Move over backpacker; here comes the flashpacker!

The latest trend in travelling as recognized during the latest ITB Berlin is Eco and Economy Travel. Everybody who’s anybody in the world of the travel industry meets at ITB Berlin, the world’s leading travel show, which was held last March. The starring role in the rising Eco and Economy market is the flashpacker.

The what……??

Yes, you heard it right. The flashpacker. I give you a new breed of traveller; the flashpacker is fresh out of university, end twenties to mid/end thirties with an ambitious travel bug comparable with that of a backpacker. Treasured family times at the Holiday Inn are not yet cute for the flashpacker; he or she still desires a, dare I say, adventurous holiday where a lack of luxury and comfort are not an issue.

The flashpacker holds down a steady job and has got a bit of cash to throw around. What they don’t have on the other hand is time. Their careers are on the roll and need 60-hours-per-workweek-neutering and dedication, and they sure as hell can’t afford to take a sabbatical if they ever want to be somebody in their line of work. Well, not for the coming 10 years anyway.

Backpacker versus flashpacker

The difference between the two are quite obvious. The backpacker we’re all too familiar with is usually stretched for money, with lots of time on their hands and somewhat wet behind the ears when they set foot on foreign soil. They are fresh out of high school, 18 to 23 years old and quite successful at postponing the inevitable grown-up-life back at home for quite some time. That is to say, until the working holiday visa runs out, the overdraft has become painfully overdrawn and they are forced to make ‘THE CALL’ home for funds. The funds usually come in a supersaver-combo-deal: Money in exchange for a swift return to The Motherland. That usually snaps them out of the backpacker-mode and into moving-on-to-university-mode. Behold the natural cycle of the backpacker. Everybody wins.

Green and clean

Now, is backpacking mostly about partying, fruit picking, hitch-hiking or the Kiwi Experience Bus, sightseeing the NZ top 10 in a whirlwind fashion whilst surviving another day on $5, the grown up flashpacker has outgrown all this. Eco tourism and cultural refinement are key for the environment-minded flashpacker. The Kiwi Experience Bus is a no-no as goes for hitch-hiking. The flashpacker only does Eco, whether this is on a campground in the sticks of in a 5 star hotel downtown. They often rent a vehicle, preferably a small van or larger SUV, as long as it is capable of sleeping two adults.

As a result of this rapidly emerging trend, the ‘green and clean’ market in New Zealand alone is expected to grow with another 70% until 2020, with the biggest group of flashpackers for New Zealand and Australia expected to come from India and China.

Now, call me silly, but can anybody tell me how we are going to accommodate this immense tourism grow spurt whilst remaining truly ‘green and clean’?

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