How to Become a Slow Travel Destination
Slow travel isn’t a new trend but it has grown in popularity after travel restrictions were lifted and remote work became a movement. The post-pandemic traveler doesn’t want to arrive at a destination one day and leave the next day, they want to integrate with the place, its culture, and community.
Do you think wealthy travelers are the best type of visitors a destination can have? Think twice.
Slow travelers are conscious of the benefits of travel and its negative impacts, such as the importance of tourism in the development of the local community and its high demand for natural resources.
In this article, you will learn what slow travel is, why you should attract slow travelers and what to do in order to become a slow travel destination.
What is slow travel?
Slow travel is not just a way to travel, it’s a mindset. It’s the outlook that the quality of your experience is more important than the quantity of your experiences when you travel.
Slow travelers are seeking a deep connection to local people, culture, food, music, history and nature. For them, a trip is meant to educate and have an emotional impact on their lives.
By traveling for weeks or months, this type of traveler gets under the skin of the place they visit. They meet hidden gems, taste traditional recipes and learn the local culture. They experience things that the mainstream traveler can’t without staying for a long period at the destination.
Why should destinations attract slow travelers?
After the pandemic people are changing jobs, lifestyle and patterns. Before, working while traveling was a dream for many, now, with remote work, experiencing a workation is possible.
According to a GlobalData poll, over 70% of global respondents opted to work remotely full time or have a mixture of both remote and office work.
The flexibilization of work and the introduction of digital nomad visas by some countries are among the reasons why slow travel is to become more popular in the next years. To be more exact, slow travel is estimated to grow at a 10% compound annual rate.
Another reason for this growth is the desire to connect with places and other cultures which is part of human nature.
In 2019, Hidden Scotland has commissioned a survey in order to find out more about the travel habits of people who were traveling to and around Scotland. What they have discovered is impressive:
- 84% prefer to travel off the beaten path and look for less touristy areas and attractions.
- 78% of people say a trip they have taken has changed them as a person.
- 74% of people stated that they like to live as the locals do when traveling to new places.
Benefits of slow travel to destinations
Slow travel is not only beneficial to the traveler, but it also has a positive impact on the host community. It helps destinations to:
Preserve the local culture
The motto of slow travel adepts is “feel the local flow of life”. That means: experiencing the local culture, eating the local food, listening to traditional music, and learning about the destination’s history. This is something that definitely helps keep local traditions alive.
A destination that receives a great number of slow travelers will hardly face overtourism. This type of visitor tends to spread over the destination while seeking experiences with minimal crowds and visiting locations that are off the beaten path.
Reduce tourism leakage
Slow travelers prefer to stay close to the local community instead of renting a room in a big hotel chain. During their stay, they also support small and local businesses. This proximity to the local community helps travel money stay within the destination.
Lower carbon emissions
Slow travelers prefer local means of transportation rather than taking flights. Whenever they have an opportunity they will choose to travel by train, bus, car, or even cycling.
Become more sustainable
Sustainability is at the core of slow tourism as well as the respect for the local community and the environment. By living as a local, slow travelers demand fewer natural resources and represent a smaller danger to nature when compared to mass tourists.
How can destinations attract slow travelers?
In order to embrace slow tourism and its adepts, destinations need, among other things, to rethink their marketing, invest in infrastructure and foster initiatives focused in preserve the local culture.
We have listed 5 actions to help destination leaders to achieve a slow travel destination status:
Marketing the destination to the right people
Slow travelers want more than meeting a famous attraction or eating in a starred restaurant. They are seeking a life-changing experience. They want to live as locals and absorb their culture.
To call the attention of this group, create a marketing campaign that is focused on beautiful landscapes, remote areas, local culinary, outdoor activities, and heritage experiences.
The audience for this campaign should be young couples and solo travelers. This is the demographic experiencing more work flexibility. Some of them are even digital nomads. Families with young children usually struggle to go on a slow travel trip due to obvious reasons.
Investing in tourism infrastructure
Imagine a digital nomad who is going to spend three months at your destination. This person wants to enjoy nature to the maximum and is looking to stay in a hut in the mountains.
They will probably think twice about this trip if the place they want to stay lacks internet connection, mobile signal and public transport.
An attractive destination for slow travelers offers tourism infrastructure even in remote areas. Remember that many visitors need to work while traveling to pay for the trip.
Supporting local tourism companies
Tour operators are an important element in slow travel. They are responsible to connect the local community with visitors through storytelling and memorable experiences.
DMOs can support local travel suppliers by promoting their business online, on the destination’s website and on social media. Thinking of offline marketing, visitor centers can hand out itineraries focused on the destination’s history, outdoor activities, food experiences and road trips.
Implementing digital nomad visas
Digital nomads aren’t regular tourists. They need special permission to stay longer periods at a destination and work at the same time.
This new category of visa is of interest to all tourism stakeholders and they should ask local governments to implement it.
Usually, digital nomad visas are granted for a period of one year, and applicants should prove to have a minimum income for the period of stay.
So far there are 46 countries with digital nomad visas implemented. Countries on this list include Croatia, Iceland, Barbados, Costa Rica, and Thailand.
Foster local initiatives
Locals, their culture and traditions are the soul of slow travel. It is important that authorities foster local associations, cultural centers, NGOs and companies that are working to keep the destination’s heritage alive.
Festivals and events are great to showcase the work of these groups. They are also a big stage for the local culinary, outfits, music, art, dances and more important, to promote the integration between visitors and locals.
What are other destinations doing to arouse slow travel?
Many destinations around the world are implementing initiatives to arouse slow travel. Do you want to know what they are doing? Let’s check the examples of Italy and Nevada.
Did you hear of the slow food movement? It originated in Italy and aimed to defend regional traditions, culinary, local producers and a slow pace of life.
The name slow food is a reference to the fast food chains that were arriving in major Italian cities back in the 80s. The introduction of fast food restaurants in Italy was changing the way that people were eating and taking away profits from family-owned establishments.
Through the education of tourists and local residents, the slow food movement managed to rise awareness about the importance of using regionally-sourced ingredients and stimulating local economies.
Many Italian tour operators got inspired by this movement. For example, Km Zero Tours, which literally means “zero kilometers”, is committed to supporting Tuscan producers and spreading their lifestyle through slow travel tours.
Travel Nevada did a great job creating a website to host road trip ideas for travelers who want to discover the state’s wonders by car.
There you can find 10 road trip itineraries that together list more than 600 ghost towns, many national parks, natural formations, touristic attractions and hidden gems.
Choose the itinerary that best suits your mood and hit the road!
Slow travel is a movement that is growing among travelers and should not pass unnoticed by DMOs.
If you are planning to attract this type of traveler your next marketing campaign should focus on the best part of your destination: its people and nature.
Keep in mind that slow travelers want to see:
- Natural attractions
- Beautiful landscapes
- Local culture
- Traditional culinary
If you want to better market your location and turn it into a smart destination, we can help you. Meet our crew of award-winning travel tech companies and contact us if you want to digitalize your tourism offer and make it easier for slow travelers to meet and visit your destination.