The last decade has seen a veritable push for bicycle as a mode of transport not just for the locals, but also for tourists to various parts of the world, notably the developed world like European Union, United States and Canada. However, this sector has a huge potential for growth elsewhere as well with rising consumer awareness about sustainability and fitness, that are integral to bicycling.
According to a report by market research and analysis firm Future Market Insights, proactive policies by various governments to help promote bicycle tourism will also play an important role in driving the growth of this sector, which is set to register a Compounded Annual Growth Rate of 14 pc in the next 10 years, rising to USD 1.29 billion by 2032.
The report says that a tremendous amount of increase has been noted in the number of cyclist since the pandemic. People are getting health conscious and are finding ways like cycling to satisfy their desire of fun and adventure with added benefits of improving their health.
It adds that the concept of sustainability has given rise to an emerging trend of cycling as a result of tourists’ growing environmental and ecological awareness. This has set a concrete foundation for bicycle tourism and will also help in reduction of carbon footprint, environmental change and prevent the loss of biodiversity, says FMI in the report.
It says that keeping in mind the changing market dynamics, the bicycle manufacturers keep upgrading their bicycle designs at every point to attract more people towards bicycles. The new age bicycles are available in trendy and user friendly designs which has increased the scope of bicycle market to a great extent.
It adds that the growing trend of bicycle tourism has given rise to the electronic bike market. There are a lot of bicycle tourists who have health and physical constraints. These travellers are majorly attracted by the concept of e-bikes. These cycles have enhanced technology which uses electric energy to power the cycles by virtue of which, the bikers don’t get tired and can enjoy their adventure and fun at its complete capacity. These bicycles also come with hybrid designs which allows the users to use the electric motor at their wish. This gives the rider an option of whether he wants to ride the bicycle in its traditional fashion or conserve his energy at challenging tracks and which doesn’t reduce the fun of cycling for the tourist, says FMI.
There are various services available for the development of cycle tourism. Bicycle tour operators have designed various trails for tourists. These trails are combined with several activities to make packages that gain attraction of the bicycle tourists. Bicycle renting is one of such service which aids people enjoy biking tours with family or friends without the need of actually owning a bicycle. These also helps large groups to experience the fun and adventure of bicycle tourism without any constraints as such.
According to FMI, the bicycle tourism industry in the US is likely to expand dramatically, with a CAGR of 14.7 pc during the forecast period. The ongoing bicycle shortage is one of the biggest signs that bicycle tourism is on the rise. In all major nations, supply has been considerably outpaced by demand. Even though supply chain problems have hit numerous industries, the bicycle sector is particularly afflicted. Bicycle demand for both fitness and recreation is what drives the bicycle tourism market in the United States.
As a result, manufacturers are being forced to introduce items under the same category in order to popularize two-wheel mobility in the nation and boost the demand for bicycle tourism. Cities with significant riding populations in the east, such as Chicago, Minneapolis, and New York City, demonstrate that other variables besides weather and temperature affect the adoption of bicycles.
Governments promote bicycle tourism
FMI says that the top three countries for bicycle tourism are Germany, the UK, and the Netherlands. Other markets, nevertheless, are expanding quickly as well. According to Jess Freire of the European Cyclists Federation, cycling increased double in Hungary during the pandemic. It adds that European governments are increasing their investments in bicycle lanes, car-free city centers, better bike storage facilities, and more safety. As it is quicker, simpler, and healthier to bike to work and school in Europe, weekend biking is on the rise. Moreover, compared to other regions, Europeans travel independently more frequently. The majority of Europeans plan their own bike vacations, says FMI.
The highest growth increases have been in the UK with a large 60 pc and in Ireland, France, and Sweden at 30 pc each. According to the European Parliament, 2.3 billion bicycle excursions are taken each year in the EU area.
By supporting several initiatives around the continent, the EU has been actively promoting bicycle tourism. Two long-distance bicycle routes that were co-financed in 2011 are the Pilgrims Route – EuroVelo 3 and the Iron Curtain Trail – EuroVelo 13.
FMI says that the Japanese government has also taken several steps to promote bicycle tourism. It highlights that customers who have reserved the fall 2022 and spring 2023 tours have the opportunity to choose a tour option that works best for their schedules, or to transfer deposits to a future tour due to the unpredictable nature of Japan’s borders during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It adds that the Bicycle Use Promotion Plan was unveiled by the government in June 2018 as part of a campaign to cut carbon dioxide emissions. Promotion of bicycle tourism is one of the provisions, and local governments have made a big effort to accomplish this. In May 2020, the government started pushing a ‘new lifestyle’, and cycling was marketed as a method to avoid Tokyo’s infamously crowded trains. A poll of 500 businesses conducted in June 2020 revealed that 23 pc had begun riding to work since the virus spread to avoid crowds.
However, FMI says that Europe is the capital of bicycle tourism as most of the events take place in the region. According to a recent study, it is seen that about one fourth of the bike trips made globally are done by Dutch cyclists. Cycling has been a part of the Dutch lifestyle for a long time now, making Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom, France and Denmark the top regions among European countries for the bicycle tourism. The EU has been promoting bicycle tourism more and more, especially by co-financing numerous initiatives around the continent. The Pilgrims Route – EuroVelo 3 and the Iron Curtain Trail – EuroVelo 13 are two long-distance cycling routes that were co-financed in 2011 as an illustration.
Potential for growth in South Asia
FMI says that away from the developed country markets, there is a lot of potential in the developing world, highlighting two South Asian countries, Sri Lanka and India. It says that even though it may have started off during the fuel crisis and the pandemic, Sri Lanka has its population shift towards more sustainable way of transport, adding that people in the country have started using cycles for their day to day travel, providing an excellent opportunity for the growth of bicycle tourism in Sri Lanka as more and more people are getting inclined towards cycles as their primary mode of transport.
FMI says that India has incredible diversity in its culture and landscape throughout the country. There are various trails that connect tourist destinations with scenic views. Bicycle tourism is growing at a great pace post pandemic and people are interested in exploring places in this new fashion. Many of the tour providers have started adding bicycle tourism in their tours offered. They are also providing packages to fulfil the tourist’s desire of nirvana by addition of activities like yoga and meditation in the packaged deals. This has attracted a large number of tourists and is expected to keep growing in the coming years.
FMI estimates that the average age of cyclist is approximately 50 years globally. The age group of 46- 55 years contributes the major percent of Bicycle tourists. This is because people of this age group are mostly inclined towards adopting a healthy lifestyle with less time available to them due to their busy schedule.