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  • Published In : Apr 2024
  • Code : CMI6890
  • Pages :135
  • Formats :
      Excel and PDF
  • Industry : Consumer Goods

Market Size and Trends

The alternative tourism market is estimated to be valued at US$ 98 Bn in 2024 and is expected to reach US$ 133.56 Bn by 2031, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.5% from 2024 to 2031.

Alternative Tourism Market Key Factors

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The global alternative tourism market has seen steady rise in recent years and this trend is expected to continue going forward. More and more tourists are looking for unique and niche experiences when they travel rather than traditional modes of travel. Unique experiences related to nature, wildlife, local culture, and heritage are gaining popularity. Sustainable and responsible forms of tourism are also becoming an important consideration while choosing tourist destinations and activities. Various new types of tours, travel packages, and destination development have emerged focusing on aspects like rural tourism, niche interest areas, and ecotourism. With growing awareness and customers willing to pay more for such experiences, alternative tourism is poised to be one of the faster growing segments of the overall travel and tourism industry in the coming years.

 Desire for New Experiences

The modern tourist is increasingly seeking out unique and authentic experiences when they travel. They want to visit lesser known destinations and immerse themselves in local culture rather than follow the crowds to popular tourist hotspots. This growing desire to seek alternatives to mass tourism is a key driver of the alternative tourism market. People now want to truly explore places rather than just scratch the surface. They want activities that give them insights into local traditions and ways of life. Whether it's spending a night in an indigenous village or learning local crafts, experiences that offer immersion in other cultures are very appealing. This drive for new experiences leads people to alternative types of accommodation like glamping, homestays, and eco-lodges rather than conventional hotels. It also increases interest in soft adventure activities like hiking, biking, and food trails that allow deep engagement with places away from usual tourist circuits. The widespread exposure to diverse cultures through internet and desire for authentic travel stories to share on social media further fuels interest in alternative types of tourism.

Market Concentration and Competitive Landscape

Alternative Tourism Market Concentration By Players

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Concerns for Sustainable Travel

The growing awareness about environmental conservation and sustainable living has significantly impacted travel patterns and choices of consumers globally. Alternative tourism which focuses on responsible and community-driven experiences is gaining substantial traction as people increasingly seek trips that lessen their carbon footprint and benefit local environments and societies. Concerns over unrestricted mass tourism that is exerting tremendous pressure on fragile ecosystems and cultural fabric of destinations has propelled the demand for sustainable travel options. As per the UNWTO data, almost 76% of global travelers in 2021 expressed a preference for holiday experiences that emphasized minimal environmental impact. Staying with local families, participating in reforestation projects, and learning about indigenous practices are some examples of increasingly popular sustainable activities among Eco tourists and volunteers. Alongside individuals, the travel industry is also transforming to meet the goal of climate-friendly tourism. Several major global hotel chains and online travel agencies have unveiled ambitious plans around using renewable energy, eliminating single-use plastics, promoting indigenous artisans, and collaborating with communities. The European Commission's aim of carbon-neutral European tourism sector by 2050 as outlined in its European Green Deal initiative exemplifies the growing industry-wide focus on 'greening' operations. The Covid-19 pandemic has further intensified this shift as confined travelers reassessed their impact and connection with destinations. Looking ahead, alternative tourism is expected to play a pivotal role in the recovery of the global travel industry, with its emphasis on protecting natural and cultural wealth aligning closely with the post-pandemic priorities of sustainability and equity. Its community-centric experiences will also appeal widely to guests seeking immersive trips that offer a sense of purpose beyond recreation.

Alternative Tourism Market Key Takeaways From Lead Analyst

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Market Challenges: Limited Mass Appeal

The alternative tourism market faces several challenges in its growth. Due to the nature of experiences offered, it is difficult to attract mass population. Many alternative activities require physical fitness and specialized skills. Further, the diverse range of niche offerings across the globe make it challenging to create standardized marketing campaigns to raise awareness. The market also struggles to showcase clear returns on investment to attract larger institutional investors and businesses.

 Market Opportunities: Growing popularity of new experiences and demand for unique activities

The alternative tourism market provides several opportunities for new entrants and existing players. With growing popularity of new experiences, demand for unique activities is increasing. Many regions are still untapped and offer virgin locations for new alternative expedition concepts. The market allows businesses to focus on sustainable and responsible tourism practices. Further, social media is helping create word of mouth for highly customized offerings. The opportunities to cater to new audiences and geographies remains large.

