Last month I was suggesting that we should spend our time in isolation planning our future trips. I stand by that as planning is as much of the journey as the trip itself. Of course it’s also fun, so plan away!
As I type this there are signs that some countries and indeed some areas of the USA are beginning to make plans for coming out of the crisis. The tourism industry is also starting its preparations. I know that many are counting the days when they get back to normal. My feeling is however that the tourism, travel and hospitality world is not going to return to things as they were before the virus.
Airlines for example are suggesting that those carriers that survive (and many may not) will emerge as smaller, leaner and fitter organizations. The aircraft types they will operate will be different. The older more fuel hungry airplanes will be retired. I think we will also see higher fares in the future as airlines strive to become profitable and more able to survive in the future.
Some of the world’s most popular tourist destinations that have previously experienced over-tourism will take this as an opportunity to ‘reset’ and limit the influx of visitors. Even locally here on the Northern Gulf Coast, we are seeing suggestions that the days of discount vacations, cheap condo rentals and crowds of vacationers may be a thing of the past. Destinations will be branding themselves as eco-friendly, out door activity centers and ‘premium’ areas. The aim will be to appeal to many visitors continuing desire (according to surveys) to stay away from crowds.
The accommodation sector is also preparing for changes. Hotels are already implementing even more strict cleanliness regimes and social separation. Companies like AirBnB are rapidly reinventing themselves for the future. That will almost certainly spread to the vacation rental and condominium side of the business.
Cruises? Well, I’m not predicting the end of the cruise industry and there is far too much invested in both existing and planned ships. Also people love cruising. However, there will be changes to how things are run. Going back to over-tourism, the cruise industry has been instrumental in delivering huge numbers of tourists to places like Venice. I really see that such destinations are going to restrict the numbers in the future. Not just from an over tourism point of view but also from an environmental viewpoint. Have you seen the photos of clear and clean canals in Venice?
Tourism will continue and will grow. After all it’s in our human nature to explore and an experience. Tourism has survived many changes since the first Grand Tours of the 1700s, but each change has caused subtle (and not so subtle!) adaptations to how we travel. The next few years will be fascinating from a travel and tourism perspective. It will be here before you know it, so start planning.
…and stay safe and healthy.