For the travel and tourism industry in Latin America, 2017 was a year of renewal and growth in nearly all sectors. Travel accounted for 9 percent of Latin America’s GDP, while international tourist arrivals increased by 7 percent, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). To better understand this growing market – more travelers, investment, international flights, new audiences and buying behaviors – we looked at factors that are changing how Latin American consumers make their travel plans. We expect 2018 to be a year of evolution, as recent trends and existing pillars transform as the result of rapid technological, economic, political and social change. Here are a few highlights:
- LATAM is the New Black: Latin America stands out as a travel destination. Countries like Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Chile and Argentina have made new investments, and new international travel players, such as Norwegian Airlines, are emerging in the region. UNWTO forecasts that Latin America will receive 78.2 million tourists by 2027, generating US $82 billion for the local economy.
- Voluntourism: Millennials are advancing the trend of traveling with a purpose that goes beyond simply tourism. Research shows that most want to include a volunteer activity in their vacation plan. There is now an opportunity for different players to not only connect with this new generation of conscious tourists, but also to truly help make a difference in the world.
- Augmented Reality: This new technology is ushering in in the next phase of the internet and holds great potential for travel and tourism. By investing now, companies will gain an advantage and the chance to establish their brands as innovative, inspiring consumers to engage and raising the bar for the competition.
- Evolution of Luxury: The concept of luxury has evolved and changed the way travelers who dictate trends choose their destinations. More than comfort, travelers want impeccable service and personalization. Companies must be prepared to offer unique and transformative experiences in exotic, remote and unconventional destinations.
- From Wellness to Well-being: From physical to emotional well-being: Simplicity makes room for a variety of options in the escape from anxiety. Well-being tourism is expecting to grow 50 percent faster than the global tourism industry in the next five years.
- Extreme Adventure: Living on the edge and exploring the unknown makes extreme and remote destinations the newest darlings for thrill seekers. Iceland, Nordic countries, Alaska, the Arctic and their unique experiences, such as the Northern Lights, are on the rise as top tourist destinations.
- Multigenerational Travel: Baby boomers, Generation X, millennials, Generation Z: Each group has different interests and behaviors, but more and more the challenge is to reconcile them.
- Economy of Sharing and On-Demand: Consumers no longer want to own and instead would rather have access to properties all over the world. This change in behavior marks the evolution of the sharing economy and on demand. In tourism, the best example is the reinvention of Airbnb, but also the emergence of apps that offer accessible, convenient and sustainable services.
- “Overtourism” and Authenticity: In contrast to “overtourism,” there is a new preference for conscious travel, with trips not during high season or opting instead for suburban neighborhoods and towns.
- New Version of Bleisure: Aside from the traditional corporate travel industry, which keeps growing, there is a new audience of digital nomads who are looking for long-term programs to travel, work and live anywhere in the world.
Camila Anauate is a senior account manager and leads the Travel & Tourism Practice, Edelman São Paulo.