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  • Published In : May 2024
  • Code : CMI6977
  • Pages :130
  • Formats :
      Excel and PDF
  • Industry : Consumer Goods

Market Size and Trends

The global ethical tourism market is estimated to be valued at USD 258.54 Bn in 2024 and is expected to reach USD 381.12 Bn by 2031, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.7% from 2024 to 2031.

Ethical Tourism Market Key Factors

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Ethical tourism focuses on minimizing negative impacts and maximizing local benefits for destinations. The demand for ethical tourism has been on the rise over the past few years due to growing consumer awareness about sustainable travel. People are increasingly looking for tourism options that are culturally sensitive, environmentally sustainable, and provide socio-economic benefits to local communities. Key factors, such as increasing disposable incomes, ease of travel, and digitalization, are also expected to support the ethical tourism market growth during the forecast period. The market is expected to grow owing to travelers seeking destinations and experiences that allow them to immerse themselves in local communities and cultures in a responsible way.

The quest for meaningful experiences

Travelers today are drawn towards destinations and experiences that allow them to learn from local communities and immerse themselves in cultural exchanges. Going beyond the typical crowded tourist attractions, ethical tourism provides an opportunity for visitors to engage with the places they visit on a deeper level and walk away with richer understanding of local lives and challenges. Many travelers, especially millennials, want their trips to have purpose beyond sightseeing. Through ethical and sustainable options that support local livelihoods, they can fulfill their travel dreams while also helping communities they interact with. Operators in this space design itineraries focused on cultural activities lead by community members, homestays with local families and volunteering opportunities - all of which give visitors a first-hand feel of everyday lives. The emphasis is on minimizing negative impacts of tourism and giving back to places that welcome outsiders. This shift among travelers is propelling the demand for experiences aligned with their values of cultural appreciation, social responsibility, and desire to make a positive difference through travel.

Market Concentration and Competitive Landscape

Ethical Tourism Market Concentration By Players

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Growing awareness about impacts of mass tourism

With increasing recognition of environmental and sociocultural pressures from conventional tourism models, people are more thoughtful about how their travel choices can influence destinations for better or worse. Highly populated destinations struggling with over tourism, pollution, and loss of local character are shining a light on the flip side of hospitality industry's rapid growth. Communities striving to retain their authentic essence and traditions are also voicing the need for balances approach. Travelers themselves want to avoid contributing to problems facing places they visit. The ethical and sustainable tourism segments provide solutions that can relieve downward pressures from mass markets. By spreading visitor flow more widely across lesser-known regions and seasons, they help reduce tourist concentration in top spots. Community-driven operations ensure tourism dollars flow more directly into local coffers and development projects. This helps address the perception that large-scale tourism often benefits outside firms more than resident populations. The growing awareness about impacts of mass tourism is a key driver for the ethical alternative. It addresses both environmental sustainability and fosters positive socioeconomic change at the grassroots.

Ethical Tourism Market Key Takeaways From Lead Analyst

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Market Challenges: High costs of certain ethical tourism activities and destinations

The high costs associated with certain ethical tourism activities and destinations is presenting a formidable challenge for the growth of the global ethical tourism market. Many travelers who are keen to experience sustainable and responsible forms of travel are often discouraged by the elevated pricing of such offerings. While demand has grown significantly for vacations and trips that minimize negative environmental and social impacts, the relatively higher costs are still restraining overall market expansion to some extent.  This is because ethical tourism frequently involves activities, accommodations, and experiences that inherently have higher operational expenses due to their stronger emphasis on environmental protection, local community engagement and adoption of best practices when it comes to conservation, waste management, water usage and carbon footprint reduction. For instance, niche family-run lodges and camps that are fully solar powered while actively supporting indigenous communities through employment and skills training will naturally charge premium rates to cover their sustainable model. Similarly, guided tours and tours that incorporate elements of volunteering, education and conservation work are more expensive to organize and run when benchmarked against conventional mass tourism options.

 Market Opportunities: Untapped regions and communities offering niche experiential tourism

There are several untapped regions and communities around the world that offer unique experiential tourism opportunities which can be leveraged to spur growth in the global ethical tourism market. Experiential tourism focuses on immersing travelers in local cultures and allowing them to participate in activities run by local communities. This not only provides tourists with enriching experiences, but also uplifts the economies and livelihoods of the communities involved in a sustainable manner.  One such opportunity lies in indigenous communities residing in remote areas across South America, South Asia, Africa, and Oceania. These communities have centuries-old traditions, arts, crafts and a deep connection with nature. However, a majority of them remain isolated with little access to basic infrastructure and healthcare. Organized experiential tourism activities run by these communities can help attract ethically-minded travelers curious to learn about unfamiliar cultures first-hand, while also circulating the revenues back within these communities. For instance, the Maasai tribal community in Kenya's wilderness offers guided hiking, camping. and cultural tours that provide a unique experience into their semi-nomadic way of life. This supports the education and healthcare initiatives for Maasai children and elders.

