These days, almost every conversation about leisure travel feels difficult - with the pandemic closing borders, cancelling trips and shuttering hotels, every part of the travel industry is being confronted with existential challenges. While the future might feel bleak for the travel industry, there is reason for optimism. Leisure travel will return, it will be more robust and the golden age of tourism is coming sooner than we realize. As vaccines proliferate, travelers are starting to plan for adventures in 2021 in a bout of hopefulness. Here are some reasons for the industry to be optimistic:
After an extensive travel pause, people want to go somewhere… anywhere. While some individuals are taking advantage of road trips and recreational travel in their own nations, quarantine requirements and closed borders make international travel scarce. But sooner rather than later, as nations better handle the risks of the pandemic, as consumers become more comfortable with travel safety requirements, and as vaccines become available, the trickle of travelers will turn into a surge.
The somewhere/anywhere mentality will first help regional tourism gain traction, but eventually the floodgates of international travel will open and the operators, hoteliers, and destination experts who have the most creative, cost-effective, and compelling opportunities will find themselves overwhelmed with opportunity, particularly for travelers who are busting at the seams to travel and experience new forms of “slow” travel and short-term “worksplorations.”
The idea of travel as an activity where you get to check boxes while moving from country to country as quickly as possible for social media may take a back seat in the near future. Offices likely will remain closed for the immediate future and remote schooling has been pervasive - as such travelers can be creaative about relocating for a period in a different locale. This idea of ‘slow travel’ allows travelers to immerse themselves in a destination and these times may offer just that opportunity.
Time to Reconnect
For many travelers, the pandemic is limiting their connectedness with the outside world, reducing options for exploration and adventure and challenging any opportunity to spend time with family and friends. Being stuck at home also restricts opportunities to expand networks and engage new people. As a result, there will be more demand for travel experiences that tie experiences with community. Resorts and travel providers that have previously focused on creating activities and experiences outside their properties will now be able to help guests to create community at the properties themselves.
Even as many people are spending more time with families and close friends, that does not mean they will want to go travel on their own. As families and “pods” consider safe way break out of their bubbles, they will be looking for ways to share new, exciting experiences together. Even for those who have not historically enjoyed group travel will find that traveling with their pods is a safer and more meaningful way to go.
No Wasting Time
2020 seems like more than just a year and puts time into perspective for many. There feels to be a greater sense of urgency to see and understand the world - cultural, political and social. As people look to learn and explore the world around them, travelers may tailor their journeys around themes of purpose, knowledge and wonder.
The power of travel is that it connects and brings us all closer together and that is what is truly needed now, more than ever. These are challenging times, but there are reasons for the travel industry be optimistic nonetheless. Get going!