The rise of revenge tourism

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(Last updated on: 04/11/2021)

Revenge tourism has become one of the newest and most controversial types of tourism. But what exactly is revenge tourism and why it is named so? In this article I explain to you what is meant by the term revenge tourism- read on to find out more….

What is revenge tourism?

The concept of revenge tourism first emerged in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic closed down the majority of business in the travel and tourism sector, borders were closed around the world and repeated lockdowns and quarantine requirements meant that people had very little opportunity to travel.

revenge tourism

People were angry, people were frustrated and people had itchy feet. The desire to travel comes natural to the human population. For some people travel this is visiting their grandparents who live in the next province (known as VFR), for others it is lying on a beach in Murcia, Spain and for some it is backpacking along the Silk Road in China…. but very few of these were an option during 2020 and much of 2021.

As a result, there was/is a large pent-up demand for travel and people want ‘revenge’ so to speak. It is this travel that has been coined ‘revenge tourism’.

Learn all about revenge tourism in this short video.

What has revenge tourism emerged?

As a result of being forced to stay in one place for so long, people began to ‘want revenge’. People wanted/want to make up for lost time. They want to take that trip that they were forced to cancel in 2019. They want to visit their relatives oversees. They want to see the world that they have been kept away from for such a long time.

As travel started/starts to become a possibility around the world, people are hoping to ‘get revenge’. The media have jumped on the bandwagon and there are reports of China promoting ‘revenge travel’ to boost economy after Covid lockdowns and of tourist industry experts in India saying that people are on ‘revenge travel’ mode after being confined in their homes for months. Politicians have also used the phrase, with India’s health ministry expressing concerns that revenge tourism may spark a third COVID wave. Furthermore, some experts claim that revenge travel is the phenomenon that could bring back tourism with a bang.

I know on a personal level that after being restricted from travelling for so long I am/was keen to get out to there and see the world again, so it is no surprise that there are plenty of others who feel the same!

Why is it called revenge tourism?

Revenge tourism is the new term to describe the pent-up demand that has developed amongst much of the global population during the COVID pandemic. It has become the new ‘buzzword’ in a sense.

However, the term is a bit peculiar. The word revenge brings about negative connotations, yet paradoxically, the word tourism is generally associated with feelings of happiness (most of us are happy when we go on holiday!).

revenge tourism

So who came up with the term revenge tourism? Well this is not entirely clear, but it is thought that the term originates from China, who first used the term ‘revenge travel’ in the 1980s. It was during this time that Chinese citizens gained more freedom to move inside and out of their country. This has been likened to the lifting of travel restrictions in China post COVID, where there was a surge in domestic tourism just months after closing off to the rest of the world in 2020. Since then the term revenge tourism has been adopted internationally and it used around the world.

Some companies are using the phrase as a sort of marketing tool, to attract business and customers. However, others are already trying to move away from it- the negative sentiment associated with the word revenge isn’t conducive to the positive and happy outlook that is generally associated with travel and tourism.

Is revenge tourism here to stay?

Revenge tourism is essentially a response to the COVID pandemic and associated travel restrictions. I expect that this trend will be short-lived, perhaps lasting the next couple of years before fizzling out.

revenge tourism

Initially, there will likely to a boom in travel, or ‘revenge tourism’. People will take the honeymoon that they had to cancel, they will visit their relatives that they haven’t seen in two years or more and they will attempt to make up for lost time by booking that tour through Egypt or taking their children to Costa Rica.

Where will people go for revenge tourism?

It is predicted that travel post-COVID will not look so different than it did before, that has certainly been the case in China, where the domestic tourism industry has rebounded to 2019 levels. However, there are a few differences that we will likely notice- less people will take group tours and more people will spend more money.

Destinations that are typically quite expensive to visit will likely receive more visitors than they did prior to the pandemic, with destinations such as the Galapagos Islands, the Maldives and Hawaii receiving more visitors. It is also likely that people will lean more towards sustainable tourism initiatives when choosing their holiday provider, seeing a rise of stays in eco lodges in the Gambia or people travelling to climb Mount Toubkal in Morocco.

The positive impacts of revenge tourism

Revenge tourism can be seen as positive in that it will bring back tourists to areas that have suffered greatly as a result of a reduction in tourism, it is sure to bring about positive economic impacts of tourism.

It can also be a good thing in terms of human well-being- there are many people who feel better after a holiday!

The negative impacts of revenge tourism

However, revenge tourism can also have negative impacts too. An influx in large amounts of tourists can results in mass tourism and overtourism, both of which are known for their detrimental effects on the environment and local community.

Careful tourism planning and management is required to ensure that the tourism industry rebounds in a way that is sustainable and beneficial to all.

Further reading

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Dr Hayley Stainton

Hi, I'm Dr Hayley Stainton

Through Tourism Teacher I share my knowledge on the principles and practice of travel and tourism management from both an academic and practical perspective.

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