Biophilia: The New Travel Trend and Why It Matters

by Alice

Biophilia, the innate human tendency to seek connections with nature, is becoming a prominent travel trend. This shift is not surprising, given the numerous health benefits associated with spending time outdoors, such as lowering blood pressure, boosting immune system function, and reducing stress hormone levels.

Since 2021, Tripadvisor pageviews have increasingly focused on a country’s popular natural and cultural attractions, according to the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Development Index 2024 (TDDI). This trend underscores the importance of nature as a driver of tourism, which is crucial for many economies but requires sustainable practices to minimize environmental impact.


Nature tourism, a key aspect of biophilia, generates over $600 billion in global revenue. Wildlife tourism alone supports 22 million jobs and contributes $142 million in entrance fees for protected areas in Africa. Furthermore, $44 trillion of economic value, more than half of the world’s GDP, is dependent on nature.


The economic impact of tourism is particularly significant in less-developed nations, where it accounts for approximately 8.5% of Africa’s GDP. The connection between nature, tourism, and the economy is expected to strengthen as travel demand grows, especially post-COVID-19. In 2023, travel and tourism represented 9.1% of global GDP, totaling $9.9 trillion, and is projected to reach $11.1 trillion in 2024.


However, the growth of the tourism industry must not come at the expense of natural environments. The sector’s rapid expansion could increase its environmental footprint, with travel and tourism currently using 5.8% of water and up to 8% of material extraction worldwide. To protect biophilic spaces, swift and effective measures are necessary to mitigate the impact of travel on local resources.

Progress is being made. Since 2019, the average Environmental Sustainability pillar scores in the TTDI have increased by 2.7%, with Energy Sustainability rising by 4.6% due to the adoption of low-carbon energy options like solar power. Despite these advances, the Pollution and Environmental Conditions subpillar has only improved by 0.5%, indicating slow progress in reducing air pollution, deforestation, and protecting endangered species. Nearly 7 million people die annually from pollution, and over 44,000 species are threatened with extinction.

Collaboration is crucial to balancing tourism growth with environmental preservation. The Forum’s Nature Action Agenda exemplifies this multi-sector effort, aiming to halt biodiversity loss by 2030 and enable humans to live in harmony with nature by 2050, in alignment with the Global Biodiversity Framework.

Embracing biophilia in tourism not only enhances personal well-being but also promotes sustainable economic growth, highlighting the need for concerted efforts to protect and cherish our natural world.



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