scorecardTravel trends in 2023: Digital detox, regenerative travel and ‘inner peace’
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Travel trends in 2023: Digital detox, regenerative travel and ‘inner peace’

Travel trends in 2023: Digital detox, regenerative travel and ‘inner peace’
IndiaIndia7 min read
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  • The cautious optimism of 2022 has been replaced by overwhelming positivity around travelling in 2023, according to Booking.com, Tourism New Zealand, Kayak, and Virtuoso.
  • Sustainability, wellness and unique experiences are the top reasons influencing people’s destination choices in 2023.
  • The pandemic and consequent inflation has resulted in travellers seeking more value for their money.
A lot more Indians packed their bags and set off to new destinations in 2022 — than global citizens. As many as 24% Indians took at least one vacation every month, against the global average of 11% as per a survey by the Travel Lifestyle Network. Nearly 18% Indians also travelled for work within the country.

Going forward, the love for travel might stay on as Indians had spent almost two years locked inside their homes. A look at this, and more trends that will shape the way we travel in India.

Heightened optimism around travelling in 2023



While many Indians did travel in 2022, it was mired in cautiousness as Covid was still prevalent. In 2023, people might take to leisure travel much more, and the mood is going to be one of ‘overwhelming optimism’, two agencies — Booking.com and Tourism New Zealand told Business Insider India.

“People around the world are feeling overwhelmingly more optimistic about travelling in 2023 compared to 2022. Despite some current instability felt globally, nearly 75% of Indian travellers report that travelling will always be worth it,” said Santosh Kumar, country manager for India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Indonesia at Booking.com.

Global network of luxury and experiential travel agency, Virtuoso, echoed the same sentiment, stating “it’s undeniable that the future is bright, with travel sales in 2023 pacing 47% higher than 2019.”

Travel search engine Kayak, which surveyed 1,900 Indian travellers, also noted that 78% of respondents are ‘excited to get back to travelling in 2023’.
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The usual destinations are passé



Out of lockdowns, Indians suddenly see the need to explore and that’s taking them to unusual sites as opposed to the popular tourist destinations. As many as 60% of people surveyed by Kayak said that they consider themselves ‘curious travellers’.

The usual favourites are being replaced for unique vacations and lesser-known spots, said Booking.com’s Kumar, adding that “the mood is shifting from one of hopeful uncertainty to bold adaptability.”

This trend started taking off in 2022 as Vietnam emerged as a crowd favourite, with an average monthly rise of 51% in the number of Indian tourists in the first 10 months of 2022.

According to Vipul Prakash, COO, MakeMyTrip, “Data on flight bookings indicate that there is a double-digit increase in direct flyers from India to Vietnam when compared with December 2019, and if booking patterns are to be observed – there are green signals of consistent growth in bookings for the upcoming spring season.”

In 2023, São Paulo (Brazil), Budva (Montenegro), Puducherry (India), Queretaro (Mexico), and Bolzano (Italy) could be some of the trending destinations for Indians, according to Booking.com.

Vacation rental company Airbnb also compared searches made in Q1-Q3 2022 for 2023 check-ins to Q1-Q3 2021 searches for 2022 check-ins and discovered that Málaga, Spain was the most trending travel spot for 2023.

Not sustainability but regeneration



Indians are going green and most of them want their travel to be as climate friendly as possible. Instead of just going for greener options, they also want to ‘see’ how green their stay and travel is. According to a Virtuoso survey, 74% of their travellers are even willing to pay more for sustainable travel - but only if they know where the money is going.

Tourism New Zealand also listed a trend called ‘regenerative travel’ i.e. giving back to people and place as one of the top trends of 2023. And it’s not just a global phenomenon. Even Indians are looking for more sustainable ways to travel, with 43% of Indians citing sustainability as a main criteria for 2023 summer holidays, according to Kayak.
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Booking.com also shared that India topped the APAC Travel Confidence index in terms of intent to travel sustainably with 93% of the respondents agreeing on the importance of making sustainable travel decisions.

Experiences not destinations



People, across the globe, are keen to not just make up for lost time, but also lost experiences. From a baking trip across Paris, to cheering your favourite sports team or player in the finals, travel will be about experiences that create memories.

As Alex McEwan, country Manager – South Asia, Virgin Atlantic, shared with Business Insider India, “One of the main customer segments which we focus on at Virgin is the ‘experience embracers,’ those who are looking for a premium travel experience which enhances their quality of life.”

The ninth edition of EY Future Consumer Index (March 2022) reported that out of the five key broad spending priorities – planet first, affordability first, experience first, health first and society first – experience has seen the biggest increase, and is now the biggest priority segment in the US (24%), France (26%), India (31%).

Booking.com observes that 71% of Indian travellers want to experience “complete culture shock in 2023” – from travelling to locations with different cultural experiences and languages to exploring lesser-known cities with hidden gems.

Sporting events are also big drivers for tourism as it looks like people want to watch games ‘live’ after watching too much TV for the last few years. Booking.com picked European football event UEFA as one the major sporting events that will push people to travel in 2023. UEFA is taking place in Istanbul in June 2023.

McEwan also added that football has recently become popular with Indians, and many Indian tourists want to visit England to see their favourite team and players in action.


“With the vast number of Indian students in the UK, many of their friends from India will be keen to visit and tie their trip in with a match. Even if they can’t get a ticket for a match, many travellers are thrilled to visit the stadium of their favourite team and do a tour, visiting the trophy room and the dressing room and seeing the pitch first hand,” said McEwan.

Originally popularised by Game of Thrones fans, TV Tourism is returning in 2023. Nearly two-thirds of global travellers are considering trips to destinations after seeing them on streamed shows or movies, according to the ‘No-Normal’ report by online travel company Expedia, online hotel booking platform Hotels.com and vacations rental company Vrbo. The report also states that 39% of global travellers have already booked such trips.

Visit England even has a dedicated page listing the locations where Netflix’s famous period drama, Bridgerton was filmed.

‘Browsing luxuriously, booking affordably’



Though 75% of Indian travellers believe that travelling will always be worth it, the rising inflation is certainly pinching the average person’s ability to spend money. Booking.com states that Indians are seeking “more bang for their buck” - off-season destinations, planning in advance, and longer vacations.

According to the ‘No-Normal’ report on unexpected travel trends for 2023, “travellers are browsing luxuriously but booking affordably”, with consumers no longer equating fewer star hotels to lower standards.

“Globally 35% of travellers plan to stay in one- to three-star hotels in 2023, and 38% plan to book a vacation with bonus extras, such as plush toiletries or free breakfast,” stated the No-Normal report.

Booking.com also shared that globally, alternative accommodation was one of the fastest growing segments.

Inner peace and digital detox



Surviving a pandemic which increased the dependence on technology–from online classes to Zoom meetings–has now invariably caused screen fatigue.

64% of Indian travellers are looking for ‘off grid’ style vacations, using travel as an opportunity to learn survival skills or even prepare for an apocalypse, observed Booking.com in its annual Travel Predictions 2023 research.
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Pexels

Additionally, nostalgic getaways was the most popular vacation type in the survey, because Booking.com states “there’s a desire – even for millennials and Gen-Zs who never lived it – to disappear into the romanticism of a pre-digital era”.

Another rising trend influenced by the pandemic is the search for peace and rejuvenation. The ‘No-Normal’ report stated that there has been more than 30% increase in wellness breaks in 2022. This trend is likely to continue in 2023.

While Tourism New Zealand listed health and rejuvenation through travel as one of its top three travel trends for 2023, Kayak observed that 48% Indians are travelling again to “find themselves” and 43% are travelling to “escape their worries”.

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