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The European market potential for Generation Y tourism

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Takes 30 minutes to read

Generation Y or millennial travellers offer a huge market, which already accounts for approximately 40% of all travel expenditure. Within Europe, Germany, the United Kingdom and France are the main Generation Y markets. Generation Y is formed of people born between 1980 and 2000.They try to avoid the masses and look for unique travel opportunities. This article offers much information and many tips and examples which will help you to target Generation Y.

1. Description of the target group

Though definitions vary slightly, it is generally accepted that Generation Y or millennials were born between 1980 and 2000, putting them between the ages of 20 and 40 in 2020. Millennials are the first generation born and raised with computers and the internet, which is why they are also referred to as digital natives. Technology and the internet are integral parts of their daily lives. Unlike previous generations, millennials are also adept at using smartphones, tablets and other tech gadgets to communicate and consume, including tourism products and while travelling. Generation Y travellers already account for 40% of Europe’s outbound travel.

The rise of technology and social media has influenced millennials’ values, their attitude towards life and towards travel. When planning a holiday, Generation Y tends to rely on social media for information and inspiration. Millennials value authentic, genuine content created by fellow travellers much more than marketer-provided information. Millennials tend to be most inspired by seeing travel pictures posted by their friends and/or travel experts and by blogs and travel articles. The large majority reads reviews on sites like TripAdvisor, finds information on websites of travel brands or destinations, or talk to people who have visited a destination. Millennials are 23% more likely to find brands through vlogs or celebrity endorsement and 19% more likely via blogs written by influencers. GlobalData suggests that as many of the travel influencers belong to generations Y and Z, it is important to monitor what they think and communicate on their social media channels. Their power to influence others is very significant. Engaging with these influencers across various communication channels is recommended. YouTube and Twitter have been the most widely used online platforms for promoting travel and tourism during the pandemic, while applications such as TikTok represent new possibilities.

In spite of these common characteristics, millennials form a heterogeneous group ranging from young professionals, to new parents, to parents in their thirties with children and stable incomes; although many millennials choose to not have children or not until later in life. Millennials are generally portrayed in the media as innovative thinkers and influential buyers.

In travel and tourism, millennial consumers value authenticity, fulfilment and sustainability in personalised experiences suited to their own tastes and preferences, over postcard and must-see destinations. They do extensive research online before they complete a booking; they prefer to relax, to unplug from the world and have fun, and prefer to choose destinations and experiences on their bucket lists. Millennials avoid tourism products that appear false, fake or staged for tourists.

Figure 1: A millennial preferring sustainable and authentic travel

A millennial preferring sustainable and authentic travel

Source: pexels.com

Although millennials are relatively young in age, in terms of travel, they cherish local cultures and traditions, active getaways, and travelling with friends and relatives. Examples of millennial travelling choices are varied and wide ranging, they include: a holiday to a lesser-known or exotic destination to interact with locals, enjoy a secret concert or immerse in a rare cultural spectacle; staying in a hostel to do mountain trekking; visiting a traditional tourist attraction like going to the Louvre Museum to see the Mona Lisa; taking an educational or culinary vacation; doing voluntary tourism; or simply going to a luxury spa treatment. According to tourism service provider Rezdy, a whopping 83% of millennials worldwide chose to vacation at all-inclusive resorts.

Millennials acknowledge and value green business practices. They do not look for quality only, but for premium personalised service for a reasonable price. Millennials do not appreciate the limitations imposed by traditional tourism products, such as bus tours or limited buffet selections; they want to have a bit of everything and freedom of choice. Enabled by their ever-present mobile devices, millennials do their research on the go so they take advantage of the best travel opportunities and modify them to meet their personal tastes. Millennials travel more often with friends, relatives and colleagues than other generations and stay more frequent in touch with them thanks to social media. The millennial market comprises an above average share of female travellers.

In addition to their online, always connected lives, millennials also enjoy spaces where they can meet new people, such as in hotel lobbies which are more than just check-in counter, but also invites guests to socialise and make connections. Millennial travellers also appreciate diversity in food, including local ingredients, dishes, beers and wines.

According to IPK International, one-third of millennials’ holidays are city trips, and half of all luxury holidays worldwide are made by millennials. Older generations define luxury in terms of comfort, whereas millennials define it as unprecedented experiences they can share with friends. Luxury is considered to be a feeling instead of a category. For most millennials luxury means unusual, limited edition, rare, bespoke and sustainable experiences.

