There is a changing tide in the travel industry. Traditionally massive package holiday companies have block booked villas, hotels, flights, tours and coach transfers from and to the airport. Individuals have lost out and the environment has been harmed Local economies have not experienced the full economic benefits of tourism. Today and in the future we will see change and the overwhelming trend is towards independent travel.
The independent traveler is on the scene and with the arrival and growth of the internet individuals no longer need accept a tin sardine holiday. The arrival of cheap airlines has helped persons make considerable savings by booking early and travelling in the low season and in the middle of the week. There has been more and more one way tickets purchased. The modern traveler wants more flexibility and will often extend or shorten their trips depending on how much they are enjoying themselves.
The reliance on packaged holidays has caused severe pressures on the infrastructure and environment of holiday hot spots like the Algarve and Majorca, Spain. Their ability to monopolise the accommodation market and dictate pricing has not only created ghost towns that are virtually deserted for most of the year, it has also conned thousands of people with misleading real estate opportunities and created a housing bubble and surplus as well as unnecessarily spoiling miles of coastline.
There are huge benefits in renting holiday villa accommodation with the owners direct over accepting a tin sardine holiday. There are fewer middle men taking their hefty commissions for renting the villa, apartment or hotel room to you. You can save money when these savings are passed on. You get to choose exactly which property you are renting. Rather than rely on massive companies often poor investigation and selection procedures you can personally speak with the owner of a rental property and satisfy yourself that the arangement is of superior value and high standard.
The idependent traveller has far greater freedom to change their plans and discover spontaneously. The trend towards independent travel has colossal benefits for the environment and local economies. Instead of profits being siphoned off into the already inflated bank accounts of mammoth corporations, small businesses and the local economy get a bigger slice of the pie. The season is extended as independent travelers take advantage of lower prices and less competition in the shoulder and low seasons.
Independent holiday makers travel further afield and to more diverse locations off the beaten path. Instead of large concentrations of people arriving in a single location in July or August the independent traveler will venture elsewhere reducing the environmental footprint and helping the economies of more rural economies.
In the traditional package holiday situation tradition and culture were at best artificial spectacles such as a flamenco night in Tenerife and at worst local people have felt exploited and tourists unwelcome. The mammoth companies keep sending the tourists and in locations such as Majorca where the package still rules restaurant proprietors needn’t worry about reputation or providing value for money because tomorrow a new load of pale faced tourists will be arriving.
With independent travel one is free. Free to choose, free to move, free to travel onwards, to follow ones intuition, to enjoy and interact with the local people, to see the real culture and to travel in a more environmentally sustainable way that benefits the local people and their economy.