Search for “luxury travel trends” on Google, and virtually every article will mention the words ‘conscious’, ‘sustainable’ or ‘responsible’ somewhere in there. Be it surveys or predictions, it is undeniable that there’s a growing demand from luxury travelers for things more than just the typical definition of luxury (expensive, exclusive, indulgent).
According to a survey by Virtuoso,
nearly 70 percent of respondents feel that traveling sustainably enhances their travel experience
82 percent said that the pandemic has spurred them toward more responsible travel
And three-quarters cited the importance of choosing a supplier with a strong sustainability policy.
How is being conscious and sustainable a better form of luxury?
Initially, it might seem like an oxymoron to put ‘sustainable’ or ‘conscious’ alongside luxury. After all, luxury comes with connotations of excess, wastefulness and individualism, while sustainability could give an impression of prudence, anti-consumerism and environmental activism.
Yet sustainability - which essentially is about “meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs” - can go hand in hand with luxury. In the realm of travel, modern luxury is virtually synonymous with travelers’ well-being and having priceless experiences.
Conscious Luxury Minimizes Impacts On The Environment While Maximizing Benefits For Local Communities
Luxury is tasting the difference of ultra-fresh, heirloom, seasonal produce grown nearby in the most natural conditions. It’s not just the best preventative medicine for any discerning diner, it is also least harmful to the environment as opposed to using ingredients that have been flown in by air, wrapped in plastic and sitting in refrigerators for hours or even days.
Luxury is being offered products and amenities that are free from chemicals that harm both the users and the environment, and staying in hotels or resorts that are innovatively designed and built with the utmost care to be integrated into the natural environment, minimizing harm to its surroundings while elevating the guest experience.
Luxury is showcasing to guests the best that nature has to offer in a sustainable way, allowing them to engage with the natural environment and help protect it. Countless scientific research shows that exposure to nature has undeniable benefits to both physical and psychological human well-being.
Still not convinced?
‘Doing tourism sustainably’ often means applying a higher level of innovation and creativity. Take the machiyado concept in Japan, similar to the dispersed hotel notion that every travel site was talking about just before Covid. Machiyado regards the whole neighborhood or town as an integral extension of lodgings, connecting locals’ daily lives with accommodation services. This type of community-based tourism offers a one-of-a-kind experience for guests while bringing new opportunities for local residents and businesses. When tourism is managed in collaboration with the local community, economic benefits brought by visitors seeking a deeper experience are much more likely to remain, while providing resources to vital efforts for preserving natural habitats as well as local traditions and customs.
Seclusion and privacy are hot in the luxury traveler’s wishlist. This could be done sustainably when travelers venture to less-visited places, helping to ease congestion and pollution in crowded destinations while distributing economic benefits to those communities that don’t normally get visitors. In fact, an overwhelming majority of Virtuoso’s survey respondents said they would visit a popular destination during its offseason to curb over-tourism, or opt for alternative, less-visited destinations.
Many are also embracing “slow travel” - settling in at a destination of choice in order to really appreciate the place. Obviously, less moving around means less GHG emissions (less emissions from transportation, from hotel changeovers), but also less stress for travelers.
Imagine getting a taste of rural life in your very own century-old farmhouse, with sturdy pillars and beams that retains the beauty of traditional architecture yet luxuriously renovated to include all the modern comforts and energy-efficient insulation, tucked away in a mountainous hamlet with a private yet panoramic view of a magnificent mountain range.
All These Make Business Sense
We’ve already seen that there’s no doubt that this is what a growing number of customers are demanding. Another survey by ILTM showed that two-thirds of their respondents now expect to see information on sustainability when agents create itineraries.
We’ll dive into why you’ll find plenty of sustainable yet luxurious places in Japan in the next post.
We believe that travel agents and consultants are well-positioned to also be agents of change for a better future for all through travel: by seeking truly sustainable travel solutions, offering them to customers, and communicating effectively why these options are better for them as well as for the greater good.
Tricolage specializes in crafting journeys with conscious luxury in mind to give guests exquisite, unforgettable experiences in Japan that are good for their own wellbeing as well as for the planet. Safety, hygiene and privacy are also our top priorities, while never compromising on transparency and flexibility.
Get in touch to see amazing Japan through a unique, highly personalized, immersive experience.