The Future of Tourism and how Games Will Influence How People Visit Cities

By C. Harrison J. Skinner and Christopher J. Skinner


Dr. Ian Yeoman (PhD Management Science, Edinburgh Napier University) hosted a quarter-hour Ted Talk titled “The Future of Tourism” in 2013. In the talk, Dr. Yeoman talks about global trends in reference to tourism and makes predictions based on statistical information from the United Nation World Tourism Organization.


Overall, Dr. Yeoman’s ideas of what the future of tourism will look like in the year 2050 seems credible; His sources are reliable and the trends that he has noted (especially the one about the increase in lifespan due to better healthcare leading to more older people than younger people) are very plausible in the future.

However, there are a few trends Dr. Yeoman states that I find harder to believe and some that are outright not true. For example, when Dr. Yeoman proclaimed that Google Glass would become massively popular have turned out to be completely false. Since its debut in 2013, Google has failed to reach mass market appeal that they were hoping their new “Smart Glasses” system would achieve. Some of Dr. Ian Yeoman’s predictions also seem implausible; his beliefs that hypersonic airplanes would replace conventional aircraft is hard to believe, considering that jet airplanes produce a disproportionate amount of carbon emissions compared to automobiles. I believe that bullet trains and larger transoceanic ships , instead of faster aircraft, are the future of the travel industry.

I also found Dr. Yeoman’s talk to be too large of a scale compared to what I am specifically focused on. My research is specifically on how video games can be a positive influence on the tourism industry.

Key takeaways

  • Tourism in the future will continue to exponentially grow
  • Tourism needs to be focused on older tourists (no bungee jumping!)
  • Europe and North America (as well as more developed countries) are where most tourists will come from
  • Tourists want something exotic and in short bursts.
  • Tourists of the future will want a combination of feel-good experiences, cultural foods, and environmental tourists
  • As wealth, resources, and technology develop, people are more likely to travel.
  • Tourists want cheaper and faster methods of traveling.

Action Items

  1. Find out the future of How tourists of the future will travel, the more we know about the method, the more we can specifically target them with games and ads.
  2. Figure out the proportion of older people (anyone over 30) to younger people. With that data we can budget specific games according to that population ratio.
  3. Also try to figure out more specifics of these future tourists: where will they come from? What language will they speak? What is their economic situation? Etc, these specifics will allow us to accurately advertise to people who would enjoy the gamification of tourism.
  4. Be able to find places the tourist of the future will want to go to. Places exotic, safe, fun; something for the tourist who wants a cuisine tour, a nature walk, or to just have fun.
  5. Gamify EVERYTHING : from the moment the potential tourist wants to even look for a place, to the moment they return. Make everything fun! Packing, planning, exploring, traveling, everything! Recurring players are acquired and maintained through user involvement and novelty.

The Future of Tourism: Ian Yeoman at TEDxGroningen

Dr. Ian Yeoman holds a BSc (Hons) in Catering Systems from Sheffield Hallam University PhD in Management Science from Edinburgh Napier University.

In Dr. Ian Yeoman’s fourteen minute talk, he talks about trends and predictions for tourism in 2050.

In 1950, 25 million people went on vacations internationally and wore formal apparel. Today, about 1 billion people go on international vacations and do not wear formal apparel. Dr. yeoman cites this trend as a result of society getting “richer, more wealthy, more abundant in resources and mobility.” Dr. Yeoman cites the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s predictions that in 2030 1.9 billion people will have traveled internationally and 4.3 billion in 2050.

Dr. Yeoman believes that tourism is a result of three factors: resources, technology, and wealth. These three factors are what fundamentally determine the rate of tourism. He goes on to cite that, statistically, Germans are the most frequent of any traveling group in Europe, followed by the Dutch; however, the Dutch more frequently leave work sooner to travel.

Dr. Yeoman also states that the tourist of the future is a combination of an eco-tourist, a hedonist-tourist, and a food-tourist. The average tourist’s desire to travel stems from their desire to sample something new and exotic. In New Zealand and South Africa in the early 1900’s, people who wanted to play cricket had to take five days off work. Today, people who want to play cricket only have to take an afternoon off because the shortened version of the game called Twenty-20 shortened the overall playtime of the game. Dr. Yeoman states that this shortening is due to people’s desires to sample more often and in shorter periods of time.

Another prediction of Dr. Yeoman is that in the future, there will be more older people than younger people. What this means for tourism is that certain activities, such a bungee jumping for example, will not be as popular in the future. Dr. Yeoman classifies “adventurous tourism” as tourist activities that have been statistically limited to the younger audience. The hotel industry will also suffer in the future, due to the labor supply of under 25-year-olds being lower than needed to support the hotel industry, healthcare, and retail. The abundance of older people are, according to Dr. Yeoman, due to the increase in lifespan made possible by modern society.

Another major change to tourism is that more and more people are bringing their mobile phones and cameras in order to share their experiences with others.

Yet another change to tourism is exactly how people will travel in the future. From hypersonic jets that can travel to opposite ends of the globe in three to four hours, to massive floating aircraft carriers that behave like a mix between airport and hotel.

Dr. Yeoman then tries to suggest that Google Glass will become a major factor in the future of tourism (Whoops!). In my opinion, I believe that he was trying to suggest how portable electronics and the internet combine to give a traveller extensive amounts of information before they have even moved or gotten lost.

Dr. Yeoman summarizes that the future is uncertain, the only things he believes to be certain are that the tourist of the future will demand more: complexity, cheaper prices, and sophistication. It’s up to tourism businesses to try and innovate and understand what the tourist of the future will want.

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