Outdoors is the new ‘cool’. A combination of the search for space (for both safety and ‘spiritual’ reasons) and appreciation of nature, which have grown during the pandemic, is likely to fuel the penchant for less crowded, rural destinations.
But, as rural destinations boom, they will be
under pressure to manage a level of growth
many are ill-equipped to handle. Problems of ‘overtourism’ more familiar to Venice and
Barcelona may begin to afflict more beauty
spots around Europe, damaging the very appeal
that attracts people. Authorities may hope for
the best, but they need to plan for the worst.
COVID precautions, which add to the hassle of travel, will encourage people to seek value for time and spend longer in their destination, rather than on Instagrammable short breaks. Having discovered space in rural destinations, people will tune in, slow down, and seek fulfilment in authentic experiences, from regional cuisine to local traditions and culture, which make the place what it is.
This offers an opportunity for places to keep people longer, by offering immersive insights into their character beyond the brochure.