Post Covid-19 Tourism and Travel – The “Next Normal”
By: Osnat Broshi-Chen (PhD)
With early signs of global recovery and worldwide ease of lockdown, as of mid-May 2020, all eyes are on the vulnerable tourism industry. Is it dead? Will it recover? When would we travel again? And where to will we travel? These days, far more than ever, we are facing with more questions than answers as the speed of events intensifies to epic proportions. As a tourism expert and responsible researcher, I have been collecting and analyzing data from the very early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. The puzzle is yet to be completed, but some cautious preliminary insights can be drawn on the future of post-Covid-19 tourism and travel. The truth remains that nobody knows what will happen for sure.
Unprecedented Global Crisis
The tourism and travel industry went through crises in the past; yet, the Covid-19 Pandemic triggered an unprecedented global crisis simultaneously affecting source markets and hosting countries. Such an impact on both supply and demand was unthinkable and unimagined just a few months ago. This crisis is a “ground zero” event; a “black swan” or a “perfect storm” to name a few. Predictions for 2020 are dire: an estimated drop of about 440 million international tourist arrival; over 30% decrease in tourism receipts; massive loss of jobs (50-75 million) and revenue in tourism, hospitality and aviation (UNWTO, WEF, IATA).
Tourism is not dead!
At the moment, tourism and travel are severely hit; but, as always they will recuperate. The million-dollar question is when? No one can say. There are some optimistic forecasts of initial and gradual recovery (4Q 2020) and pessimistic predictions of a very prolonged and slow recovery into 2022-2023 reaching pre-crisis indices. There are still too many unknowns in terms of health hazards, economic downturn and travel restrictions and regulations. What is certain is that tourism and travel will be different.
The “Next Normal” future of Travel
The “triple S'” is a standard term within the field of tourism. It stands for Sun, Sea and Sand beach destinations. It signifies the “mass tourism” segment we are all familiar with, such as Copacabana beach, Brazil; Costa del-Sol, Spain and other over-crowded touristic beaches. The symbols of “over-tourism” or my preferred term “unmanaged over-crowded” tourism planning and development. In post-Covid-19 tourism, the new “triple S” will be: Slow, Sustainable and Smart tourism.
Small Scale/ Slow Tourism or Mass tourism?
It is estimated that as long as there is no available vaccine or drug, the fear of overcrowding and avoiding large gatherings will remain high. Tourists will first travel locally (domestic tourism) within their home country or nearby. Open spaces and the outdoors will be favourable. Slow tourism and small scale tourism development will allow tourists to immerse into the destination while keeping social distancing.
Sustainable Tourism is Here to Stay
The demand for various niches of sustainable tourism will rise as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. With growing awareness of the hazards, risks and negative impacts of tourism on culture, community and the environment, sustainability will become standardized.
Smart and Tech-Savvy Tourism
Digitation, automation and technology will take center stage in the post-Covid-19 tourism era. Tourists will be inclined to less physical contact and social distancing just as their hosts. Cashless travel, apps and mobile technology throughout the travel journey from booking to travel, check-in, experience and reviews will surge.
The Generation Gap
Whereas the elderly tourists within risk groups (Boomers) will suspend travel, for the time being, Generation Y & Z will reignite travel. Young, experienced travellers with a zest for life, educated with no families might be the first to commence travel – a perceived MUST.
The vulnerable yet resilient tourism industry is facing massive challenges in the “no vaccine economy” and the overall unclear nature of the “Next Normal” future. Creativity and innovation-oriented solutions are mandatory for this incredible industry to re-emerge from quarantine better and stronger. A closer examination of tourism most fundamental paradigms can only occur in the direst circumstances as the Covid-19 pandemic. In this respect, the second chance we were all given with the restart of tourism and travel is a loud and clear call for change and an invitation for innovation.
About the writer:
Dr. Osnat Broshi-Chen, the Concept Group, is a senior travel industry expert, consultant and researcher. Mastering Creativity, INNovation and entrepreneurial thinking | Crisis management | Tourism & Hospitality Planning and Management | Marketing and Branding. Her novel research combines the areas of creativity and innovation within the field of tourism crisis management.
In this respect, she is an enthusiastic advocator of crisis as a call for change and an invitation to innovation. She established a new holistic model of creativity and innovation-oriented crisis management and mitigation for worldwide destinations, tourism stakeholders and entrepreneurs looking for a renewed “out-of-the-box” counter-intuitive crisis management measures (approach and solutions) for increased resilience and growth out of a crisis. Her new blog: ThePleasureofTravel.co.il focuses onslow travelling and creative experiences off the beaten track for a balanced life and meaningful travel. +972-(0)50-7806354; [email protected] ; conn.co.il/
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