LifestyleTravel & Tourism

Travel Industry: Can it win back tourists in 2021?

By Lionel Alva

The travel industry is among the worst affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fact remains that the industry is the worst affected and it may be among the slowest sectors recover. The impending second wave and emergence of new COVID-19 variants does not help matters.

However, despite the aforementioned factors it must be noted that the travel industry is responsible for the livelihood of millions. In 2021, there is some semblance of hope with the new vaccines out.  For the travel industry, the new normal is also an opportunity to adapt and innovate.

So, based on insights from Forbes, let’s get a quick glance at the key factors shaping the future of tourism in 2021 and beyond.

Online engagement

Vacations to exotic foreign locations have become something like a distant memory. Which is why brands like Belmond are organizing virtual events that is reminiscent of a memorable travel experience. These virtual events are a blend of fun, information, festive activities, and serve to inspire attendees to travel. Many companies are also using AR and VR technologies to simulate a travel experience. These virtual tours have acted as surrogates for in-person travel in the new normal.

Virtual tours of places of historic significance like Downton Abbey’s Highclere Castle are now being offered by Viking. The virtual event includes organizing talks with acclaimed authors like Jeffrey Archer and online cooking classes with famous chefs. There are also companies that employ VR headsets for virtual tours. The purpose of virtual tourism is branding and marketing. It creates a desire to visit specific scenic and historic location in person.

Travel bubbles

As and when travel starts again, trust will be a critical factor for tours. People would want to travel with those that they know and trust like family and friends. The travel bubble option – for small private groups of known people – is offered by Insight Vacations, Trafagarm and Costsaver for their upcoming journeys in 2021. This would help many connect with their loved ones after a significant period of social distancing. Re-union travel could become a thing in 2021 and beyond: Many would want to re-connect with loved ones.

Changing market opportunities

The popularity of future tourism destinations will depend on how well that location has controlled the pandemic. With the necessary precautions, travellers will feel more secure about travelling to a country or location that isn’t hit badly. Medical certificates and health clearance checks with become a necessity for future travel.  A lack of tourism and the ongoing crisis may put many pre-pandemic popular hotspots on the no-travel list. The tourism market is unlikely to be as lucrative as before but market opportunities still do exist for avid travellers who aren’t living in a restricted location.

Travel advisory mandatory

There is bound to be a high degree of uncertainty when it comes to information and travel safety. The nature of the times that we live in is highly uncertain. Travel is expected to become increasingly complex where travellers would be required to engage with tour operators and agents to manage complex airline arrangements as well as health and safety regulations. Travel brands must act as thought leaders to ensure that customer needs are met. The future of travel depends heavily on a relationship of trust.

The road ahead

2020 was the worst year for the travel and tourism industry in recent history. An estimated $1.3 billion in revenue was lost in 2020 by the travel industry. The emergence of new COVID-19 variants is indicative of an uncertain future as many nations have renewed their travel bans. The future outlook for the industry by travel experts is one of exercising caution. A return to normalcy is not expected anytime soon but the travel and tourism industry is equipping itself for new opportunities via virtual tourism.

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