Covid beckoned a change in the tourism industry. Here are 3 countries implementing measures to decrease backpacking tourism in favour of high-net-worth individuals.
Urban dictionary describes backpacking as some form of subculture emergent from the roaring hippies of the 1960s. Modern day backpackers aren’t too different to those that ventured into the Bangkok Hippie trails with a bag of clothes and looking to spend as little as humanly possible to make their trip, in turn, as long as they could.
However, economically, backpackers aren’t exactly viable touristic income. With Covid serving a sort of reset for the travel industry, many countries have started implementing measures to discourage cheap travellers from entering their countries as easily as they once did. Here’s a list of some of the ones hoping to shy away from the cheap travellers looking to discover the world, one pot of noodle at a time.
Covid closed down New Zealand for much longer than it did other countries, but it finally opened its borders in August 2022. It did so with a renewed tourism plan, one that focused less on their camper-van visitors and more on exclusive high-net-worth individuals.
In Tourism Minister Stuart Nash’s own words, they are looking for tourists that, “are not the guys that jump in a camper van and…get around our country on $10 a day by eating dried noodles”.
The Cayman Islands
The Cayman Island’s aren’t often on a backpackers list the way countries like Australia or Costa Rica may be. It is in fact the antithesis of backpacking mentality; all inclusive resorts, guided tours and five-star hotels aren’t exactly a backpacker’s regular after all.
From 2020 onwards, the islands has offered a remote-working program, named Global Citizen Concierge Program (GCCP), for which you need to earn upwards of $100,000 per year to be eligible for. With an annual fee of $1,469, this programme offers digital nomads the option of calling the islands their home for a two-year period.
Thailand has always been a backpacker favourite, but the country is looking to change that. Hotels have been encouraged by the government to prevent offering large discounts to lure tourists, and a similar digital nomad scheme to the Cayman Island’s is being implemented. This time offered for those earning upwards of $80,000, the 10-year work-from-Thailand visa looks to encourage a different kind of travel into the country.
There’s also Thailand’s two pricing system, which is looking to impose different hospitality prices to tourists and locals as well as talks of implementing a so-called entry fee.