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Travellers are more actively focused on enabling positive and empowering experiences for the communities they visit, new research shows. The rise of the ‘conscious traveler’ is increasingly presenting an opportunity for travel beyond the beaten track.
Travel at the heart of communities is presenting a unique opportunity for the revival of local economies in India, capitalizing on authentic connections between travelers and communities. New research by Economist Impact which surveyed more than 4,500 people across nine countries in the Asia-Pacific region including India found that:
- More than two-thirds of Indians say it’s important to them that they’re creating a positive impact for locals, with 58 percent saying it’s important that they’re not contributing to issues such as overtourism.
- More than 60 percent of people in India are conscious that communities are in need of economic recovery and will factor this into where they travel and how they spend their money.
- An overwhelming 67 percent of Indians say they’ll be more conscious when it comes to familiarising themselves with what’s important to the communities they’re visiting and how they can make a contribution.
- Almost two-thirds of Indians place importance on using travel as a way to meaningfully connect with communities and culture, with 60 percent believing it important that they immerse themselves in local communities.
- Over 50 percent of Indian travelers say that technology-driven solutions can make the tourism industry more inclusive, by enabling a wider range of local stakeholders to benefit economically
The research also highlights how the travel revolution is presenting new opportunities for rural areas, particularly those in emerging economies, as travelers become more open to exploring new ways of travelling and living.
- 69 percent of travelers are willing to a pay a premium for an experience that supports sustainable tourism practices
- 68 percent say that they are willing to forego comforts and luxuries on a holiday if their actions can support sustainable tourism outcomes with 64 percent prepared to avoid holiday destinations that are faced with sustainability challenges
- Moving forward, more than 56 percent of people are planning to engage in more domestic travel than in the past, with the aim of allocating more of their travel budget to destinations within their own country.
The study also examined attitudes towards holistically sustainable travel that encompasses social, economic, cultural, community and environmental aspects. Creating equitable outcomes and income for locals emerged, as well as engaging with new social experiences and meaningful connections, emerged as the top two most important aspects of sustainable travel for those surveyed.
“Following the pandemic, travellers are thinking more about the implications of their travel choices and decisions”, said Pratima Singh, Senior Manager for Policy and Insights at Economist Impact. “As demonstrated by our survey findings, we’re seeing a trend where people are attempting to make their travel decisions more sustainable—economically, culturally and environmentally—and hoping to have a more positive impact by benefiting local communities.”
Commenting on these trends, Amanpreet Bajaj, General Manager – Airbnb India, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, said, “People are increasingly becoming more thoughtful and deliberate about the ways they can use travel to make a positive contribution to the communities they are visiting. We’re seeing the rise of a new form of ‘conscious travel’ that will benefit communities across India in new ways. In the wake of the disconnection and hardship brought by the pandemic, we are at a crossroads – and, together, we have an opportunity to embrace a positive path forward for tourism in India. Airbnb is committed to working with communities and governments to harness the travel revolution for the benefit of all.”
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