Ethical Tourism Market By Traveler Type

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Insights by Traveler Type: Social Connectivity Fosters Group Travel

In terms of traveler type, group is expected to contribute 38.8% share of the market in 2024, owing to people’s inherent need for social bonding and shared experiences. Traveling with others satisfies fundamental human desires for community and companionship on journeys outside one’s normal environment. The camaraderie built amongst group members as they navigate new places and cultures together creates lasting memories. Shared challenges and victories strengthen interpersonal ties. Moreover, certain activities like volunteering require teamwork and communal effort that lends itself well to group dynamics. Safety in numbers also provides peace of mind when venturing into unfamiliar destinations. With group travel, solo travelers can avoid loneliness while families and friends find quality time to reconnect away from everyday distractions. Whether for business, education, or leisure, the social capital and support inherent in traveling with an entourage outpaces the independence of solo vacations or constraints of multi-generational outings, driving its dominance in this market segment.

Insights By Travel Activities: Nature's Rejuvenating Appeal Fuels Wildlife Tourism

In terms of travel activities, nature & wildlife is expected to contribute 38.7% share of the market in 2024, due to humanity’s innate attraction to the splendors of the natural world. Untouched habitats offer a sense of escape from modern urban living. Opportunities to observe exotic plants and animals in their element foster appreciation for biodiversity and environmental conservation. Through wildlife tours, treks through forests or reef dives, people reconnect with their innate affinity for the outdoors. Witnessing spectacular sunrises and sunsets against open landscapes can induce a calming effect and shift perspectives. Unique ecosystems like coral reefs and tropical rainforests also pique scientific curiosity. For adventure-seekers and amateur photographers, animal spotting presents thrilling chase moments. With eco-lodges emerging as interesting accommodations, wildlife destinations pull travelers seeking rejuvenation through activities like birdwatching, nature walks and safaris. Their appeal derives from opportunities to admire nature’s greatest works up close in pristine settings away from pollution.

Insights By Accommodation Type: Community Immersion Defines Homestay Stays

In terms of accommodation type, community-based lodges is expected to contribute 37.5% share of the market in 2024, owing to travelers’ growing desire for cultural immersion. Homestays offer a chance for meaningful social exchange with local families through day-to-day interaction over meals and ambient activities. Guests gain insider perspectives on people’s livelihoods, food, dialect, and customs beyond curated tourism packages. Many destinations still retain rich cultural heritages best understood through homestay experiences. With ethical tourism focusing on sustainable local development and knowledge-sharing, community lodges empower marginalized populations through fair economic opportunities. By blending into residential quarters, travelers can dissolve superficial cultural barriers and forge heartfelt connections. The hospitality of host communities leaves treasured memories long after trips conclude. For budget travelers, the affordable costs of homestays also make longer-term cultural learning visits feasible. Their grassroots, non-commercial environment satisfies the increasing need for off-the-beaten-path authenticity in a globalized world.

Regional Insights

Ethical Tourism Market Regional Insights

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Europe has been and continues to be the dominant region in the global ethical tourism market. The region is expected to hold 35.8% of the market share in 2024. The concept of sustainable and responsible tourism first originated and gained widespread traction in European countries like the U.K., Germany, France, and Italy in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Since then, many European governments and tourism boards have strongly promoted ethical and green tourism initiatives. Majority of global organizations working in the area of ecotourism and community-based tourism are also headquartered in Europe.  The presence of large international nature reserves, national parks, and UNESCO heritage sites spread across countries like Spain, Italy, Greece, and Croatia has made Europe a top destination for nature and culture-focused ethical tourist activities. Several European hotel brands and chains have also proactively adopted sustainable practices relating to energy usage, water conservation, and supply chain management. This has given comfort to an increasing number travelers looking to minimize their environmental footprint during vacations. The strong government support through policies and certifications has enabled Europe to attract high spending purposeful travelers contributing to local communities.

The fastest growing region is Asia Pacific, led by countries like India and Thailand. Both nations have paid a strong focus on propagating domestic and community-based tourism as a means of equitable development, employment generation, and cultural preservation. India's Incredible India campaign highlighted local festivals, villages stays, and wildlife safaris as a way to promote responsible travel. Similarly, Thailand's Ministry of Tourism vigorously markets the country's farming, diving, and mountain villages. Rapid infrastructure growth across Asia pacific has made access to remote areas easier. At the same time, rising disposable incomes and health awareness is driving Asians to explore their own countries through meaningful trips. The abundance of ancient pilgrimage sites, verdant hill stations, pristine beaches, and heritage accommodations tailored for ethical travel presents Asia pacific an immense untapped opportunity. If current efforts continue at the grassroots level across the region, Asia pacific is poised to become a leader in the global ethical tourism marketplace.

