2024 the Year of Incidental Tourism


A friend recently hooked me into a conversation on Linked In about ‘slow tourism’ definitions. After a big 2023 with not nearly enough holidays I chimed in. 'Slow tourism,' I wrote, 'would likely involve lying on my couch, looking at photos of places to visit but not actually going there, and feeling smug for not contributing to tourism’s massive carbon output.'

Yikes. That’s not the travel obsessed woman I once was.

Whatever happened to the sexy new destination list that once inspired and motivated me; yes! I want to go THERE!  And off I’d go looking for cheap flights.

Well for one thing, influencers happened, that’s what. If someone famous is telling me to go, suddenly I lose interest.  That’s honestly kind of how I feel about tourism these days. I love it, but also… um, tourism? Can we have a little talk? When did marketing take over the actual skill of happy travel?

This summer I’ve been thinking that instead of slow tourism, for me 2024 is for me the year of Incidental Tourism. Here’s my definition: the travel fun you have without planning it in advance. This included the side trips and wandering offs that you do either side of a work trip, or alternative routes on bike rides home.

In 2009 James Cook University did studies into film and incidental tourism to “discover how film viewing might be related to tourism activities and whether motivations drive people to become film-specific tourists or whether visitation to film locations is simply an incidental tourism experience.” 

So this is like, quite a serious subject. Let me just adjust these pillows and check out the Netflix menu. But there is something in this. Destinations like the South Australian outback get a new production crew almost twice a year now filming episodes of The Tourist, any number of movies and streaming series in their backyard landscapes, bringing in valuable tourism dollars both during filming and post promotion. 

Embracing 2024 as the Year of Incidental Travel does also conveniently get me off the hook from any actual holiday research and detailed scheduling. As someone who plans and researches for a living, I find booking holidays a drag, because of the planning required and anyway, it kind of kills the spontaneity. Now if Chat GPT could find me the places with most spontaneous travel opportunities and schedule them like my own travel assistant …sign me up!

But if you don’t research a little how do you know what you can do? Are you a planner or a winger?  

Ugh, I feel anxious. Is there any popcorn in the house?

The fact is you just don’t know if you are going to have a good time, if you plan it or not.  It's not just a place that delivers fun and interesting times, it's our outlook, our attitude, the company we keep and our approach.

So here’s to 2024 - a carbon neutral, spontaneous, incidental, low guilt tourism year for all!  

Now, can someone dim the lights? My show's about to start.


Join Susan's network on Linked In where she writes about tourism trends, shares industry information and publishes articles.

Contact us, call Susan Lee

0466 090 600