Alternative Tourism Market By Type

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Insights, By Type: Ecotourism as an educational experience

In terms of type, ecotourism contributes 34.4% share of the market owing to the rising awareness about environmental conservation and desire to learn more about nature in an immersive hands-on way. Eco tourists are motivated by the opportunities for environmental education and making a positive impact. Many seek to deepen their understanding of local ecosystems, biodiversity, and sustainability practices. Being able to observe flora and fauna in their natural habitats is a huge draw. Interacting with guides and community members also provides valuable cultural and historical knowledge. The hands-on activities involving tasks like native plant propagation, reducing plastic use and restoring wildlife areas engage visitors in practical learning. Witnessing conservation efforts first-hand inspires visitors to adopt better environmental habits themselves. The emphasis on low-impact and sustainable practices further enhances ecotourism's appeal.

Insights, By Tourist Type: International tourists dominating longer stays

In terms of tourist type, international tourists contribute 63.2% of the market share due to being more likely to spend extended periods immersed in local communities. Many alternative activities require substantial time commitments which appeal more to foreigners with flexible long-haul travel itineraries. Domestic tourists have fixed vacation periods which are often shorter. International guests aiming to truly understand new cultures also seek in-depth localized experiences over superficial tours. Language barriers may further encourage longer-term social integration, especially for volunteer programs. Remote rural destinations also have less appeal for short domestic trips owing to travel distances within countries. The diversity of perspectives and cultures represented maintains international demand for meaningful cross-cultural exchange over time.

Insights, By Traveler Type: Solo travelers valuing deep introspection

In terms of traveler type, solo travelers contribute 58.7% share as alternative activities cater well to their needs for personal growth and reflection away from familiar routines. Individual journeys allow for fully immersive experiences without compromising to accommodate others' preferences. The introspective nature of activities like retreats, pilgrimages, and wilderness therapy particularly benefit those traveling alone. Without distractions from travel partners, solo tourists can more authentically engage cognitive and spiritual practices. They also gain greater self-reliance, determination and awareness by organizing trips independently. Alternative tourism offers optimal conditions for solitary travelers to engage in deep internal transformation through challenging themselves outside their comfort zones. Accommodating solo guests remains a priority as this segment values authentic self-development experiences above socializing.

Regional Insights

Alternative Tourism Market Regional Insights

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North America has dominated the alternative tourism market for many years owing to a strong industry presence and large domestic market with 37.8% of the market share. The U.S. in particular has seen significant interest in experiential and cultural activities that fall under the alternative tourism umbrella. Major cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago have thriving markets for food tours, artisan workshops, wellness retreats, and outdoor adventure locales that attract both international and domestic travelers. Several licensing and certification bodies have also emerged across various states to regulate and promote different experience providers. The presence of robust tourism infrastructure and availability of experienced local guides and instructors have ensured North American offerings can meet global standards of quality and safety. Several alternative activities have also gained widespread popularity beyond niche audiences to become an intrinsic part of the regional travel culture. For instance, activities like hiking, camping, skiing/snowboarding, cycling, and whale/dolphin watching have grown to being standard weekend getaways for locals.

A new frontier in alternative tourism is gaining momentum in Europe. Countries like Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Slovenia are experiencing rapid growth in demand for experiences showcasing local heritage, arts, nature and cuisine trails. These nations offer travelers an intriguing mix of post-communist cultural influences alongside vibrant creative communities and unspoilt natural landscapes. With costs of living and travel significantly lower compared to Western Europe, the value for money is attracting backpackers as well as families looking for authentic engagements off the beaten path. Local governments are also incentivizing private entrepreneurs through grants and training programs to build innovative experience-based businesses. Several new infrastructure projects connecting scenic areas are further improving accessibility across the broader region. As living standards continue rising alongside ongoing investment in tourism development, Central and Eastern Europe is set to become a major alternative tourism hotspot globally in the coming years.

