The Hindustan Times | Zarafshan Shiraz, Delhi

2022 was really the year where avid travellers could break free from the shackles of staying home and enjoy travel like before. 2023 figures to be an extremely positive year for travel, owing to the feeling of ‘revenge travel’ and ‘travel to relax’.

From the point of view of a travel enthusiast, the last few years have been pretty shaky and with Covid-19 stalling all travel plans in 2020 and 2021, 2022 was really the year where avid travellers could break free from the shackles of staying home and enjoy travel like before. However, that too was pretty restricted with mostly domestic travel being the open option but 2023 figures to be an extremely positive year for travel, owing to the feeling of ‘revenge travel’ and ‘travel to relax’.

Studies conducted by industry giants show an overwhelmingly positive response for travel opportunities in 2023 and a great demand for newer niches like staycations, pet friendly travel, solo female travel, short term rental opportunities and caravanning. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Gorav Arora, General Manager at Novotel Mumbai in Juhu Beach, revealed that travellers have been becoming increasingly mindful about travelling responsibly. He said, “On the whole, they prefer sustainable choices which also becomes a factor in choosing the hotel they would like to stay at. Moreover, personalization, i.e. making the guest feel special by keeping their needs in mind and providing services accordingly, will continue to be one of the top trends in the industry. In addition to that, staycations and leisure travel too will remain on the rise as business travel and MICE events are said to recover significantly in the coming year.”

Pankaj Parwanda, Co-Founder of goSTOPS, shared, “The last few years have made us reflect that travel not only gives us an opportunity to see a new place but also gives us an opportunity to connect with new people and rejuvenate, and thus should not be taken for granted. It has become a means to seek unapologetic moments of joy amidst the sombre reality. 2023 will be driven by this motto and the main factors driving travellers’ choices will be community and a sense of belonging along with trends like sustainability and wellness. All of these will be combined to give travellers unique experiences. The ongoing pandemic and the subsequent inflation will result in people looking out for economically sustainable travel decisions.”

He added, “The percentage of foreign travellers to India has not yet reached the pre-pandemic levels. Subsequently, domestic travel will surge in the coming year, with destinations being replaced by unusual getaways and off-beat locations, particularly among young travellers. This is why I can see numerous unexplored destinations popping up on the map in the next year. Also, many young travellers are now working remotely, which will encourage the hospitality industry to ramp up infrastructure that can cater to long-term stays and their evolving needs. From shining a light on unexplored destinations to creating unique experiences driven by instinct and the desire for escapism, the travel industry is surely headed towards positive growth in 2023 and beyond.”

According to Pranav Dangi, Founder and CEO at Hosteller, following are some 2023 travel trends decoded:

1. Mind, Body, Soul – Self care has become an important part of survival in the modern world. Over 45% of people in the study agreed that they would like to experience relaxing, spiritual and fulfilling travel plans that had less hectic activities and more mindfulness, meditation and nature experiences like hiking, trail walking, bird watching etc. Spiritual stays, mindfulness retreats and experimental wellness vacations were the top contenders.

2. Totally off the grid – Since domestic tourism boomed in the last year, backpackers have become more accustomed and comfortable with the idea of travelling to offbeat and lesser known destinations. The trend will continue this year with aplomb, making hidden and reclusive locations the star of the show. Over 62% of Millennials and 55% of Gen-Z’ers agree that they would love to explore locations that make them feel closer to nature and the elements; even if that means sacrificing phone signals and wifi. Experiential travel will take a fore-front with the majority of travellers being interested in back-to-basic experiences like camping, foraging, forest retreats, survivalist tours etc.

3. Easy on the pocket – With the news of recession and economic setback looming over people’s heads; travellers this year will become budget conscious while choosing their travels. Though over 50% travellers have agreed that travel will remain a top priority, 68% of those travellers have made it clear that they will be making cuts when it comes to expenditures. This is surely to surge footfall in affordable alternate accommodations like backpacker hostels and guest houses; pulling away from luxurious resorts and high end hotels. Almost 55-61% of both male and female travellers have mentioned that they will be paying close attention to travel rewards, loyalty program benefits and online coupons in order to meet their travel goals. Some other ways to save would include off season travel, longer travel instead of short trips (staycations and workations), using travel hacks for airfare etc.

4. Pet friendly – The phenomenon of staying home for 2 years straight has led to a massive increase in pets. As always, pets remain a priority for backpackers, with more than 43% of them agreeing that they would not be travelling without their loved pets. Hospitality players will have to come up with ingenious ways and provide not only their guests but also their pets with comfortable accommodations and amenities. Safe, affordable and licensed pet relocation services will also see massive growth.

5. Responsible tourism – Even though a large chunk of people have agreed that travel is a necessity for them, along with budget constraints in terms of travel expenditure – almost 70% of surveyed adults have claimed that they will travel in more sustainable ways. This would mean a steady growth of travellers going to drivable destinations rather than catching flights, choosing to spend their money with providers who are climate conscious and growth for local communities and businesses instead of name brands.

2023 looks to be a very exciting year for travel with almost all frequent travellers agreeing that they will be travelling more and exploring more this year, keeping in mind their personal preferences and ideologies.

This article was originally published on The Hindustan Times: Pet friendly to off-the-grid tourism, here’s decoding the travel trends of 2023

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