Tourism Trends

The growing diversification of the tourism sector has been the result of an evolution that has had much to do with the daily development of society.

In order to understand the scope of this diversification, we have compiled the main trends in tourism, showing which are the main types of tourism that currently exist and highlighting the importance for national development, the versatility and adaptability of tourism activity.

What is tourism?

Tourism is a social, cultural and economic phenomenon that “comprises activities undertaken by people during their travels and stays in places other than their natural environment for a consecutive period of less than one year, for leisure, business and other purposes”, as defined by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

The concept of tourism has evolved greatly over time, especially due to the diversification of tourism activity.

This is a dynamic concept that encompasses the breadth of what tourism activity means and lays the necessary foundations to continue building, in the future, a tourism adapted to the needs of a continuously evolving society, both culturally and technologically. In fact, we will see how each of the trends in tourism has been developing around a concept proposed by the UNWTO more than 15 years ago.

What are the types of tourism?

The types of tourism are those that adapt to the different travel needs of the tourist. Therefore, we find a wide variety of types of tourism and this can vary as our needs do too.

To see the tourism of today, its typologies and trends, we have elaborated a classification of the tourism trends in 2021 according to the destination and the purpose of the trip.

Domestic tourism, short trips

Domestic tourism, also known as local or domestic tourism, is a trend in destinations. Domestic tourism, also called local or domestic tourism, implies the traveler’s mobilization within the borders of his own country and will be increasingly local according to the proximity of the destination to the place of origin. This type of tourism does not require additional documentation, since it involves the same country, and does not represent any barrier with respect to the language or currency used.

The IDITUR-Ostelea research center published the report on travel trends prepared by anthropologist and researcher Claudio Milano. The study highlights the live like a local option and the contact with the local. “Just as tourists of the third millennium tend to choose less visited destinations and attractions, they also tend to prefer a certain closeness to local residents and host communities. This trend offers the authentic taste of experiencing the local culture and living like the locals.” He also discusses the Peer to Peer phenomenon and the options offered by technology.

Family tourism, a classic

Family tourism, as its name suggests, is that in which the family group is mobilized, totally or partially, that is, two or more members of the family can travel. The purpose of this type of tourism is to strengthen family ties through the tourist experience, so its definition is framed within particular limits and requirements.

For example, it requires hotel infrastructure capable of accommodating a complete family group, as well as recreational activities that entertain each and every one of its members. Likewise, destinations must have the necessary technology and resources to facilitate the mobilization and stay of a large number of people, since the trip must be a source of relaxation for the family and not a source of added stress.

Business and event tourism, MICE

As globalization and technology advance, business tourism, also known as MICE tourism (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions), is gaining ground within the tourism sector. By definition, the individual who does business tourism travels for the need to fulfill work and professional matters such as conventions, events, congresses or exhibitions. The changes in business tourism and events due to the pandemic have generated new relationships and forms of organization such as hybrid and online events, although face-to-face events will return.

Urban tourism, short term getaways

This category includes trips to the world’s large cities and urban centers. In general, this is one of the most popular types of tourism chosen by travelers due to its great development and the amenities it offers. These include: large airports with direct flights to any part of the world, extensive hotel infrastructure (adapted to all needs) and a wide range of restaurants and leisure activities. Urban tourism in turn encompasses business relations, educational tourism and cultural tourism, since cities offer a varied and robust range of leisure and entertainment activities.

Rural tourism, a lever for recovery

Rural tourism, also known as community-based tourism, has recently emerged as an alternative to conventional urban tourism. In this type of tourism, tourists travel to small communities, usually rural, in order to learn about their lifestyle and culture or, in some cases, to disconnect from the city.

During the pandemic, the alternative of rural and nature tourism has become increasingly popular. The webinar Models of rural tourism in Spain in which Raquel Santos and Claudia Yubero participated confirms that the concept of sustainable and respectful tourism is a reality, as well as an opportunity for the development of the area in which it takes place.

Nature tourism, a breath of fresh air

These trips take place in the context of nature, relaxation and enjoyment of the environment, in addition to the practice of activities related to the area. Within this framework, there is a varied offer of activities for 5.0 travelers. Its activity is quite diversified and revolves around the contact with nature and its preservation, so it is deeply linked to sustainable tourism.

Similarly, nature tourism has laid the foundations for the development of other types of tourism, among which are:

  • Agro-tourism, where tourists have the opportunity to visit vineyards, farms and other food production and processing plants.
  • Ecotourism, where tourists visit preserved areas such as national parks or reserves. This type of tourism promotes stays with a lower environmental impact and activities aimed at protecting natural areas.
  • Wild tourism, where the main attraction is to be in contact with animals in their natural habitat.
  • Adventure tourism, which by definition includes physical activities such as mountaineering, hiking, climbing, among others.

Medical tourism, a healthy option

Also known as health tourism, medical tourism is that in which the tourist travels with the purpose of having a medical consultation or undergoing a surgical procedure to which he/she does not have access in his/her place of origin. Within this group, cosmetic surgery is one of the most demanded, although it can be any procedure or consultation.

This type of tourism has been one of the most criticized worldwide, mainly because the reasons that move the tourist are very varied and range from economic reasons, in some places it is cheaper than in others, or for reasons of legality. In some cases, the national government itself is in charge of promoting and developing health tourism, as is the case of Turkey where, thanks to various subsidies and agreements, hair implant surgeries are cheaper than in other countries.