A Sustainable Future for Travel

market focus
category - travel
sector - travel & hospitality
type - case studies
Case Studies
Intrepid Travel commissioned The Future Laboratory to produce a foresight report envisaging the ways in which the climate crisis is affecting – and will continue to affect – the travel landscape, as well as the solutions to help operators adapt by 2040. 

The travel industry is at a critical tipping point, facing the realities of climate change, over-tourism and the possible disappearance of popular destinations. Standing at this crossroads, The Future Laboratory partnered with Intrepid Travel to explore how and why we need to change the way we travel, outlining the best and worst-case scenarios.  

As a call to action for key players in the sector, the report predicts what the world of travel could look like by 2040 if the foundations of a more sustainable future are not secured. In addition, it outlines the ideas, innovations and glimmers of hope already emerging, which are expected to become future focal points for the industry.   

With the next decade resting on the decisions made today, travel must find a new way forward. Key to this will be the next generation: a cohort we are calling the Travel Transformers. The report also considers the mindsets, values and behaviours of Generation Alpha and their impending impact. 

Combining expert interviews and an exhaustive review of the global landscape, our insights uncover future destinations, new hospitality concepts and a wave of eco-innovations – showcasing the social, cultural and technological changes that can push the industry in more optimistic directions through to 2040 and beyond.  

Click here to discover the resulting A Sustainable Future for Travel: From Crisis to Transformation report. 


Published by:

30 October 2023

Author: Alex Hawkins

Image: Bradley Hook


Ephemeral Escapes, AI Imagery by Intrepid Travel


On its current trajectory, travel is simply not sustainable.  

Not only does the industry play a significant role in fuelling the climate crisis, but some of the most popular holiday destinations are facing extinction thanks to rising sea levels and extreme heat. As the threats of the climate crisis continue to move from emerging to existential, this will adversely affect winter and summer tourism industries in the future.   

At the same time, the burden of over-tourism is also being felt on a mass scale, as numerous places report record-breaking numbers of visitors – negatively affecting local communities and environments. 

Tourism must now shift from being extractive to being resilient and regenerative.  

The Travel Tipping Point 

Without meaningful intervention, travel is heading into an undesirable future. Here, climate breakdown will curb our boundless pursuit of horizon-expanding experiences. This new world will be one of carbon allowances, altered travel patterns and virtual exploration. 

‘Regenerative transformation has long been demanded by the planet and now it’s being demanded by people too’
Martin Raymond, co-founder, The Future Laboratory Intrepid-report

: Carbon Passports

A personal carbon emissions limit will become the new normal as policy and people’s values drive an era of great change. 

: Chasing the Shade

Forget chasing the sun. Future travellers will instead be seeking shade as destinations that are popular today will be rendered inhospitable by rising temperatures. 

: Virtual Vacations

If there is a lack of action to tackle the climate crisis, by 2040 many of the world’s favourite destinations will be forced to go virtual. 

Photography by Aydin Kiraz

Future Travel Trends 2040  

The negative scenarios previously outlined are avoidable if decisive action is taken. A brighter, more equitable future for travel is within reach if travel brands, operators and organisations proactively pave the way for regenerative tourism. 

People-positive Travel 

The rise of regenerative tourism will see people become more conscientious travellers, who not only seek hospitality that creates positive environmental impact, but also connects with the local community and economy. 

Ephemeral Escapes 

By 2040, people will embrace low-impact trips that leave no trace. This will usher in nomadic, pop-up hospitality concepts and fleeting, flexible accommodations that require minimal infrastructure. 

Enhanced Eco-mobility 

Eco-innovation within the transport sector is under way. The next two decades will pave the way for luxury locomotion, zero-emission cruise ships and developments in alternative air fuel, linked by new travel hubs. 

Real-time Footprints 

Tracking travel metrics in real time will create an era of traceability among 2040s travellers, who will lean into technology to measure and optimise their behaviours in line with environmental values and targets. 



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