Shopping Tourism

Shopping Tourism: The New Frontier in Global Travel Trends

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) unveiled a groundbreaking report today, titled “Global Retail Tourism: Trends and Insights”.

This report, a collaboration with the Hospitality & Tourism Research Centre of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and The Bicester Collection, reveals a paradigm shift in the perception of shopping tourism.

Retail tourism, which was valued at a staggering US$178BN in 2019, constituted 6% of the entire Travel & Tourism sector’s value. In some places, it even exceeded 15%. Despite its significant contribution to global economies, there has historically been a dearth of research in this domain.

The WTTC’s latest endeavor delves deep into travellers’ shopping preferences, emphasizing the increasing trend towards sustainable retail and out-of-town retail destinations.

The report indicates that retail tourism displayed signs of recovery from the pandemic in 2021, especially in the Americas and Europe. This segment showed resilience, surpassing the growth rates of many markets even before the pandemic.

Julia Simpson, the President & CEO of WTTC, opined that shopping has transcended its traditional role of a mere leisure activity. It now plays a critical role in deciding travel, supporting local brands, and influencing the appeal of a destination.

Desirée Bollier of The Bicester Collection emphasized the importance of synergy between retail, travel, and tourism for enhancing the traveller’s journey.

Sustainability is another crucial theme highlighted in the report. Professor Haiyan Song from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University emphasized the necessity for retailers to gauge the willingness of travellers to pay for sustainable products.

This extensive report sheds light on various facets of retail tourism, from experiential tourism convergence with shopping to the challenges posed by labour laws and tax-free shopping policies.

As retail tourism promises a bright future, stakeholders are encouraged to adapt to changing traveller preferences and overcome current barriers to ensure sustainable growth in this sector.

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