Source: eKapija | Sunday, 05.03.2023.| 20:46
Highlight an article Print out the news

Gen Z is changing tourism like never before – They love exotic experiences and private accommodations and consider internet more important than restrooms

Illustration (Photo: zeljkodan/
Some consider them lonely narcissists lacking work ethics who are addicted to technology, Internet and social networks, whereas to others, they are candid, compassionate and empathetic. The generational gap has been a well-known concept for a long time, but nowadays it seems as if it`s getting wider as the Gen Z - which according to some definitions refers to the young people born from 1997 to 2012 - are coming of age.

Whether you understand them or not, the fact of the matter is that members of this generation are changing the world and the workplace. And how are they changing tourism? Where do the they travel and what are they looking for in their chosen destinations? Is the price more important to them than comfort? What are the things they can`t overlook? How much do the young foreigners differ from their peers in Serbia?

A blueprint for a typical Gen Z member looks like this: they choose their travel destinations through social networks and specialized travel sites, they reserve accommodations and book their trips online, usually on their mobile phones, they prefer Airbnbs to hotels, they travel with low-cost airlines, prefer uncharted territories and want unique experiences.

National Tourism Organization of Serbia (TOS) has recognized the needs of these types of guest as well, and they believe that Gen Z present a new opportunity and are a future of our country.

– New and traditional. Exotic and moderate. Peace and adrenaline. All these contrasts come together to create the tourist offer in Serbia. Whether they want to experience a certain destination, enjoy the beauty of the cities, visit historical and cultural monuments, spas and Spa and Wellness programs or want a fast and active vacation where they can discover new areas, maybe even sleep under an open sky, watch the latest movies and stay up till dawn in music festivals, young Gen Z people are choosing Serbia, they recommend Serbia and they are our new opportunity and our future, the TOS says.

They choose travel destinations through social networks and book accommodations online
They choose travel destinations through social networks and book accommodations online (Photo: sebra/shutterstock)

Unfortunately, the Statistical Office of Republic of Serbia, which keeps track of the tourist turnover in Serbia, doesn`t have the data on the age groups of tourists that vacation in Serbia.

According to the surveys conducted by the TOS, out of the total number of foreign tourists that visited Serbia in July and August 2021, 33% are in the 18-29 age group, followed by tourists in the 30-39 age group (19%) and tourist in the 40-49 age group (18%).

– The great turnover in the 18-29 age group shows that our tourist offer is attractive to young people who are just starting to discover its beauty and are building up their travel experience. Foreign Gen Z tourists have mostly visited Belgrade, Novi Sad, Zlatibor and they opted for private accommodations, hostels and camps. The satisfaction with their stay in Serbia was over 95%, the TOS states.

Young foreigners go to festivals in Serbia

The Secretary of Tourism Association of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Tijana Maljkovic, thinks this is a very interesting tourist category. She reminds that this is a generation born in the digital age, and they do the so-called virtual tours through other peoples photos, social networks, profiles and Youtube videos and browse through comments of their online friends before choosing a destination.

– They usually choose destinations through recommendations and they always avoid commercial trips. Surveys done for mainly American and Western European markets show that the majority of Gen Z-ers always pick novel destinations, that are not as popular and by default, visit foreign countries more than going to local destinations. The majority choose last-minute offers, Tijana Maljkovic explains for eKapija.

Belgrade hotelkeepers don`t view young people as their target group
Belgrade hotelkeepers don`t view young people as their target group (Photo: fotorobs/

Tourists in the 18-25 age group are interested in visiting festivals in Serbia and usually arrive during Spring or Autumn, our collocutor notices.

In rural areas, eco-tourism and glamping, outdoors vacation and connection with the locals are more popular, Maljkovic notes.

And where are these types of guests staying? Abroad they prefer Airbnbs. The situation is similar in Serbia. Having in mind that young people prefer private accommodations than hotels, it becomes clear why they are not a target group for hotelkeepers in Belgrade and Serbia. But there`s a chance to change that if we take into consideration the survey of the European Travel Commission (ETC) which shows that these tourists take low-cost flights but prefer pricier hotels (4 and 5 stars).

– Destinations that have branded themselves as attractive to business guests, the so-called MICA destinations, will not consider Gen Z-ers as their target group. Belgrade has the largest number of business guests and that`s mostly why hotel managers haven`t targeted these guests. Gen Z generally prefers private lodgings because they are comfortable, fully furnished and spacious. Looking at the overall costs of travel, a larger percentage of money is spent on pricier accommodations and they almost always use low-cost airlines and cheaper transport, Maljkovic explains.

They can go without public restrooms but access to Internet is a must

After arriving and making themselves at home in a well-furnished lodging, what else do these guests expect from a certain holiday spot? The ETC survey indicates that young people expressed an interest in gastronomy while traveling – 75% list trying out local cuisine as the main activity on their travels. Among other activities listed are shopping, night life, city culture, museums and tradition.

– They don`t stay long in one place which is why those types of visitors are attracted by authentic and active tours and gastronomic experiences that also include preparing the food themselves with local produce and people because they value challenges and self-promotion in things none of their social network friends have tried before, our collocutor explains.

75% of Gen Z-ers list enjoying the local cuisine as their main holiday activity
75% of Gen Z-ers list enjoying the local cuisine as their main holiday activity (Photo: Aleksandra Kekić)

Gen Z is also known as being more environmentally conscious than previous generations, which is why the data from Telus International`s survey shows that up to 54% of Gen Z-ers are ready to pay extra for a service that complies with environmental principles.