While being adventurous, millennials are also very conscious of their safety and security. They are very sensitive to security threats such as terrorist attacks or geopolitical unrest. Some 29% of millennials have cancelled a trip in the past due to security risks. These facts help us understand why only 7% of the millennials travel alone, with 42% travelling with their partners and 37% preferring to holiday with friends. Various online applications were developed in the past years to tackle this issue, such as the safety function on Facebook or the GeoSure security application that can indicate the risks for a specific location.


  • Meet the requirements of Generation Y travellers by being transparent and socially responsible.
  • Build confidence in your travellers by communicating clearly about safety and security measures.
  • Be tech-savvy. Make sure you have a strong online presence, so guests can use their mobile devices on their travels. Improve your online presence by inviting professionals to write reviews for you, such as trusted bloggers, social media influencers, or reviewers from magazines, such as National Geographic, Business Insider (see Goodnoons tips), the Travel Channel and TripAdvisor (for contacts see the Muck Rack website). Learn about and monitor influencer statistics with the use of websites such as noxinfluencer.
  • Personalise your offering and place emphasis on the consumer experience, also during the orientation and purchasing phases.
  • Focus on specific target groups, such as solo travellers, extended families, groups of friends, group travel for singles or for people with similar interests, such as yoga, bootcamps, cooking, entrepreneurship, mountain bikers, birdwatchers, or scientific researchers.

This article provides an overview of the characteristics and travel behaviour of Generation Y. Despite the fact that Generation Y is a demographic cohort that shares certain features, it is still a diverse group of travellers. Therefore, this study outlines various aspects that need to be considered when targeting European millennials.

This study will further answer the following questions: Why is Europe an interesting market? Which countries have the most potential? and Which trends offer opportunities?

2. What makes Europe an interesting Generation Y market?

Research And Markets expects millennials to reach their peak in earning and spending power during the next decade, which is likely to be a strong driver for the tourism sector and thus a very lucrative target market for travel and tourism businesses. Half of all luxury travel worldwide is already made by millennials, and they are expected to dominate this market by 2020. According to Rezdy, millennials travel more frequently than any other generations per year (35 days on average – before COVID), they are inclined to extend their stays for cultural immersion and they enjoy booking spontaneous weekend holidays.

Due to COVID-19, the number of Europeans travelling outside of Europe decreased by 98% in June 2020 compared to June 2019. Generation Y travel outside of Europe has almost completely vanished. However, this target group promises opportunities for the future. According to GlobalData, young travellers are vital to the recovery of the travel and tourism sector. Generation Y and Generation Z travellers are the first ones who are likely to take international trips once the restrictions have been lifted. However, the survey conducted by GlobalData showed that even though these generations are keen on travelling again, they are still very concerned about the pandemic.

Generation Y is willing to take more risks and plan to travel sooner than other generations. However, due to the impact of the pandemic on individual financial situations, they are planning shorter and less expensive trips. Although safety remains a top concern, most millennials who participated in the survey indicated that they are still planning a holiday in the near future.

“Considering the hierarchy of needs, we need to eliminate the health issues first and we need to ensure the European economy recovers well. Younger millennials are the people that are most affected economically.” (Eran Ketter, Ketter Consulting)

Table 1: Examples of appealing activities for millennials



Learning new skills: such as sailing, languages, photography, engaging in local handicrafts, cooking classes, yoga, bamboo paper art, oil painting, martial arts, glass blowing, scuba diving, tango and other dance classes

Backstreet Academy Arts & Crafts, Lantern Making

Ecological tours: rare experiences that educate and share inside information on the area and how to protect it for the future, such as by visiting animal sanctuaries

Tourradar and EcoAfricaTravel, Mandalao Elephant Sanctuary

Adventure activities: hang-gliding, caving, rafting, canoeing, 'Surfaris' or surf holidays, paragliding, bungee jumping, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkelling, mountain biking, trekking, hiking, rock climbing, sandboarding, ziplining, jungle tourism, horseback riding

World Surfaris, Angkor Zipline

Authentic, unique and once-in-a-lifetime experiences

Hot-air ballooning over the Masai Mara

Immersion in local cultures: to ‘feel like a local’, such as indulging in the local nightlife scene, or connecting travellers to local tastes via platforms, cooking classes, farm-to-table experiences, homestays and more

EatWith or BiteMojo, Inside Asia Tours

Exploring hidden gems

Accor Local engages local residents as ambassadors for the destinations, and indirectly for Accor hotel

Making local history more tangible: e.g. by using virtual reality walking tours

Virtual reality walking tour developed by Croatia Travel Co.

