As leisure travel continues to recover and countries lift their travel bans and COVID-19 restrictions one by one, many tourist destinations are eagerly awaiting new visitors. No matter how luxurious or sought after the destination, it seems every locale is eager to find new ways to attract business.
In 2022, however, there is something new in the air that has begun to inspire a new wave of tourism. One of the latest trending motivators in destination travel is, putting it bluntly, weed.
In 2020, a report found that almost 30% of vacationing adults worldwide were looking for something involving cannabis on their holiday. This report found that 18 percent of Americans feel this way as well. The numbers in the report found these percentages went up even higher in the younger millennial demographic, which is a group that often favors leisure travel.
While many facets of the travel industry struggled to tread water throughout the pandemic, recreational marijuana sales continued to grow, and more areas of the world legalized recreational marijuana.
By the end of 2020, Arizona, New Jersey and South Dakota all legalized recreational cannabis use, with Connecticut, New Mexico, New York and Virginia passing initiatives one year later, according to U.S. News. That makes a total of 18 states, Washington D.C. and Guam that have an added draw for potential tourism.
Even states with established tourism are continuing to ramp up their efforts in order to stay at the top of the heap. California has been a leader in marijuana tourism since its inception, and continues to reinvent itself to maintain its status as a pot paradise.
Take West Hollywood, for example, where there are potential plans to bring an Amsterdam-like vibe to this posh LA neighborhood. “Pot cafes, restaurants, lounges and even galleries may have a ‘WeHo’ home with the potential to draw millions of tourists and their money,” according to CBS Los Angeles.
Weed tourism has proven to be so lucrative that some businesses are already establishing roots in some states that have not even legalized recreational marijuana yet. “In Florida, which currently only allows medical marijuana use, the cannabis company Trulieve has already opened dispensaries two to three times the typical size near ‘key tourist attractions,’” according to The New York Times.
Closed borders and travel bans did not stop marijuana legalization from occurring elsewhere in the globe as well. Recently, the island of Malta became the first European country to legalize recreational weed.
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America’s closest neighbor to the South, Mexico, is already one of the most popular international leisure destinations for Americans. With recreational marijuana legalization on the horizon it looks like it may get even more popular, especially among cannabis enthusiasts.
“Mexico is one country on the road to legalization, where cannabis-centric spas or yoga centers could be potential tourist attractions,” wrote Forbes.
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Whether it’s a new market, or an old one continuing to push its limits with recreational marijuana, weed tourism does not plan to slow down any time soon. With more states and countries pushing for legalization in the coming years, there will likely be further growth and competition within this blossoming market. What was once a quaint concept found only in places like remote Dutch cafes is now a global enterprise. So buckle up, and enjoy the ride.