News 11.03.2024

Need to Know

Saudi Arabia launches luxury train travel, Under Canvas campsites get world-first DarkSky-Certification and Gen Z embrace freelance roles in response to AI

Saudi Arabia launches luxury train travel

Dream of the Desert by Arsenale Group and Saudi Arabia Railways, Saudi Arabia

Middle East – A new luxury cruise train is coming to Saudi Arabia. The Dream of the Desert train will take passengers on a scenic journey through deserts and UNESCO World Heritage archaeological sites, over a distance of 1,239km.

State-owned railway company Saudi Arabia Railways (SAR) has hired Italian hospitality company Arsenale Group to launch the train, with construction now under way in Italy. The 40-cabin luxury train will depart from Riyadh before travelling through the Al Qassim province, the city of Ha’il, and the King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve in Al Jouf, finally reaching its destination of Al Qurayyat, on the Jordanian border. Passengers will be able to book a one- or two-night trip, with the first departure scheduled for November 2025.

Saudi Arabia is quickly emerging as a highly influential hub for luxury living. In The Future Laboratory’s New Codes of Luxury in Saudi Arabia report, we explored how the Kingdom’s cherished heritage sites provide a unique opportunity to craft new cultural legacies through hospitality ventures such as luxury train journeys.

Strategic opportunity

This elevated approach to train travel introduces a new space for luxury brands to enter in The Middle East. Consider collaborating with train operators to launch branded cabins or bespoke fine dining experiences on board

Under Canvas campsites become the world’s first DarkSky-Certified resorts

Under Canvas, US Under Canvas, US
Under Canvas, US Under Canvas, US

US – Premium outdoor resort brand Under Canvas is pioneering astrotourism, as the company’s Grand Circle campsites become the first in the country to collectively receive DarkSky certifications from the non-profit DarkSky International.

After Under Canvas’ Lake Powell – Grand Staircase resort first received a DarkSky certification in 2023, all five Grand Circle campsites across Utah and Arizona are now recognised for their commitment to reducing light pollution and preserving and appreciating the natural beauty of the night sky.

Guests at Under Canvas resorts can enjoy astronomy walks, full-moon hikes, star-watching meditation and moon water rituals. Guests can also use on-site telescopes for star-gazing or enjoy the night sky from the comfort of their glamping tents, through the viewing window strategically placed directly above each bed. The five Grand Circle resorts offer ‘the preeminent road trip itinerary for astrotourism’, says the brand.

As the travel and hospitality industry searches for new ways for consumers to simultaneously explore and protect the planet, we’ll be tracking the latest launches, campaigns and certifications in our Sustainability topic.

Strategic opportunity

In an increasingly urbanising world, focus on ways in which customers can experience disconnection and unfiltered experiences in nature

French eco-tourism firm to launch one-of-a-kind Arctic expeditions

Airlander by Hybrid Air Vehicles, UK Airlander by Hybrid Air Vehicles, UK

Global – Grands Espaces, a renowned French eco-tourism company founded by Arctic expert Christian Kempf, has announced plans to utilise British-made Airlander 10 airships for Arctic voyages, starting in 2028. In a partnership with Hybrid Air Vehicles, it aims to redefine exploration with a focus on sustainability, using the Airlander 10’s unique capabilities for silent and eco-friendly aerial exploration.

The Airlander 10, touted as the world’s most efficient large aircraft, offers the ability to take off from and land on various surfaces, including water and ice, expanding access to remote regions with minimal environmental impact. Grands Espaces customers can expect exclusive journeys to breathtaking natural wonders that promise immersive experiences while prioritising low-impact travel and community engagement.

With production due to begin this year, Grands Espaces anticipates offering Airlander 10 expeditions to customers seeking unparalleled adventures from 2028 onwards. This collaboration represents a significant opportunity in the Polar Travel Market, blending cutting-edge technology with eco-conscious travel ideals.

Strategic opportunity

Travellers are keen to embark on Arctic exploration holidays, but it is essential that businesses ensure they are respectful of this fragile environment. Collaborate with businesses such as hotels, spas or restaurants in the region that are also prioritising sustainability

Stat: Gen Z embrace freelance roles in response to AI and job insecurity

Photography by Anastasia Shuraeva Photography by Anastasia Shuraeva

Global – A survey by Fiverr, the freelancing jobs platform, reveals that Gen Z in Germany, France, the UK and the US are turning away from traditional nine-to-five jobs due to the uncertainties posed by AI and the fear of layoffs. Some 18% of Gen Z respondents think being a freelancer makes them less likely to be replaced by AI, and thus immune to AI displacement. Gali Arnon, Fiverr’s chief business officer, said in a statement: ‘The youngest members of today’s workforce, Gen Z, have faced nothing but hurdles – a global pandemic and unprecedented development in technology.’

The study, conducted with 10,000 participants aged 16–26, reveals a significant shift, as 70% of respondents across the four countries are either freelancing or plan to do so. In the UK, 69% of Gen Z are choosing self-employment to navigate the rising cost of living.

Financial autonomy is emerging as a driving force, with 44% globally prioritising financial comfort through freelance work and self-employment. The survey also highlights a trend of questioning the value of university degrees, as only 35% of UK respondents believe these are essential for success.

In Work States Futures, we highlighted how Gen Z’s perspective on wellbeing at work and their volatility from job to job will define the future of workplaces and talent retention.

Strategic opportunity

Tailoring work structures to accommodate Gen Z’s preference for autonomy can attract and retain top talent. Could you implement more flexible employment models, such as remote working and freelance-based arrangements?

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