Niche Travel Set for Growth in Wake of Experiential Trend

Mainstream destinations are encouraged to explore the many and varied opportunities which exist within specialist and niche travel markets, attendees at WTM London were told today.

Attendees heard from experts in healthcare, food and halal tourism, and there was also some fresh-to-market data presented by Caroline Bremner, head of travel research for Euromonitor International. Based on insights from 40,000 people across 40 countries, the data identified eight types of traveller and drilled down into the future opportunities these segments represent.

“Wellness worshippers” were one of the segments – defined as people who showed an interest in health and holidays – with a fairly even distribution across the regions. Slightly more men identified as wellness worshippers than women, with the dominant age group 30-44 year-olds.

A later panel featured Yunus Gurkan, supervisory board president, Global Healthcare Travel Council. He talked about the different segments of healthcare tourism his organisation covers, such as the health of tourists in destination which covers wellness and spa breaks, and tourism specifically for medical procedures and/or rehabilitation.

The council formed in 2013 with 38 member countries and now has now 56. Gurkan told delegates that in 2022 more than 100m travelers worth $80bn could be defined as healthcare tourists. By 2030, he claimed, the market could be worth $1 trillion.

Other industry bodies were given the chance to promote their own specific niches. The World Food Travel Association’s founder and executive director Erik Wolf told attendees that more than nine out of ten travelers consider the culinary reputation of a destination before booking.

He was keen to tell attendees that food tourism is “not solely about restaurants, that’s a common misconception among destination strategists and marketing.” Food tours, tastings, visits to the farm or brewery or local delicatessens, engaging directly with the makers are all under his organisation’s umbrella.

“There’s no better way to experience the culture of a destination than through the food,” he said.

Food is a vital component in halal travel, but destinations need to offer Muslim travelers more, the founder of the Halal Travel Network told delegates. Hafsa Gaher said that destinations needed to provide facilities for travellers to pray, hotels needed to remove alcohol from minibars, and importantly “as a women, wearing a hijab, that the destination is safe. Am I welcome here?”

She also made a distinction between the needs of Muslim travellers in general, and travel such as pilgrimages that have a specifical spiritual purpose.

The long-term growth profile for halal travel is positive, she said. The Muslim population is growing, and will be greater than two billion by 2030. She added that this population is young, with 70% of Muslims under the age of 14.

“These young people are immersed in technology and culture and they will want to travel without compromising their faith,” she said.

eTurboNews is a media partner for World Travel Market (WTM).

SOURCE: Niche Travel Set for Growth in Wake of Experiential Trend