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Set-jetting, Forest Bathing, and Hush Trips: 20 Innovative Tourism Business Ideas and Trends for 2023


It’s that time of year again to ask ourselves, “What’s new, cool, and innovative in tourism?”. We’ve compiled a list of new, innovative tourism business ideas for 2023 so you can find your niche. 

The travel and tourism industry is in a state of constant flux, never more so than in the last few years. Every change and new trend brings with it an opportunity for tour operators to deliver what their customers old and new want—as well as add new tours and experiences they don’t yet even know they want. 

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 As countries began to ease restrictions, 2022 saw the travel industry rebound from 2021 and 2020. Despite new global challenges appearing during 2022 and continuing into 2023, including the Russian-Ukraine war and the global economic fallout, the most important trend of all is that people still want to travel and are even budgeting for more travel.

As one travel professional interviewed for TravelAge West’s article on travel trends put it: “It’s almost like travel went from a discretionary spend to an essential spend for a lot of people.”

Despite all that is still happening in the world, around the industry there is a continued air of optimism in 2023. Travel Pulse noted that “while 2022 was the year of recovery [recovered almost 60 percent of its pre-pandemic levels], 2023 is poised to be the year of reinvention.” research prompted them to label 2023 as a year of “creative imagination of travel.” Skyscanner’s Travel Trends report concluded that “Post-COVID restrictions, travellers continue to prioritize adventures abroad and embrace travel freedoms with relish.”

Here are some of the latest major trends and innovative tourism business ideas to keep an eye on and potentially incorporate into the tours and travel experiences you offer. We’ll also highlight a few of the more unusual and niche trends that could take off during 2023 or in the longer term, or just inspire some “out of the box” thinking when looking at your own products and services.

1. Transformational trips

Group of people on a lake practicing yoga during sunset

A buzz phrase you’ll hear a lot in 2023 is “transformational retreat.” This refers to travel experiences that cater to people who want to undergo a significant personal or spiritual transformation. Retreats and activities include meditation, yoga, therapy, workshops, and other experiential practices. Most promote self-awareness, personal growth, and positive change, typically taking place in a secluded and peaceful setting and led by experienced facilitators or coaches.’s Travel Predictions 2023 report called these trips “peace and pleasure pilgrimages.” The report found that 42 percent of travelers want to focus on their mental and physical health, including retreats to smooth the processes of pregnancy and menopause.” A large proportion of travelers are interested in meditation or mindfulness retreats. Some retreats even take the word “trip” literally, catering to people interested in the potential therapeutic benefits of the controlled and supervised use of “magic mushrooms” and other psychedelics.

Innovative tourism business ideas:

2. Forest bathing and digital detoxing

Group hiking through the forest

Not everyone is looking for a transformational outcome from their vacation; many simply want to unwind and enjoy some quality “me time.” Wellness vacations have been a growing tourism business trend for some time, with demand accelerated by the pandemic. Tours that offer people the chance to pamper themselves and generally recalibrate are likely to be extremely popular for the foreseeable future.

Two specific innovative tourism business ideas that look likely to be especially popular in 2023 are “forest bathing” and “digital detoxing.” 

Forest bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, originated in Japan. It involves becoming immersed in nature to enhance physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It can be as simple as going for a long walk through a forest, or sitting by a lake and taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the natural surroundings. Research has shown that forest bathing can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and even boost the immune system and reduce blood pressure and heart rate. After the last few years we’ve all been through, it’s no wonder it’s proving popular with travelers.

In a similar vein, many people want to unplug and undertake a “digital detox” where you never need to ask for the Wi-Fi password because there is no Wi-Fi. They could be seeking respite from “doom scrolling” through social media and news feeds on their digital devices, or they just want a break from the glowing screens so prevalent in their day-to-day. Trips that encourage travelers to leave their devices at home will be popular, whether to wellness retreats that ban or discourage digital devices or an out-of-the-way destination that makes electronic communication extremely difficult.

Innovative tourism business ideas:

3. Off-grid and “survival” travel

Hikers high fiving each other

One way to both commune with nature and unplug from your digital life is to go where no signal can reach you.’s report found that 55 percent of travelers want to spend their vacations off-grid, resulting in an increase in tour operators offering trips to places where you can’t easily be reached. This could be a lodge in a remote part of a country or backcountry camping.

A related trend is the opposite of “glamping.” A growing number of travelers want to challenge themselves to survive in inhospitable conditions (you know… just in case), while learning new skills at the same time. In’s report, 58 percent of travelers want to learn survival skills on holiday—everything from fire lighting and food foraging to the more full-on prepping for societal breakdown. Zombie survival camp anyone?

