Tourism 2024: Seven Challenges to Anticipate in the New Year

January 04, 2024
Inscription on the runway 2024 surface of the airport road yellow line take off airplane. Concept of travel in the new year, holidays

Tourism in 2024 will be an exciting adventure — but it won’t be without its challenges. We’re primed and ready to face them with an upbeat, can-do attitude, because defeat is not an option.

Understanding your enemy, however, is key to making sure that the big issues facing tourism in 2024 will be hurdles to clear and not roadblocks. Here are some of the most pressing challenges to keep in mind as we start the new year.

1. Spread of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence will be an ally and a foe, depending on how you embrace it. Destination marketers need to continue learning how to master it and anticipate its applications in 2024 and beyond. It can produce faulty itineraries to lead travelers astray, but can also generate marketing materials that can save time for destination marketing professionals. 

It’s here, and it’s not going anywhere, so learn to use it and live with it. Providing training to staff and encouraging more experimentation with these tools will be vital to staying ahead of this AI curve.

2. Increased International Conflicts

We’re in a time of war in the Middle East and on Europe’s eastern front. International conflict is a scary deterrent for many would-be travelers. Tourism in 2024 will need to confront these challenges and market strategically to help calm fears and put safety first for travelers who want to go abroad, but may be too timid to book.

It’s an important time, as well, to ensure that your own crisis communication strategy is up to date.

3. Changing Consumer Trends

New motivations — whether it’s the quest for transformation travel or any other upcoming trend — presents opportunities for tourism in 2024. Destinations want to jump on board to showcase how they meet the trends and satisfy consumer demand for new and different types of travel.

Digging through the research to find out what travelers are seeking and how they are booking, or conducting your own primary research, is just one essential step to staying up to date.

4. Growing Commitment to Sustainability

Greenwashing won’t cut it anymore — consumers know when you are trying to be “eco-friendly” without doing the work. Travelers want to see a commitment to sustainability in action, with real, quantifiable evidence that destination brands are keeping things clean for the environment.

Tourism in 2024 will strive to be one of the cleanest years ever, and destinations have no choice but to be part of it — and that’s a good thing! It’s a chance to make big changes and work with local partners to put your greenest foot forward and set new goals to make your destination a top choice for the sustainably-minded.

5. Demands for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility 

Tourism in 2024 is all about building more representative staffs, more representative marketing campaigns, and reaching new types of travelers across the spectrum of diversity. Diversity, equity, and inclusion — known as DEI — is here to stay, and any destination who wants to ignore it can kiss their visitation goodbye. Consumers want to feel seen and represented wherever they visit. This push for representation has led us, rightly so, to be more thoughtful about accessibility. Ensuring that differently abled individuals are able to embrace your destination has taken center-stage.

This year, marketing professionals and their hiring teams alike need to keep DEIA at the forefront of each and every decision moving forward.

6. Evolutions through Digital Marketing

While digital marketing isn’t new, it doesn’t always mesh well with an industry full of in-person sales professionals who resist digital change. Sales professionals want to travel and shake hands and are only slowly catching on that digital marketing tactics may provide better returns on investment. 

It’s tough to hear for many, but it’s a challenge that will only grow bigger for tourism in 2024. Better collaboration between digital marketers and sales teams is the synergy that destinations need throughout the new year.

7. Expectations of Changing Workforce 

The workforce is changing. With more retirees in certain sectors and a younger pool of talent that wants more, building a successful staff is trickier than ever. Tourism in 2024 is also the year that will leave us all questioning when we will truly need to invest in in-person business traveling, and when remote meetings are more strategic.

And according to DCI’s latest report on tourism workers, this population is expecting more than a basic paycheck to commit to a destination. It’s something not just to think about during the new year, but to act upon immediately.

Looking to build out your 2024 tourism marketing strategy to address today’s challenges? Get in touch with Karyl Leigh Barnes, DCI’s Tourism President, at [email protected] to learn how you can tap into DCI’s more than 60 years of destination marketing prowess.

Written by

Karyl Leigh Barnes

President, Tourism Practice