As the world celebrates Tourism Month this September and travel resumes after its Covid hiatus, five realities (both positive and negative) are shaping the travel and tourism industry globally, with indications that global traveller numbers only expected to exceed pre-Covid levels by 2024*.
Here’s what’s been on our radar this Tourism Month:
1. Sustainable travel at the forefront
The significant impact of climate change on tourism destinations has travellers taking notice. What this means for tourism stakeholders is a default expectation that suppliers of travel increasingly adopt an eco-focused and friendly approach that goes beyond greenwashing. Ways in which this is manifesting include the decision by operators to switch to electric vehicles and encouraging travellers to travel with their own reusable water bottles.
2. Shortage of staff vs. pent-up demand
The pandemic caused catastrophic job and revenue losses for the travel sector, resulting in the loss of approximately 62 million jobs in 2020 alone, as reported by Statistica. With the increasing demand for travel, short-staffed businesses are struggling to keep up, resulting in airport queues, lost luggage and other travel friction. You need only have read the headlines this summer to be fully immersed in it. Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport was among those airports forced to restrict passenger numbers as a direct result of being unable to recruit enough security staff.
3. A return to travel advisors
Travel has become even riskier business, reopening the door to a reliance on the travel advisor as travellers seek peace of mind and specialist travel advice. Says Erika Richter, American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) Senior Director of Communication: 44% of travellers who didn’t rely on travel advisors pre-pandemic plan to get in touch with one when they resume travel.
4. Prioritising ‘travel with a purpose’
In line with demands for sustainable travel, people are also striving to travel with a purpose. They are inspired and determined to make a positive impact to the people and places they encounter on their travels. One such example are accommodation establishments which it possible for their guests to contribute to community development through ‘Get Your Hands Dirty’ activities. Guests get to choose how they want to make a difference, such as helping locals’ plant and tend to fruits and vegetables or spending a few hours helping to build a classroom at a local school.
5. Technology reigns supreme
The pandemic delivered a seismic shift to digitalisation, ensuring that even the most luddite of travellers became au fait with technology. This reliance has given rise to a variety of innovations, like contact-free check-ins and tools to access virtual reality experiences when comparing destinations, to streamline and enhance the traveller experience.
The message to travel brands in 2022 and beyond?
Place sustainability at the core of your business, grow your team to deliver fully on the new and changing demands of your customers and keep your finger on the tech pulse.
*International Airport Transport Association