Home Travel Industry Slow Tourism Case Studies: Examples to Truly Understand Slow Tourism

Slow Tourism Case Studies: Examples to Truly Understand Slow Tourism

Slow Tourism Case Studies
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14 min.

The tourism industry is moving at an ever-accelerating pace. That’s because the tourism industry is perhaps one of the verticals that depend on the most factors. One of the main factors that affect it is social movements, given that tourism brands of all sizes always cater to the needs of consumers.

One of those movements is slow tourism. We are talking about a fresh alternative to traditional travel that can bring innovation and diversification to the tourism vertical while positively impacting host communities. 

More precisely, slow tourism is one of the emerging trends with the capacity to bring the entire sector closer to sustainability and align it with the needs and wants of modern travelers. Since sustainable travel is important for more than 70% of travelers, slow tourism can prove essential when it comes to attracting eco-conscious travelers. It provides environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional travel experiences.

It comes as a much-needed alternative to mass tourism and fast tourism, and it’s welcomed by the tourists given that the slow tourism market size is projected to grow at a 10% compound annual growth rate.

Let’s see what slow tourism is all about, its origin and benefits, and discover popular slow tourism destinations and how to implement slow tourism in your business.

Understanding Slow Tourism

The last paradigm among travelers worldwide was the “fast traveling” one. Slow tourism emerges as a new way to engage with tourism products and pretends to become a new paradigm among travelers. Slow tourism is not a business model or process. It’s more of a mindset or approach to traveling.

Slow tourism gives priority to deeper connections with the places and meaningful experiences. It’s an approach that invites travelers to experience destinations at a slower pace. Instead of rushing through experiences, slow travelers can savor every valuable moment, take a deep dive into local cultures, and stop by to truly appreciate natural or architectural beauties. 

At its core, this tourism model is entirely different from anything you’ve seen so far. It enables travelers to break away from hurried itineraries so that they can explore the world at a more convenient pace. It proves as a viable alternative given that up to 86% of Millennials, who make the most of the population that travels, find “live like a local” experience a priority.

Let’s see where slow tourism comes from.

The Origin of Slow Tourism

Slow tourism is rooted in the slow food movement. It’s a not-so-old food movement that started in Italy back in the late 1980s. Back in the day, the fast-food culture was on the rise, and many people found it attractive because it prioritized convenience over quality while saving tons of time.

However, the fast-food culture threatened to contribute to the loss of traditional culinary practices. As a response, the slow food movement came into being, inspired by the slow food movement.

The concept came alive a couple of years ago. In recent years it first gained traction among people who valued sustainable tourism, and then it spread across other customer segments. All of a sudden, the traveling experience expanded beyond tourism destinations to include the journey as well. How does this concept compare to fast tourism?

Fast Tourism vs Slow Tourism

The chances are that you are familiar with the conventional mode of travel or fast tourism. Here are a few characteristics that describe fast tourism at its core:

  • Cover as many attractions as possible within a limited time;
  • Rushing from one ultra-popular attraction to another;
  • Over-packed schedules and itineraries;
  • Spending time at crowded tourist hotspots;
  • Limited exposure to local culture and environment.
Fast Tourism vs Slow Tourism

Slow tourism is quite different as it stirs away from all the qualities of fast tourism. Here are essential characteristics of the slow tourism conceptual framework:

  • Tourists are encouraged to take their time both while traveling and staying;
  • Tourists spend more time at the destinations;
  • Tourists are encouraged to make genuine connections with the local communities;
  • Tourists are encouraged to take an active part in local authentic cultural experiences;
  • Regional cuisine is prioritized over fast-food and mainstream dishes.

OK, the difference between fast and slow tourism is quite the opposite, but do the unique qualities of slow tourism bring any benefits?

The Benefits and Sustainability of Slow Travel

Slow tourism brings some unique benefits to the table. Let’s go through the most noteworthy ones.

Lower carbon footprint

Slow tourism creates new opportunities for tourists to decrease environmental impact. It encourages them to spend more time at a destination and use slower modes of transport. It opens a door for sustainable travel as tourists are invited to enjoy activities such as cycling and walking and to stay in sustainable accommodation. This goes in line with increasing concerns about sustainability the sector faces. As the vertical will need to sustainably manage 1.8 billion tourists by 2030.