Innovative tourism business ideas:

  • Off Grid Travel: Company offering a variety of off grid accommodation around Europe
  • Docastaway: Offers a desert island castaway experience
  • Black Tomato: Offers a “Get Lost service” for people who want to challenge themselves

4. Hush trips, workcations, and micro-cations

Man taking phone calls while in a pool

Shhh, don’t tell anyone (especially your co-workers and definitely not your boss), but “hush trips” are on the rise. A hush trip is a secret trip taken by an employee without their employer’s knowledge. It’s all linked to the huge rise in remote working. People who work in a different city and country from their employer can theoretically do their work from anywhere. However, a hush trip can be slightly different from a “workcation,” another popular trend in the age of remote working, when an employer’s permission is often sought. On a hush trip, no actual work might be done; the employee wants a real holiday to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and recharge, but they may not use their vacation days to take it. They complete their work and take a day or two off without anyone knowing (they hope,) perhaps logging in now and then for appearances’ sake. Or, they may travel somewhere and continue to work, while enjoying their downtime in a new place, again without telling anyone. 

Many hush trips are “micro-cations,” short trips often taken close to home, often at the last minute. The micro-cation trend has continued to grow for the last few years, as people look for quick, convenient, and often budget-friendly getaways that don’t require a lot of planning. 

When you combine the acceptance of remote working among many more employers with a large number of people who left the office behind and didn’t miss it for a second, you have an opportunity to create workcation and hush trip experiences for digital nomads and remote workers.  

Innovative tourism business ideas:

  • Selina: Opportunities for people to stay, travel, and work in interesting places around the world
  • Ethos Remote Habitat: Remote working retreats
  • Work from Hyatt: Packages for people who want to work from a Hyatt hotel

5. Traveling for “bleisure”

The travel industry does love a good old word mash-up to describe the latest trend. Hot on the heels of workcations, we have the related trend of “bleisure”—a name coined to describe the trend of business travelers tacking on some leisure time to the end of business trips. Where a workcation is often a longer trip designed around work, the growth of bleisure trips reflects the fact that as business travel bounces back, people still want as much vacation time as they can get. 

Although the economy could affect business travel in 2023 as companies cut costs, it’s worth keeping an eye on the business and conference market to target business travelers who want to carve out some vacation time to explore a destination on their own time.

6. Set-jetting

Hobbit house in New Zealand

If you’ve ever wanted to visit the set of your favorite movie or TV show, you’re not alone. A top travel trend for 2023 is “set-jetting,” when travelers visit destinations primarily because they were featured in a popular movie, TV show, or book. According to research, 39 percent of travelers have booked trips to places featured on shows or movies (Expedia). While people have long been drawn to iconic movie locations, perhaps the earliest example of mass set-jetting was New Zealand’s tourism industry getting a huge boost after the country played a leading role in the “Lord of The Rings” movies. Fans of the “Outlander” books and TV series have also been making pilgrimages to Scotland to see the country that provides the backdrop for their favorite show.

People don’t just want to visit the actual physical set and filming location, but also just the cities or countries featured in a particular production. Keep an eye out for popular shows where the location is as much the star of the show as the actors, such as “The Crown” (England,) “Emily in Paris” (Paris,) and “The White Lotus” (Sicily), as they could trigger a surge in demand for particular locations and experiences relating to the shows, such as a themed tour.

Innovative tourism business ideas:

7. Sustainable tourism and electric travel

“Ecotourism” has been on the rise for several years, and continues to be popular. According to’s Sustainable Travel Report 2022, 81 percent of global travelers say sustainable travel is important to them, and 50 percent are influenced by news reports on climate change when it comes to booking choices. 

So-called “ecotours” let tourists enjoy a vacation while also learning about environmental and sustainability issues in a particular location. Some enable people to do something tangible to help, such as volunteering to plant trees or help to restore habitats. Many travelers these days also seek out “small footprint” or socially-responsible travel. This may not be an eco-tour as such; it could just mean they favor tour companies that take steps to minimize the impact of their tours or incorporate a social responsibility element. 

Many travelers also want to stay in planet-friendly accommodations. According to’s report, 57 percent of travelers prefer accommodation with sustainable certification. Another related trend to watch is road trips or other travel using electric vehicles. Some car rental companies are adding electric cars to their fleets, and VW has even built an electric version of their classic camper van, the ID Buzz. Within cities, travelers might want to do tours on electric bikes and focus on other more sustainable modes of transport rather than the traditional taxi and car hire approach. In the not too distant future, electric air travel may even become the norm thanks to companies like Eviation that are developing electric planes.

