Travelers will pay more to avoid crowds, survey finds


A global survey was released on the opening day of ITB Berlin 2019, which uncovered what travelers think about overcrowded holiday destinations.

Inside ITB Berlin 2019. Image credit: Blacklane
Inside ITB Berlin 2019. Image credit: Blacklane

Most travelers are willing to pay more to avoid the crowds at holiday destinations, according to a global survey presented at the world’s largest travel trade show in Berlin on Wednesday.

The survey, led by travel publisher Travelzoo, asked 8,000 people from Germany, France, Spain, Japan, Canada, China, the UK, and the U.S their thoughts on the problem of overcrowding in the tourism industry.

Speaking to a packed audience of travel industry representatives on the first day of the ITB Berlin conference, Sharry Sun, Global Head of Brand at Travelzoo, said she had been surprised travelers were willing to spend more to avoid large crowds at their holiday destinations.

According to the survey, just over three-quarters of German participants, 69 % percent of French participants and 61 % of Spanish participants said they would part with up to €300 EUR to say away from overcrowded destinations.

Of the U.S citizens surveyed, 19 percent said they would be willing to pay $1,000 to avoid the throngs of people on holidays.

Sun said these high figures indicated a shift in mindset on how travelers would like to experience the world, with 65 percent of those surveyed open to traveling at less busy times of the year to avoid crowds.

“When you see a willingness to pay, that shows that the desire is really planted and the need is really there for the industry to capture,” she said.

“There are many, many ways to enjoy the world, there are many, many ways to present the world to repeated travel.”

Blacklane is the officel partner of the ITB Buyers Circle shuttle service. Image credit: Blacklane
Blacklane is the officel partner of the ITB Buyers Circle shuttle service. Image credit: Blacklane

The issue of overcrowding was first discussed in a report by McKinsey & Company and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) in 2017, which found that by 2020, the top 10 most-visited countries would add more international arrivals than the rest of the world combined.

Sun said traveling outside of peak seasons for certain countries and exploring alternative experiences were just some ways travel operators could start to offer travelers what they want.

“Take Paris for example, Paris’ beauty lies not only in the Eiffel Tower,” she said.

“There are so many things you could present about Paris and teach travelers to enjoy Paris in a different way.

“When we asked them (those surveyed), what do you expect from the tour operators… around one third of them said they want alternative travel.”

Environmental factors were also considered in the concept of overcrowding, with just over half of those surveyed more concerned about tourism’s effect on local residences than their own travel experience.

“When they were asked what overtourism means to them, they are actually more concerned over the destruction of the local environment and infrastructure over their own degraded travel experience,” Sun said.

ITB Berlin 2019 will host a pop-up podcast inside one of Blacklane's Green Class Telsa vehicle.
ITB Berlin 2019 will host a pop-up podcast inside one of Blacklane’s Green Class Telsa vehicles. Image credit: Blacklane

The survey targeted people over the age of 18 and was conducted in January by market research institute Norstat.

Travelzoo is just one of 10,000 travel companies and organizations exhibiting during ITB Berlin 2019, which will run until Sunday, March 10.

ITB Berlin’s top buyers from around the world will be chauffeured by global chauffeur company Blacklane, the official partner of the ITB Buyers Circle shuttle service, throughout the conference.

One of Blacklane’s Green Class Tesla vehicles will also be used as a podcast studio for ITB’s Travel Hero Podcast, which will run throughout the conference.

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Amy Mitchell-Whittington

Amy is an Australian journalist living in Berlin. She covers a range of topics, with a special interest in tech and science.