In The Independent’s travel trends column, Trendwatch, we dig into the types of trip, modes of transport and top buzzwords to watch out for.
Of the many exciting new tours, accommodation and travel experiences that pinged into my inbox as the calendar flicked from 2022 into 2023, one loomed larger and more vivid than most. This was the trend for days out and micro-adventures led by, or immersing travellers in, indigenous and First Nations communities.
Extending far beyond the odd Aboriginal-culture-themed day trip in Australia, this is a new, diverse generation of experiences designed for learning and appreciation. Thoughtfully planned and sensitively led, ideally by people from the community they are hosted in, a raft of new micro-adventures range from Canada to Costa Rica, the Pacific islands to South Dakota. They’re not merely tucked into itineraries that pass through certain remote regions; rather, they’re proudly marketed as one of the most essential and meaningful ways to immerse yourself in that country’s culture. Increasingly, they involve staying overnight with, and being guided by, indigenous people who are experts on their land, wildlife and folklore.
So why now? Many of these communities have existed for centuries, with mainstream tourism only making contact in more recent years. The 2023 wave is likely a more focused aspect of a wider recent trend for travels that empower the locals in a destination. The idea is that operators and tourist boards link up fully with remote communities and indigenous guides who may have been working and living in the same way for centuries. With more experiences of this kind than ever before, many operators have reviewed their offering in all countries with an indigenous population, making sure they engage respectfully with and channel funds towards these enlightening guides and hosts.
As just one example, Australia-based adventure operator Intrepid Travel is launching 100 new indigenous-led experiences in 2023. Its general manager of purpose, Sara King, tells me that the pandemic was a time for reflection – and one major thing the…