With air capacity on the rise and more countries lessening their travel restrictions meaning more tickets being issued, some hoteliers, tour operators and tourism organisations are rolling up their sleeves to get back to business in the “New Normal” post Coronavirus. What travel segments will be the first on the move? And what new travel opportunities can be seized? ForwardKeys have spoken with a few partners in the tourism and hospitality industry to discuss a few travel scenarios which paint a new picture of possibilities.
Travel Scenario 1: “Staycations” and Revenge Shopping
Although long haul travel will most likely have a resurgence in 2021, for now, staycations are key for those looking to get away and enjoy some rest and relaxation.
With some states, regions and countries loosening travel restrictions, “people want to get out — just within their own control,” says Olivier Ponti, VP of Insights at ForwardKeys. So, road trips and camper van holidays may have a come-back this year — and travel companies and agencies trying to benefit.
Visit California is planning an in-state campaign encouraging Californians to get in their cars and support local businesses and destinations. South Dakota expects to see road-trippers looking for wide-open outdoor spaces, and hopes state parks, restaurants and R.V. companies will reap the rewards.
“Road trips are a huge opportunity for California to help jump-start the economy,” said Caroline Beteta, Visit California’s president and chief executive. “That sense of freedom with personal controls will be ideal for people who want security.”
If in China, revenge shopping is what consumers are after. The growth in shopping holidays to the duty-free haven Hainan is showing a healthy thirst for luxury goods.
Whether you’re road-tripping, catching a train or plane, domestic travel is likely the first travel sector to benefit of any recovery post-COVID-19.
Travel Scenario 2: Privacy and hygiene the new luxury
In the modern world, we live in, it’s increasingly hard to truly get away from it all, switch off and enjoy a much-needed break. But because of the pandemic, the experts predict that many more travellers will actively seek out less crowded trips, searching for privacy and a greater sense of calm and peacefulness.
Off-the-beaten track and natural destinations are sure to become even more in demand. With overcrowding now viewed as a health risk, personal space and cleanliness will become paramount.
This makes the Caribbean a popular holiday destination in 2020. “Whilst there will be many new health protocols and procedures in place to keep citizens, team members and guests safe in St. Lucia, the island experience with our beautiful scenery and soft sand beaches has not changed. Even better, our marine life has thrived during the time out and the reef fish are more abundant than ever”, says Karolin Troubetzkoy, Executive Director, Marketing & Operations, at Anse Chastanet & Jade Mountain Resort in St. Lucia.
This trend could show an increased demand in villas and luxury hotel brands like Aman, known for its remote locations and stand-alone accommodations, and Anantara, where many properties have residences with private entrances.
Travel Scenario 3: Binge travelling
For many, the Coronavirus lock-down has meant less socializing, fine-dining, and shopping due to the strict confinement rules. This translates to many a coin being saved. Add to the mix the removal of an international summer holiday, even more money saved for… the next trip once it is safe and planes are flying again.
According to the ForwardKeys flight search data, when people would most like to go on holidays to the Caribbean and the Middle East points to the same period – Christmas.
A significant game-changer to the travel industry post-Corona will be what becomes of business travel and trade events such as conferences, exhibitions and MICE.
“All specialists are saying that it will take time to see the recovery of business travel and even more time for the MICE segment. From a personal point of view, I believe that COVID-19 is a big box of surprises and perhaps the last thing could be that people will soon understand that without fear and by taking the necessary safety measures, we can continue to meet in person, says Arturo Garcia Rosa, President & Founder of SAHIC.
“There will be a lot of changes on how events are conducted until a cure is found, but I think we will recover our way of life sooner than most people affirm. A new “old” normal is coming and as time goes by, we are seeing more evidence of that.”
Nevertheless, ForwardKeys’ data of tickets issued in Southern Europe and the Caribbean moments after respective governments announced the re-opening of borders, paints an interesting snapshot. One that shows that it’s the leisure market, particularly to the VFR segment, who will kick-start the international travel recovery, not the business segment.
Although it may take some time, the travel industry is starting to bounce back post-pandemic, and it will benefit us all. Ponti concludes “it will indeed make the industry that much stronger and equipped to tackle any situation, raising travel standards and expectations globally.”