Financial injection to local economies

Slow tourism has tourists staying at locally-owned accommodations and dining at locally-owned restaurants and bars. The financial injection to local economies promotes sustainable growth. The revenue stays within the community enabling it to preserve cultural heritage and improve living standards. Slow tourism is part of the global sustainable tourism market, which will reach $335.93 in size by 2027.

Valuable insights into the local customs and cultural heritage

Unlike fast tourism, slow tourism enables true cultural exchange. It has travelers engaging with local communities on a personal level. The cultural exchange takes place on several fronts: learning about local traditions, participating in local events, and learning from and supporting local artisans. It provides valuable insights into customs and heritage. 

It brings back rejuvenation to traveling

Traveling should help travelers relax and enjoy unique experiences. Fast tourism doesn’t. Instead, it has travelers cramming numerous activities into a short time frame and rushing from one attraction to another while eating fast food. Slow travel brings back rejuvenation to traveling, enabling travelers to unwind and enjoy their experience with no rush.

Minimal impact on natural resources

Slow tourists have minimal impact on natural resources. How does it help? Well, it enables sustainability because there is minimal to no impact on biodiversity and fragile ecosystems, which reflects the expectations of nearly 50% of travelers interested in the extended availability of green modes of transport. This unique benefit can help preserve vulnerable habitats and ensure future generations of tourism can enjoy them as well.

Real-Life Examples and Case Studies

Now that you have a solid foundation on slow tourism, it’s time to take a closer look at some real-life examples and case studies.

The Cittaslow town of Orvieto

The Cittaslow is the Italian for “Slow City.” The movement started in 1999 as a relief from the fast-paced urban lifestyle. The focus was on preserving local identity while promoting sustainable development. The most noteworthy city in the Cittaslow network is Orvieto, Umbria, Italy.

While embracing the principles of slow tourism, Orvieto paid special attention to encouraging tourists to explore the town’s cultural heritage, local cuisine, and unique historic charm at a slow pace. The city increased tourism revenue and used it to enable destination development. In this instance, to preserve its unique character.

The Way of St. James (El Camino de Santiago)

El Camino de Santiago is another great example of a successful slow tourism effort. It is an old pilgrimage route. It passes through some of the most beautiful regions of Spain to end at the magnificent Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. 

The tourists are encouraged to either walk or cycle the route. The emphasis is on the route experience. That’s why the Camino invites tourists to spend weeks on the route. The route has a significant historical and cultural significance. Spending days and weeks on it enables travelers to truly experience it while meeting and engaging with other fellow travelers and pilgrims. 

While destinations surely understand the value of slow tourism, there are many tourism brands that do so too. Here are a few examples.

Intrepid Travel is all about sustainable and slow travel

As one of the leaders in the adventure travel market, Intrepid Travel decided to embrace the principles of slow tourism. Yes, adventure and slow tourism can go together! Intrepid Travel pulled it off by offering small-group tours while prioritizing deeper connections with destinations, cultural immersion, and authentic experiences. 

The itineraries are generally made slower, and the stays are made longer. The brand is also continuously working to bring more sustainable transportation options to travelers.

Abercrombie & Kent the unique blend of luxury and slow tourism

Abercrombie & Kent is a world-famous luxury travel brand. It is famous for its small group journeys and luxury expedition cruises worldwide, including Egypt, Costa Rica, Chile, Greece, and many other attractive destinations. This high-end travel brand switched to offering more meaningful and immersive experiences, and at the same time, it started working out on slower itineraries.

Now a thought leader in the travel sector, the brand attracts niche travelers interested in meaningful and sustainable travel. The new approach helped it foster new local partnerships.

Popular Slow Tourism Destinations

Let’s review some of the most successful popular slow tourism destinations, including why they are considered slow tourism destinations, what slow tourism experiences they offer, and how they have benefited from slow tourism.

Tuscany, Italy

Located in central Italy, Tuscany has always been an attractive destination. It has everything a place needs to keep people coming back – culinary traditions, rich history, and breathtaking landscapes. It’s considered a slow tourism destination because it continues to invest in preserving natural beauty and cultural heritage. 

One of the recent tourism research papers explores slow travel in Tuscany as a new direction in tourism. 

It offers a couple of great slow travel experiences:

  • Wine and food tours;
  • Historic villages and towns;
  • Cultural festivals.

