2021 is here; and hopefully with it, some relief for travel and tour operators. The world has spent the last 12 months willing this year to come sooner. It is the year pregnant with the possibility of relief from a pandemic that has plagued every inch of our lives.
We are not only anticipating the global release of Coronavirus vaccines, but we are also entering a new travel year with the prospect of movements being more free and a more stable tourism industry returning.
Looking ahead at the year, there is a weight of expectation riding on it, as we all wonder:
What is to follow for the Tourism Industry now that 2021 has finally arrived?
We take a look at predicted travel niches expected to boom in 2021.
The first off the mark for popular travel niches in 2021 is multi-generational travel. This is already a popular segment in the tourism industry, but the last 12 months has brought about a newfound appreciation for family, and due to this, family travel has seen it spike in popularity.
After such a long time of separation, isolation and distance throughout the pandemic, many are using vacation time as the perfect opportunity to reunite, reconnect and create memories with extended families and their loved ones.
As a general rule, multi-generational travel is age inclusive and covers three generations; grandparents, parents and children. While catering to different ages and abilities is tricky, more people are expected to travel this way as the travel numbers grow throughout 2021 and 2022.
Is it a plane, a train or a vehicle? No, it’s a bicycle. The popularity of the bike movement is stronger than ever. Putting your pedal to the metal has never been so appealing now while the fitness industry, environmental consciousness movements, and everyone in between look to ways to boost a healthy alternative to a consumerist approach to tourism.
Whether individuals enjoy biking as a sport or are hoping to challenge themselves with something new by mountain biking and bikepacking; or perhaps they view it as a more leisurely way to take in sights with friends … this niche is showing explosive growth.
Being outdoors definitely provides a sense of freedom (a blessing in a confined COVID-19 world!). Bike tours and cycle holidays are bringing in tourists as governments and councils around the world start to focus greater amounts of cash into infrastructure for bikers.
Of particular note within this travel niche is the popularity of electric bikes, which provide more power for your pedal effort, aiding those that may have difficulty biking normally. This is now rated as the third top trending ‘hot demand trips’ by the Adventure Travel Trade Association in 2020, itineraries catering to electric bikers are gaining popularity by the week. Electric bikes broaden the target market of cycle tourists, boosting the popularity of the segment.
They are known by many names across the world. Campervans, RV’s, mobile homes. It is a way of travelling that is associated with the idea of freedom of movement while still being comfortable.
Similar to the other travel niches on this list, motorhome travel offers a great deal of flexibility, while not compromising on safety; especially in these uncertain times. With the ability to self-drive and remain socially distant from others, holidaying in a motorhome is an option that many are taking.
Travellers who travel in this way are drawn to exploring and spending time in natural locations. The number of travellers buying a motorhome, in particular first time buyers, has also increased with over 40,000 RV wholesale shipments taking place in June 2020, a 10% increase from the year previous. Such numbers are an indicator of how popular this niche segment will continue to be in the near future.
Considered by many to be a little sedate, birding has flipped this viewpoint on its head as people craved deeper connections with nature and a sense of freedom. We don’t think it could get any more niche than birding or avitourism.
According to bird watchers around the world, the drawcard of bird watching is that it brings with it an almost meditative state as birds symbolise the “ultimate freedom of movement.”
It is being noticed that a much younger generation of bird watchers is emerging following the outbreak of the Coronavirus, and we are putting bets on birding tours being one to watch in 2021 and beyond.
Global lockdowns saw younger people, even children, whip out the binoculars and take note of bird species as a means to pass the time. Retailers experienced a 10-15% increase in spending within the birding category and engagement on Cornell’s bird logging app rose by 84%. Interactions with adventure travellers have also found that bird watching is one of their top rated activities.
New birders may simply be reacting to the line of thinking that the number of bird species in a person’s surroundings is said to directly impact individual happiness. By simply immersing yourself in an environment with a variety of bird species, people can increase their overall level of life satisfaction; and what better time to do this than when on holiday?!
As is the story with most travel niches, whether they be newfound or long term individual interests such as bird watching, these are often the triggers for participating in such specialised tourism activities.
Virtual Reality Tours
Seeking a total unplug from technology, travellers often crave the absence of technology of any kind while on holiday. Rather, they prefer to take the opportunity to soak up nature rather than looking for the best WiFi signal. It is no surprise that holidaying can be seen as an escape from staring at a screen all day for work, or an unhealthy social media habit.
However, with COVID-19 quashing the possibility of travel for those in pandemic-stricken countries, technology has the power to transport individuals to other places from the comforts of their own homes.
Virtual reality is carving out a very successful niche for itself as online experiences offer a glimpse of travel for many. Making tourism encounters possible via an immersive experience (headset, simulators), virtual reality technology can make someone truly feel they are seeing and experiencing things in their chosen location on the screen. The gamification of tourism through the sales of virtual reality headsets is expected to grow by 53% by 2024.
In the past, this technology operated as a great marketing tool for Destination Management Organisations, allowing potential travellers to ‘try before you buy’. It is likely that physical holidays will be replaced with virtual experiences in 2021 in areas affected by travel restrictions. Virtual Reality Tours are an important tool to keep inspiration and discussions about travel alive.
Now that we know what trends to keep a look out for when booking travel in 2021, you can look forward to satisfying your birding interest and experience the wonder of the natural world. You can book your tour with us and contact us here.