Travel Industry After Pandemic ( Covid -19 )
“Viruses pose the single biggest threat to man’s continued dominance on this planet”
– Joshua Lederberg, 1958 Nobel Prize
This pandemic has led to a dramatic loss of human life worldwide and also disrupted the economic and social sectors. According to a survey by WHO in October 2020, nearly half of the world’s 3.3 billion global workforces are at risk of losing their livelihoods. The global economy is seeing one of the worst recessions in the past decade. But now after the start of the new year 2021, people are pinning their hopes on vaccines against the coronavirus disease as they look forward to returning to normalcy.
The new novel coronavirus did not spare any sector. Tourism has been no exception. At the onset of the Coronavirus, no one in the travel industry anticipated the future of the industry. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), 50 million people lost their jobs globally in the travel and tourism industry due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The coronavirus is hitting the industry hard from all over the world. They face a complicated year ahead and it will take years for the sector to return to its normal situation.
World Travel and Tourism Council is working closely with sector associations, their members, and also with Governments to restart the Travel & Tourism sector. They have calls with all the key associations in the sector including; Airports Council International (ACI), Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), Duty-Free World Council (DFWC), International Air Transport Association (IATA), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), U.S. Travel Association (USTA) and World Economic Forum (WEF). They participate in webinars with our WTTC members, during which governments across the world have been presenting what they are doing in their countries to help restart the sector alongside associations, governments, and our members discussing recovery and restart.
They started various campaigns such as:
Throughout the pandemic, they have been part of many industry campaigns throughout the pandemic including the latest campaign, #OpenUpToEurope, from the European Tourism Commission (ETC) focusing on reopening European tourism and a revival of travel confidence this summer.
The events of 2020 completely paralyzed the Travel Industry and will have a profound change in different ways after the Pandemic:
Sustainability will be a driving force
Sustainability has become more prominent in travel choices, due to more emphasis is given on climate change, adverse effects of tourism. Natural areas, regional and local destinations are expected to lead to recovery. Travellers are doubling down on sustainability. Consumers will demand travel policies concerning a healthy environment and the travel industry will respond with measures to provide them with a healthy world over profit margins.
The road trip will kick into high gear
While air travel has declined due to the pandemic, the classic road trip has become more popular. In this situation, road trips are the most feasible option for travelling. Driving across state lines can be just as exciting as flying across international borders; it’s about the mindset. Road Trips has all the core of travel. Despite air travel being cheaper and comfortable, national travel restrictions have geared up the road trips to destinations that aren’t so distant. This is one of the reasons why road trips are making a strong comeback.
Travel advisors will become indispensable
There can be a shift in booking travel through travel agents and experienced operators, noting their invaluable knowledge and connections in the industry, which justify the commissions they get. It also gives immense pleasure to plan trips and prospects of returning to life before the pandemic.
From 2020 we have learned the expertization and financial protection of booking through a travel agent often outweighs the amount you pay in commission. Moreover, consumers tend to look to advisors who specialize in the environment.
We’ll appreciate staying closer to home
Domestic tourism is expected to benefit, as people prefer to stay local and visit destinations within their own country. Domestic tourists are often more price-sensitive and tend to have lower spending patterns. Some are even exploring the benefits of travelling by sitting at their homes and keeping the spirit of travelling alive.
We’ll seek quality over quantity
Travellers have become more thoughtful about their bucket lists. Their traveling behavior will be influenced by the evolution of the crisis, people are rethinking that how and why they travel and this will result in the emergence of new market segments and more focus on safety protocol and contactless tourism experiences. Safety and hygiene have become major factors to select destinations and travel options. People are likely to prefer ‘private solutions’ when travelling, avoiding big gatherings, and prioritising private means of transport, which may have an adverse impact on the environment.
Small communities will play a bigger role
Skills shortages in the tourism sector may be exacerbated, as many jobs are lost and workers will redeploy to different sectors. Travelers can make a difference for small communities that are struggling economically due to pandemics. People are travelling to lesser-known areas and avoiding mass tourism and focusing on the places that really need it, and patronizing local businesses.
Planning trips will become joyful again
Even people are trying their best for being grounded, this adverse situation is reminding them that travel is crucial for reviving their mental health and personal development. According to a survey of 483 U.S., 2013, It was found that travel improves empathy, energy, attention, and focus. And as per Cornell study,2014, Planning a trip is just as effective as just looking forward to traveling substantially increases happiness, more than anticipating buying material goods.
Innovation and Technology
Traveller confidence has been hit hard by the crisis, and the ongoing uncertainty. This may lead to a decline in demand and tourism consumption that continues well long after the initial shock. Structural change in tourism supply is expected across the ecosystem. Not all businesses will survive the crisis and capacity in the sector is likely to be reduced for a period, limiting the recovery. The reduced investment will call for active policies to incentivise and restore investment in the tourism sector to maintain the quality of the tourism offer and promote sustainable recovery. Amid stay-at-home orders, digital adoption and consumption are on the rise, with consumers now expecting contactless technologies, among others, as a basic prerequisite for a safe and seamless travel experience.
While digitisation has been an emerging trend within the Travel & Tourism sector in recent years, stay at home orders have led to Digitalisation in tourism services is expected to continue to accelerate, including a higher use of automation, contact-less payments and services, virtual experiences, real-time information provision.
While innovation and technology are certainly important for the travel sector, the right human interaction is equally important. We will likely see more use of virtual technologies to support the new normal. However, the emotional element is imperative.
The future of the tours and travel industry remains highly uncertain. The coronavirus pandemic continues to hit hard, with international tourism expected to decrease by around 80% in 2021. Domestic tourism is helping in flattening the curve, at least partially, and governments and WTTC have taken impressive immediate action to restore and re-activate the industry while protecting jobs and businesses. Different countries are also now taking measures to build a more resilient tourism economy post-pandemic. These include preparing plans to support the sustainable recovery of tourism, move to a greener tourism system promoting the digital transition and, and rethinking tourism for the future.
Tourism policy will need to be more reactive and in the long term, it will move to more flexible systems, able to adapt faster to changes of policy focus. Crisis management will be a particular area of focus with Safety and health policies.
Written By: Nidhi Kumari