Following a tumultuous two years largely defined by the pandemic and a year of staggered return to normalcy in 2022, the travel and tourism industry continues to show positive signs of recovery.
As the world navigates the post-pandemic era, the experts at Wego share their insights on key trends expected to shape the travel industry in 2023 and how they may influence travellers to adopt new behaviours and preferences.
Casually combining professional and personal
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted technology adoption in many areas, including the tourism and hospitality industry. With the widespread normalisation of remote working, bleisure travel and workation will become increasingly common travel habits among young professionals in 2023.
Combining business and pleasure means that travellers will most likely embark on extended business trips — they will no longer opt to simply head in and out, but will want to extend their stays to squeeze in some sightseeing or personal time. A bleisure traveller might extend their long weekend into a one-week stay, since flexible working arrangements render the need to return to the office no longer as urgent.
Professionals worldwide debated the merits of working from the office versus working from home through 2022. Travellers embracing the workation trend in 2023 will have known the answer lies somewhere in between. They’ll be more adept at mixing the professional and personal, and less likely to want to return to the traditional working mode. These travellers will also be spoilt for choice as more countries have rolled out Digital Nomad Visa arrangements, providing them opportunities to create a temporary homebase anywhere in the world.
Prioritising environmental protection
Environmental awareness and the concern for preserving the planet for future generations are becoming more and more prevalent for travellers. The year 2023 will likely be marked by significant growth in environmental protection and sustainable development preferences from both the traveller and the industry.
Travellers in 2023 will become more conscious of how their travel choices can affect the planet and the people who live in the places they visit. They will likely opt for more environmentally friendly and socially responsible travel choices. They may be more vocal and curious about the choices made by hospitality establishments.
These individuals may choose destinations that have implemented sustainable tourism practices, such as using renewable energy sources and protecting local wildlife or opting for accommodations that have been certified as environmentally friendly.
They may also have learned more about their carbon footprints and will opt to be more involved in their journeys. This interest may manifest in them pursuing more sustainable travel options, such as eco-tourism or voluntourism.
Making up for lost time and experiences
‘Revenge travel,’ or the frenetic need to travel to make up for lost time and experiences, is a travel trend that reared its head in 2022.
In 2023, we may see travellers prioritising luxury and experiential travel experiences to make up for the time and experiences lost during the pandemic, such as staying at high-end hotels, going on a luxury cruise, or splurging on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
There may also be a renewed interest in international travel to multiple destinations on extended trips to make up for lost time.
Additionally, the year 2023 will be the year when travellers may be more inclined to indulge in travel-related activities such as attending music festivals, sporting events, and other live events. A prime example is the World Cup 2022 held in Qatar recently, which was essentially open to all.
Music festivals also made their triumphant return in 2022. After two straight years of cancellations, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was officially held at the Empire Polo Club grounds in the US.
This trend will likely continue in 2023 as several unmissable sporting and music events have been scheduled for 2023, including the Australian Open, the F1 World Championship, and the Tour de France. Music enthusiasts can also look forward to major events such as Coachella 2023, Primavera Sound Barcelona 2023, along with other notable concerts.
Finally, the isolation and time spent in isolation over the pandemic years will provide an incentive to travel together in groups. 2022 might have been a cautious one for most travellers, so 2023 will be the year people travel the world together.
Technology is increasingly important in shaping the travel experience in 2023, and travellers will have entered the year feeling more confident wielding it for trip planning. Besides using online travel booking sites or mobile apps to compare prices, read reviews, and make reservations for flights and hotels, tech-savvy customers can also access real-time travel information about their destinations, including the latest travel restrictions.
In short, travellers will increasingly rely on technology to enhance and personalise their travel experience in 2023. Numerous travel-related apps will further allow users to plan, navigate and experience their trips more efficiently and effectively while staying informed and up-to-date with the latest news, restrictions, and safety protocols.
Staying cautious and optimistic
While some may consider the pandemic to have officially ended, travellers in 2023 will still be cautious of the possibility of COVID-related rules and restrictions being reimposed. For instance, the surge of cases in China forced several countries to mandate pre-departure negative RT-PCR tests for international arrivals.
The situation remains fluid; COVID-related travel restrictions and regulations will continue to evolve and change. Travellers in 2023 will stay vigilant and informed about the current events and rules in the places they plan to visit. However, they will be less likely to panic in the face of change; they'll have known the drill by now.