Sustainability, inclusion, conservation and quality are now top priorities, says John Maguire, chief executive and co-founder of TripAdmit
Travellers around the world continue to be faced with varying levels of restrictions and limited destinations they can visit.
The traffic light system operated by many countries, which decides which destinations are considered safe, is continuously changing from green to red and then back again as new Covid variants are discovered and governments reconsider their original decision.
Countries are moving from amber to green, which means that travellers won’t have to self-isolate when they return home, but there’s just one small snag – this could all change again, and in some cases already has.
It’s hoped that thanks to new air corridors opening up and better testing protocols, trips abroad will start becoming easier again. But we’re not there yet.
Despite these challenges we know that the travel industry is extremely resilient — and while we may not know exactly when travellers will be back in force, we can be certain that they will.
Businesses are now focusing on how people will travel rather than where people will travel to.
While we’re all eager to board a plane or train and go off to somewhere new, the pandemic has forced us to slow down and many are not in a hurry to return to the fast-paced style of travel we became used to pre Covid.
People will want to explore more, discover new places, cultures, food and activities. Hotels already include more wellness-focused stays and specific programmes and activities tailored to guests.
Travellers will want to be active on holiday and keep up the walking, running or cycling they got into during lockdown.
This will often be closer to home but there will be a shift towards more meaningful and responsible travel, with family-focused itineraries becoming a big part of their plans.
Reviews are becoming increasingly vital, whether online or by word of mouth, as people seek recommendations and reassurance about health and safety measures.
Right now, tours and attractions that are Covid-19 safe with positive reviews will see it reflected in visitor numbers.
According to a report published by National Geographic at the beginning of 2021, the travel and tourism industry had lost a staggering eight trillion US dollars due to the pandemic and a series of significant changes, all of which were from the traveller’s perspective, and were put forward to safeguard the industry’s future.
With carbon emissions high on the agenda for most countries and people, the underlying message was sustainability.
But there’s a desire for change that goes beyond that, prompting some of the more established attractions to look at their product and creating opportunities for new businesses.
Movements around human rights issues have resulted in guided tours shifting their itineraries to reflect these social changes.
For example, some American Museum tours speak of historical issues such as civil rights, the technical revolution or the Vietnam war, and in Europe local tours and guides are supporting areas and local businesses that have been hit hard during the pandemic.
Tour companies in Africa have launched conservation-centric experiences for clients, such as elephant tracking and supporting safari rangers.
Of course, there will always be high demand for more traditional tours – river cruises, city bus tours, theme parks and so on, but in the short term it’s likely that there will be a higher demand for these from locals rather than traditional tourists.
Right now, outdoor tours, walking tours, open-air activities and experiences will generate higher interest from travellers.
This pandemic has accelerated the change in people’s travel needs.
As more countries are given the green light and tour businesses prepare to welcome tourists once again, now is the time to take a look at your product and see how it fits with the demands of the post-Covid traveller.
The key thing to remember is that, one day, in the not-too-distant future, Covid will no longer be front and centre in the traveller’s mind.
The travel industry needs to start building for the post-Covid era, where sustainability, inclusion, conservation and quality are now top priorities and Covid is a thing of the past.