Market Report Scope

Ethical Tourism Market Report Coverage

Report Coverage Details
Base Year: 2023 Market Size in 2024: US$ 258.54 Bn
Historical Data for: 2019 To 2023 Forecast Period: 2024 To 2031
Forecast Period 2024 to 2031 CAGR: 5.7% 2031 Value Projection: US$ 381.12 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 Traveler Type: Solo, Group, Family, and Others
  • By Travel Activities: Volunteering , Cultural Experiences, Nature & Wildlife, Agritourism, and Others
  • By Accommodation Type: Community-based Lodges, Eco-camps & Lodges, Homestays, and Others 
Companies covered:

Intrepid Travel, Responsible Tourism India, Responsible travel, Wilderness Safaris, Basecamp Explorer AS, Wild Frontiers Adventures Travel, Beyonder Experiences, Bouteco, Cheeseman’s Ecological Safaris, G Adventures Inc., Gondwana Ecotours, Inkaterra, Intrepid Group Pty Limited, LooLa Adventure Resort, and Natural Habitat Adventures

Growth Drivers:
  • The quest for meaningful experiences
  • Growing awareness about impacts of mass tourism
Restraints & Challenges:
  • High costs of certain ethical tourism activities and destinations.
  • Limited infrastructure in rural and underdeveloped areas

Key Developments

  • In November 2023, NEOM and Our Habitas announced the launch of three new hotels in Leyja, Saudi Arabia, with a focus on eco-tourism. The hotels will be located in a natural wadi oasis between 400-meter-tall Mountains, and will offer 120 suites with 40 keys each.
  • In October 2023, the Saudi Tourism Global Center (STGC) established a new global research center to support the travel and tourism industry. The center aims to develop advanced methods to help the sector transition towards climate neutrality more rapidly.
  • In November 2023, Visit Keweenaw, the tourism authority for the Keweenaw Peninsula, introduced its Sustainable Tourism Series. This initiative is designed to educate and inform the public about the importance of preventing light pollution and to highlight the region's pristine black sky for future generations to enjoy.
  • In June 2022, the Indian Ministry of Tourism organized a national summit to encourage the development of more sustainable and ethical travel destinations across the country
  • *Definition: The global ethical tourism market consists of travel and tourism activities and services that involve interaction with and benefit local communities while avoiding potential harm to hosts or hosts' environment and culture. Ethical tourism activities support poverty alleviation, cultural preservation, environmental conservation, and socioeconomic development through community-owned businesses and enterprises that minimize negative impacts and maximize local benefits from visiting tourists. The aim of ethical tourism is to generate greater understanding between cultures and help preserve the natural and cultural heritage of destinations.

Market Segmentation

  •  Traveler Type Insights (Revenue, USD Bn, 2019 - 2031)
    • Solo
    • Group
    • Family
    • Others
  •  Travel Activities Insights (Revenue, USD Bn, 2019 - 2031)
    • Volunteering
    • Cultural Experiences
    • Nature & Wildlife
    • Agritourism
    • Others
  •  Accommodation Type Insights (Revenue, USD Bn, 2019 - 2031)
    • Community-based Lodges
    • Eco-camps & Lodges
    • Homestays
    • Others
  • 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
    • Intrepid Travel
    • Responsible Tourism India
    • Responsible travel
    • Wilderness Safaris
    • Basecamp Explorer AS
    • Wild Frontiers Adventures Travel
    • Beyonder Experiences
    • Bouteco
    • Cheeseman’s Ecological Safaris
    • G Adventures Inc.
    • Gondwana Ecotours
    • Inkaterra
    • Intrepid Group Pty Limited
    • LooLa Adventure Resort
    • Natural Habitat Adventures

Frequently Asked Questions

The CAGR of the ethical tourism market is projected to be 5.7% from 2024 to 2031.

The quest for meaningful experiences and growing awareness about impacts of mass tourism are the major factors driving the growth of the ethical tourism market.

High costs of certain ethical tourism activities and destinations and limited infrastructure in rural and underdeveloped areas are the major factors hampering the growth of the ethical tourism market.

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

Intrepid Travel, Responsible Tourism India, Responsible travel, Wilderness Safaris, Basecamp Explorer AS, Wild Frontiers Adventures Travel, Beyonder Experiences, Bouteco, Cheeseman’s Ecological Safaris, G Adventures Inc., Gondwana Ecotours, Inkaterra, Intrepid Group Pty Limited, LooLa Adventure Resort, and Natural Habitat Adventures are the major players.

Europe is expected to lead the ethical tourism market.

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