"Glamping night vibes at Kalkesdelt camping in Ettelbruck, Luxembourg. #visitluxembourg" by A World to Travel is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Extraordinary Events : Cause Transformative Change.
"Group photo from the opening session at Wikimedia CEE Online Meeting 2020" by Kiril Simeonovski (on Wikimedia Commons) CC BY-SA 4.0
Historical observations show that trends or societal advances that establish themselves over time are pushed forward during extraordinary events. Ways of working, living and holidaying can undergo substantial transformation, favouring some and challenging others.
"Sabena" by Alan Farrow (on Flickr) is Public Domain Mark 1.0
"American Airlines NC90423.jpg" by (on wikimedia) by San Diego Air and Space Museum with no known copyright restrictions
The Most Notable Tranformative Change in Tourism Before 2020.
Prior to 2020, perhaps the most notable past event affecting tourism involved the access and affordability of air-travel after the second world war. Before the war, air travel was limited to the elite, aviation explorers and the military. Advances in aviation during wartime enabled ordinary people to travel longer distances more economically after the war, thereby democratising air travel. Destinations within range of major populations developed vast hotel complexes (largely uncontrolled) and the commencement of mass-tourism began.
Continued refinements within aviation have propelled tourism into becoming one of the most significant global industries but has also created issues around over-tourism, environment degradation, infrastructure saturation, resident angst, and culture commodification. These issues require substantial resources and expensive strategies to resolve.
Covid-19 : An Enforced Tourism Industry Reset.
"San Marco Plazza" by johanlb is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
"southern alps" by paul bica is licensed under CC BY 2.0
"Tourism Industry hails new minister Nash's Stance" by Tess Brunton Radio New Zealand, 17th November, 2020
Covid-19 has created perhaps the most significant impact on world economies and tourism in generations. Not since the democratising of air travel has tourism been impacted in such a direct and rapid fashion. It is clear that tourism and hospitality industries have been decimated and its effect will remain with us for years to come. Despite the prayers of many in the industry for it to return to “the way it was” it seems clear that this is unlikely and people will travel and holiday differently. The event has allowed society to collectively push a reset button in a way that never could have happened through normal economic circumstances.
In doing so, some of the issues surrounding tourism can be addressed. New Zealand tourism, held up as an exemplar model for small destinations is a case in point. Being fortunate to possess outstanding landscapes, and a small impacting population, New Zealand had successfully marketed its 100% pure branding image. However, with tourist numbers growing too big, too fast, tourist infrastructure proved to be inadequate. With substantial business investment at stake, governance at all levels appeared unwilling or unable to address an increasing systemic deterioration. With the reset offered by Covid-19, the Labour government (2020) seems ready to realign tourism by prioritising sustainability and instigating policies that ensure that tourists contribute equitably to the real costs of their visit (Brunton, 2020). Developed correctly, such policies will connect communities and tourists in a fashion that provides authentic value to each.
Tourist Responses : Changing Motivations and Expectations.
"Paris, May 2014, random pix - 253" by Ed Yourdon (on Flickr) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Most importantly, travellers have changed. For many, since Covid-19, the intervening pause has created retrospection, discussion, and stimulated alternative expectations about how we live and vacation. Anticipation now leans towards quality of experience, rather than quantity; authenticity, rather than commodification; and personal connection with destinations, rather than detachment.
Previously, travelling around one’s own country never engendered the same excitement as travelling abroad. However, today domestic tourists are discovering their homeland in ways that were unthinkable previously. Interest in local landscapes, local culture, local cuisine, and local communities have become increasingly prevalent. Amongst other things, glamping provides that space for people to escape, get back to nature, and reconnect with more fundamental worldly aspects.
An Academic View : Significant Future Tourism Trends Aligned with Glamping.
