On January 20th, WLO Chief Operating Officer (COO) Dr. Cristina Ortega Nuere delivered a presentation at the UNWTO Affiliate Members Corner at FITUR 2023, the International Tourism Trade Fair in Madrid, Spain. This year’s Affiliate Members Corner focused on “Trends Taking Shape in the Travel Industry in 2023” and, on this occasion, WLO COO gave a talk about “The concept of ‘Bleisure’”.

For digital nomads, combining work, travel and leisure appears to be more popular than ever. Through their “new style of travel” they promote “bleisure”, a concept that implies enjoying leisure time as tourist while taking advantage of business opportunities and destinations.

At WLO, we recognize that this trend represents a game changer for the tourism and leisure industries and specially for tourist destinations. Therefore, it has been something carefully studied through the latest research in the field. You will find some of the latest articles published at WL Journal with free access at the Publications section of this issue.

Even for some academics, this phenomenon has become an industry itself, and no longer an alternative within the tourism industry (Richards, 2015). The growth of the digital economy has made it possible for workers to perform work-related tasks remotely. This has been amply demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic when millions have spent considerable periods working from home, although “digital nomadism” is not a recent term as it was firstly mentioned back in 1997 by Makimoto and Manners. Nevertheless, it was not until 2006, according to Šímová’s research from 2022, when “digital nomads” was first mentioned in a publication indexed in Web of Science.

At the same time, “bleisure”, a combination of business and leisure, has become even more popular due to the blurring of boundaries, not only when referring to the appearance of new ways of travelling, such as sustainable, slow, or creative tourism, but also in geographical and administrative terms, as for instance with the issuance of new visas for this kind of travelers.

Thus, it could be assumed that the concept of “digital nomadism” has been constantly evolving alongside the concept of “bleisure” and other related phenomena from the past decades, such as digitization, wellness lifestyle, social media, or the appearance of innovative and creative work fields, to name a few.

Since the beginning of this practice, digital nomads have been exploiting the phenomenon of “bleisure” to the full, working remotely on a full-time, on-going basis, using the freedom this offers to move their residential location to optimize lifestyle, leisure, and travel and touristic goals, both domestically and internationally. According to Ehn et al. (2022), leisure opportunities, climate, cultural diversity, and cost of living are the aspects that mostly determine the choice of destination by digital nomads, in addition to those professional conditions which lead them to maintain a balance between their psychological needs and productivity. Therefore, the “bleisure” conditions that a destination could offer should consider all these aspects.

Through her presentation, Dr. Ortega Nuere introduced some of the latest findings which represent a new line to be deeper developed within the tourism industry, practitioners, and policymakers, for facing the future trends and challenges.

This UNWTO Affiliate Member Corner at FITUR 2023 also included presentations from Tripadvisor’s Global Director of Industry Affairs, Fabrizio Orlando; the Secretary of Tourism from Quintana Roo, Bernardo Cueto Riestra; JTB Corp Senior Advisor to CEO, Jack Kumada; Head of Global PR of Croatian National Tourism Board, Lucijana Natalija Jerković; ICF Consulting Aviation Managing Director, Jared Harckham; Allianz Partners Product Management and Innovation, Andrés Sánchez-Cid; GIATA Vice President, Rainer Schafer; Professor and Researcher from Universidad de Nebrija, Francisco J. Navarro Meneses; and Marketing Director of Turisme de Barcelona, Alexandra Marcó.

The materials used for presentations will be soon uploaded to UNWTO’s website, but you could already check out UNWTO’s news from FITUR 2023 by clicking here. We thank the UNWTO Affiliate Members program for the opportunity to participate and extend our congratulations for such a space.