Survey: Travelers Want to Experience Destinations as Locals, Crave More Authenticity

We’ve heard the phrase “authentic experiences” used plenty in the last few years and it looks like that will continue going forward. Accord to a recent study commissioned by travel booking platform GetYourGuide, when it comes to traveling in 2023, Americans want to be more than mere tourists—meaning, this desire is driving their travel plans to seek “authentic and unforgettable experiences.” About half of leisure travelers (51 percent) say experiencing a destination as a local is a high priority, while nearly as many (45 are) are also concerned they are not having an authentic experience.

The Local Allure

As U.S. travelers weigh what matters most to their 2023 itineraries, experiencing new destinations authentically came into the spotlight. While on vacation, at least three out of five (62 percent) feel a trip is wasted if they don’t experience the local culture. In addition, almost all (97 percent) expressed that certain aspects of the local culture are more important to them than others whenever traveling domestically or internationally. Not surprisingly, food tops the list of local priorities (70 percent), followed by seeing the sites (67 percent), learning about the history (58 percent), experiencing the local arts scene (48 percent) and interacting with the locals themselves (38 percent). 

Memories Are Worth Every Penny

Travelers are increasingly inclined to seek out “once-in-a-lifetime” experiences and create memories. When traveling for leisure:

  • Ninety-five percent prefer to spend at least part of their trip on new and unique experiences
  • Almost half (48 percent) say the reason for the trip is primarily to have new and unique experiences

To make an international trip memorable, travelers are primarily looking to uncover something new: 

  • Sixty-four percent want to discover something they didn’t know about before  
  • Sixty percent want to visit a popular destination 
  • Fifty-six percent want to explore a location they’ve never heard of 

And while nearly all (93 percent) are willing to cut back on some aspects to save money—such as gifts or souvenirs (65 percent), eating out (41 percent), transportation (36 percent) or accommodations (33 percent)—the majority (71 percent) are not willing to cut back on their activities and experiences. 

Local Guides Bring Incredible Value 

Nearly all (98 percent) travelers say they recognize the benefits of having a local guide. Some of the benefits they might be missing without a guide include:

  • Being able to see things they wouldn’t otherwise find out about (70 percent) 
  • Avoiding dangerous areas (60 percent) 
  • Less risk of getting lost (59 percent) 

The most common causes for concern when exploring on their own include:

  • Overpaying (51 percent)
  • Not being able to do all the things they planned (49 percent) 

Methodology: GetYourGuide commissioned an online survey by Wakefield Research, which was conducted October 21–25, 2022. The survey was issued to 1,000 U.S. leisure travelers, defined as those traveling for leisure both domestically and internationally a minimum of once per year that requires an overnight stay.

Source: GetYourGuide

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