Today, there are over one billion international tourist arrivals worldwide per year, forecast to rise to 1.5 billion per year by 2020. Growth will come primarily from developing economies with the increase in disposable incomes of their populations. Transport is an essential component of tourism by definition, providing connections between regions, domestically and internationally, and connecting attractions, accommodation and commercial services at destinations. Tourism is a crucial element in promoting national and regional economies, but it can put pressure on existing transport services and infrastructure. Cities and regions are faced with absorbing seasonal tourist flows while delivering adequate transport network performance.
The location, capacity, efficiency, and connectivity of transport can, therefore, play a significant role in how a destination develops. At the same time, the growing number of travelers creates numerous challenges in terms of transport infrastructure and capacity, border crossing, intermodality, information for travelers, and inter-operability of technologies with tourism service providers.
This growth will require close coordination between the different sectors involved in tourism activities. Making public transport more comfortable to use by tourists and encouraging them to walk or cycle more frequently can help to mitigate adverse environmental impacts and manage seasonal peaks. However, the ecological effects of long-distance transport remains a significant challenge.
The nature of tourism has been evolving lately, moving from merely recreation to “self-fulfillment.” This has an impact on the type of destinations sought and the activities engaged in, often involving more travel. Transport systems and services themselves can be at the heart of tourist activities. This includes sustainable tourism based around walking and cycling. In this context, Switzerland and Germany have become international references for promoting cycling and hiking. This rediscovered form of tourism is growing significantly and shifting tourism from traditional urban locations to natural sites. The promotion of this new form of tourism requires close collaboration between local and regional authorities to provide infrastructure, services, and information. Ensuring proper linkage (information and physical connections) with traditional transport services for intercity travel is fundamental to encouraging a sustainable and also a pleasant experience.
Travel management companies, especially in the business sector, are trying to bring forward the concept of a smart travel to reconcile sustainability and customer satisfaction. This concept includes, for example, trip avoidance through the promotion of video-conferencing solutions or reducing the stress of traveling when not strictly required. It also provides awareness and information provision of sustainable transport solutions in both ends for business travelers.