– Most choose “eco friendly” accommodations and the local modes of transport. They love using bikes, scooters, they engage in cycling, hiking, walking everywhere and they regularly consume local dishes, explore local wines and famous regional chefs. They will spend more money on a better restaurant and almost always document their on-the-spot experiences in photos with comments about tastiness of the food and what it reminds them of. Gen Z-ers almost make no difference between a sustainable holiday and, say, alternative type of accommodations which can also be somewhere in the unexplored natural landscape without electricity or restrooms because experience is what matters to them. They are open to new things, creative in making souvenirs but must have a good Internet connection and direct contact with the locals through social networks in case they have any questions or doubts, Maljkovic says.

That is why our collocutor advises hoteliers to invest in good Internet connection, digital education of their employees and to offer a good-natured and homely relationship and personal contact to these guests because those details will sweep them off their feet.

Rural areas should have organized tours to local households and set up traditional dishes tasting events where guests can sample the local produce while preparing the dish with the host. Open communication, personal touch and round-the-clock services will receive the best comments and recommendations on social media. The importance of new generations is immense but they also bring new challenges and adaptive techniques for the entire industry. For decades now, including the era of Gen Z, the people have been he most important “flavour” of every trip and holiday destinations; their charm, character, smile, differences in culture, traditions, colours and hospitality are what makes them so exotic and popular, Tijana Maljkovic concludes.

Serbian youth loves Zlatibor and Kopaonik

What is the case with Serbian youth? Do they travel domestically? Which destinations are they visiting? According to the data collected in the TOS`s “Survey of attitudes and behaviours of domestic tourists that spent their vacations in Serbia in 2020”, 22% out of all travelers surveyed were in the 18-29 age group.

– The prime holiday destination for domestic tourists ages of 18 to 29 were Serbian mountains, followed by cities, spas and lakes. Out of all tourist destinations, Zlatibor, Kopaonik, Vrnjacka Banja, Sokobanja, Belgrade and Novi Sad recorded most visits. Main reasons for travel were “Natural attractions”, “Rest/relaxation”, “Cultural and historical heritage” and “Proximity of a tourist destination”. Arguably the largest number of tourists (77%) chose private accommodations, and over 97% were satisfied with their vacation, TOS states.

Zlatibor is one of the favourite tourist destinations
Zlatibor is one of the favourite tourist destinations (Photo: Aleksandra Kekić)

Based on the structure of social media followers and the increasing number of young influencers who picked the tourist offer of Serbia as a topic for their creative stories, TOS concluded that young people in Serbia were interested in getting to know their country. TOS states that this year it will continue its Experience Serbia! Campaign in addition to participating in 10 international fairs this as well as bringing over 100 international reporters, TV crews and influencers and 50 travel organizations to Serbia.

– We will continue our current campaign aimed at domestic tourists, and it will be as intensive as before. We will travel to over 20 tourist destinations together with domestic reporters and influencers. Following advertising trends, we will realize a great deal of our activities through online communication channels because over 70% of tourists get relevant information that way when deciding about visiting Serbia, but we certainly won`t neglect traditional marketing channels either, TOS says.

Greek islands are exotic destinations for Serbian tourists

When it comes to the choice of foreign tourist destinations, domestic young travelers are different from their peers abroad. While their peers like to discover exotic destinations, ideal holiday spots for young people in Serbia are Greek islands and European destinations, Filip Stojanovic, Project Manager at Balkan Fun tourist agency reveals for eKapija.

According to him, young people consider price a relevant factor when choosing where to travel because of the limited budget. Thanks to technological advancement, it is now easier to compare the offer of various tourist agencies, to compare prices and choose the offer with the best price-quality value.

– Young travelers from Serbia are definitely most attracted to European destinations. Exotic destinations outside Europe are a lot more expensive, and those trips constitute a negligible part of the market when it comes to Gen Z. Trips around Serbia also have a smaller share in the overall tourist offer aimed at young people, unless we`re talking about high-school excursions. Summer vacations are still the most sold among young travelers. I would single out Greek islands which have been the ideal vacation spots for young people in Serbia for years back, Stojanovic says.

Greek islands are a favorite destination for young people in Serbia
Greek islands are a favorite destination for young people in Serbia (Photo: Nikos Zacharoulis/unsplash)

Even though the same destinations are still as popular as before, travel plans change, our collocutor notices. In his opinion, the focus changed from resting and relaxing to new experiences. Conventional trips are no longer in, and travel agencies focused on the younger population have found it a challenge to constantly improve and respond to market demands.

– Considering we have a thirteen-year experience in youth tourism, we can testify to big changes in young people`s motivation for traveling. With the rise of social media, young people began wanting to experience and create even more interesting content, in order to meet the ever-increasing social demands of their surroundings. Things and experiences that are not interesting for social networks have stopped being interesting to the travelers themselves, Stojanovic says.

The traveler`s expectations and perceptions on the quality of lodging and content of a destination have also changed.

– Due to the rise of social networks, browsers and online platforms such as and TripAdvisor, young travelers have access more information and their expectations are in tune with that. I`m glad that tourists are now more aware and more educated regarding the choice of a travel destination because it also encourages travel agencies to constantly improve and closely follow market demands, Stojanovic concludes.

Marija Dedic
Only logged-in users can comment.
Follow the news, tenders, grants, legal regulations and reports on our portal.
Testiraj besplatno!
Register for our daily business bulletin, which is sent to your email address at the end of each work day.
Full information is available only to commercial users-subscribers and it is necessary to log in.
Test for free!
Testiraj besplatno!
Full information is available to commercial users-subscribers only.
Testiraj besplatno!

Log in to view complete information:
Forgot your password? Click here HERE
For free test use, click HERE