Now more than ever, domestic tourism has become a highly sought-after means of travel. With certain restrictions preventing individuals from travelling internationally, staycations and weekend getaways are gaining traction because they present the option to travel more sustainably.
Domestic tourists are still itching to roam and discover; however, travelling within their own country can present a safe, feasible, and convenient alternative. Additionally, locals want to see the highlights of their region, including the exciting attractions, delicious cuisine, and thrilling entertainment offered.
Destination marketing organisations (DMOs) should continue to position their destinations at the forefront to appeal to global tourists (as international travel will always be vital to economic growth). Yet, rather than falling under the radar when attracting domestic tourists, DMOs should develop an all-encompassing strategy that targets both types of travellers.
Let’s examine some of the reasons why you should pivot your marketing efforts to focus on domestic tourists:
Wine tours, theatre, boutique shopping, 5-star restaurants, cathedrals, museums, biking, and more: there is a lot that one can do in only 48 hours (or 72 hours for those who take that much-needed three-day weekend off work). Individuals are seeking an agenda that packs in sightseeing, excursions, and dining in a shorter time frame without the hassle of booking an expensive flight—cue weekend getaways.
Weekend getaways provide the same level of satisfaction as a week-long trip but are more time-sensitive. Those who once overlooked exploring their local area are now revisiting the idea because they are a fantastic way to travel without having to take time off work while still escaping their day-to-day routine.
Booking a local weekend getaway equates to minimal logistical planning. When planning to travel internationally, there is a comprehensive checklist from A to Z that runs through an individual's mind:
Considering these questions, flying internationally for just a few days may not seem worthwhile.
55% of travellers are deciding to book local weekend getaways, staying within 200 miles of their residence. The ability to escape reality, explore nearby sites and attractions, dine out at new restaurants, and stay at a hotel is all still possible at a fraction of the cost.
Now that you know why weekend getaways are gaining momentum, start by creating custom itineraries that cater to the different types of tourists who want to stay local. Remember to post them across your destination's website and even advertise through your social media accounts to gain visibility.
Want to appeal to action-packed tourists? Develop an itinerary with all of the adrenaline-pumping activities your destination offers, such as mountain biking, kayaking, sandboarding. Are you trying to attract families with small kids? Focus on kid-friendly beaches, bus tours, and other outdoor activities such as zoos or amusement parks that are fun for the whole family.
The key to making the perfect travel itinerary is to incorporate user-generated content (UGC) that lends credibility to the quality of your destination. Prioritise sourcing high-quality UGC that captures the landscapes, cuisine, and events enjoyed by previous travellers to add to your customised itineraries.
When most tourists book a trip, the first question they ask is: “How cheap are the flights?” without considering how their chosen mode of transportation is affecting the environment. However, in a recent 2021 study done by Booking.com, 72% of UK travellers say sustainable travel is vital to help preserve the natural environment.
Domestic tourists are choosing to explore locally. This means they can opt to travel by train (which cuts carbon dioxide emissions in half compared to a plane), avoid popular international destinations that contribute to the overcrowding, and support their local economy in the process.
To take it a step further, some tourists seek a destination offering activities such as hiking and kayaking that don’t produce any harmful gases and even look for accommodations that provide energy-saving features and incorporate water recycling systems.
Aside from putting greater importance on preserving natural resources, travellers who choose to explore domestically are contributing to their local economy. Whenever they stay in a hotel, eat at a restaurant, buy a handcrafted souvenir, or take part in a day excursion, more revenue is generated, and additional jobs are created. Local tourists are able to immerse themselves in the culture of their home (or nearby region) while supporting the economy in a meaningful way.
With many aspects under the “umbrella” of sustainable travel, develop a separate page on your destination's website tailored specifically to this concept. List all of your eco-friendly accommodations, independent restaurants, sustainable activities, and boutique stores. Most importantly, provide links to every company listed so that prospective travellers can easily find more information on the options that exist.
Visit Kent has a whole page on its website designated on how an individual can be an environmentally-conscious tourist. It goes into great detail on how Kent, a county in southeastern England, offers local activities right in the countryside, self-guided tours on electric bikes, low-carbon spas, and much more: all geared towards conserving energy.
The website even includes a "Kent connected" journey planner where each tourist can research a journey they are about to take (ie. Going to the seaside), and the planner will map out the most efficient methods to get there. The app will also show how many emissions were saved during the trip.
Weekend getaways and sustainable travel are here to stay and will continue to grow in popularity. Travelling locally has numerous benefits, such as saving time, simplifying logistical planning, reducing cost, and decreasing one's carbon footprint. As important as it is to attract international tourists, leveraging those who are keen to explore their home region is equally as valuable.