The global ecotourism market size was valued at USD 37,365 million in 2021 and is anticipated to generate USD 1,29,402 million by 2030. The market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 14.8% during the forecast period (2022–2030).
Ecotourism is defined by the Global Ecotourism Network (GEN) as "responsible travel to natural places that conserves the environment, preserves the local people's well-being, and produces knowledge and understanding via analysis and education of all concerned. The practice of traveling to natural places in a responsible manner to preserve the natural habitat and enhance the quality of life for the people who live there is known as ecotourism.
Ecotourism is a type of tourism that brings together communities, conservation, and environmentally friendly travel. Traveling to remote and unspoiled areas where the fauna, flora, and cultural history are the main attractions is known as ecotourism. Ecotourism has grown in popularity around the world in recent years. With growing environmental consciousness, the global tourism industry is undergoing a paradigm transition.
In the face of worrisome scientific certainty and statements about the unstable state of the environment, an increasing number of industrial stakeholders have been focused on sustainability in recent years. Even in the face of high short development costs and low returns on investments, industry leaders are investing valuable time and resources to construct environmentally sustainable accommodations (ROI). Leading tourism companies effectively identify innovative business models, corporate strategic planning, and collaborative alliances based on social and environmental challenges.
Changes in consumer behavior accompany these changes in the landscape. Almost three-quarters of tourists prefer a sustainable stay, and nearly 80% of visitors plan to stay in an eco-friendly or green hotel at least once. In the coming years, mutually beneficial cooperation between travel agencies and engaged stakeholders will be critical in creating and embracing a better and more seamless consumer experience.
Globally, the increase in travel and tourism to distinctive areas has shown remarkable resilience. Iceland, Kenya, Palau, and Nepal are among the most popular ecotourism locations in the world. In 2018, Nepal saw a staggering 24 percent rise in visitors, with 1,173,072 visitors at the end of the year. Similarly, visitor arrivals in Kenya grew by more than 37% in 2018, surpassing the 2 million mark.
Furthermore, countries like Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, and Panama quickly become ecotourism hotspots. In contrast to the country's historical, natural, and cultural tourism assets, Ethiopia has performed admirably in recent years by focusing on niche markets. Travelers from all over the world have been drawn to third-world countries by wildlife tourism, birdwatching, coral reefs, and pristine, untouched natural areas such as Amazon forests.
New tech has become a need in today's world to ensure that numerous processes are carried out flawlessly, and the tourism business is no exception. The travel and hotel business has long relied on technology for its success. With the introduction of web-based booking and the use of AI and IoT in operating improvements, technology is challenging the traditional market. Big data analytics has been widely engaged by technology-driven entities such as online booking providers and metasearch engines to make analytics-based business decisions.
Artificial intelligence is also being used in chatbots and virtual assistants to create a consistent consumer experience. Moreover, major players in the industry are focusing their efforts on improving the mobile experience to give tourists a more pleasant experience while reserving on their platforms.
People's exposure to various types of social media has increased their understanding of many trends impacting the tourist business. Social media is gradually taking on the role of a virtual travel agency. Customers are increasingly choosing travel services and products based on recommendations from others who have previously stayed or visited the area. They can also refer to opinions and thoughts found on numerous social media platforms. Views and opinions expressed on websites provide greater transparency regarding product and service offerings, allowing users to make more educated selections.
Limited support infrastructure at ecotourism sites, such as insufficient air, train, or road access to diverse ecotourism locations in developing and underdeveloped countries, is a crucial barrier to the growth of ecotourism. Furthermore, inadequate availability of housing and a lack of high-quality, sanitary restaurants, food outlets, and motels at locations impede the expansion of ecotourism visitor arrivals, particularly in developing countries. Furthermore, a few people's monopolies and a scarcity of certified and trained tourist guides increase the likelihood of tourists being exploited.
Another critical challenge that stakeholders in the ecotourism business face are sustainable tourism which has a low environmental impact. Noise pollution, overcrowding, rubbish pollution, fire hazard, the introduction of non-native species, and sewage outflow are some of the leading environmental consequences that directly impact natural habitats and ecosystems.
Ecotourism involves taking visitors to environments that have remained relatively untouched by humankind. Any foreign element introduced into these delicate ecosystems causes natural processes to be disrupted. Human presence, for example, might frighten prey away, causing predators' hunting routines to be disrupted. Furthermore, hosting more people and many tourists might result in habitat loss, soil erosion, and increased environmental stress.
Sustainable tourism has grown in popularity and demand over the last few decades. As a result of this shift in consumer behavior, there is now a greater emphasis on sustainability, which is pushing changes in tourist promotion, marketing, and product creation. Market expansion will arise from public-private partnerships in the form of subsidizing air links to remote tourist areas, upgrading transportation capacities, and boosting ease of access, resulting in profitable prospects for local players.
There are several examples of the government collaborating with business players to improve the fortunes of destinations. For example, unsustainable fishing tactics are destroying the natural ecology and eroding the viability of coral reefs on Tanzania's Chumbe Island. The government entered into a public-private partnership, offering long-term rights to environmental NGOs to the island and reef and prohibiting fishing in the reef area.
