#SRI — 17.10.2016

Travel with Conscience

How millennials combine their wandering spirit with the spirit of giving to change the world one trip at a time

Panelists immersed in dialogue on millennial tourism and social engagement as moderated by Helene Li at the recent Global Tourism Economy Forum held in Macau

Travel and tourism are an integral part of Asian economies, directly contributing to nearly 3 percent of gross domestic product and supplying over 65 million jobs to the APAC region in 2015, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), a global trade forum of the industry. 

Over the next decade, millennial travelers (born between 1981 and 1995) will enter their peak earning and spending years.  The millennial generation is one of the largest generations in Asia of about 1 billion, constituting approximately a quarter of the region’s total population. 

WTTC data revealed that millennials accounted for almost 35 percent of the USD600 billion that Asians spent on international travel.  Driven by income growth, the millennials spend on international travel is expected to increase to USD340 billion by 2020.  Driven by values--values they often credit to learning from parents and grandparents--and not valuables, millennials are mindful of the privilege and legacy they have inherited while assessing the needs of the day and the causes of their time.  Agents of social change, this rising generation forges an outsize impact on the state of society at large and the environment, bringing a renewed perspective to consumer spending and social engagement. 

The industry has been paying heed to their need to give back to the community, marketing experiences that appeal to a millennial’s desire to be part of the solution. The concept of merging exploration of a destination or culture with purposeful attempts to transform tourists into an engine for development and conservation has been gaining traction. 

The millennials are drawn to meaningful experiences infused with a deeper sense of social purpose, and are open to an opportunity to use their head, heart, and hands while traveling. Want to spend your holiday tutoring underprivileged children, saving endangered marine life or planting trees? There's a socially responsible vacation package available. This form of travelling has taken on a new marketing lexicon: ecotourism, geotourism, voluntourism, and the list goes on. 

Tourism, as the largest global service industry and one of the top industries for developing nations, has a vital role in community building, and the role of millennials in catalyzing social impact through consumer spending is undeniable.  Even though one can’t change the world in seven days, by teaming up in a systematic, long-term-partner approach the industry and consumers can ensure tourism develops responsibly.

Helene Li

Head of Strategic Planning, Brand & Communications, Asia Pacific for Wealth Management, BNP Paribas