History and culture walking tours: which provide opportunities to meet other travellers and have a destination expert at their disposal

Smarter Travel, Local Aventura and Walking Adventures

Health, wellness and spiritual experiences: traditional healing techniques, yoga, meditation, detox holidays, rejuvenation holidays

Soul Sanctuaries

Hotel chains can provide you with inspiration as to how they try to attract Generation Y travellers. Some chains have even developed specific brands for millennial travellers, such as: Radisson RED, Moxy by Marriott, Tommie by Hyatt, AC Hotels by Marriott, Hyatt Centric, and Hilton’s Canopy.


  • Provide sleeping accommodation in stylish, fun and smart designs, such as the ones on Airbnb or boutique hostels. Ensure good Wi-Fi connections and utilise smart technologies as much as possible.
  • Offer opportunities to mix business trips with leisure, or leisure travel with business (referred to as bleisure travel) enabled by platforms such as WeWork.
  • Invite online influencers for a free stay and then promote their experience to their followers in an appealing way.
  • Offer flexibility. Generation Y travellers seek various kinds of activities and experiences (see table 1), which might be extended over multiple days, preferably avoiding the masses. To find out more, also read our study on free independent traveller (FIT) tourism.

3. Which European countries offer most opportunities for millennial travel?

Generation Y is a demographically defined market segment, so it is important to look into the size of this cohort in the populations of individual European countries. Germany has the most millennials in Europe (over 20 million), followed by the United Kingdom (18 million) and France (15 million). Proportionally to the total population of each country, the numbers of millennials range between 24% (Germany) and 37.6% (Poland).

Hover your mouse cursor or pointer over the countries in blue on the map below to see the number of millennials in each European country.

Germany, the United Kingdom and France offer the biggest potential in the millennial market, as they have the largest proportion of their populations in this demographic segment. Italy and Spain follow those three in terms of market potential. Poland wraps up the top-six markets with the most potential in Europe. Niche markets for millennial travel in these countries include backpacking, student travel, work experience and language learning.


Germany has the largest absolute number of millennials in Europe, so it can be considered the market with the largest potential for Generation Y travel. In 2020, Germany will have 20 million millennials in a total population of 84 million.

Table 2: Key statistics on German millennials’ travel behaviour




Experiencing authentic culture is important to very important during the holiday


Not available

It is important that people comment on holiday photos that are posted on social media



More worried about safety during a holiday abroad than during a holiday in own country



Most influential parties in final holiday decision

30% close contacts

19% fellow consumers

29% industry experts

Not available

Interested in wearable technology that automatically adjusts the hotel room temperature to body temperature



Socialising over instant messaging is valued as much as or more than socialising face to face



Having children has had a negative impact on the quality of the holidays



Willing to share personal data in exchange of recommendations, advice, tips, or personalised service provision



Types of vacations taken in 2017

62% relaxing

36% sightseeing

33% visiting family

15% family play

23% romantic getaway


Source: Millennial Travel report by Expedia and Future Foundation

United Kingdom

The UK is the country in Europe with the second-largest number of millennials, after Germany, so it offers a large potential for this market segment. The UN projects that the UK will have a population of 68 million people in 2020, of which 18 million will be millennials.

Table 3: Key statistics about British millennials’ travel behaviour




Experiencing authentic culture is important to very important during the holiday


Not available

It is important that people comment on holiday photos that are posted on social media



More worried about safety during a holiday abroad than during a holiday in own country



Most influential parties in final holiday decision

28% close contacts

28% fellow consumers

29% industry experts

Not available

Interested in wearable technology that automatically adjusts the hotel room temperature to body temperature



Socialising over instant messaging is valued as much as or more than socialising face to face



Having children has had a negative impact on the quality of the holidays



Willing to share personal data in exchange for recommendations, advice, tips, or personalised service provision



Types of vacations taken in 2017

52% relaxing

53% sightseeing

40% visiting family

22% family play

26% romantic getaway


Source: Millennial Travel report by Expedia and Future Foundation


France offers the third-largest potential market for millennials in Europe. In 2020, France is expected to have 15 million millennials among a total population of 65 million.