Market Report Scope

Alternative Tourism Market Report Coverage

Report Coverage Details
Base Year: 2023 Market Size in 2024: US$ 98 Bn
Historical Data for: 2019 To 2023 Forecast Period: 2024 To 2031
Forecast Period 2024 to 2031 CAGR: 4.5% 2031 Value Projection: US$ 133.56 Bn
Geographies covered:
  • North America: U.S. and Canada
  • Latin America: Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Rest of Latin America
  • Europe: Germany, U.K., Spain, France, Italy, Russia, and Rest of Europe
  • Asia Pacific: China, India, Japan, Australia, South Korea, ASEAN, and Rest of Asia Pacific
  • Middle East & Africa: GCC Countries, Israel, and Rest of Middle East & Africa
Segments covered:
  • By Type: Dark tourism , Ecotourism , Volunteer tourism , Rural tourism , and Others 
  • By Tourist Type: Domestic and International 
  • By Traveler Type: Solo and Group 
  • By Booking Channel : Phone Booking, Online Booking, In Person Booking
Companies covered:

Chornobyl Tours, Young pioneer tours, Aero travels, Eurostar, SNCF, Deutsch Bahn, FlixTrain, Trenitalia, Renfe, Bouteco, Kind Traveler, Responsible Travel, Wild Frontiers Adventures Travel, Wilderness Holding Limited, Beyonder Experiences, Intrepid, Explore Tours, Exodus Travels, G. adventures, and On-the-go Tours

Growth Drivers:
  • Desire For New Experiences
  • Concerns For Sustainable Travel
Restraints & Challenges:
  • Limited Mass Appeal
  • Lack of Standardized Regulations

Key Developments

  • In January 2024, NEOM announced Zardun, its new luxury ecotourism destination
  • In 2023, Tripura’s bamboo-based ecotourism resort was honored on World Tourism Day
  • In 2023, the Ministry of Tourism in India launched the Rural Tourism Village portal on February 16, 2023
  • In 2022, Nilgiris distric developed as ecotourism zone
  • *Definition: Alternative tourism is a type of niche tourism aimed at consumers seeking experiences outside traditional mass tourism. Products in the alternative tourism market provide activities, accommodations, and experiences that immerse tourists in local culture through meaningful interactions with local communities and the natural environment in a low-impact and sustainable way. These products allow tourists to engage in local cultural activities, support small local businesses, learn about indigenous traditions, and help conserve natural and cultural heritage sites through their visits.

Market Segmentation

  •  Type Insights (Revenue, USD Bn, 2019 - 2031)
    • Dark tourism
    • Ecotourism
    • Volunteer tourism
    • Rural tourism
    • Others
  •  Tourist Type Insights (Revenue, USD Bn, 2019 - 2031)
    • Domestic
    • International
  •  Traveler Type Insights (Revenue, USD Bn, 2019 - 2031)
    • Solo
    • Group
  • Booking Channel Insights (Revenue, USD Bn, 2019 - 2031)
    • Phone Booking
    • Online
    • In Person Booking
  • Regional Insights (Revenue, USD Bn, 2019 - 2031)
    • North America
      • U.S.
      • Canada
    • Latin America
      • Brazil
      • Argentina
      • Mexico
      • Rest of Latin America
    • Europe
      • Germany
      • U.K.
      • Spain
      • France
      • Italy
      • Russia
      • Rest of Europe
    • Asia Pacific
      • China
      • India
      • Japan
      • Australia
      • South Korea
      • ASEAN
      • Rest of Asia Pacific
    • Middle East & Africa
      • GCC Countries
      • Israel
      • Rest of Middle East & Africa
  • Key Players Insights
    • Chornobyl Tours
    • Young pioneer tours
    • Aero travels
    • Eurostar
    • SNCF
    • Deutsch Bahn
    • FlixTrain
    • Trenitalia
    • Renfe
    • Bouteco
    • Kind Traveler
    • Responsible Travel
    • Wild Frontiers Adventures Travel
    • Wilderness Holding Limited
    • Beyonder Experiences
    • Intrepid
    • Explore Tours
    • Exodus Travels
    • G. adventures
    • On-the-go Tours

Frequently Asked Questions

The CAGR of the alternative tourism market is projected to be 4.5% from 2024 to 2031.

Desire for New Experiences and Concerns for Sustainable Travel are the major factors driving the growth of the alternative tourism market.

Limited mass appeal and lack of standardized regulations are the major factors hampering the growth of the alternative tourism market.

In terms of type, ecotourism is estimated to dominate the market revenue share in 2024.

Chornobyl Tours, Young pioneer tours, Aero travels, Eurostar, SNCF, Deutsch Bahn, FlixTrain, Trenitalia, Renfe, Bouteco, Kind Traveler, Responsible Travel, Wild Frontiers Adventures Travel, Wilderness Holding Limited, Beyonder Experiences, Intrepid, Explore Tours, Exodus Travels, G. adventures, and On-the-go Tours are the major players.

North America is expected to lead the alternative tourism market.

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