The pandemic outbreak of 2019 has brought on a lot of change. People had to endure time spent in quarantine, country-wide lockdowns, and more. And while hopefully most of these changes will be obsolete after the situation is handled, a big part of these consequences are here to stay.
The pandemic outbreak wasn’t just a reason for things to change in almost all areas of our lives. It was also a catalyst for changes waiting to happen, or changes that were already in motion. For example, even before the pandemic, remote working was something we all knew and loved. Digital nomads were a thing, and stay-at-home jobs with benefits were advertised just like today.
The only difference is, that while before everyone had a choice in the matter, today we are remote workers because we have to be. The best-paying at-home jobs are sometimes even a better and more lucrative choice today than any other opportunity.
But apart from this, a lot of other areas of our lives endured massive change, including our ability and even need for travel. Due to the country-wide lockdowns all around the world, and strict restrictions accompanying them, travel is no longer something we can all do. This not only changes our everyday lives but the entire tourism industry as well.
And much like many other changes the pandemic has brought on, this is likely to leave a mark on our society.
The Current State of Travel & Tourism
The tourism industry relies on two key factors. Customer mobility and financial flexibility. Both of these factors have been affected by the pandemic situation. As we are vulnerable to the day-to-day changes the pandemic can bring, no one is financially stable, let alone flexible to be open for travel.
Currently, experts believe that positive change won’t be seen until the earliest 2023. Until then, people will have to remain cautious, and the travel industry can start recovering slowly. In the past two years, and today, the travel industry has shown the ingenuity and creativity needed to stay afloat.
Before the pandemic outbreak, travel advertisements radiated luxury and wealth, which is now the least of people’s concerns. Although the comfort of facilities and luxury of the establishment is still very important, hotels today highlight other factors when advertising themselves.
Major selling points include the availability of digital technologies, and solutions regarding social distancing, improved hygiene, and the guaranteed safety of guests. Hotels need to ensure and advertise all of the aforementioned factors, while still radiating and advertising effortless relaxation above all things.
Due to these changes, people have had to rearrange their travel needs, and people need to be satisfied with alternative solutions like local destinations. Especially because most countries have closed borders, international travel shouldn’t be on the top of people’s to-do lists. But despite this restriction, travel, and leisure is still possible.
Small, local getaway destinations are the talk of the town ever since the pandemic has closed down borders. From small forest cottages to family-friendly wellness hotels, people can find almost anything in their homes.
This not only ensures the livelihood of local business owners but creates an entirely new desire for people: the desire to get to know their country. With the rise of local tourism, other branches formed like “staycations”, urban tourism, and more.
It’s understandable that with the closing of borders people will look for leisurely activities at home, but this may change the entire tourism industry for good.
A Glance Into the Future
No one can say for sure what changes will stay, and which are just temporary, but because of the changes in consumer behavior, it can be said for sure that the industry has changed for good.
Local communities are benefitting from these changes, and large travel companies and airlines are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel after these challenging years. And while it will take years before tourism gets a breath of fresh air, experts believe that this day will come in the next 5 years.
In the meantime, travel companies and travelers alike are becoming creative when it comes to modes of travel, and destinations. In fact, some people are benefiting from these changes, mostly local communities. Lastly, consumer behavior has changed as well, and that may benefit the industry in the long run.
Small communities will also play a bigger role in tourism. The rise of local tourism is benefitting small communities, therefore, they’ll have a bigger role in the industry over time. People will also have some favorite spots within their countries that they’ll most likely visit more than once. This will result in a much larger consumer base for small communities and travel locations.
On the other hand, communities that relied only on tourism are suffering more than ever. Travelers and supporting industries should work on supporting these areas to help them stay afloat.
It’s likely that even after things go back to normal, a lot of people will prefer staying close to home. Over the years they’ve found some favorite spots, it’s easier to access, and you get more for your money. There are plenty of places close to home that bring back the feeling of luxurious travels.
Trends including tiny forest getaways are emerging, and believe it or not, a little two-person cottage in the forest can be booked for years ahead!
Changes in Consumer Behavior
Consumers are prioritizing sustainability and demanding more responsible travel policies. Over time, the industry has to respond with long-lasting and active measures to prioritize an optimized healthy world over profit.
Speaking of priorities, consumers are also starting to seek quality over quantity. COVID has opened the eyes of many, allowing them to rethink how and why they travel. A lot of travel journalists are beginning to prioritize passion projects over paying gigs for this exact reason.
Road trips are another trend that has skyrocketed in the past years. With more time on their hands and constant lockdowns, a lot of people are seen investing in large vehicles, converting them into mobile homes they can use for long road trips. This not only meets the requirements for social distancing but is also a great project for those who like crafting things.
While most likely, the magic of local destinations and family road trips won’t go anywhere, we’re only human, and most of us can’t wait for things to go back to normal so we can board a plane once again to travel the world.
With the pandemic, the situation calmed slightly, and because most people have received the vaccine, international travel is starting to recover, and low-cost flights are available worldwide. Understandably, these incredibly cheap flights are grabbed like Halloween candy, and everyone is doing everything to escape home.
After more than a year of going in and out of lockdowns, even a trip to the grocery store is a trip people are looking forward to. Because of this, people don’t crave as much as they did before. While a trip around the world sounds amazing, most people find just as much fun in a nearby hike or a weekend getaway.
And while it’s likely that tourism will pick up where it left off in a couple of years, the more positive impacts of these changes will remain intact, like prioritizing local destinations and demanding sustainability from larger companies. Overall, people are hungry for an adventure, and finally, they’ve realized that it can be found closer than they would’ve thought.