In search of a happier life: “collect moments not things.” This is the advice that a contemporary author, Karen Salmansohn, gives to her readers. And maybe that underlies the human desire to travel and explains our thirst for creating new experiences, for creating unforgettable memories. This road has inspired wanderlust since time immemorial, but can we still “collect moments” at tourist hotspots or should we venture further afield and explore off-the-beaten-track destinations?
What we found is an emerging consensus among travelers about wanting to avoid busy and over-visited destinations.
At Booking.com, we conduct annual traveler surveys. And This year, we collected the opinions of more than 30,000 people in 32 countries and territories. What we found is an emerging consensus among travelers about wanting to avoid busy and over-visited destinations. A third (33%) said they chose to travel outside of high season and more than a quarter (27%) chose to travel to a less popular destination in the past 12 months. When considering future plans, 40% said they would travel exclusively outside peak season to avoid overcrowding, and 64% revealed they would avoid popular tourist destinations and attractions to ensure dispersal more uniform of the impact and benefits of their visit. Nearly a third (31%) would even be willing to choose an alternative to their preferred destination to avoid overcrowding.
In 2019, only a small fraction of home sales in Europe went to rural areas (16%). Yet when talking about the share of total sales via online travel platforms, the number more than doubles (38%).
Given that the growth of the travel and tourism sector has been exceed overall economic growth for decades, pressure on tourist hotspots is unlikely to ease. On the other hand, we see how consumer preferences change in response.
The digitalization of the global economy has brought many advantages to consumers in the travel and tourism sector.
It is widely believed that online travel platforms increase transparency in the market and also make it easier for customers to find and book online. The contrast is particularly stark considering the pre-internet days when options for would-be world explorers were limited to whatever the local travel agency included in their catalog. Offline channels to discover a destination and book your next trip stay importantbut it is undeniable that the digitization of the global economy has brought many advantages to consumers in the travel and tourism sector.
Online platforms, by offering more choice, also help to expand tourism outside urban centers
By expanding consumer choice, OTAs impact the rates charged by accommodation providers, making travel more affordable. This particularly benefits low-income households, who might otherwise not be able to afford no travel at all.
But there is a second-level effect which, so far, has not been studied at the required level of detail. The Tourism Economics study shows that online platforms, by offering more choice, also contribute to expanding tourism outside urban centers as shown in this graph.
Online platforms do not distinguish or discriminate between channels and non-channels; everyone is welcome to list their rooms and use our global reach to attract customers.
Comparing the European travel accommodation market as a whole against rooms sold through online platforms, Tourism Economics found that rural areas benefit most from the additionality of nights booked through online platforms. In 2019, for example, only a small fraction of home sales in Europe went to rural areas (16%). Yet when talking about the share of total sales via online travel platforms, the number more than doubles (38%).
While hotels owned by international chains tend to be concentrated in popular destinations with high tourist densities, accommodations in general, including independent hotels, small B&Bs, agritourisms, various forms or alternative accommodations, are much more widely distributed, as evidenced by the ads on Booking. .com.
Without online platforms like Booking.com, a higher concentration of visitors in a few hotspots would have been the most likely scenario
Online platforms do not distinguish between chains and non-chains, everyone is welcome to list their rooms and use our global reach to attract customers. Our primary goal is to give travelers maximum choice and empower them to make decisions with confidence. But what we’ve noticed, based on internal data from Booking.com, is that the locations that chain hotels naturally gravitate towards are more economically prosperous than those covered by smaller independent accommodations. Looking at the GDP per capita of regions in the top quartile of chain penetration across Europe, we find that it is on average around 30% higher than the bottom quartile. In the example with Germany, it is €50,400 compared to €32,180 for the reference year 2019.
In the travel and tourism sector, where Europe remains an undisputed champion, OTAs have played a strong and constructive role — generate significant volumes of additional tourist overnight stays and support GDP growth and job creation in a wide range of destinations. Without online platforms like Booking.com, a higher concentration of visitors in a few hotspots would have been the most likely scenarios. But, as we strive to expand tourism to off-the-beaten-path destinations, we are responding to changing consumption preferences and to make it easier for everyone to discover Europe in all its diversity and beauty.
*This article was originally published on A world to discover