Table 4: Key statistics about French millennials’ travel behaviour




Experiencing authentic culture is important to very important during the holiday


Not available

It is important that people comment on holiday photos that are posted on social media



More worried about safety during a holiday abroad than during a holiday in own country



Most influential parties in final holiday decision

19% close contacts

17% fellow consumers

30% industry experts

Not available

Interested in wearable technology that automatically adjusts the hotel room temperature to body temperature



Socialising over instant messaging is valued as much as or more than socialising face to face



Having children has had a negative impact on the quality of the holidays



Willing to share personal data in exchange for recommendations, advice, tips, or personalised service provision



Types of vacations taken in 2017

51% relaxing

46% sightseeing

39% visiting family

35% family play

24% romantic getaway

Not available

Source: Millennial Travel report by Expedia and Future Foundation

An Expedia survey, focusing on millennial travellers from Germany, the UK and France, found the following. Out of all generations, millennials tend to take the most trips (personal and business combined) per year (4.3 trips). They also take the shortest trips, averaging 8.5 days per trip. Millennials are most likely to take relaxing holidays (57%), followed by sightseeing (45%), visiting relatives (38%), family play (35%) and a romantic getaway (33%). When booking a holiday, millennials are most likely to use online travel agents (50%), followed by various search engines (39%). Some 65% of the interviewed millennials are likely to travel outside their home countries; however, 73% of them consider the costs as an important element. They are budget-conscious. However, when asked to prioritise, activities in general as well as once-in-a-lifetime and cultural experiences ranked the highest.

Table 5: Statistics about the travel behaviour of German, British and French millennials


German, British and French millennials

I look for the best deals and most value for my money


I'll go anywhere that allows me to explore the outdoors and be active


You only live once, so taking risks and crossing things off my 'bucket list' is



I often opt for ‘off the beaten path’ locations and/or recommendations from locals


Every vacation is family oriented and has a specific focus on what will keep my family entertained and happy


I prefer to go to museums and historical sites, and arts & culture fill up my travel itinerary


I'm all about taking a nap on the beach, spa treatments and all-day relaxation


I prefer all-inclusive vacations like resorts and cruises where I don't have

to worry about a thing


I plan all my travel around where and what I eat and drink


I don't like travelling far, as long as I'm not at work, I'm on vacation



In Southern Europe, Italy has the largest potential market for millennial tourism. In 2020, Italy will have a population of 60 million residents, among which 13 million millennials.

The Italian outbound tourism market is expected to increase to 35.8 million trips abroad with at least one overnight stay until 2021. Italians’ expenses for travelling abroad have been increasing continually and are expected to continue to grow in the next few years. Travelling abroad is most popular among people living in the northern regions of Italy, and they are also those who spend the most on it. Most Italian travellers come from urban areas and have a medium to high social and cultural profile. The average Italian traveller is between 25 and 44 years old. Most Italians go on a holiday in August.

The strongest growth in the Italian travel market is in active and cultural trips, while the most popular sun and sea category is becoming less attractive. Italian travellers are increasingly looking for travel focusing on experiences and emotions. Asia maintains it popularity in figures, whereas Africa also seems to become more attractive. Hotels, villas and rented houses are that most popular types of accommodation for Italian travellers. Destinations such as Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia have shown a decrease in visits from Italy. Security, quality of accommodation and food, and gastronomy are important consideration for Italian holidaymakers.

The Italian tourism market continues to be dominated by the steady increase of e-commerce and mobile sales: 39% of holidays are booked online. Tour operators still play a key role in the Italian market, while online bookings are done mostly for simpler trips. The Italian traveller is typically a last-minute booker.

Italian millennials are very active online. According to an Ipsos survey, 60% of the participating millennials agreed that social media is an efficient and essential way to communicate. However, the majority of them are also concerned about information security. When it comes to social media channels, Facebook seems to be by far the most popular (79%), followed by Instagram (29%), Twitter (17%) and Snapchat (8%). Older millennials also appear to prefer to use Facebook, while Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram are more popular with younger millennials.


Spain also has good potential for Generation Y tourism with an expected 10 million millennials in a population of 47 million by 2020.

In 2017, a share of 9% of Spaniards’ trips were international trips, the majority (89%) for holiday purposes. Most trips lasted between 1 and 7 days, while longer trips had an average duration of 18.3 days. The Spanish holiday market accounts for 29 million trips abroad with at least one overnight stay.