Innovative tourism business ideas:

8. Indigenous experiences

Indigenous Touri

Countries around the world are making an increased effort to reverse past wrongs when it comes to treatment of Indigenous peoples, while also empowering Indigenous communities to take a lead in areas like travel and tourism. Canada is one nation going through a period of reconciliation as it faces up to and attempts to make amends for its colonial past. This has resulted in a huge growth in Indigenous-led travel companies, experiences, resorts, and accommodation options. 

Australia and New Zealand are also seeing a growth in opportunities for travelers to support and learn about Indigenous communities, histories, and cultures.

If you are an Indigenous entrepreneur, you may find great opportunities available with an increase in programs that support Indigenous tourism in these countries. For others, there may be opportunities for partnering with or supporting Indigenous-led businesses and organizations in your region.

Innovative tourism business ideas:

9. Budget-friendly travel

The economic upheaval we saw through 2022 looks set to continue through 2023. Inflation and cost of living rises mean while the desire to travel is still strong, many travelers will still have at least one eye on their budget. This could mean more interest from thrifty travelers in camping, self-catering, and all-inclusive holidays. Activities and vacations that involve renting rather than buying equipment could also be more popular. 

Innovative tourism business ideas:

Packlist: Camping gear rentals in Canada

Lazy Days: Camper van rentals in Ireland

Tampa Bay eBikes: eBike rentals on the Gulf Coast

10. Luxury cruises and upscale all-inclusive

Friends jumping off a boat into tropical waters

While there will be a lot of budget-conscious travelers in 2023, there are also plenty of opportunities in the luxury travel market, including two types of travel luxury travelers may previously have turned their noses up at—all-inclusive trips and cruises. The luxury cruise market, as well as the cruise market in general, is set to rebound in style. CN Traveller reported on “a new breed of luxury yachts from the world’s leading hotel brands,” including The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, which boasts the most sophisticated and expensive civilian ship ever built in Spain.” Cruise companies like Scenic and Emerald Cruises are expecting high demand for spots on their luxury ships. If you are on a luxury cruise route, catering your activities to a luxury-seeking clientele, with prices to match, might be worth considering.

Cruises tend to be all-inclusive as standard, but there is also a growth in upscale all-inclusive vacations in general. These experiences offer the best of everything—food, accommodation, and experiences, all for a set (and premium) price. Ikos Resorts will open a new five-star all-inclusive resort in Mallorca in June 2023.

Innovative tourism business ideas:

11. Train travel

Passenger train passing through field overlooking mountains

From the “Flying Scotsman” to the “Orient Express,” there are few more romantic ways to travel than by train. However, train travel is also increasingly overlapping with other trends in our list, as it becomes more popular as a way to travel more sustainably by reducing car and air travel, travel slower (unless we’re talking train travel in Japan) and for longer, and travel to more countries on the same trip.

Train travel can also offer scenic views, comfortable travel with spacious seats, sleeping accommodation for longer or overnight trips, and the opportunity to socialize with other travelers, and convenient access to city centres. Piggy-backing the trend toward more immersive travel experiences, train travel also lets travelers see more of a country while mixing with locals. Many countries and rail companies, especially in Europe, offer passes that let travelers visit multiple places in one trip without leaving the ground. If your tours and activities are near a popular rail route, look for ways to capitalize on the increase in train travel by catering to people who may want something to do for a day or two before they move on.

Innovative tourism business ideas:

  • Byway: Lets travelers build their own train vacation
  • Intrepid Travel: Offers a range of “Train it” itineraries
  • Glacier Express: Cultural and foodie train trips in Switzerland

12. Glamping

During the pandemic, with international travel off the menu for most people, RV rentals spiked dramatically. Road trips made it easier for tourists to physically distance from other travelers in a post-COVID world, and “glampervan” vacations became popular. Glamping is still on the rise in 2023; the glamping market is expected to reach US$4.1bn in 2028 (Stratview Research). Glamping lets people enjoy sleeping and living in the great outdoors, but with a step-up in comfort from traditional camping. Glampers can stay in everything from classic Airstream trailers to yurts and all manner of other non-tent accommodation.

Innovative tourism business ideas:

  • Woods on Pender: Stay in a classic Airstream trailer on an island.
  • Huttopia: Glamping getaways in Canada and the US 
  • Under Canvas: Upscale camping in Moab, the Grand Canyon, and other spectacular locations 

13. Go solo or go social

solo traveler in desert

While “travel bubbles” are no longer required for COVID-related reasons, group travel continues to rise in popularity. Hotels and tour companies increasingly cater to family groups or groups of friends who want to take a memorable trip together. For example, Atticus Hotel in Oregon’s Bunkhouse room for groups. It’s not just families making up for lost time with “reunion” or “celebration” travel. Tour operator Contiki noticed an upswing in demand for what they call “social travel” from groups of Gen Z-ers who want to get together on a trip to celebrate birthdays, graduations, and other milestones: “Gen Z want to make up for lost time spent together and get travelling.” Another type of social travel piggybacks the rise of “travel influencers” on social media platforms like Instagram. Some popular influencers are pivoting to provide the opportunity for their followers to literally follow them on a trip. People can go on a trip or do an activity with their favorite influencer and a group of fellow followers.

