keep up with and the complexity is tough to manage.

Digital channels dominate tourism, but growth of SoMo (Social + Mobile) is bringing a real revolution, which is disrupting the entire sector on an ongoing basis. The digitalization of tourism has made it clear that new competitors can shake up a lot of long-term business plans.

Loyalty within the industry as we know it will decline. There will be no more complicated sign-up forms in order to collect and redeem points, and no more risk of losing them over time. Physical loyalty cards are vanishing and loyalty programs now have to be integrated into the www.horwathhtl.com Tourism Megatrends 3 tourist experience. A dynamic digital environment allows for the development of new, innovative loyalty programs based on precise insights through Big Data, enhancing each tourist’s experience throughout their journey.

Health and a healthy lifestyle will become increasingly crucial in tourists’ decision-making. Aging tourists, the lifestyle of Millennials and iGen, a growing middle class, and the technological and digital revolution all contribute to boosting the importance of the health trend. Health and a healthy lifestyle will become progressively more integrated into multiple dimensions of tourism offerings.

Global tourism will continue to grow alongside world prosperity and well-being. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure its sustainability. Economic, social and environmental pillars must be balanced to ensure the long-term sustainable development of tourism. Sustainable tourism development requires the participation of all relevant stakeholders and strong political leadership.

Many tourist service providers have already changed their business models to meet the challenges arising from all the identified trends. Destinations, travel companies, hotel companies and other players along the value chain will have to be constantly on their toes, tracking future developments of these trends. It will continue to be a story of those who were prepared, those who were not, and those who managed to adapt to the change quickly enough.

You can download a copy of the full HTL report here: Tourism Megatrends – 10 things you need to know about the future of tourism.


Tags: Horwath, HTL, trends


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