NFT travel, electrified escapes and a rail revival are the key the 2023 travel trends set to shape the sector, said Euronews Travel, a top platform dedicated to tourism and travel at Europe’s leading international news media.

Its latest report “Travel in 2023: Connecting People, Places & Planet” on the future of tourism, and identified and analysed eight sector trends within existing travel themes that will shape the industry as it snaps back to pre-2020 norms.

From a pandemic-born trend for immersion in nature, to the evolution of virtually enhanced tourism and more eco-friendly and sustainable journeys to reignite the passion for train travel, Euronews identified what will shake up the way globetrotters see the world.

Trend #1: Regenerative travel

In 2023, the focus will move towards nature positive and carbon positive/neutral travel as more holidaymakers ask what hotels, destinations and tour companies are doing for the environment. With the climate emergency headline news, it will no longer be enough for travel businesses to simply aim to minimise their environmental impact. Tour operators, destination bodies and hotels will be tasked with actively repairing, restoring and investing in nature to keep pace with consumer sentiment.

Exodus is one travel company leading the way with its pledge to become nature net positive by 2024. The jewel in its crown is a huge rewilding project in the Apennines of Italy, partially funded by trip bookings, with the potential to remove approximately 1,500 tonnes of carbon annually.

Trend #2: Rail revival

Convenience, cost and carbon footprint are all factors to help reignite a passion for train travel in 2023. As travellers look to become more eco-friendly, a handful of private companies are reviving night trains across Europe.

Eduardo Santander, Executive Director and CEO of the European Travel Commission (ETC) said: “The undeniable truth is that European tourism currently runs on aviation. To spend the weekend in London, Rome or Paris, and instantly, so that you leave the office on a Friday and come back on a Monday morning or Sunday afternoon, that's only possible by plane. So, let's admit that we have to change the way we see that kind of tourism."

Trend 3: #Hutlife

A growing number of travellers will ditch hotels in favour of rural huts and cabins as more look to connect with nature. These tiny retreats tap into the recent aesthetic appeal of ‘vanlife’ and tiny homes and will attract a much broader demographic than ever before.

Trend #4: Virtually enhanced destinations

The pandemic forced travel companies, attractions and destinations to get on board with technology in new and exciting ways. The untapped potential of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to enhance the travel experience came on in leaps and bounds during the pandemic. Almost overnight you could take a tour of a cobbled medieval town in Romania, join ice bathers in Helsinki or go shopping in the fragrant souks of Marrakesh – without leaving the comfort of home.

Trend #5: NFT travel

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – digital assets that live on the blockchain – are about to break into the travel industry. Early adopters are using them as keys to unlock physical travel experiences and real-world private spaces/networks around the globe. And while NFTs are set to be big in the luxury travel market, providing an extra tier of exclusivity, they can also be used to support fundraising and sustainability projects.

Trend #6: Electrified escapes

As fuel prices soar and low-carbon activities become in demand, the electric travel market will thrive in 2023. Following the recent global e-bike boom, electrically powered scooter tours, sledging, boat trips and safaris are all starting to take off.

Trend #7: Journeys with momentum

The seismic shift towards working from home means millions of people are more sedentary in their day-to-day lives. This new global environment will leave remote and hybrid workers craving movement next year. As a result, active travel – typically focused on outdoorsy experiences such as hiking, cycling, swimming and running – will see a surge in 2023.

Trend #8: Hyper Personalisation

Cookie-cutter travel is out. Personalised service has always been a marker of luxury travel, but now switched-on travel businesses are going the extra mile with unique, one-off experiences for guests regardless of budget. That might mean unique QR codes for contactless check-ins, vegan food options at breakfast or a bigger range of activities offered around personal interests.

Industry giant Hyatt, with a choice of over 200 experiences across more than 85 destinations, is shaping its hyper-personalisation offer in the form of a platform dedicated to curated wellbeing offers.

Commenting on the report, Santander, said: "It's very difficult now to predict 2023 or 2024. We think there's going to be a huge change of paradigm when it comes to decision-making at the consumer level. But also at the supplier level, where we see a lot of businesses are under scrutiny and the approach to sustainable goals.” 

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