News and Insights

Travelling through the Trends for Earth Day: 2024 UK Travel Insights

April 22, 2024

Corporations, governments, communities, and individuals all come together to celebrate Earth Day by taking action, and promoting programmes that save the world for present and future generations. It’s a day to consider how we affect the planet and to resolve to make changes that will protect and restore its resources and natural beauty – the travel industry, like many others, has a key role to play in reaching the ultimate goal of net-zero.

Sustainability has quite rightly taken centre stage across the sector, and from analysis, must be considered as one, if not the most important factors in how we as tourists decide where we travel, and how we get there. On this 54th Earth Day, we look at what elements are influencing traveller preference, and the main environmental factors that are playing a key role in how people choose where they go on holiday.

Travel trends change year on year, and are often heavily influenced by environmental, economic, cultural and social denominators – by comprehending these shifting behaviours, it enables us to better understand why people are choosing to explore certain destinations and predict what elements will become defining factors in influencing travel preferences as the years go by.

Whether it’s the surge in experiential travel, the escalating significance of sustainable tourism, or the influence of technological advancements on travel habits, staying abreast of trends empowers us to shape pertinent and captivating narratives. Furthermore, developing this understanding will not only improve the efficiency of promotional initiatives, but also aid in foreseeing any possible challenges or crises that might emerge in the travel industry before they happen.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into this year’s main trends.

2023 vs. 2024 Consumer Travel Comparisons

2023 was a remarkable year for travel. The post pandemic ‘revenge travel’ phenomenon shot to new heights as global travellers spent unprecedented amounts on hotels, Airbnb stays, experiences and more – but how have these trends influenced where people are holidaying, and how do they compare with that of last year? (The Future Laboratory: The Future Forecast Report 2024).

  • Where are people planning to go on holiday in 2024? (% change on 2023)
    • Europe = 33% (-4%)
    • UK = 32% (-9%)
    • North America = 7% (0%)
    • Asia = 5% (+2%)
    • Middle East = 5% (-2%)
    • Caribbean = 4% (0%)
    • Africa = 4% (0%)
    • South America = 3% (0%)
    • Australasia = 3% (+3%)
    • Haven’t decided = 19% (+12)
    • Not taking a holiday = 17% (-5%)

(Source: Agenda 2023 – TTG Winter Breakfast)

Understanding the role of ‘responsible roaming’

Supercharging sustainability is a key challenge for the travel industry. Travellers, many of whom are cash-strapped, don’t want their escapist getaway to be riddled with environmental guilt. The Future Laboratory’s report, created with travel operating company Intrepid Travel, found that the future of travel as we know it is on the verge of extinction. Exemplary and radical shifts in the industry are required to preserve our leisurely holidays. It is possible that in the very near future travellers will be able to embark on AI holidays – virtual travel that removes the environmental implications, which are already coming to fruition in certain markets – but will no doubt take their time to catch on.

Eco-innovation within the transport sector is afoot. The next two decades will see the resurgence of the sleeper train, zero-emission cruise ships and developments in alternative air fuel. Future transportation systems will be increasingly autonomous, connected, electric, and shared, reshaping travel hubs and revolutionising the customer experience.

(Source: The Future Laboratory: Future Forecast 2024 & Intrepid Travel)

A look into the ‘real-time footprint model’ 

Tracking travel metrics in real time will create an era of live traceability and accountability within the travel industry. 2040’s travellers will hold themselves accountable, leaning into technology to measure and optimise their behaviours in line with environmental values and targets. By 2028, the global travel technology market is predicted to reach £11.2bn, up from £7.3bn in 2022. This booming category will give Travel Transformers and other cohorts the means to log their daily emissions and track their travel metrics in real time to help them reduce their footprints.

During 2023 we saw the usual soft focus on sustainable travel with a lot of announcements but very little action. But this year is likely to be very different, as travel buyers will start introducing internal carbon tax models at scale which in terms will increase focus on selecting the greenest travel option whether it means the newest plane, rail replacing air or the trip simply not happening. This development will be further accelerated by the introduction of the EU CSRD as a mandatory requirement for about 50,000 companies. As the travel industry comes under increasing pressure to find ways of reducing the overall carbon footprint, we will probably see a fast-accelerating shift away from air to rail or road for short-haul travel.

(Source: Intrepid Travel Survey & Spotnana)

The resurrection of ‘bleisure travel’, with sustainability in mind

From January 2024, when new EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directives come into force, around 11,500 ‘public-interest’ companies across the EU will have to start applying new rules related to monitoring travel in order to be able to report on them publicly during the following year. The constantly evolving and resurgent trend of ‘bleisure’ travel could make sustainability reporting difficult. Add to that all-important ESG regulations for sustainability, engaging corporate hearts and souls in impact has never been so vital. How does a company determine which parts of an employee’s trip was for work and which were for leisure? An employee might take a long-haul trip through their company but might tag on a holiday and, as a result, book one less leisure flight than they otherwise would have. If there’s one travel trend Covid spurred, it’s the extended trip.

(The Business Travel Magazine & Digitrips)

Generation T and Friendship Flyers

July is hugely popular among 18-24-year-olds, with almost a third (30%) of them planning to travel that month (ABTA Holiday Habits Report 2023-2024). The Gen Ts are dubbed most likely to alter holiday plans because of the continuing umbrella of the cost-of-living crisis, with 93% of 18-24-year-olds saying the cost of living will have an impact on their travel plans in the next 12 months.

Peak season gets the ‘cold shoulder’

There’s been a dramatic recent increase in shoulder season travel from UK travellers to Europe’s most popular destinations (particularly France, Spain, and Italy), which is set to continue in 2024. A combination of social, economic and environmental factors is driving this trend into 2024. The cost-of-living crisis, especially, means a heightened focus on value. For example, according to 62 per cent of respondents to’s 2024 travel trends survey, these factors are seen as a limiting their 2024 travel planning, so much so, that 47 per cent of respondents are even willing to take children out of school for cheaper off-peak travel.

(Source: Conde Nast Traveller Trends Report & Travel Trends Survey)


The ‘gig tripping’ trend is essentially a method of killing two birds with one stone, as holiday makers are now actively looking at what artists are touring in which locations before committing to a destination. Destination concert business is up more than 50 per cent, led by artists like Taylor Swift, said a travel advisor at Embark Beyond. New music festivals, including the likes of Untold in Romania’s Cluj-Napoca, and Virginia Beach’s brand new inaugural star-studded Point Break festival are introducing travellers to undiscovered destinations, and unlocking new horizons for future holiday favourites – especially across the long-haul portfolio.

(Source: Conde Nast Traveller Trends Report & Embark Beyond)

The ‘domestic boom’

2024  will see an increase in domestic travel for UK based business travellers. The pandemic moved many work forces into working from home and now employers have realised it can work very well and bring economic advantages. Data and anecdotal reports show it’s growing faster, and group company travel also plays a part with businesses looking to bring the company workforce together to meet with homeworking now more common.

(The Business Travel Magazine & Advantage Travel Partnerships)

Final Thoughts

A new era of travel is upon us, and Earth Day represents the perfect time to recognise and celebrate the next chapter, one in which an extractionist society has no place. The travel business needs to be filled with an urgent cry to action, the collective “now-or-never” mentality that will steer us away from an unsustainable planet, and allow travel to flourish and new destinations to be discovered without harmfully impacting our precious planet.

TAGS: Travel & Tourism, Sustainability & ESG