European millennials expect an immersion in local life while travelling

Youth travel has grown rapidly in recent decades as living standards in developing countries have risen.

A recent analysis on a sample of 600 individuals carried out by the Spirit Youth project financed under the EU Programme COSME 2014-2020 reveals that, on one hand, millennials’ travels tend to last a duration of 2-weeks. On the other hand, they last quite a long duration – 1-2 months, which allows a deep contact with local people and an immersion in their everyday life.

The results show that millennials are interested in unexpected backpack trips concerning intercultural exchange, active immersion, engagement with the local sport practices and leisure activities, and contact with the natural environment.

They definitely choose low cost transport services and sharing facilities – accommodation at the local’s, youth hostels.

Concerning the activities related to spirituality, that is the focus of the project, millennials mainly prefer to undertake the following:

  • Connect with nature: 73.30%
  • Visit sacred places: 56.25%
  • Visit memorial places: 52.20%
  • Visit a religious edifice (Church, Monastery, Temple, Mosque…): 46%
  • Attend interdialogue programs: 37.70%
  • Participate in retreats (yoga, detox, healthy food…): 36.15%
  • Pilgrimage to a sacred place: 19%
  • Attend religious services: 14%
  • Participate in an organized tour related with religious activities: 9.50%

Favourite destinations or activities that they consider spiritual are:

  • The Way of St James (Santiago de Compostela, Spain)
  • Yoga, hiking, sports
  • Jerusalem, Mecca
  • France (Mont St Michel, Lourdes)
  • Italy (Vatican, Rome…)
  • South Asia (India, Thailand, Tibet…)
  • Portugal (Fatima)
  • Spain (Barcelona, Montserrat, Catalonia)
  • Nature (mountains, deserts, forests…)
  • Medjugorje (Bosnia and Erzegovina)
  • Turkey (Istanbul)
  • Latin America (Peru)
  • British islands (Stonehenge)
  • Poland (Krakow)
  • Greece (Meteora)

They equally prefer going on a trip alone (31%), with friends (30.40%) or with their partner (30%), but not with their family (only 9%).


The Spirit Youth Project 

The project aim is to offer a transnational spiritual tourism product, which will attract mainly but not only the youth tourism market. The product consists on an itinerary which crosses several European countries. The leitmotiv of these countries is the common theme of spirituality, understood in a global sense. The memory sites proposed in the itinerary include both natural resources and landscapes, and cultural and heritage sites which fit into the spirituality concept already described (retirement, creative tourism activities, personal development courses…). The specificity of this offer is that it must be available during the medium and low season.

The project is run through a partnership of diverse European organisations. The complete list can be found below:

Author: Francesco Redi
President and founder at Twissen. Manager in Local Development, Tourism Policies,  EU Funds. He cooperates with several European universities, public bodies, development agencies, DMOs and enterprises.

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