A transformative trend to explore beyond tourist areas and well-frequented attractions in major urban destinations is gaining momentum, fueled by travelers of all generations who are looking for more experiences that are true to the local culture.

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This trend, which has been referred to as “life view” as opposed to “sightseeing,” is documented in key research studies, including a 2023 booking.com Report The survey found that 75% of survey participants said they wanted to “have experiences that are authentic and representative of the local culture.”

The American Express Global Travel Trends Report 2023 also identified a strong emphasis from travelers on unique tour opportunities “that give them a taste of local culture and allow them to explore hidden gems that their friends back home don’t know about.”

Tourism managers in major urban destinations have also observed this trend. “Guests are now looking for immersive experiences and a connection to the local identity and way of life, valuing regional delicacies, crafts and culture,” said Norbert Kettner, CEO of the Vienna Tourist Board. “They crave authentic and inspiring encounters, away from the usual crowds of tourists.”

Travelers looking for these encounters are increasingly straying off the beaten path of tourism and heading to lesser-known areas of the city.

“There has been a broad and clear trend of travelers looking for more unique experiences,” said Douglas Quinby, co-founder and CEO of Arival. A recent research report by Phocuswright (Travel Weekly’s sister brand) and Arival on The outlook for travel experiences The survey of more than 4,000 travelers in Europe and the U.S. found that 42% of travelers say “thinking outside the box” is “very important” to them when traveling. “That number rises to 50% for millennials and Gen Xers,” Quinby added.

© WienTourismus/Paul Bauer, Yppenplatz

In search of authenticity, personalization and positive impact on communities

As the volume of leisure travel has picked up, travel advisors and tour operators are increasingly responding to the demands of customers who want different and more personalized experiences during their urban explorations.

Lesser-known neighborhoods always have the ability to surprise you,” adds Gabriela Knöbl, tour guide and co-owner of Rebel Tours Vienna. “There’s always a new door to open, a new restaurant to eat in, or a hidden courtyard to discover.”
The quest for more individualized and personal experiences is also fueling the trend to go beyond a city’s tourist hub.

Gwen Kozlowski, President of the Association Exeter International Airport“I keep hearing from travel advisors that their clients want to think outside the box, think outside the box, do something that can’t be searched on Google. For every traveler, I think it means something different. Maybe it’s bragging rights, maybe it’s a personal connection. Or maybe they just don’t want to be in a herd on a bus tour, because where’s the magic in that?

American Express’ 2023 Global Travel Trends Report also found that a growing number of travelers want to know that the decisions they make while traveling can have a positive impact on the destinations they visit, and they want the money they spend on vacation to support the local community.

Such is the case with Vienna’s Heartbeat Streets initiative, “where conscious travelers seek to have a positive impact on the destinations they visit, while enriching their own experiences,” Kettner said. “By venturing into less explored areasOur clients actively contribute to the development of the city and its communities. »

Neighborhood tourism skyrockets as travelers seek a sense of local belonging

© WienTourismus/Paul Bauer, Spittelberg district

Who travels off the beaten track

The travelers most interested in venturing into a city’s lesser-known neighborhoods are usually regular travelers who have already covered that city’s top tourist attractions.

“No one is going to go somewhere for the first time and not see the main tourist areas of a city,” Kozlowski said. “Usually, it’s a traveler who’s been there before and is ready to leave that route for the first time.”

Tour operators and travel consultants recognize that most of their clients want a mix that includes well-known sights and attractions as well as unique local experiences away from the tourist hubs. The balance depends on the traveler, their level of experience with a particular destination, their age, length of stay, comfort level, and overall travel style.

Travelers pursuing their particular interests are also a key factor in the trend to explore lesser-known neighborhoods. Culinary trips and food tours are an example of this. A recent study conducted by luxury travel network Virtuoso found that 70% of Virtuoso advisors say they have seen a Increase in Culinary Trips, with 20% of travelers booking trips with food and wine as their primary goal. Nearly nine in 10 (87%) councillors said authenticity was a major motivator, and 53% said hyper-local dining – not just farm-to-table, but neighborhood-to-table – is really booming.

Neighborhood tourism is here to stay

The steady increase in neighborhood tourism is likely to continue due to travelers’ growing desire for personal travel experiences, and potential neighborhoods need to offer visitors richer, deeper, and more authentic encounters with a city and its people.

To find out more about the different districts of the cities, consult destination management companies, such as the Vienna Tourist Board. These organizations are like local experts and can help provide travel advisors and tour operators with the best advice and information about their cities.

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