Tourism is one of the hardest hit sectors in the Covid 19 crisis, as countries worldwide impose travel restrictions and do not eliminate essential (or even essential) travel to curb the spread of the virus.
Once the worst pandemic is over, these measures will eventually subside, but that doesn't necessarily mean that things will return exactly as they were before the outbreak began.
Travelers will continue to be careful about the destination they want to travel to. When you travel, you will take the necessary safety precautions and continue to abide by the rules of social distance.
While it is impossible to predict with absolute certainty what the future will bring, the following trends are likely to affect how people travel around the world.
1. No early booking of trips
Before Covid-19 happened, the trick to getting cheaper and better prices was to book your trip much earlier than your travel date. Some people book months or even up to a year in advance.
However, we believe that this will change when we deal with travel uncertainties. There may be a sudden cancellation risk in our future travel plans.
In this way, travelers avoid confirming their trips too early to avoid disappointment and to cope with the need for cancellations and refunds.
However, we can book trips a week or two, or even days before the confirmed dates – even if that means you have to pay higher prices to be reassured.
2. Traveling alone
Covid-19 calls for social distancing and there is already a shift from group travel to free travel among younger Chinese tourists after China reopened its borders.
In the days leading up to the pandemic, Chinese tourists have traditionally preferred to travel in groups. Due to the new lifestyle changes, group travel will no longer be the preferred option.
Photo credit: Intrepid Journey
We expect this new trend to follow in other countries as people increasingly opt for free, independent travel with maximum freedom compared to travel tours.
3. Decide on medically appropriate goals
In the Covid 19 crisis, citizens worldwide are struggling to get the medical care they need.
Health systems in some countries have come under pressure and there is a lack of medical and critical care such as personal protective equipment, respirators and surgical masks.
This could lead to the emergence of a new trend in which travelers prefer locations that have first-class medical facilities or infrastructure. This way, you can feel safe to deal with an emergency if ever needed.
For one, Singapore, Australia and Taiwan are some of the countries that have been praised for their rapid response to the coronavirus pandemic.
4. Off-The-Beaten Track
According to Covid-19, travelers can choose natural destinations such as national parks, deserts and islands.
This form of tourism will enable them to comply with social distance rules and to discover and reconnect with nature, which many travelers have not been able to benefit from in recent weeks.
Image: Bali Jungle Trekking
In addition, such places are generally less visited by tourists and may benefit from the demand for less crowded places after Covid-19.
5. Health and wellness tourism
We also expect increased interest in hotels, brands and travel destinations for health, wellness and well-being.
Covid-19 has continued to emphasize the importance of health, and we expect travelers to consider their travel plans for health and well-being.
Some of these wellness retreats include yoga retreats in Indonesia or detoxification and rejuvenation programs in Thailand.
Photo credit: Breathing Travel
In India, the Middle East, China and Thailand, as well as in the rest of the Asia-Pacific region, there has been growing demand in recent years. Covid-19 will certainly prove positive for this sector.
6. Stays or short-distance trips
The restrictions on international travel and the feeling of insecurity associated with flights and airports will cause tourism to focus on the domestic market.
Travelers will care more about stays. Even if they choose to move outside their country, they can choose destinations that are not too far from home.
In a Covid-19 travel survey conducted among 1,280 frequent travelers in the United States, 83 percent of respondents look forward to staying in the country for their first trip to the pandemic.
A recent survey in China also found that more than 90 percent of respondents would choose domestic tours in their immediate travel plans.
Instead of the usual big annual trip, they are likely to be replaced by several short-haul trips that are closer to home throughout the year.
7. Road trips instead of air travel
The concept of a road trip is becoming more and more common.
Regardless of whether it is a trip by car, motorcycle, or other land transportation, it can be a growing option to discover the country with complete autonomy and flexibility after the restrictions are lifted.
Traveling in our own vehicles or by private rental transport would be more attractive than traveling by air, which is a risk if we are exposed to travelers from all over the world.
Photo credit: Taxi Singapore
Increased airfares can also lead to more road trips. Airfares to travelers in the Asia-Pacific region are expected to increase by 54 percent, which could support the trend of road travel.
Travelers will see land travel as a cheaper alternative and still stay safe in vehicles that accommodate fewer people.
8. A shift towards private rental properties
Given the outbreaks of the virus that focus on cities and cruise ships, it is likely that the types of accommodation that people are looking for will also change.
Think of more private villa rentals and country getaways through crowded hotels or hostels.
Club Med travel agency expects its family-oriented vacation packages to increase as travelers seek more premium, exclusive, and private experiences.
In dormitories and shared apartments, where living together was once in high demand, the "culture of sharing" and the community will no longer be an attraction, as people would prefer the private use of amenities and facilities that do not require sharing with strangers.
Travelers could also check out beach houses, apartments, cabins, and glamping to Covid-19 to maintain social distance from other people.
9. Cashless expenses
After the pandemic, travelers would conduct contactless processes as much as possible, including flight check-ins and boarding.
The most immediate and perhaps most visible change will be a transition from physical cash to cards and contactless payment methods. This is because people do not want to handle and exchange banknotes and coins, which poses a certain risk of infection.
10. Dining In will focus more on hygiene
Dining in restaurants has proven to be an extremely contagious activity, as there have been cases in Singapore where several people have become infected because they came together to eat.
With the increased awareness of health and well-being and the demand for social distance, the demand for more hygiene and sanitary facilities in tourist destinations will increase.
Hotel restaurants may present personal serving spoons when serving a common meal, promote contactless delivery for in-room meals, and design menus in single portions rather than one size.
To reduce cross-contamination, foods can also be supplied with covers or lids or separated into portions before they arrive at the dining table.
Also, expect the new rules to separate you from your loved ones in public places in restaurants, nightclubs, and other entertainment venues.
The travel landscape will look different for at least a year
While many economic sectors are expected to recover after the restrictive measures are lifted, the pandemic is likely to have a longer impact on international tourism.
This is mainly due to reduced consumer confidence and the likelihood of longer restrictions on international passenger traffic.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), previous virus epidemics recorded 19 months as the average recovery time for travel visitors. With the right response and management, however, recovery could accelerate to 10 months.
This means that the recovery of tourism will be different for different countries. Some countries like the US are still fighting Covid-19, while Greece and Italy will reopen their borders to tourists next month. Britain also has plans to reopen hotels, holiday parks and tourist attractions in July.
Therefore, the future of travel depends on when countries are declared free of Covid-19 so that people feel safe enough to travel again.
Selected image source: TTG Asia