The Spanish international travel market is growing faster than the domestic travel market. International tourism expenditure in Spain is more than €18 billion having increased exponentially from 2017 to 2019 — one of the highest growth rates in Europe — and it is expected to grow further till 2022. This growth is associated with the recovery from the economic crisis and consequentially an increase in disposable income for travelling abroad. Plus, low-cost carriers now allow a growing number of people to afford foreign travel. For example, low-cost carrier Vueling has made Latin America a more attractive destination by setting up new routes and destinations.

Expenditures, number of trips and lengths of holidays are all on the rise in Spain both in domestic and in international travel. This growth is mainly caused by an increase in sightseeing and entertainment activities, fuelled by social media and the millennial market segment. Interest in the Asia-Pacific region has grown fast, mostly among under-25 travellers. Morocco remains popular among Spanish tourists. Hotels are the preferred kind of accommodation. Online bookings are on the rise (growth of 8% in 2017), especially the share of mobile bookings in online bookings, which increased 22% in 2017 and is expected to increase to 31% in 2021. Over half of the population is active on social media. WhatsApp, YouTube and Facebook are the most frequently used social media channels, followed by Instagram and Twitter.

Spanish travellers like to spend time on searching for the best deals. When it comes to longer trips, the booking period is shorter than in the case of other European markets. August used to be a popular period to travel. While August remains a main holiday period, the season has been expanding in recent years and now tends to last from June to September. Spanish travellers favour thematic experiences and enjoy authentic trips. Arts and culture are main motivational factors, as well as gastronomy and local cuisine.


With a total population of almost 38 million and 8.4 million millennials, Poland completes our top 6. Because Poland has seen a high economic growth rate, the Polish Generation Y is really different from the previous generations.

The Polish holiday market accounts for 19.9 million trips abroad with at least one overnight stay. International tourism expenditure is over €7 billion. Revenue in the travel and tourism market in Poland was almost €4 million in 2019 and is expected to grow on average 3% annually until 2023, when 75% of these revenues are expected to be generated via online sales. Package holidays are the most popular among the Polish.


  • To meet the lifestyle requirements of Generation Y you need to show empathy and try to connect with them. Be tech-savvy. Offer travellers the opportunity of performing all stages their customer journey on a mobile digital device. The CBI tourism trends report provides more information about the customer journey, seamless travel experience and offering social and local experiences.
  • Consider products such as ‘do-good, feel-good’ holidays, where travellers do something for the destination, such as a beach clean-ups; or purposeful holidays such as 'mumcations', save-your-marriage trips, ‘painmoons’ and divorce retreats, such as Iron Mountain Hot Springs, and digital detox holidays.
  • Create well-defined segments within your millennial market based on different personas. Know who they are, how they behave, and what their needs and wants are.
  • Sell a lifestyle instead of a product. Use storytelling to create authentic and inspiring content while being transparent. Encourage your travellers to rate your products and/or services and to write reviews.
  • Offer millennials good value for money. Millennials are price-conscious.


Bleisure is the emerging trend of combining business with leisure. According to Booking.com, more than 78% of millennials (Generation Y) spent time on leisure during a business trip, while Expedia says 60% of business trips convert to leisure. These rates are much higher than previous generations, and there are reasons to believe that in the next generation (Generation Z), they will be even higher. The ultimate form of bleisure are digital nomads, who work remotely, often in roles facilitated by the gig economy.

The bleisure trend is driven by workers who extend their business trips to decrease the overall costs of taking a holiday, while flexible corporate travel policies become more accepted. Digital platforms that provide shared workspaces, such as WeWork and technology developments facilitate travellers mixing leisure and business travel. Beacons, wearables, augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, conversational interfaces, mobile applications, blockchain technology, and biometric data are some of the examples of these technology developments. For more information on how technology is affecting travel, see this article on Start-up-Insights. The top destinations in the bleisure trend are big cities.

Most bleisure travellers spend less time on research then they would on a regular leisure trip. Destinations are the first research topic and lead decisions, with sightseeing, local attractions and the restaurant scene being key influences. Bleisure travellers may not book everything on their entire trips in advance, which offers opportunities to offer ancillary products and services, such as dining, tours and activities, entertainment and transportation.

