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What are the benefits of slow travel and tourism?

Published 21 June 2024

In recent years, the trend of “slow travel” has become increasingly popular, with 90% of tourists seeking a more deliberate, sustainable and immersive travel experience. A method of travelling that encourages people to slow down and connect with their surroundings, slow tourism can seem the perfect way to travel.

So, what is slow travel and how can it benefit the tourism industry? Let’s take a look.

 

What is slow travel and tourism?

 

Fast food, fast fashion, and fast media – our world today is all about ‘fast’ everything and when it comes to travel, it’s often no different.

Slow travel encourages tourists to take their time and truly experience the places they visit. Instead of rushing through destinations, slow travellers often stay longer in one place, opt for sustainable modes of transport and spend time soaking up the local food, cultures and way of life. This method of travelling is more sustainable and enables travellers to make deeper connections with the people they meet and the environments they stay in.

 

What are the benefits of slow travel?

 

There are many benefits of slow travel, not least the sustainable experiences that have a positive impact on the world. From building relationships with local communities to unwinding and exploring destinations at a slower pace, travellers can truly immerse themselves in the culture and environment.

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The benefits of slow travel include:

Deeper cultural immersion: Slow travel allows you to immerse yourself more fully in authentic local cultures and understand a different way of life. Spending more time in one place enables you to build relationships, understand the customs, and connect with the community on a deeper level.

Reduced environmental impact: By staying longer in one destination, travellers can decrease their carbon footprint associated with frequent travel. Slow travel often involves using local transportation and amenities, like cycling or walking.

Enhanced wellbeing: Rushing from one tourist hotspot to another can be stressful. Slow travel encourages a more relaxed pace, giving travellers time to unwind, reflect, and enjoy the experience without feeling rushed.

Cost savings: Spending more time in a destination means travellers can take advantage of long-term accommodation options like apartment rentals or house sitting, which can be more cost-effective than nightly hotel stays.

Authentic experiences: Slow travel allows for spontaneous experiences and unexpected discoveries that are often missed when rushing through a destination. Travellers can explore off-the-beaten-track, meet locals, and participate in events or festivals that might otherwise be overlooked.

 

Examples of slow travel

 

From spending a week living with a local family in a rural village for cultural immersion to taking part in a mindful and relaxing yoga retreat to destress and unwind, there are a variety of ways to travel slowly whilst contributing positively to the places you visit and making a sustainable impact.

Whether it’s volunteering with conservation projects, learning traditional crafts from local artisans, or simply spending time getting to know residents, slow travel creates connections that go beyond superficial tourism.

 

How can hotels adapt to this movement?

 

Slow tourism isn’t just a way of travelling for tourists, it’s an important consideration for businesses and hotels within the tourism industry too.

With 43% of travellers willing to pay more for more sustainable travel options, we know that sustainability makes business sense, so how can you get involved in slow travel to support eco-conscious tourists?

Sustainable hotels and businesses within the tourism industry can support and encourage slow travel by promoting their green practices and encouraging guests to embrace a slower pace of exploration. Simple approaches for hotels include:

Offering slow travel packages: Providing packages that include longer stays, slower itineraries, and immersive experiences can attract guests looking to disconnect and recharge.

Long-term stay facilities: As 78% of travellers seek eco-friendly accommodation, it’s important to provide sustainable accommodations that are suitable for longer stays, such as suites with kitchenettes or full kitchens, with eco-friendly laundry facilities, and ample storage space for longer-term living. This caters to slow travellers who prefer to immerse themselves in a destination for an extended period.

Highlight local culture and cuisine: Incorporate elements of local culture into the hotel experience. This could include offering locally sourced food and beverages in the hotel restaurant, showcasing local artwork and crafts in the decor, and organising cultural events or workshops.

Facilitate meaningful experiences: Collaborate with local tour operators, guides, and artisans to offer unique and sustainable experiences for guests . This might include guided tours focused on local history and traditions, cooking classes using local ingredients, or nature excursions that emphasise sustainability.

Support sustainability initiatives: Implement sustainable practices throughout the hotel operations, such as reducing packaging, minimising food waste and being mindful about water usage. Educate guests about these initiatives to encourage responsible travel behaviours.

Provide information and resources: Offer guests information about local attractions, cultural events, and responsible travel tips to help travellers make informed decisions and encourage them to engage more deeply with the destination.

Transportation options: Encourage guests to walk local routes or hike off-the-beaten-track to discover local amenities. Other transport options, like bikes and electric vehicles, can encourage travellers to choose more sustainable ways to get around their destination.

Through these mindful approaches to slow tourism, hotels and businesses can attract and cater to slow travellers seeking authentic and enriching experiences while contributing positively to local communities and the environment.

Find out more about what sustainable tourism is and how Weeva can support your sustainable business goals with a data management platform that helps you make smarter sustainability decisions.

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