Revenge tourism, the consumer reaction that triggers travel

It is not just any summer in 2022, marked by the recovery of sightseeing. Consumption figures in the sector have skyrocketed after two summer periods of accounts in the red, due to the pandemic, which have made a dent in a set of activities that represent 12.4% of Spanish GDP. After that dark period, citizens have come out again and have done so en masse in a phenomenon that has been baptized as ‘revenge tourism’, for its brutal revival.

This concept, as explained by Washington Postis not new, since emerged in the 1980s in China. The Cultural Revolution brought the people of the country a time of scarcity, with episodes of famine. After this phase, in the 80s, consumption resurfaced and did so in a big way. The Chinese people could and did buy again by spending their capital on luxury items. As indicated by the American publication, in April 1980, a single Hermès store collected 2.7 million dollars during the National Day of the People’s Republic of China.

A savings bag accumulated in the pandemic

In 2022 a similar phenomenon is taking place that reaches all levels. With the summer data still to be consolidated, the National Institute of Statistics (INE) reported that in May Spain had received seven million international tourists, with a total expenditure of 8,023 million euros, similar to pre-pandemic levels, which are what every industry seeks to achieve in order to reach a situation of relative normality. Also, spending per traveler was 1,152 euros compared to 1,028 in the same month of 2019, which represents an increase of 12.1% in nominal terms.

Revenge tourism is understood as a reaction to the impossibility of taking vacations normally

The revenge tourism that is taking place is the confirmation of an intention that was seen coming for months. According to data from Kayak.es, a fare aggregator and online travel metasearch engine, flight searches for this summer increased by around 102% compared to pre-pandemic levels. “Revenge tourism is a reaction to the impossibility of taking vacations normally. It responds to the human condition and is common after a crisis like the one experienced”, explains Francesc González, professor of Economics and Business Studies and director of the Tourism degree at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC).

According to this expert, it is being shown that, after critical periods such as war, the birth rate accelerates due to what is called “delayed” births..And a similar phenomenon occurs in tourism.”, adds Gonzalez. However, despite the fact that the denomination serves to define a specific moment, the concept has not caught on too much in Europe. Americans use it to describe their travels on social networks, as a hashtag, Instagram post or TikTok video under the name ‘my revenge ride 2022‘, with which they show their vacations.

In Spain, revenge tourism could be defined as retaliation tourism, although the rise in inflation its effect has waned. In June, Spanish families set a savings record and deposits were about to touch one billion euros. According to data from the Bank of Spain, households added more than 982,000 million euros in deposits in April, 0.77% more than a month earlier. But this bag has been shrinking as prices have risen, until shooting up to double digits (10.2%) in June. There had been no such escalation since the 1980s, when the oil crisis.

Staff strikes and ‘overbooking’, problems of the boom

To this must be added that the tourism sector is not being able to catch the entire boom in demand that is taking place. And that these excessive levels of consumption within revenge tourism have consequences such as overbooking at airports. “It is clear that the increase in visitors leads to a greater saturation of airports, but this is not the only cause of overbooking”, confirms Gonzalez.

In his opinion, this phenomenon has been aggravated by “the strikes of the personnel of low-cost airlines and also of air traffic controllers in other regions”, emphasizes the UOC professor. As an example, González says that in the French city of Marseille, the controllers have interrupted their activity and, “In an interconnected world with a global air transport network, an incident in a certain area can affect the rest”.

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Still, the hotel occupancy in Spain it is close to 2019 figures.”The recovery of foreign tourists, especially Europeans from countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France or the Nordic countries, is a fact”, clarifies Pablo Díaz, professor of Economics and Business studies at the UOC and an expert in tourism. But all the university professionals clarify that, despite the good results, “The recovery is fragile, since we are in a situation of economic uncertainty, led by inflation and Euribor increases, although this will affect national tourism in the first instance”.

As for the preferred destinations in the rise of revenge tourism, The Caribbean and Latin America lead the list of the most visited destinations, according to the World Tourism Outlook report that ForwardKeys presented at the WTTC (World Travel and Tourism Council) Global Summit. The report reveals how some countries will recover pre-pandemic figures. From the Caribbean, Costa Rica heads the list, whose reserves for the next summer period exceed by 30% those registered on the same dates in 2019; followed by Aruba (+23%), the Dominican Republic (+16%), Jamaica (+15%) and Mexico (+14%). In fifth position is Pakistan, with an increase of 14%.

Local tourism led by young people

Traveler flows are influenced and will continue to be by issues such as currency exchange. With the weakness of the Euro against the Dollar -which came to trade above the European currency-, american traveler It is easier for him to travel to the Old Continent, but the sociopolitical factors derived from the Russian invasion of Ukraine appear as a determining factor. “They preferred to go to Europe rather than to the Caribbean, but this year the final decision depends on the ease of access due to Covid or the Ukraine War, especially if NATO is more involved, a fact that can be perceived as a risk. important to American travelersGonzalez insists.

Most visitors opt for domestic and local tourism

For its part, Spain is ranked 19th in this same list of ForwardKeys most resilient destinations. Within the Iberian Peninsula, the most frequented, according to this study, are the Balearic Islands, especially Ibiza, the city of Valencia and Malaga. In addition to volume, revenge tourism is structured on different bases. In a first, the majority of visitors opt for the nearby tourism, hence this year domestic tourism has increased. According to a report by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, young people are the first to take the plunge in this form of travel and destinations outdoors or in the middle of nature are the first to gain followers.

Definitely, revenge tourism is a natural reaction, that occurs at a very specific time, after acute crises. A trend that bursts into force, but that has a rebound effect, both in the services that are provided – impoverished by the boom in demand – and in subsequent consumption trends. A humane way of expressing a desire after a blockade phase that boosts the economy, although not in an equitable and continuous way.

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