Rich pickings in Europe for high-end responsible travel

European holidaymakers are demanding “authentic and ethical” luxury travel experiences as the global downturn has redefined upmarket tourism, reveals the WTM Global Trends Report 2011 released today

Hotels and tour operators are leading the way developing these new luxury travel experiences following a drop in sales of 5% in 2009, reveals the report produced in association with Euromonitor International. 2010 saw a return to positive growth thanks in part to the evolution of luxury travel driven by the recovery in business travel.

Marketing a package holiday or hotel as a responsible choice enables “guilt-free consumers to enjoy a luxury break, having given something back,” the WTM Global Trends Report 2011 states.

Unveiled at World Travel Market in London today the report highlights Kuoni’s Ananea collection as a mainstream example of ethical luxury travel. Ananea is a collection of socially and environmentally responsible luxury holidays.
Its product range covers volunteering holidays, visiting rehabilitation centres in Vietnam and meeting Fairtrade farmers in Peru.

Furthermore, hotels across Europe are incorporating ‘living walls’ in the hotel design and architecture as part of their green credentials. Living walls provide a habitat for wildlife as well as a pleasant ambiance with vegetation. They can also help water and heat conservation.

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The concept works best in urban locations, with the report referring to the Pershing Hotel in Paris as a good example. The largest living wall in Europe is to be found at the Mint Hotel near Tower Bridge.

Despite the ongoing economic difficulties in Europe, the consumer base for luxury travel continues to increase. According to CapGemini figures in the report, Germany has the most high-net worth individuals in Europe followed by the UK and France. Italy, despite major financial woes, is still in the European top five for wealthy individuals.

Reed Travel Exhibitions Chairman World Travel Market Fiona Jeffery, said: “There will always be a demand for luxury travel whatever the economic climate. At WTM, we have supported responsible tourism for a number of years and are delighted that our campaigns for sustainability and ‘giving something back’ are impacting the travel mindset of Europe’s richest travellers.”

Euromonitor International Head of Travel and Tourism Caroline Bremner added: “It is encouraging to see that demand for sustainability is spreading from the luxury to the upper end of the mass market and that consumers are increasingly seeking out travel players that have a strong environmental and social commitment.”