Travel trends 2023 The Sound of Silence
Annual awards are given to parks, trails, marine sanctuaries and urban spaces that offer extended periods of natural quiet, drawing on research showing how this helps reduce stress and anxiety, improves mental wellbeing, and encourages wildlife. It’s a movement that’s gaining momentum, with indigenous Cofans in Ecuador leading tours of the very first park to be awarded Quiet Park status, Zabalo River Wilderness Quiet Park, and US-based tour operator Recal redefining adventure travel for the mindful generation with deep-listening trips into the wilderness.
Closer to home, in Carmarthenshire, lockdown inspired Lisa Denison to start Quiet Walks as a blog, but she’s since launched it as a guided-walks company, taking small groups around off-the-beaten-track routes in the Welsh countryside. They’re aimed at introverts like herself, who may feel overwhelmed in larger groups; but quiet walking benefits all types of hiker. “It doesn’t mean my walks are not sociable – they really are – but they also allow for moments of quiet, even if it’s just to hear a moment of birdsong or experience nature fully,” she says.
Three years after “lockdown” became a word used outside the prison system for the first time, there’s not too much we miss about that period – but, well, it was blissfully quiet, wasn’t it? We could hear birdsong rather than traffic, the wind in the willows rather than planes overhead. With human-generated sound falling by up to eight decibels, it was the longest period of quiet in recorded history. Little wonder then, that with the return to normality and noise pollution, many of us are seeking respite: according to a recent survey by Booking.com, 40 per cent of respondents said they would consider a silent retreat in 2023. In the new year, Quiet Park status will be awarded to the American Prairie Reserve in Montana, Haleakala National Park in Hawaii and Namibrand Nature Reserve in Namibia, among others, while Quiet Trails will include the Kvarken Archipelago in Finland, and Urban Quiet Parks will be tested in Paris, Thessaloniki, Toronto and Brisbane. For many of us, 2023 will be a year for muting more than our Zoom calls. Rick Jordan.
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