Like many of history’s great tragedies, the coronavirus pandemic never shocked us with one catastrophic incident. The deadly epidemic, instead, slowly snaked its way around the world, affecting millions as it became a global health issue after it first appeared in November.
Tourism is one of the worst-hit industries in the midst of the Covid 19 outbreak, as countries across the world enforce travel restrictions and ban non-essential (or even essential) travel to prevent the virus spread. From the aviation industry to travel product choices, the pandemic has completely changed the way we travel.
- Changes in the way we fly
As a result of the pandemic, the latest innovations in the aviation sector, such as new seating advancement and contactless travel policies were introduced worldwide. Airlines and airports are ramping up standards of grooming to reduce the risk of an infection and implement a check-in system for facial recognition. The Hong Kong International Airport is the world’s first airport to introduce a full-body passenger disinfection facility.
But most importantly, you have to be healthy to fly. Temperature checking and other health declarations are required and whoever fails these tests will not be allowed to board the plane.
Several airlines have announced that catering or other facilities will be suspended during flight. Self-service snacks and fruit bags were dropped by U.S. carriers, while Hong Kong Carriers chose to avoid selling food and services, such as pillows and blankets.
2. Solo Travelling
Covid-19 calls for social distancing and after China reopened its borders, there is already a move from group tours to free travel among younger Chinese visitors. Chinese visitors have generally favoured community travel in the days prior to the pandemic. The recent lifestyle changes would result in group tours no longer being the preferred choice.
We foresee that this new trend will follow suit in other countries as people increasingly opt for free-and-easy, independent travel with maximum freedom over travel tours.
3. Plan Ahead
The trick to grab cheaper, better prices is scheduling your journey way earlier than your travel date before Covid-19 happened. Some people book months in advance, or even up to a year. Nonetheless, we believe that this will change as we face travel instability — our future travel plans can run the risk of sudden cancellations.
With that, travellers will avoid confirming their trips too early so as to reduce disappointment as well as deal with the hassle of cancellations and refunds. That said, we may instead book trips one or two weeks, or even mere days, before the confirmed travel dates — even if this means paying higher prices in exchange for a peace of mind.
4. Something Different
Post-Covid-19, travelers can opt for nature destinations including national parks, deserts, and islands. This form of tourism will allow them to adhere to social distancing rules, as well as to discover and reconnect with nature, which in recent weeks many travelers have been unable to profit from.Moreover, such locations are typically less frequently visited by tourists and may benefit from the demand for less crowded places post-Covid-19.
5. Staycations Or Short-Haul Trips
Restrictions on international travel and the feeling of uncertainty associated with flights and airports should transform tourism to the domestic market as its target. Travelers should look at staycations more closely. Even if they decide to venture outside their own countries, they may choose destinations not too far from home.
In a post Covid-19 travel survey conducted among 1,280 U.S.-based frequent travelers, 83 per cent of those surveyed look forward to staying within the country for their first trip after the pandemic. A recent survey in China also showed that more than 90 per cent of respondents would choose domestic tours in their immediate travel plans. Instead of the usual big annual trip, they will probably be replaced by multiple short-haul trips that are closer to home throughout the year.
6. Let’s Hit the Road
The concept of a road trip will become more common. Regardless if it’s a trip by car, motorcycle, or other land transport means, discovering the country with total autonomy and flexibility may be a growing option after the restrictions are lifted.
It would be more attractive to travel in our own vehicles or with private-hire transport over air travel, which poses a risk when we are exposed to travelers from all over the world. More road trips might also see increased air fares.
Of travelers in Asia Pacific, airfares are also expected to boom by 54 percent, so this may support the trend of road trips. Travellers will be looking at land travel as a cheaper alternative, whilst still staying safe in vehicles that accommodate less people.
7. A Shift Towards Private Rental Properties
With outbreaks of the virus concentrated in cities and on cruise ships, the types of accommodation people seeking would likely also change. Think about crowded hotels or hostels, more private villa rentals and country getaways.
Destination travel company Club Med expects an rise in their family-oriented vacation packages as visitors are searching for more luxury, unique and private experiences. The “culture of sharing” and community will no longer be an attraction in hostels and co-living spaces where communal living was once highly sought after, as people would prefer private use of amenities and facilities that do not require sharing with strangers.
Travellers could also be looking at beach houses, apartments, cabins and ‘glamping’ post-Covid-19 as they seek to maintain social distancing from other people.
8. Spending with a Tap
Post-pandemic, passengers should go as far as possible, including flight check-ins and boarding, via contactless procedures. The most significant and perhaps most noticeable transition would be a move from physical cash to cards and contactless forms of payment. This is because people aren’t able to manage and trade banknotes and coins that bear any chance of infection.
9. New Standards for Hotels
Once people start to move again, they may at first be wary. Many brands, such as Marriott and Hilton, have announced increased standards of hygiene and cleanliness — an important step that believes hotels need to communicate clearly what they’re doing to keep travelers safe in order to be successful.Big brands may be better at getting that messaging out, but independent properties and small hotel groups might have more leeway to adapt their policies.
Although it is expected that many economic sectors will recover once restrictive measures are lifted, the pandemic would likely have a longer lasting impact on international tourism. So it looks like we need to keep on adjusting to all of the steps that will be put in place when we are trying to satiate our wanderlust. Stay calm, and keep on going.
Check out my related post: How can the travel industry begin to prepare for new normal?