2022: To Infinitely Thoughtful Travel Experiences, and Beyond

Your ultimate guide to travel and tourism trends that are set to strengthen in the new year and last beyond 2022. Last word? Experience is everything!

Your ultimate guide to travel and tourism trends that are set to strengthen in the new year and last beyond 2022. Last word? Experience is everything!

As 2021 draws to an end, it will be 2 years and rolling of the travel industry innovating and creating solutions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Their solutions are riding on the backs of travel trends engendered by the pandemic. In addition, people’s preferences have changed:  the way people live on a day-to-day basis, their priorities, and their passions. These shifts and the possibility of intermittent travel restrictions have led to a set of priorities for travelers and the travel industry that will only accelerate as the pandemic evolves. The Hilton’s 2022 global trends report boils it down to these four key trends:

  1.       Efficiencies, aka digital solutions.
  2.       Shift in passion points. More refined taste and preference, aka new niches.
  3.       New sense of caring — about the planet (aka sustainability and community engagement, translating into loyalty towards brands that align with their values), and loved ones (aka increased focus on reconnections and reunions indicating larger groups).
  4.       Wellness and rejuvenation, aka nuanced reflection of new lifestyles and habits in itineraries.

These emerging trends, resulting from the effects of the pandemic, will need to be ridden by not letting go of the important lessons of caring for people, providing hospitality and catering to people.

“Intense global demand for travel experiences that resonate on a deeper emotional level is driving travel brands to develop products that are more adventurous, more personalized, and more attuned to local culture, inspiring consumers toward a path of self-discovery.”

Emerging Patterns and Products

Experiential travel has been gaining ground for a few years now.

Industry analysts back the trend as the one that’s here to stay. Extended periods of isolation mean people will be looking to maximize their experience of a place, be it culinary, cultural, aesthetic, well-being, safe community interaction, or commercial services.

The trend also comes on the back of a rising vaccination rate, larger purse size, and domestic travel-driven recovery. This means an increase in weekend trips, and longer annual holidays with a focus on experiencing something “new”, authentic and outdoors. 

“Domestic tourism is showing signs of recovery in many parts of the country. Some states have reported an uptake in domestic tourism,” India tourism secretary Arvind Singh had noted at the plenary session of the 2nd Travel, Tourism & Hospitality e-Conclave: Resilience & The Road to Recovery, organized by FICCI in August. 

The demand could not have come at a better time as India’s growing crop of cultural entrepreneurs have been hard at work creating experiential assets out of our country’s diversity, often on display within a single city or region.

Take, for instance, Roobaroo Walks in Varanasi that arranges trips and tours that combine history with food. Away from the touristy trails, they walk with you into a different time, telling stories of how the present came to be, introducing you to the local quirks, posing yogis, architecture beyond the walls, soulful foods, and demystifying spiritual centers. Even if you’ve lived in say, Varanasi all your life, or come from far-off corners, the experience of discovering  Varanasi, enhanced by their storytelling, is unparalleled.

Another niche that’s added a new dimension to domestic tourism is indigenous craft and architecture tours that allow you to experience the heritage and inter-generational conservation in action, shop for sustainable, international-quality products and give back to the community at the same time!

Add to this mix the opportunity to take home the local delicacies, made traditionally with dadi-nani recipes by the likes of Native Chefs versus generic snacks. Or, the handcrafted, small-batch Goan feni from Heritage Spirits and you have the perfect Indian holiday that satiates all senses.

India’s home-grown cultural tourism trailblazers are successfully showcasing the richness of India’s heritage with their creative business models. Their products and services are gaining acceptance and appreciation among tourists who crave what’s authentic, be it food, fashion, furnishings, wellness or a fusion of all.

Government Push

To support the sector’s recovery, the government too has been taking initiatives via “fiscal and regulatory relief measures, confidence-building measures, domestic tourism, digitalization, a new tourism policy and other sectoral strategies”. 

The latest Ministry of Tourism campaign called Dekho Apna Desh (See Your Country) is an invitation to Indians to explore the wonders of their own country. It encourages citizens to visit a select list of 15 tourist spots by the end of 2022, and offers a prize to those who cover all!

The government has also updated the Swadesh Darshan project keeping in mind people’s preference to explore off-the-beaten-trail areas, and long “workations”. It has created tourist circuits in eight northeastern states by building supporting infrastructure that opens the doors for cultural entrepreneurs to craft and curate richer, hitherto unseen community experiences and products.

With market sentiment heating up for experiential tourism at home, NICEOrg is dedicatedly creating an environment that encourages and empowers cultural entrepreneurs. Our ecosystem is dedicated to giving Brand India an aspirational status through the success of such entrepreneurs.

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