To counter the impacts of COVID-19 and prepared for the future post pandemic, global travel will need to change. The COVID-19 crisis presents a unique opportunity to collaborate on reviving the industry. The pandemic and associated travel restrictions has had a devastating impact on tourism.
This pause has led to a new beginning and reimagination of how tourism can be more robust, profitable, sustainable, impactful and responsible in the future. Now is an opportunity to unite tourism stakeholders as they reopen their doors a new chapter that will develop a new understanding of the balance between: human needs vs. economic progress &environment /social needs vs. financial prosperity Travel will return. With increased vaccination we have seen this already.
The bounce-back is significant. PATA in their recent report forecast international visitor arrivals in the region will increase by +50.8 percent to 113.55 million visitors this year to 316.50million (+320.3 percent) next year. ForwardKeys notes shorter lead booking times are the new normal. The ForwardKeys analysts that track global tourism trends in future airline reservations have observed a continued trend for 2021 that booking lead times keep shrinking, often less than 4 days before travel. China, the world’s second biggest economy, whose population loves to travel, saw GDP grow 18.3 percent in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same period the year before.
Flights are increasing too. Qatar Airways for instance will resume flights to Phuket, with four weekly services. The airline is already flying 12 semi-commercial flights weekly to Bangkok. The new Phuket services will increase the total to 16 flights a week between Doha and Thailand as Phuket opens in July to nationalities from countries on Thailand’s low to medium risk list.
If they have been vaccinated against Covid-19 and present a negative Covid test certificate they will not need to undergo a 14-day quarantine. The WTCC says that the future of travel and tourism will fall under four macro-trends that are expected to lead the way through recovery and beyond.
• Demand Evolution: Traveller preferences have shifted toward the familiar, predictable and trusted. Domestic vacations and outdoor holidays will grow.
• Health and Hygiene: Health, safety and trust are paramount in this new era.
• Innovation and Digitisation: COVID-19 is proving to be an unexpected catalyst, with contactless technologies among others offering safe and seamless travel experiences.
• Sustainability: The world has been reinvigorated to tackle social, environmental, and institutional sustainability.
When travel does return I’ve identified 6 major trends that will affect us all:
1. Travel agents and travel professionals will become essential
2. Sustainable Tourism Will Soar
3. Small and local communities will see tourism grow
4. Quality over quantity will be paramount
5. Staying closer to home will become the norm
6. We need to travel – travelling is good for mental health