Published on : Friday, November 26, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic is the most devastating incident in the history of the travel and tourism industry. However, as the world has gradually started to recover from the pandemic, the tourism industry is looking forward to reintroduce itself and start afresh in the new year.
Although the future of travel is still uncertain, it can certainly be said that the coronavirus pandemic has completely changed the face of the travel and tourism industry. With more demand for travel safety and an increased consciousness about sustainability, here a list of some of the major trends that conquered the travel and tourism industry this year.
Safety was at the forefront of the travel industry in the post-pandemic world. Maintaining travellers’ safety was the utmost priority for holidaymakers. Almost every sector of the travel industry continued observing social distancing measures. Travellers also showed interest in travelling to far and remote locations that allowed them to avoid crowds and enjoy socially-distanced trips. Social distancing rules, usage of face coverings and maintenance of proper hygiene by constant sanitisation continued and became the new norm at airports, airplanes, destinations, local transports, hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions. In addition, contact tracing and COVID-testing also continued to be active phases of the travel process.
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a much lower rate of emissions in 2020 as compared to the previous year. This has created environment consciousness among travellers with more and more individuals seeking the recovery of travel in a sustainable way. Travellers are now looking at the newer ways where they can travel with a lower carbon footprint from low-carbon aviation fuel to eco-friendly hotels and minimal usage of electricity.
Considered to be a part of sustainable tourism plans, travel in 2021 emphasised more on supporting local initiatives. In a bid to support tourism recovery, travellers looked out for active ways to support and give back to local communities, both close to and far from home. Countries affected by the pandemic have already started focussing on promoting domestic tourism. With the restrictions associated with international travel in the post-pandemic world, the demand for domestic tourism was highly prominent and noticeable more than ever.
Digitisation of Travel
Similar to various other industries, the travel industry has also embraced digital advancement. A new era of virtual travel was uncovered in 2020 amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Several international destinations turned to virtual tourism and digital travel with the help of artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Virtual tours now allow people to reach various destinations of their choice right from the comfort of their own rooms. Some virtual travel facilities even appoint a digital tour guide who can be controlled according to the viewer’s convenience. However, virtual travel comes with its limitations. Though it cannot replace traditional travel, it is here to stay at least until people start travelling again like pre-COVID times.
Artificial intelligence and technological advancement have also introduced paperless and touchless facilities to help during the travel process. In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, touchless facilities like facial recognition and biometrics technology have become the new normal for the aviation and hospitality industry. Self-check in kiosks, automated security checks, AI robots, paperless booking and contactless payments would be largely around in the new year for maintaining better safety and security during travel.
Increase in Road Trips
With various regulations, restrictions and uncertainty attached to air travel due to the pandemic, road trips are took a centre stage this year. Many travellers turned to travelling on the road via car to local destinations as well as use local transportation to support communities. Road trips ensured a cheaper and safer way of travel until travellers have the opportunity and confidence to travel like pre-pandemic times.
Lesser Business Travel
Besides leisure travel, the business travel industry has also witnessed a sharp decline due to COVID-19. With advanced technological solutions like videoconferencing, digital and hybrid events, rise of work from home culture and similar collaboration tools that can connect people across the globe from their own homes, business travel was less frequent in the post-pandemic world. Various companies carried out meetings and conferences online and avoid business travel unless absolutely necessary. There was also an influx of hybrid events.
The work from home culture and changing quarantine-on-arrival policies mostly resulted in an increase in trip durations and witnessed longer stays. Quick trips even beyond the border no longer remain the same as pre-COVID times. With majority of destinations adhering to quarantine or self-isolating policies and the need of physical presence at work or schools being minimised to nil, travellers mostly opted for longer trips.
Rise of Travel Bubbles
Several countries around the world have already started establishing travel bubbles with selected countries of their choice. The year after the pandemic witnessed a rise in such travel bubbles. More nations opened up their borders for tourism for their preferred countries where coronavirus has been contained while keeping the borders closed for other countries with higher risks of the virus outbreak. People were allowed to travel freely within the bubble but not outside. This not only boost tourism but also allowws for more safer and responsible travel.
Importance of Travel Insurance
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of travel insurance has gradually increased with majority of destinations making travel insurance mandatory for travellers. Many countries are likely to make travel insurance compulsory in order to cover COVID-19 costs or other medical expenses in order to help travellers avoid any financial crisis during an emergency.