Viator’s 2023 Travel Trends: Despite inflation, travel experiences triumph

Group Team
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This year is all about reinforcing the return of travel in 2023.

The past few years have been a time of metamorphosis in the travel industry. And, in 2023, travelers are finding their way back to pre-pandemic norms, while holding on to some newfound interests which took hold out of pandemic necessity. The trends that have captured travelers’ attention are proving to be more than fads; they’re the future of our industry. This report highlights trends in the travel experiences, activities, and tours category. You’ll find key insights on how the industry has evolved, as well as what may motivate consumers’ travel decisions in 2023 and how those decisions are reinforcing the return of travel.

“Travel is experiencing an unquestionable resurgence despite headwinds faced across the industry. The past 18 months have proven to be a chapter of both resilience and growth for many, including Viator,” said Laurel Greatrix, Vice President of Brand and Communications for Viator. “We’re seeing travelers return to pre-pandemic mindsets in many ways, including an exploding interest in cultural experiences and renewed excitement for travel abroad. Some pandemic-era trends are proving their staying power with outdoor activities continuing to captivate adventure-seekers around the world.”

In the age of inflation, travel still triumphs
Consumers’ wallets are being impacted by price increases on everyday products such as gas and groceries, but their desire to experience the world has not faltered. In fact, travelers are once again opting for longer-haul trips which shows us they are comfortable spending despite any looming economic concerns. For the savvy saver looking to maximize their travel budget without limiting their options, the sought-after US cities pictured above have some of the best experiences under $50.

Culture creates demand
In 2022, we saw a significant resurgence in cultural tourism. In fact, the Cultural & Theme category experienced a 228% increase from 2021 to 2022.

As travelers return to pre-pandemic attitudes, they are also getting more comfortable with being among larger crowds again. The growth of categories such as Theme Parks (+263%); Cultural (+228%); and Shows, Concerts & Sports (+108%) validates that travelers are excited to get back out in the world and experience things together.

“Getting away” means far from home
During and immediately following the pandemic, we saw an understandable desire to stick closer to home while still enjoying the perks of travel. However, we’re seeing an international travel boom following the reopening of global borders. Travel to Europe came roaring back throughout 2022 with year-over-year growth of over 400%. As travel restrictions continued to lift across Asia-Pacific in the second half of the year, we saw a steady influx of interest and bookings from US travelers once again setting their sights on places such as Thailand, French Polynesia, and Japan.

Outdoor experiences continue to prevail
Last year, due to remaining pandemic concerns and related travel restrictions, outdoor experiences boomed. In fact, nearly half (4) of the top 10 experience categories of 2022 belonged to open-air adventures such as Water Sports, Cruises, and Air Balloon tours. In 2023, outdoor experiences still dominate the market, with many activities seeing skyrocketing growth as people jump back into traveling again.

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