Generation Z travelers believe that tourism benefits local communities and are also aware of the personal benefits of travel, such as understanding other cultures and building life experiences and self-confidence. These were just two of the findings revealed in a study published by the European Travel Commission (ETC) aimed to understand the travel motivations and the broader world view of Generation Z.
As the young population grows (Gen Zers were born between 1996 and 2012), becomes more affluent and begins to travel, it is likely to cause major changes in consumer travel demand, ETC says. Understanding Gen Z travelers and their concerns and motivations are fundamental to evaluating how demand for tourism could evolve in the years to come, and how it could impact tourism in Europe and worldwide.
The hyper-connected Gen Z grew up in an era of unprecedented awareness about human behavior, personal health, technology and humankind’s impact on the environment. Major issues that have grown in importance since the start of the 21st century, such as globalization, the 2008 financial crisis, terrorism, climate change and advances in technology have played a strong role in shaping Gen Zers’ attitudes and beliefs, and by extension, their travel behavior.
The study includes a quantitative research carried among 2,800 Gen Zers aged 18-24 in China, Germany, the United Kingdom and United States to reveal their travel preferences and global outlook.
Mixing Budget and Luxury
The survey found that among Gen Z, the top reasons for choosing a travel destination are value for money (47 percent), availability of cheap flights (45 percent) and safety and security (42 percent). When it comes to accommodation, however, more than one in three (36 percent) respondents said they would most likely choose an upscale four or five-star hotel, suggesting that Gen Zers are happy to mix budget and luxury experiences for self-reward or when set against the cost of cheaper modes of transport. Thirty percent, however, are likely to choose a budget hotel.
For future trips to Europe, trying locally produced food and drinks is their top priority (75 percent) followed by discovering the local urban culture (67 percent) and doing cultural activities, such as visiting museums and concerts (62 percent).
When it comes to European travel, France tops the list of destinations Gen Z travelers wish to visit the most (38 percent). Other top picks were Italy (35 percent), Spain (28 percent), Greece (24 percent), and Germany (23 percent). The U.K., Belgium, Austria, Croatia and Iceland all made the list, too.
Traveling With a Purpose
The study confirmed that Gen Z is growing up as a globally aware generation, conscious of their own responsibility towards the environment and society. Climate change was cited by more than half of Gen Zers in Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. as the issue most important to them (52 percent) followed by mental health issues (43 percent) and crime and justice (40 percent). These attitudes towards the environment and mental health are among the issues that Europe’s national tourism organizations (NTOs) will have to be aware of as they shape policy and marketing efforts around the demands of a distinctive generation.
The ETC says five future travel trends driven by Gen Z are: Greener travel by land and sea; travel for skills and self-confidence; invisible borders online and offline; judging destinations by their values; and sustainability performance in the spotlight.