No Booze, No Problem: Sober Tourism on the Rise

People often think of drinking alcohol when it comes to having fun, going to parties, and enjoying good food. This cultural habit has been a big part of business and markets around the world for many years.

In recent years, a global trend has emerged that challenges this long-standing tradition. Like a New Year’s resolution, Dry January consists of not drinking for the entire month of January. The campaign was launched in 2013 by Alcohol Change UK, a British organization focused on reducing harm caused by alcohol. In a nutshell, it aims to reduce alcohol consumption to start the year healthier.

Connecting this specific trend to a broader movement, we see the rise of sober tourism and “dry-tripping.” More and more people are abandoning alcohol to prioritize a healthier lifestyle, well-being, or simply as a personal choice. Also during their travels.

Sober tourism: Unfolding the trend

Sober tourism is an emerging trend that offers alcohol-free tourism experiences, catering to an audience seeking a healthy and conscious lifestyle. This niche is growing in popularity, especially among those who wish to avoid drinking alcohol for reasons of health, well-being, or personal choices.

There is an increasing number of adults worldwide becoming ‘sober curious’. These are not people in recovery or who have an addiction problem, but simply those re-examining their relationship with alcohol.

John Holmes, professor of alcohol policy at the University of Sheffield, in an interview for SCMP.

A major driver of the sober tourism and “dry-tripping” trend is the noticeable decline in alcohol consumption among younger generations. Gen-Z drinks on average 20% less than Millennials, who also consume less than the previous generation, primarily due to increased awareness of the dangers and effects of alcohol and the rise of health consciousness as a lifestyle. An overwhelming 86% of Gen-Z consumers believe that their mental health is as significant as their physical health when considering drinking alcohol. This shift in attitudes towards alcohol is reshaping market demands and driving the growth of alcohol-free experiences.

Does less alcohol consumption put businesses in danger?

Only about 38% of young adults are regular drinkers, according to analytics company Gallup.

Source: Euronews

Alcohol consumption was already reducing among age groups, especially younger generations; and this impacts businesses too. What is perceived is a significant change in values between those already established and those that are under construction and solidification, making “Dry January” more than a specific trend and transforming it into a global and perennial movement. It’s not just in January; it’s all year round.

Our opportunity here is to understand: how can travel businesses adapt to this new audience and develop products and services that fit into their lives.

With the increasing popularity of sober tourism, various platforms and agencies are now curating events, retreats, and tour packages that emphasize a healthy and mindful lifestyle. These experiences are designed to foster well-being, social connections, and personal growth, offering a diverse range of options from alcohol-free gatherings to wellness-focused retreats.

Additionally, several travel companies and airlines are enhancing their services to include excellent mocktail options, ensuring that travelers who prefer an alcohol-free lifestyle can still enjoy a sophisticated and inclusive experience. This shift in service offerings is helping to redefine what fun and relaxation mean in the context of travel and tourism.

Innovative companies are leading this movement by offering unique and welcoming experiences for travelers who prefer an alcohol-free lifestyle. Traditional companies are also beginning to understand their role. These initiatives not only meet growing demand but also help redefine what fun and relaxation mean in the context of travel and tourism.

Renewal of perspectives for excellent service to a new audience

Is there someone already following this movement, making this trend a practice in their business, observing the public, and coming on board with new ideas and inspiration? Yes! And they emphasize activities and experiences that promote physical and mental health in some way, and we highlight two interesting approaches:

  • Community and social connection: Many of these initiatives create spaces and events that encourage genuine connection and community building. We already know that nurturing communities with common interests is effective. Is it possible to implement something similar in your business?
  • Personalization and flexibility: Personalizing a service, product, or experience tends to win over the public. People want to feel special and seen. Offering customization and ongoing support to meet customers’ specific needs is one way to achieve this.

Sober tourism is gaining momentum as a significant trend in the tourism sector, reflecting a shift in consumer preferences towards a healthier and more conscious lifestyle. Companies that can adapt their offerings to meet this demand will be well-positioned to attract a growing and diverse audience, especially in Europe where awareness of health and wellness is on the rise.