The entire region of Tuscany has benefited from slow tourism. The increased influx of responsible travelers enabled boutique hotels and farm stays to thrive. Tuscany’s commitment to slow travel helped it protect biodiversity and landscapes. Plus, its cultural heritage future is secured.

New Zealand’s South Island

New Zealand’s South Island is one of the few destinations worldwide, offering pristine beaches, snow-capped mountains, green landscapes, and fjords. The island’s year-long commitment to slow travel and sustainable practices has painted it one of the most desirable destinations among niche travelers. 

New Zealand’s South Island offers the following slow tourism experiences:

  • Maori culture exploration;
  • Glacial exploration;
  • Tramping and hiking.

The island’s unique ecosystem is not the only thing that benefited from its dedication to conservation, sustainability, and slow tourism. The increased revenue helped fuel conservation initiatives, supported local tour operators, and enabled local eco-friendly accommodations. It also helped foster respect for the unique Maori culture.

Implementing Slow Tourism in Your Business

If you find slow tourism attractive and you want to implement it in your business, here are a few practical steps you can follow:

  • Go for slower itineraries – slower itineraries with longer stays enable travelers to fully immerse in experiences;
  • Embrace sustainability – to support local communities and businesses work towards adopting eco-friendly practices and reducing waste;
  • Provide eco-friendly transportation methods – you can contribute to reducing environmental impact and implement slow tourism if you promote and provide slow transportation;
  • Go for small groups – the only way to offer personalized, respectful, and mindful experiences is to limit the group size;
  • Partner with local guides and businesses – the best way to support authenticity is to foster genuine connections with local communities;
  • Keep educating travelers – make sure that travelers know all about slow travel, preservation efforts, cultural sensitivity, and responsible travel.
Slow Tourism Business Implementation

If you are wondering how to market slow tourism to customers, the following slow tourism marketing tips can get you on the right track:

  • Make sure to put transformative experiences in the spotlight;
  • Include serene natural settings and authentic cultural immersion in your visuals and messaging;
  • Emphasize sustainable practices;
  • Promote meaningful interaction and connection with the locals;
  • Highlight the benefits of longer stays;
  • Always use high-quality visuals;
  • Leverage storytelling to evoke mindfulness;
  • Put the focus on individual needs and offer highly personalized experiences;
  • Use testimonials to inspire travelers to embrace a slower pace.

If you decide to implement slow tourism, you should expect some challenges. Here are the most common challenges of implementing slow tourism and how to overcome them:

  • Consumer mindset – education and awareness – many consumers have fast-paced lifestyles, and attracting them to slow tourism offers can be challenging. Education and awareness can help you overcome this challenge;
  • Economic viability – diversifying offerings – slower itineraries may reduce revenue. You can address this challenge by creating more diverse offers to attract niche travelers willing to pay more to get this type of experience;
  • Infrastructure and accessibility – collaboration – some destinations perfect for slow tourism may lack the proper infrastructure. You can work with local governments to improve accessibility in these regions;
  • Seasonal impact – sustainable planning – seasonality is an old tourism industry’s ailment. You can circumvent it with off-peak promotions and encouraging people to engage in slow tourism year-round.

Conclusion

Slow tourism is an important tourism vertical sub-sector as it brings the entire industry closer to eco-friendly principles. It helps reduce carbon footprint, improves economies in destinations, enables tourists to have more memorable experiences, and brings back rejuvenation to traveling.

If you don’t have experience with slow tourism, you might have second thoughts about adopting it. The practical steps, such as the above ones, can help you adopt slow travel into your business. It doesn’t only provide new opportunities to generate revenue but helps the planet as well!

If you are ready to take the next step, click here to attend a webinar on slow tourism. 

FAQs

How can I apply the principles of slow tourism in my business?

You can start by adopting responsible and sustainable practices while going for slower itineraries, limiting group size, educating travelers, and partnering with local guides and businesses.

How can slow tourism benefit my business?

Offering unique experiences centered around deeper connections with destination, sustainability, and authenticity can improve brand reputation and customer loyalty and give you a competitive advantage.

How can I overcome the challenges of implementing slow tourism?

You can educate travelers, work on increasing slow tourism awareness, diversify your offer, and partner up with local businesses and governments.

How does slow tourism contribute to local economies?

Local economies benefit from extended stays, exclusive engagement with local businesses, and focus on sustainable practices. Slow tourism also channels revenue to artisans, restaurants, and local accommodations, thus creating more jobs and fostering economic growth.

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