The $17 billion cannabis tourism industry will only continue to grow
Just as there is a whole tourist niche for oenophiles who are keen to discover the main wine regions, learn about their process and taste their products, it seems that the industry is witnessing the rise of a similar special interest segment that caters to cannabis consumers. .
Over the past two decades, attitudes towards marijuana have shifted, with the herb gaining legitimacy in the public eye as a prescribed treatment for various medical conditions (it’s hard to demonize the substance that 70-year-old grandmothers smoke daily ).
From there, the responsible recreational use of cannabis by adults became less and less stigmatized, while state governments began to realize they were sitting on an untapped resource in terms of tax revenue.
Although still technically illegal at the federal level, some US states are increasingly decriminalizing the sale and use of the herb, with medical marijuana now legal in more than 35 states, and 18 states have also legalized marijuana. recreational marijuana and regularly reap the rewards. It even seems that several other states could do the same by the end of the year.
With legalities and regulations varying widely from state to state, sometimes even city to city, it makes sense that Americans would be willing to travel for cannabis-based experiences. A niche tourism market was bound to emerge, and it is already becoming too big to be ignored by the wider travel and hospitality industry for long. Forbes reported that cannabis tourism in the United States is already a $17 billion industry and could make a massive contribution to the country’s overall $1.2 trillion tourism economy.
The nascent cannabis tourism industry sees many travelers planning trips to these destinations that offer more than the end product or new dispensaries. As with tourists heading to wine regions – where there are wine tours, wine education, tasting rooms and even entire resorts located in wineries – a significant number of vacationers head to the Meccas of ganja culture to get the full experience.
With its Mediterranean climate and fertile soil, California has once been unofficially referred to as “America’s bud basket”, with cannabis being one of the many crops supported by the state’s agricultural areas. Modesto is among Golden State destinations embracing the growing tourist trend, welcoming more than 21 visitors, from “canna-sers” to “canna-curious,” to partake in herb-influenced offerings throughout the city.
Modesto’s convention and visitor bureau, Visit Modesto, even launched a pot-specific tourism strategy last year with the MoTown CannaPass, a consumer rewards program that helps guide visitors to community offerings that match. best to their style, from area activities to local restaurants, retailers and cannabis products.
“We wanted the opportunity to say, ‘Hey, if cannabis is your thing, and you’re here, we have legal retail stores,'” Todd Aaronson, CEO of Visit Modesto, told Forbes. “And, we have experiences that you can have in the same way as going to a brewery or a wine bar. They are all equally regulated. You should have a designated driver for each. Every visitor is welcome. Let your money here.
Last month, the results of the European Cannabis Market Survey, conducted by the Bloomwell Group, revealed that 65% of Americans would be willing to travel to a city, or even another country, to experience its cannabis market. licensed cannabis.
A recent report by the Cannabis Travel Association International (CTAI) also indicated that the demographics of today’s marijuana users are very different from the stereotypical stoner personality that usually comes to mind. Research shows that today’s pot smokers are just as likely to be female as male, are mostly millennials or younger (63%), largely have college degrees (59% ), a job (82%) and live in households with an average income. of $87,000.
“By 2025, 50% of travelers to the United States will be millennials,” said CTAI founder Brian Applegarth. “And their relationship to cannabis use is extremely normalized compared to today’s stigmatized industry leaders.”
While it remains to be seen what impact cannabis-driven tourism will have on the wider travel industry, it appears that the demand for marijuana-friendly tourism and hospitality offerings is greater than what is expected. the sector could have imagined before. So businesses and destination marketing organizations may want to start thinking about how to capitalize on a trend that is expected to continue to grow.