An environmental NGO employed displaced fishers to patrol the coral reef while also giving environmental awareness education to nearby villages. Following that, the NGO, in collaboration with fishers and villagers, began repairing the island's original ecosystem and developing environmentally-friendly accommodations for visitors, resulting in considerable strengthening of the local ecosystem. Such collaborations have the potential to improve and sustain the global ecotourism business.
Based on the types of travelers, the market is segmented into solo travelers and group travelers. The group traveler is the largest shareholder in the global market growth. Its market revenue was valued at USD 1,19,993 million in 2021. Group reservations involve logistics, accommodation, and travel. Group travel is cheaper than solo travel because meals, transportation, activities, and lodging are shared. Group travel is more accessible, safer, and cheaper.
These factors are expected to drive the group travelers segment. The group travelers segment is projected to generate USD 3,96,416 million in 2030 and grow at a CAGR of 14.2% by 2030. Being in control of the whole trip schedule, gaining new experiences, interacting with people, self-identity, and empowerment are popular motivations for solo travel. Customized and private, solitary vacations have boosted solo ecotourism. Owing to these reasons, the market for solo travelers is surging. The solo traveler segment was valued at USD 29.467 Million in 2021 and is projected to generate USD 1,13,814 Million in 2030 at a CAGR of 16.2%.
Based on the age group, the ecotourism market is segmented into Generation X, Generation Y, and Generation Z. Generation Y is the highest market shareholder and was valued at USD 86,493 million in 2021. Generation Y tourists are widespread. Generation Y group travels. They seek culture and entertainment. Young people who want to travel prefer short stays in countries rich in history. Generation Y is also interested in visiting third-world countries, driving the market analysis with a positive impact. The global market for Generation Y is projected to generate USD 3,01,899 million in 2030 and grow at a CAGR of 14.9% by 2030. The market of Generation X was valued at USD 40,321 million in 2021 and is anticipated to generate USD 1,27,039 million in 2030 with a CAGR of 13.6%.
Generation X likes adventure vacations, exploring cultures, and traveling. Relaxation is a popular travel motive. The Generation Z market was valued at USD 22,646 million in 2021 and is expected to generate USD 86,120 million in 2030 with a CAGR of 16.0%. Gen Z is budget-conscious and seeks engaging travel. Generation Z is tech-savvy and spends a lot of time online. Social networks encourage them to travel. Generation Z tourists want engaging, social experiences. These factors are expected to drive the growth of the market.
The travel agent is the largest market holder according to the sales channel. It was valued at USD 1,22,039 million in 2021. The travel brokers supply their clients with a well-defined vacation package depending on their needs. Transportation, accommodation, logistics, food, and other services are included in these packages. In recent years, tailor-made tours have increased the demand for tour operators and agencies. The travel agents segment is projected to generate USD 43,36,288 million in 2030 and grow at a CAGR of 15.1% by 2030.
The market for direct travelers was valued at USD 27,421 million in 2021 and is anticipated to generate USD 81,072 million in 2030 and grow at a CAGR of 12.8% by 2030. Some single travelers prefer direct booking to save money. With internet portals, many service providers directly contact prospects. Various travel blogs & client comments help other travelers choose new activities, destinations, & services. These factors are owing to the growth of the market.
Asia Pacific is anticipated to hold the largest market share of USD 2,04,268 million by 2030 at a CAGR of 15.3% during the forecast period. The market in the Asia Pacific was valued at USD 56,720 million in 2021. A substantial market share of outbound passengers from the Asia-Pacific area has been achieved due to the presence of a large number of millennials, who are supported by a rise in the amount of disposable money and who are supplemented by developing infrastructure. China is the most significant contributor to the market compared to other countries, which was valued at USD 40,371 million in 2021. Japan and Australia are growing their market gradually with market revenue of USD 3,176 million and USD 3,105 million, respectively, in 2021.
Europe is the second-largest contributor to the ecotourism market, with revenue of USD 45,361 million in 2021. The market is projected to generate revenue of USD 1,33,045 million with a CAGR of 12.7% by 2030. The ecotourism market gained speed in Europe due to logistics and infrastructure expansion and government support and advertising. Germany and the UK have more market revenue compared to Italy and France. The market revenue of Germany and the UK were valued at USD 13,518 million and USD 8,959 million, respectively.
The ecotourism market in North America is expected to witness steady growth with a value of USD 35,721 million in 2021. The rapid embrace of digital technology, which helps consumers find new travel locations, increased air connectivity, and rising expendable income all contribute to the expansion of the North American outbound travel market. The US has the central market in this region, with a revenue of USD 28,470 million in 2021.
LAMEA has the lowest market. In 2021, the market revenue was valued at USD 11,658 million, with UAE and Saudi Arabia being their major contributor. The increasingly affluent population and people's increased inclination for travel and leisure are driving the LAMEA market for ecotourism travel.
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