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Solo Travel Increasingly Popular According to Tour Operators
Solo travel has experienced a remarkable resurgence, with numerous tour operators reporting a significant demand increase over the past year. Bookings for individual travel in 2023 have not only met but surpassed expectations, exceeding the levels seen in 2019 thus far, according to Travel Weekly.
EF Go Ahead Tours, a prominent operator in the industry, has witnessed an astounding 200% increase in bookings from solo travelers since the beginning of the year compared to the same period last year. What’s particularly striking is the early commitment of these travelers. As early as June 2022, solo travel bookings for the current year had already surged by an impressive 120% compared to the equivalent period in 2018 for travel in 2019.
“Solo travel within a group is one of the fastest-growing travel styles right now,” said Heidi Durflinger, president of EF Go Ahead Tours.
Intrepid Travel, a well-known tour operator, has experienced a significant rise in the number of solo travelers booking their trips. In North America alone, there has been a remarkable growth of 2,300 solo bookings compared to the previous year. The company’s global figures are even more impressive, with approximately 9,000 more solo travelers opting for Intrepid’s services.
“It is interesting to observe the trend in solo travelers from North America gravitating toward more far-flung destinations such as Southeast Asia, Central America, Turkey, India, and Nepal and a skew to more adventurous, overland Central America and Africa trips,” said Matt Berna, president and managing director of Intrepid Travel, the Americas, who added that around 65% of the company’s 15-day Everest Base Camp Trek consists of solo travelers.
Women Travelers Are at the Top of Solo Travel
Tour operators say women play a significant role in driving this trend. Steve Born, Chief Marketing Officer for the Globus family of brands, noted, “We’ve seen real growth in solo travelers, primarily driven by single women, whether they’re married or not.”
The statistics support this observation. In North America, women make up about 75% of Intrepid’s solo travelers, with 64% being over 40. EF Go Ahead Tours also reports that the number of women on their solo tours is 27% higher than on non-solo tours, and these trips are trendy among women over 50. Even Toni Tours of Levittown, New York, has witnessed a growth in the number of women booking travel for themselves.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the surge in solo travel among women. Toni Lanotte-Day, owner of Toni Tours, shared, “Solo travel trip requests for me have increased by about 25% since COVID. Primarily, they’re single women who used to look to travel with a roommate but now prefer their personal space. I also have some who are married, whose husbands don’t want to do long-distance travel anymore.”
Traveling Solo Can Cost Less
Traditionally, solo trips have come with a higher price tag, as single travelers often have to bear the costs of accommodations typically priced for two people. This is due to the levying of single supplement rates to compensate for the shortfall when a guest travels alone.
“When two people share, the cost of the room is split. When it is a single traveler, they need to foot the bill by themselves,” explained Lanotte-Day, a travel industry expert. “Cruise lines prefer to have two people in the room because that also doubles the onboard spend.”
However, the travel industry is witnessing a shift in favor of solo travelers, with more suppliers making solo trips more accessible and affordable. Many are offering promotional deals and incentives targeted explicitly at budget-conscious solo travelers. Some suppliers are adding more solo-only trips to their portfolios, eliminating single supplements.
Globus also encourages solo cruisers to consider Avalon Waterways by waiving single supplements on all Avalon cruises. This move aims to entice solo travelers to embark on their dream cruise without the burden of additional costs.
Riviera River Cruises has gone further by offering a range of solo-only river cruises that eliminate the single supplement. This means that solo travelers can now enjoy top-category suites or staterooms without the added cost of a single supplement. It opens up more luxurious options for solo travelers while keeping their budgets in check.