"Top 10 Hospitality and Tourism 2030 trends (2020)" by Professor Cihan Cobanoglu (email on Trinet email lists Oct 20th2020)
"chez moi at La Grande Oust" by Jenni Lloyd is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
"Glamping Firelight" by Alice_Crain is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
While academic thinking is diffuse, some themes appear prevalent. The M3 Center for Hospitality Technology and Innovation was established by the University of South Florida “to enable and conduct rigorous academic research of significance to the global hospitality industry”. The top ten global trends predicted to 2030, compiled from the results of three think-tanks and surveys, were initially published in 2019 and amended in 2020 to account for the impact of Covid-19, encompasses sustainable tourism, experience tourism, security and safety, alternative tourism, and wellness tourism (M3 Center,2020).
It is notable that these five attributes included in the Global trends can be, and are often included as features of glamping. Interestingly, all except sustainable tourism are personal and their prominence can be attributed in part to a reaction towards Covid-19. Regard for social distancing has given people pause to reconsider holiday options at popular destinations where crowds of people congregate. Alternatives that are off the beaten track, have fewer people around and possess little social interaction, are seen as safer options than typically bustling and chaotic urban destinations.
Sustainability is a more general issue and perhaps points more to societal unease and perception that tourism can be exploitative and plays lip service to sustainable strategies.
European Summer 2020 : Unprecedented demand for Glamping Experiences.
"The future of glamping - ideas. insights and key trends" by Tom Dixon Co-founder and Director , Canopy & Stars (The Glamping Show-UK, 2020)
"Trawscwm Treehouse" by Camping Holidays is licensed under CC BY 2.0
"Glamping - Nightfall Wilderness" by Ben May is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
Responses to Covid-19 ebb and flow, and resurgence, second waves and new outbreaks dictate choices travellers make. Over the European summer, 2020, glamping experienced phenomenal growth, where holidaymakers chose options that minimised contact with others while maximising experiences. A barometer (of sorts) regarding an industries health can be obtained by gauging the performance of Online Travel Agents (OTA’s) which are active in particular tourism spaces.
Canopy and Stars is a significant actor in glamping bookings and is partly owned by the notable Sawday Family who specialises in curated tourism accommodation. Catering for glamping sites in England, Wales, Scotland and France Canopy and Stars have experienced exponential interest in 2020, commencing before the advent of Covid-19. Bookings for July, August and September were their highest summer numbers to date, while bookings October through to December strengthened 100% year on year. More significantly bookings for 2021 have increased 400% year on year showing that interest in glamping is not merely a fad fuelled by circumstance.
This is supported by a white paper released by Glamping Advisors (2020) who specialise in glamping throughout Portugal. Anecdotal research carried out by Glamping Advisors indicates that google searches for glamping experiences rose by around 100% during the July/August 2020 period (Glamping Advisors,2020). Covid-19 is credited not only the surge in domestic bookings, but also an intense interest in alternative accommodation. They also reference bookings made through the OTA coolcamping.com with the website recording the largest single day bookings in June.
The Way Forward for Glamping.
"Glamping" by Max Sat is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
"2016-great-plains-dubaex-gallery-3" by The Travel Manuel is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Presently, the world is beset by an extreme event that is unprecedented in recent times, causing socio-economic instability and insecurity. Tourism has been decimated, with international travel all but eliminated in the short term. Airline routes are likely to remain substantially closed over the following year, and will only slowly reestablish. With the implementation of strict international border controls, interest in domestic tourism has taken hold.
However, tourists still seek that sense of the unexpected, the exotic, along with an anticipation of novel experiences that is often inherent in overseas travel. Glamping can instil excitement, a chance to escape from the present, to reconnect with nature, and for a moment in time allows people to reside in a sanctuary away from the pandemic. The exceptional interest in glamping throughout 2020 shows that as a tourism model, it has the potential to be at the forefront of the tourism reset.
Brunton, T. (2020) Tourism Industry Hails new Minister Nash's Stance, Radio New Zealand, 17th November 2020.
Dixon, T. (2020) The future of glamping - ideas. insights and key trends,The Glamping Show-UK, 2020
Glamping Advisors (2020) Glamping in Portugal
M3 Center (2020) Top 10 Hospitality and Tourism 2030 Trends (2020), University of South Florida M3 Center, Muma College of Business.