Best practices:

  • Airbnb offers business-friendly rentals and experiences designed and led by local hosts.
  • The Jack and Ferdi mobile app targets bleisure travellers specifically, suggesting things to see, do, eat, buy, in addition to meeting and work spaces based on the user’s profile, location and travel objectives. It also includes playlists, jogging routes, local business etiquette and local charities.
  • 58StarsTravel is a travel management agency specialising in bleisure travel.
  • The mobile app Bleisure Rewards gathers local businesses in a joint rewards programme.


  • Define potential Bleisure travellers and analyse their profile, booking and travel behaviour. Focus on countries with generous paid annual leave.
  • Offer bleisure deals, such as a discounted programmes for extended stays, or for bringing family members along on work-related trips.
  • Integrate tours, attractions, and table booking APIs (application programming interface) for targeted recommendations. Give business travellers ideas on how to spend their leisure time, for example by means of notifications in mobile applications or emails. API software, such as Expedia Things To Do and Viator, provides instant access to services of third-party vendors.
  • Collaborating with other travel companies may also create opportunities. Partnerships with online travel agencies (OTAs) offer the opportunity of reaching a larger audience of business travellers. Collaborating with travel management gives the opportunity to include travel management solutions in bleisure packages. Partnering with accommodation providers and local transport companies could also be used to attract bleisure travellers who want to collect travel rewards. These collaborations are facilitated by global distribution systems (GDS), which more than 600,000 travel agents use to book accommodation for businesses and multinationals, creating opportunities for your business in the global market of business travel.

Increasing demand for sustainable holidays

Generation Y travellers are increasingly aware of and concerned with sustainability. When they choose a holiday destination, it is increasingly influenced by ethics, moral values, concerns about the environment, including flora and animal protection and a desire to positively impact local communities. These travellers demand affordability and availability of environmentally friendly, sustainable and socially responsible tourism services and products. They want to reduce their holiday carbon footprint, but often want to improve the destination as well. That is why ‘do-good, feel-good’ holidays and ecological tours are growing in popularity.

Examples of businesses with sustainability best practices include:

  • La Choza Chula, in Guatemala, runs turtle and mangrove tours, cooking classes, homestay programmes, cultural immersion programmes, volunteer programmes. They also offer weekly English classes for their guides, funded the construction of a library, set up a mobile library, and built a computer lab and a secondary school.
  • Buhoma Community Rest Camp, in Uganda, is a locally run campsite that supports local people and improves their lives through community-based tourism.
  • Shewula Mountain Camp, in Swaziland, invites travellers to stay in their village and experience the rural lifestyle and culture of a Swazi community.


  • Try to integrate into the travellers’ experience initiatives that promote environmental protection and leadership, and contribute to the local quality of life (see table 2). For more information, see the UNWTO page Tourism for SDGs.
  • Ensure your online exposure meets the needs of the target group. Use modern technologies to increase the efficiency of service delivery while facilitating the provision of enhanced consumer experiences.
  • Involve customers in activities, such as a beach clean-up or ‘plogging’ (picking up litter while jogging).
  • Make your business or product more sustainable by, for example: using renewable energy source, increasing energy efficiency, optimising use of resources, promoting environmental protection, investing in waste management and minimisation by e.g. reducing plastic waste by banning plastic straws and address carbon emissions, pollution and littering.
  • Try to get your business certified as being sustainable. There are various certification schemes to choose from.

Table 6: Examples of initiatives contributing to local communities’ quality of life


Country or region


Conservation of natural and cultural heritage and biodiversity

Sumatra, Indonesia

Bukit Lawang in North Sumatra

Participation involving the local community in planning and development


Solimar International

Poverty alleviation

Various countries


ST-EP initiatives worldwide


Collaborating with residents and other local stakeholders businesses, including local guides, experts, local food and accommodation providers, local farms, factories, etc.

East Africa

East Africa Community Based Tourism Encounter

Multi-country trips

According to WYSE Travel Confederation, young travellers are eager to make the most of their time and money. This means that multi-country trips are very popular. The survey conducted by WYSE Travel Confederation shows that 60% of young travellers visited multiple countries during their international trips in 2017. This trend is facilitated by the increased accessibility of more remote destinations.

This unique group of travellers have a large potential for SMEs, since they tend to travel longer and spend more. By offering combined itineraries, it is possible to attract long-distance travellers to destinations that they might not consider visiting in a single-country trip.

Although Europe is still the most attractive destination for multi-country trips, European regions are followed by Southeast Asia and Oceania. The highest percentage of European travellers interested in multi-country trips can be found in northern Europe, followed by southern Europe, western Europe, and finally Central and Eastern Europe.

