Trends In Tourism And Their Effects On Our World

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  • by Jordyn Kerr


Every second, there are 30 tourist arrivals. That’s 1 billion tourist arrivals a year. Tourism has become one of the fastest growing and most important economic sectors in the world. The industry contributes to 10% of global gross domestic product and accounts for 1 in 10 jobs worldwide. In the last decade alone, the tourism industry has surged upwards with the rise of globalization. More people in our world are traveling, and tourism trends are rapidly changing both the market and the world we live in. In honor of International Tourism Day, we’re diving into a few of the trends that are fueling the tourism industry and the effects that some of these trends have on our world.


Sustainability has been a growing trend in the CPG space, but it’s fairly new to the tourism industry.’s sustainability travel report states that “over half of global travelers report being more determined to make sustainable travel choices than they were a year ago."

Sounds great, right? But the reality is that tourism itself generates a great deal of the world’s waste. As much as 80% of tourism relates to the pollution in coastal areas, and the state of the world’s oceans can no longer handle the amount of plastic pollution entering the water each day. Destinations that have seen a spike in tourists over the years are now facing challenges such as an excess amount of waste, increased CO2 emissions and air pollution. Picturesque islands such as Bali, Indonesia now depict challenging landscapes of cows grazing in garbage.

Sustainability in tourism is still a relative grey area, but consumers are sitting up and taking notice. A staggering 86% of global travelers reportedly said they would be willing to spend some of their vacation time on activities that offset the environmental impact of their stay, with over 37% willing to clear plastic and litter from a beach or other tourist attraction. As the environmental effects of tourism continue to emerge, predicts millennials and Gen Z travelers will look for sustainable experiences in their destination choices, while accommodation providers will look to reduce their plastic usage and increase their sustainable credentials. The future of sustainable tourism is a hopeful one - and we’re eager to follow along with the emerging trends shaping the industry. 

Nomadic Sabbaticals: Flexible Lifestyles + Experiential Learning

If you’re an Insta-savvy individual with an affinity for travel, you’ve likely come across a nomadic family or two while scrolling your feed. The rise in remote work and flexible careers coupled with the tantalizing nature of social media has opened up a world of possibilities for individuals worldwide. People are becoming open to the idea of long-term travel or “nomadic sabbaticals”, and have the means to more easily do it. Families such as @thebucketlistfamily or @travelling_family have inspired others to pack their bags, take their jobs and families on the road and explore unique destinations. 

The gig economy and lifestyle changes are also causing this shift. By 2020, it’s estimated that nearly half of the American and UK workforce will be freelancing. And as of 2017, 40% more children were being home-schooled in comparison to 2014. Greater value is being placed on experiences versus materialistic items. People are seeking experiential learning rather than that from a textbook -- and traveling is one mode of filling this desire. 56% of global travelers agree traveling has taught them invaluable life skills, and 2019 is expected to see a rise in people’s desire to learn something new. 

Generation Z will reportedly become more acutely aware of the need to question expensive university degrees over and against life skills that can be learned while traveling. From volunteering to skill-based holidays, travelers will begin to pursue alternative ways of learning through doing. Trips with a purpose will become more popular in 2019, with 68% of global travelers considering taking part in cultural exchanges to learn a new skill, followed by a volunteering trip (54%) and international work placements (52%) This trend has sparked new terms such as “unschooling,” “edventure” and family gap years that will become increasingly common. 


Yep, you heard us right - Insta-holidays are on the up and up. The rise of social media and people’s desire to snag that “insta-worthy” vacation photo have created what’s dubbed “Insta-holidays.” A survey conducted by Schofields Insurance revealed that 40.1% of respondents under 33 years old consider ‘instagrammability’ the most important factor when choosing a holiday destination. These trips are now centered around filling travelers’ social feeds with beautiful photography of their trips, rather than necessarily soaking up the experiences themselves. And articles such as “The Most Instagrammable Travel Destinations in the World for 2019” are fueling travel decisions. The irony of it all is that the rise of Insta-travel has prompted a rise in insta-gramable hot spots spotted with massive lines of  tourists dying to get *that photo.* So while your favorite travel couple’s profile may depict a lush and deserted waterfall, the reality is often a chaotic scene of people clamoring in a line to capture the same shot.

This trend may seem relatively harmless (although annoying for some), but the real threat of this trend is how it has impacted so many of the world’s top travel destinations. The influx of tourists to a specific spot has caused the deterioration of the area itself, causing negative environmental effects on our planet’s natural wonders and a heightened need for restoration of the world’s historical sites. Instagram hot spots such as Venice, Banff National Park, and Mt. Everest have all felt the repercussions of mass tourism, landing them on lists like Insider’s 15 Travel Destinations that Instagram Has Helped Ruin. 

Travel + Tourism Is Shaping Planet Earth

In our world, everything we do inevitably has positive and negative effects on our earth. Our lifestyle choices, businesses and innovations have an influence on the land, water and species that make up our planet. Tourism is no exception. Mass tourism has helped and hurt so many parts of our world. And as the number of tourists is expected to continue to grow, it’s important to acknowledge & address how our actions are shaping entire communities. 

According to The Atlantic, “International-tourist arrivals around the world have gone from a little less than 70 million as of 1960 to 1.4 billion today.” France remains the world’s most popular country for tourists and is expected to hit a record 100 million visitors a year by 2020. Destinations from Rome to Reykjavik, Goa to the Galapagos and Boracay to Bali are straining under the weight of too many tourists. There comes a time when “mass tourism” transforms into “over-tourism.” And with travel numbers on the rise, it’s important to take into consideration how your individual actions - or your company’s actions - impact these trends.

Campaigns like Venice’s #EnjoyRespectVenezia have emerged with a goal of encouraging tourists to be more mindful and respectful of the destinations they visit. In addition, articles such as this one from The West Australian on Ethical Tourism offer up simple ways in which you can travel mindfully and help reduce the adverse effects caused by over-tourism. 

As tourism numbers continue to soar, so does the number of individuals and companies taking notice of the industry’s trends and their effects on our world. We’re eager to follow along with these shifts in the market + the moves that brands and individuals are making to combat them.  

We’re curious to know - what kind of traveler are you? How do you or can you give back to the communities you visit? We’d love to hear from you. Join our discussion on LinkedIn!