COVID-19 has hit every industry hard, but none more so than the travel industry. Before the pandemic made its presence known, this industry was responsible for providing one in every 10 jobs. Therefore, it is easy to understand why the human and economic losses sustained have been so significant up until now. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the only way that the industry is going to return to its former glory, and the only way hundreds of thousands of lost jobs will be recreated, is for everyone to come together to support and empower its revival. That goes not only for the public and private sectors, but also for each and every individual eager traveller out there.
The WTTC recently launched a new campaign called ‘Travel the world. Make a difference’. The campaign is focused on reminding would-be tourists about the ‘deeper positive socio-economic and cultural benefits’ that travel is able to bring about. It seeks to encourage individuals to share their positive travel experiences and how their unique adventures had an impact on their lives.
Four macro-trends to be aware of
Along with the campaign, the WTTC has also recently released a report highlighting the four primary macro-trends for travel companies to be aware of as the travel industry slowly regains its footing. These trends are as follows:
- Evolution of demand: The pandemic has been a massive shock to the system, so it is unsurprising to discover that traveller demands have shifted toward the more predictable, familiar, and ‘tried and trusted’. This means that people will likely lean more to domestic travel for the time being, spend longer periods planning their holidays, and focus more on including outdoor activities in their itineraries.
- Health and hygiene: This is fairly self-explanatory considering how the COVID-19 virus is spread, but it must be said that tourists are placing huge importance on optimal health and hygiene regarding their travels. They expect travel suppliers to be 100% ready to ensure their safety at all times by adopting all of the necessary protocols as communicated by the World Health Organisation. According to the WTTC report, “More than nine out of 10 (92%) of consumers trust personal recommendations regarding health and hygiene, and 69% of travellers cite cleanliness as a critical component of a travel brand’s crisis response.”
- Innovation and digitisation: Technology is critical to maximise health and safety in the times of COVID and beyond. Digital adoption and consumption are on the rise as a result of lockdown and the need to spend as much time at home as possible. Consumers now expect contactless check-in and payment, touch-free menus, and more.
- Sustainability: Humans being locked away for months on end has worked wonders for the rejuvenation of the environment, making the call for sustainable living louder than ever. Tourists will thus re-embark upon travel with higher expectations and demands for eco-friendliness in all aspects of their trips. The report states that “Almost three quarters (73%) of consumers are taking note of brands that are making a difference during Covid-19, showing that growing attention is being paid to sustainability.”
How travel suppliers can work together
The WTTC has provided guidelines on how global cooperation can be achieved in relation to the travel industry revival. First and foremost, it will be imperative for both public and private sectors to come to an agreement on the implementation of health and safety standards across the industry and ensure that all travel suppliers are empowered to remain compliant.
Worker support schemes need to be strengthened in light of the financial impact of the pandemic. Payroll protection, tax payment deferrals, wage subsidies must become top priorities.
Another wonderful idea is for travel suppliers to introduce consumer incentives to encourage travel-related spending. Considering the macro-trend of ‘evolution of demand’ as mentioned above, it pays to focus exclusively on promoting domestic travel and regional experiences at first. Emphasis also needs to be placed on extending support and digital infrastructure to ‘hidden gems’ and rural destinations, as opposed to only marketing city centres and well-known attractions.
Once again taking the macro-trends into consideration, cooperation needs to take place around strengthening sustainability within the sector. This is another area where incentives could come into play, particularly in terms of encouraging businesses within the private sector to adhere to eco-conscious traveller demands.
WTTC president and chief executive Gloria Guevara said:
“We strongly believe that by working as and by taking a co-ordinated approach, we can beat Covid-19 and return to safe travels with world class standards of hygiene to travellers and regenerate the jobs and livelihoods of the 330 million people who worked in the sector before Covid-19.”
It’s no longer about competition. It’s about collaboration and cooperation!