When looking at the travel profile of young travellers taking multi-country trips, according to the study of WYSE Travel Confederation, they tend to be more experienced travellers than others, although they are also slightly younger. The main purpose of their trip is usually holidaying and/or language learning. These travellers are very interested in the local culture and customs. They are often purposeful travellers. They are eager to create meaningful bonds with the local community. They enjoy ‘living like a local’. They look for meaningful experiences and tend to engage in more activities than a single-country traveller. These trips tend to take longer, 32 days on average. During their trips they tend to visit major hubs and do not go off the beaten track that much.

Considering their information search behaviour, multi-country travellers tend to spend more time on collecting information and making travel arrangements. They use social media as one of their main sources of information and inspiration. Most flights and accommodations are booked on a computer, or via a travel agency (online or offline, especially flight tickets). However, a significant percentage of multi-country travellers tend to book accommodation on their smartphones, suggesting they often make last-minute decisions on where they are going to spend the night.

Those opting for multi-country trips tend to be environmentally conscious. Travellers visiting multiple destinations in a trip often take ground transportation, which is usually more sustainable then flying. They are also interested in helping local communities and participating in sustainable local initiatives.

Examples of businesses offering multi-country itineraries:


  • Combine major travel hubs with less visited destinations to attract travellers.
  • Target young travellers with unique itineraries that build on the principals of community-based and sustainable tourism. Help travellers to get to know local customs and habits; for example, offer a mini-language course.
  • Involve local ground transportation operators to maximise the benefits for local businesses.
  • Provide flexible (last-minute) online booking options for your accommodation, activity or tour.
  • Offer an excellent service in an informal hospitality style.

Transformational travel

Millennials tend to have the urge to feel and act more than other tourists. They see themselves as travellers who want to live the local life for a short period of time. They are interested in authenticity and are eager to explore the hidden gems, whether this is local food, the culture and music scene or craftmanship. They believe that local insights create more meaningful experiences. While millennials have realised the value of authentic experiences, many of them are interested in using these experiences to transform their own lives. They are motivated by personal development and self-reflection instead of creating content for their social media.

Millennials who engage in transformational travel tend to visit distant, faraway places to learn from the local communities. The newly learnt skills, wisdom and lifestyle is then incorporated into their daily lives.

According to the Transformational Travel Council (TTC), transformational travel means “intentionally travelling to stretch, learn and grow into new ways of being and engaging with the world”. TTC suggests five ways to travel with the intention to transform one’s life and the society.

Many travel companies and tour operators who realised this emerging trend are now adjusting their offers to cater for this group of curious and conscious travellers. These experiences normally offer ways to transform the body and/or the mind. These holidays tend to be technology-free, unplugged experiences. Sustainability and environmental awareness are important elements of transformational holidays. The use of sustainable, locally sourced products, energy-efficient solutions as well as the support of the local community are often integrated.

Transformational travel can take various forms, such as spiritual travel including meditation camps, wellness, yoga and detox retreats, travelling for religious purposes, holidays based on astrological constellations, or travelling to find one’s family roots.

Examples of businesses offering various transformational experiences:

  • Bookmeditationretreats.com offers a long list of retreats across Africa and the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Oceania, and the Americas and the Caribbean.
  • Explorer X is the first tour operator that built their business entirely on the guiding principles of the Transformational Travel Council. They offer a range of transformational travel experiences across various destinations.
  • China Roots offer trips for those wanting to discover their ancestors and relatives in China.


  • Learn about possible holiday experiences that can have life changing effects.
  • Focus on experiences that can transform the body and/or the mind (wellness retreats, spiritual trips, religious holidays, meditation and yoga camps, etc.).
  • Communicate the transformational power of your services clearly and effectively.

This study has been carried out on behalf of CBI by Molgo and ETFI.

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There are several underlying motives for travel among Generation Y travellers: exploration, reviewing the other, exploring a different life setting. Millennials tend to have a particular interest in different ways of living.

Eran Ketter

Eran Ketter (PhD), Tourism advisor, keynote speaker, senior lecturer, Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Kinneret College

 Millennials like to learn new skills, try new dishes and learn about local traditions. The aspect of cultural exchange, transformation and having long-lasting impacts are increasingly important.

Simona Staffieri, Statistician, Scholar, Tourism, Sapienza University of Rome