Eye on the Industry: Quality Visitor Strategies, Regenerative Tourism, and Remembering Travel Pre-Smartphone

11 October 2022

Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) team members frequently share breaking news, helpful information, and trend highlights with each other. Below is a curated list of the industry news, global updates, and operational ideas we’ve been reading and discussing over the past several months that we think you’ll also find informative, inspiring, and intriguing.

Fresh Perspectives

Wish You Weren’t Here: The Photos That Show an Hour in the Life of ‘Quiet’ Tourist Hotspots (The Guardian)
Time lapse photography meets cultural commentary in this project by photographer Natacha de Mahieu. At the intersection of Instagram selfies, art, and overtourism, these photos show a compilation of humanity collected over the course of one hour in tourist “hot spots”.

5 Ways Global Tourism Must Rethink Its Influence as an Industry (Skift)
While calls for sustainability, conservation, carbon offsets, and regenerative travel have grown louder in the last few years, the hard truth is that tourism often causes harm to local communities and strains natural resources. The good news? The industry is powerful, and its influence can be used to push back against the ‘profit at any cost’ mentality while aiming to build back better.

What Travel Was Like Before the Internet (CNN)
Anyone old enough to remember traveling prior to, say, 2008, may have at least a vague recollection of internet cafes, guidebooks, paper maps, and the pleasure of being truly lost in an unfamiliar destination. That all unofficially changed with the release of the smartphone. Read on for a trip down memory lane – or, if this was before your time, a glimpse into an alternate reality.

Addressing Microaggressions in Travel (Travel Weekly)
BIPOC travelers report racial bias at every turn – from being mistaken for the hotel valet to having their frequent-flier status called into question. While far from a problem unique to the travel industry, the added complexities of cultural differences, colonial history, and an industry operating within a sphere of privilege requires that operators and suppliers take a proactive stance through DEI training and education. 

See America’s Parks with Indigenous Peoples Who First Called Them Home (National Geographic)
Amid growing interest from travelers looking to experience places through an Indigenous lens, there is particular growth within the United States National Parks. The creation of the parks often displaced native populations; now, as some ancestral lands are slowly being reclaimed, Indigenous entrepreneurs offer adventures that reveal forgotten histories.

Ideas and Innovators

Tourist Destinations Face Dilemma Switching From Quantity to ‘Quality’ Visitor Strategies (Skift)
In the wake of overtourism followed by the impact of the pandemic on the travel industry, some destinations are redoubling efforts to attract fewer travelers but who promise to stay longer and spend more money. Critics say the “high-quality” tourist strategy – developed in the name of sustainability – is also likely to impact smaller businesses that rely on budget travelers and exacerbate class division within an already privileged industry.

Bright Ideas in Travel 2022 (Conde Nast)
In recent years, the way we travel has been impacted by a global reckoning with climate change, the fallout of the pandemic, and growing calls for inclusivity and accessibility. These businesses and thought leaders are paving the way for a more sustainable, creative, and equitable future of the industry.

First Person: Sharing Indigenous Knowledge with Tourists (United Nations)
Fresh off a victorious 20-year effort to reclaim ancestral territory in northern Argentina, one Indigenous entrepreneur is using tourism to share her community’s culture and history. At her teahouse, visitors learn about medicinal herbs, traditional foods, generational knowledge, and the biodiversity of the region.

Regenerative Travel Is the Next Phase of Responsible Tourism (Outside)
The idea of “leave it better than you found it” may sound too good to be true, but the ethos is increasingly leaving a mark on outdoor activities. Minimizing negative impact can no longer be viewed as a benchmark of success for responsible travelers; instead, the guiding principles of regenerative tourism ask for a net positive outcome.

Rethinking Travel After Covid-19 on World Tourism Day 2022 (The National)
The extended pause the COVID-19 pandemic had on the travel industry sent key players into a period of deep reflection. Now with the sector rebounding, tour operators and industry leaders report many lessons learned and an overwhelming sense of optimism for the future.

Travel Trends & Research

WTTC Publishes Ground-Breaking Report on How Travel & Tourism Can Reverse Nature Loss (WTTC)
Often cited as a cause for negative impacts on biodiversity, human impact through travel and tourism could be the key to protecting people and the planet for the future. The report details how the industry plays a critical role in reversing nature loss, offers practical steps to guide the sector, and suggests four actions businesses can take immediately.

Asian Travelers Are Confused By Sustainable Travel: That’s an Industry Problem (Skift) 
Don’t let the headline fool you – according to a recent sustainability survey, Asian travelers have a higher preference for sustainable travel than U.S. or European travelers. But without clear guidelines or benchmarks from the industry, consumers worldwide are lost amid greenwashing and environmental jargon.

247 Days to Obtain a U.S. Visa? Travel Groups Outraged by Waits (Travel Weekly)
International travelers to the United States are finding themselves often choosing to travel elsewhere thanks to an enormous increase in wait times for tourist visas over the last two years. Critics say the State Department slowdown is to blame for full tourism recovery.

Three Ways Climate Change Makes Adventure Tourism Riskier (BBC)
From wildfires to landslides, the increase of impacts from climate change worldwide are coinciding with an ever-growing adventure tourism industry. As more travelers are keen to get out in the world – especially after staying home for two years – tour operators and guides are faced with higher risks and the need to take extra precautions.