The newly released Destination NEXT Futures Study shines a light on how destinations around the world are adapting to changing circumstances and capitalizing on trends that are shaping the business of travel. 

Researched and produced by MMGY NextFactor, in partnership with Destinations International, the study captures the trends driving destinations in their sales, marketing and destination development work, and also the key strategies destinations are embracing to maximize the opportunities these trends present. 

Read the full Futures Study report (PDF)

There are some consistent trends from past year, like the growing desire by travelers for highly customized experiences and the need for destination marketers to rely invest more heavily in video content. Other trends have emerged on the course of the global pandemic.  

A new trend vaulted to the top in this year’s research: “Aligning government, industry and community priorities drives destination competitiveness.” On the one hand that sounds obvious. Surely aligning tourism industry priorities with those of other leaders in government and the broader community is essential. Yet too often destinations – including ours – find the needs of visitors and the businesses who serve them are not always contemplated in policy and investment decisions. Clearly the collective work throughout the pandemic by all levels of government, the tourism industry and business leaders has proven highly valuable and strategic and should be entrenched as simple the way we all operate in the months and years ahead. 

Another trend that has clearly emerged through the pandemic is a strong pull toward “more personal enrichment and wellbeing in travel.” This reflects a consideration of both personal health and also more holistic view of a trip and the impact it has on the place visited.

We have tracked consumer sentiment over many years and one trend that was accelerating before the pandemic was a greater sense of purpose and pride in travelers’ chosen destination. We observed a steady increase in travelers who said, “the places I travel say something about me.” There’s power in that statement, and for a highly diverse and inclusive destination like Toronto, we have always viewed this as an opportunity to gain market share by emphasizing those shared values. 

The broad takeaway from this study is clear – many of the key destination drivers remain vitally important, including compelling marketing and strategic sales to attract meetings and events. But destinations also must broaden their view to ensure greater alignment both with their own community and also with the evolving expectations of travelers. 

Toronto is well-positioned to remain a globally attractive and inspiring destination. Deepening alignment throughout the destination will be essential in ensuring the full scale of the opportunity is realised.