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8 Changing Trends in Leisure Tourism

Image: Oceana Beach and Wildlife Reserve, South Africa courtesy of Mantis Group

What are the latest trends in work time management and how can tourism professionals take advantage of the growth in leisure time? Dr. Peter E. Tarlow provides the answers.

During past decades, upwardly mobile execs bragged that they were increasingly busy. This ‘snowed-under’ phenomenon was so powerful that many people were ashamed to take a holiday and when they did, it was usually for a long weekend. This work-until-you-drop mentality impacted tourism in any number of ways. For example, many women went through an internal battle between their desire to stay at home with their young children and their desire, or need to work. The tourism industry gave the latter an opportunity to enter into the workforce – not merely at entry-level positions but as major administrators. Locations reacted to the “work-until-you drop mentality by offering shorter and more intense travel experiences, the weekend vacation package was born, and hotels understood that businesspeople and busy executives wanted Internet service and free emails as a means of staying in touch, even when they were away. These never-ending workload mentalities are beginning to change, and with the change back to the shorter workweek and more free time, new opportunities are returning to the leisure industry.

Here are some of the newest trends in work time management and how tourism professionals can take advantage of this growth of leisure:

1. Offer holidays that really allow people to get away from their stressful daily lives.
Creative tourism professionals need to find ways that allow people to leave their daily grind, get back to nature and at the same time are not so far away that they cannot be found in case of emergency.

2. Think rural even if your destination is urban.
Even urban centres can create the restful experience. Although people will not want to camp out in major cities’ parks, urban hotels can offer restful spas, psychological relaxation exercises, and classes designed to allow people to get in touch with themselves.

3. Office productivity may be tied to leisure time.
Over the last few decades, vacations have been viewed as required periods of non-productivity. The face or leisure travel is now changing with more office managers realizing that longer hours and less vacations do not translate into higher levels of productivity.

4. Make exercise fun and less stressful.
Once upon a time the expression no pain/no gain dominated the world of exercise. With an ever-aging population and one that is trying to combine exercise with fun, the expression may have lost a great deal of relevance. Find ways to make exercise interactive and fun. For example, rather than just offering a gym, consider having a trainer on duty, interesting music or even a discussion group.

5. Family time will matter more than ever.
The newest trends in tourism show people seeking to combine work, leisure and family time. That means that tourism attractions need to think about how they are integrating whole families. Stating that you are family friendly is not enough. The same goes for smaller communities that often claim to be family friendly, but in reality offer very little for the vacationing family. Make it easy for families. For example, offer early evening activities, or provide places where lawn chairs can be rented for outdoor concerts. One of the most difficult things for travelling families to find is places to wash and especially to dry clothes. Remember that travelling families need the comforts of home, but rarely have them.

6. Be prepared for fewer women with young children in the work force or for changing workforce demographics.
Many younger women, who can afford to do so, are choosing to become stay-at-home moms. This demographic change impacts the tourism industry in a number of ways. These include (1) mothers who are seeking activities to do with their children, especially during the summer vacations, (2) a reduced workforce, as tourism leaders often tend to be women, (3) the desire of many women to work part-time rather than full-time, and (4) the need to be creative and allow people to work from home.

7. Provide people with outlets for hobbies.
Tourism is more than beaches, museums, and mountains. Although these components are strong visitation magnets, there are many new tourism opportunities to consider. Visitors today are seeking new ways to pursue old hobbies or loves. For example, we are beginning to see a trend of older citizens returning to musical instruments that they once played. This new love of music can be translated into not only senior citizen music camps, but local school orchestras may want to provide musical grandparent-grandchildren experiences. Make a list of your community’s clubs and cultural or athletic organizations and then see if they can be incorporated into your local tourism product.

8. Offer restful alternatives.
Tourism is more than doing, it is also the right not to do, to turn away from a nonstop world and learn to relax or slow down. Develop new ways in which your community can provide restful alternatives. Be careful not to make these all or nothing experiences. Instead provide a buffet of ways to relax and to be busy, to do and to do nothing.

About the Author: Dr. Peter E. Tarlow publishes a monthly ‘Tourism Tidbits’ newsletter. He is a founder of the Texas chapter of TTRA, President of T&M, and a popular author and speaker on tourism. Tarlow is a specialist in the areas of sociology of tourism, economic development, tourism safety and security.
Tarlow speaks at governors’ and state conferences on tourism and conducts seminars throughout the world. For more information e-mail ptarlow@tourismandmore.com