Of course, not everyone has a posse to travel with or wants to travel with others. Solo travel continues to be very popular and has moved from a niche to a mainstream market. A Skyscanner report found that 40 percent wanted to travel solo for mental health wellness reasons, while singles and divorcees ranked highly for being ready to take a solo trip. The report concludes: “There is no longer any stigma attached to taking a trip on your own, and many tour companies cater specifically to this market.”

Innovative tourism business ideas:

  • Flash Pack: Small group adventures for solo travelers in their 30s and 40s.

14. Flat pack hotels

In a move that reflects the growing interest in responsible and sustainable travel, hotel company Habitas have opened a number of flat-pack hotels around the world for “like-minded people seeking connection, inspiration and a better future together.”

15. Crypto trips

A number of tour operators and travel companies now offer travelers the ability to pay with cryptocurrency. Some examples include Borrow a Boat, Soneva Resorts and Get Your Guide

16. Dark tourism

There has been a rise in so-called “dark tourism,” when people travel to places or sites associated with disasters and darker historical events. Famous examples include Pearl Harbour, Alcatraz, and Hiroshima. If this is the first you’ve heard of this term, it can sound a bit ghoulish. However, travelers who explore these sites generally do so to pay their respects or learn more about important historical events that hopefully will never be repeated.

17. Sober travel

Sober travel has been around for a while, but it mostly catered to people in recovery. In 2023, sober travel is a subset of wellness travel. Travel companies like Travel Sober and Sober Outside have pivoted to target anyone who wants a sober vacation.

18. Virtual travel

Forbes Magazine thinks 2023 will be “the year that tourism in the metaverse takes off.” Travel companies can use VR to give potential customers a taste of the experience they can expect from a tour or location. VR can be accessible through web browsers or people can enjoy a much more immersive experience using VR headsets.

19. Nostalgic travel’s 2023 travel predictions found that 88 percent of travelers want to go on a “nostalgic getaway,” whether that’s theme parks we went to as kids, nostalgic movie locations, or other trips down memory lane. 

20. Sleep tourism

Everyone likes a good night’s sleep, especially on vacation, and the travel is waking up to the opportunities offered by a rise in “sleep tourism.” The Park Hyatt New York now offers a stay in their  One Bedroom Sleep Suite by Bryte, while Swedish bed brand Hastens opened a branded Sleep Spa. Good night, sleep well.  

How to take advantage of innovative tourism business ideas

Illustrations of ideas being locked away

The key to taking advantage of these innovative tourism business ideas and other tourism industry trends is to always be thinking of your next profitable business opportunity. Here are a few ways to keep on top of what’s new and interesting in the travel business:

Maintain an ideas file

Include those “out there” trends that seem absurd the first time you hear them. Think about some recent innovations that would have been dismissed with a laugh not that long ago: Self-driving cars, passenger space travel, drone deliveries… Even that Holy Grail of futuristic inventions, the personal jetpack, is getting closer to reality. All but the most outlandish trends are worth tracking in case there’s a germ of an idea for a new business opportunity in there.

Listen to your audience

Hang out in online travel discussion forums, on social media, and in other places where travelers gather to swap notes and ideas or express needs and dreams. You might uncover a new business idea no-one else has come across yet.

Follow your competitors

Monitor what your direct competitors and others in the tourism business are up to. Subscribe to every industry newsletter you can, including those of your competitors, to keep up with emerging trends and help with your business idea generation.

Solicit customer feedback

Be proactive in asking your customers for feedback. Don’t just ask them what they liked and didn’t like about their experience with your company; ask them if there’s anything they would like to do that they currently can’t. 

Invest in the right booking system

It goes without saying that every tour operator should offer online booking and take a mobile-first approach. Not doing both of those things makes taking advantage of the above trends very difficult. The customer experience starts the moment they enter your website. Online booking enables them to easily browse, book, and pay for tours anytime and from is anywhere. Learn more about how Rezgo booking software is tailor-made for adventure companies.


At Rezgo, we always have our ear to the ground when it comes to the latest tourism trends and business opportunities. The Rezgo booking system is a comprehensive platform that enables you to become a more profitable business. It can also help you future-proof your business so you can develop and grow as the tourism industry changes. Book a demo today or sign up for free and start using Rezgo

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