The Millennials: Unique Experience versus Mass Tourism

Travelling has changed and the tourist arrivals keep on increasing every year. In Vietnam, the tourism industry is increasing even more rapidly. With the growth of the tourism industry, there is more money to be made for everyone. This has resulted in many tour operators starting up new businesses and accommodations are being developed in record time.

Source: UNWTO

In 2016, international tourist arrivals worldwide increased by 3,9 % and reached the 1.235 billion international arrivals. In Vietnam, the international tourist arrivals increased even more, with a 26% increase in 2016 and reached over 10 million international visitors. It is not a surprise that the Vietnamese people want to profit from this. This has resulted in a lot of new businesses in tourism. Many tour operators started their business and even more, accommodations opened their doors over the last few years. The tour operators offer mostly the same destinations and packages to the tourists because this is what the tourists want to see and do. Most tourists will not leave Vietnam before they have seen highlights like Ha Long Bay, Hoi An, Sa Pa and so on. This causes overcrowded places and mass tourism at the main highlights of Vietnam.

Hoi An

A contradiction to the fact that tourists want to see the highlights of a country, is that the modern travellers - the millennials, want to have a unique experience during their holiday. Millennials want to experience the local culture and learn how that culture works. They also want to discover new places and feel like they are away from the main crowd to really experience the country and the culture they are visiting. However, offering a unique experience is a challenge when everyone wants to see the same destinations and highlights.

Furthermore, the use of Social Media has significant influences on the tourism industry. This makes it even harder to offer unique experiences because photos and information of destinations are constantly shared on Social Media that attract the crowd to discover and visit the destination. Certainly, this is beneficial for the destination itself because the increase in visitors will generate more jobs and profits. However, for the tourists, it means that the destination is losing its uniqueness.

So how can you offer a unique experience, but also show the highlights of a country? A great example of Footprint Vietnam is the “off the beaten track” trip. This type of travel expedition includes the highlights of Vietnam but in a different way. Footprint provides opportunities for travellers to witness the hidden beauty of famous destinations, with the integration of local elements. This way visitor will get to experience the scenery and local culture, yet avoiding mass tourism. From discovering the lively local markets in Hanoi at 4 AM or trekking in Pu Luong Nature Reserve, the trips offered are unique sites that are not commonly offered by other tour operators. By offering these trips in this unique way, Footprint is responding to the demand of the millennials to offer unique experiences and experience the local culture of Vietnam, while avoiding the masses.

Travel Responsibly 

Another trend that has developed itself over the past few years is to travel responsibly. Millennials are more aware of the impacts travelling has on the economy, environment and social aspects.

Many new projects are being developed to offer more sustainable tourism to tourists. These projects are based on protecting the environment, the social aspects of a destination or the local economy. Examples of these projects are community-based tourism projects, CO2 emission compensation projects and clean drinking water development projects. In the coming few years, tourists will book trips more likely with companies that are involved or support such projects.   

Although the trend of responsible travel is upcoming, travellers are still hesitant about the sustainable trips. This is because the word sustainable is associated with more expensive trips. This is why Footprint is supporting different projects but is not promoting this in a big way. The prices of the trips are still compatible, but the trips of Footprint Travel set a high priority on being sustainable. The trips highly involve local tour guides, local accommodations and local products. Footprint helps in the training of the local people that work in tourism, which helps the communities adapting to the western tourists that visit Vietnam. Furthermore, Footprint has planned on developing a refill project, which stimulates local communities and accommodations to supply clean drinking water for tourists to refill their drinking bottle. In 2016, Footprint received the Travelife certificate, which means that they have completed the whole certification process of Travelife. The certification process of Travelife focusses on a sustainable operation in every sense of doing business, starting with the office itself and ending with all the suppliers that are used by the business. This certificate shows that Footprint is a sustainable company and this makes the company unique and attractive for the millennials. 

Author: Marjo

During four years of studying tourism management, Marjolein discovered her passion for responsible tourism. Now, she has moved away from her home in the Netherlands to Hanoi, to chase her dream of getting involved in responsible tourism. So far, she loves everything about Vietnam