Report encourages consideration of developing cryptocurrency and metaverse experiences to cater to younger people and new audiences
More travellers in the future will be able to pay for their holidays with cryptocurrency, according to futurist Rohit Talwar at World Travel Market London.
He also urged travel companies to consider developing experiences in the metaverse to cater for younger people and new audiences.
Talwar, Chief Executive of Fast Future, told delegates: “Accept crypto to target growth segments – 350 million people hold crypto now.”
He highlighted pioneers in the travel sector who are making use of cryptocurrency opportunities, such as Expedia, the Dolder Grand Zurich hotel, air Baltic, Brisbane Airport and the city of Miami – which is investing in its infrastructure thanks to developing its own cryptocurrency.
Commenting on the metaverse opportunities, he said: “It is a way to reach people we cannot otherwise serve.”
He told delegates that 78 million people attended a two-day Ariane Grande concert last year in Fortnite, describing it as “like a digital version of Disneyland”.
“There is a whole generation growing up as gamers in those worlds, buying and selling in the metaverse,” he said.
Early adopters in the metaverse include Istanbul airport, Helsinki and Seoul, he added.
Talwar also moderated a panel of experts talking about the future of travel, who highlighted sustainability and diversity as key trends for the 2020s and beyond.
Fahd Hamidaddin, Chief Executive at the Saudi Tourism Authority, said climate change has been “factored into” the destination’s 2030 vision.
“Saudi is committed to contributing to the net zero contribution of the [tourism] sector by 2050,” he added.
“Sustainability starts with the people – being true to the locals – and nature.”
He said the destination is developing rewilding schemes for 21 species and making sure Red Sea developments can preserve the coral and marine environments.
Peter Krueger, Chief Strategy Officer at TUI AG, highlighted how tourism is a “force for good”, acting as a “value transfer from wealthy countries to less developed destinations”.
He pointed to the Dominican Republic, which has developed its economy and schools thanks to its tourism industry, while neighbouring Haiti’s economy is less developed because it has very little tourism.
Sustainability is an opportunity, he added, citing the example of solar panels on hotels in the Maldives, which offer a return on investment within three years.
Julia Simpson, President and Chief Executive at the World Travel and Tourism Council, highlighted the importance of investing in sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).
She urged delegates to use WTTC resources to help them on their journey to net zero – and to find out about ways to support nature and biodiversity.
Writer and broadcaster Simon Calder was optimistic about travel in 2030, commenting: “We will appreciate the value that travel brings to the world and to ourselves…spending money on places interested in sustainability and tackling over-tourism, and whose human rights record we respect.
“Travel is desperately important to people.It will be great in 2030 and beyond.”
He said transport innovations such as hyperloop are unlikely to come to fruition but said it will be increasingly easy to book train travel or electric coaches for holidays as an alternative to flying.
Calder also predicted there will be more opportunities for people from marginalised and native populations to benefit from tourism during the 2020s.