The rollout of vaccines in Europe and beyond is fuelling hopes that travel and tourism can take off again soon, satisfying pent-up demand. But with so many questions remaining over the pandemic, exactly how soon that will remain uncertain.
For an industry devastated by the health crisis, and all the economic fallout that brings, the restart will not come soon enough. But will travel ever be the same again, and should it be? Countries won’t be throwing open their borders at the same time, that’s for sure. The ever-changing health crisis will dictate which destinations can open and when. And when they can be removed from travel bans imposed by other nations. What role will the vaccines play in this? Will countries only welcome back visitors when vulnerable population groups have been protected? And who will be able to cross the border and visit? Will so-called ‘vaccination passports’ become a reality? And what are the challenges around aligning national and international travel policies?
Could domestic tourism benefit from this continuing uncertainty? Will home-grown attractions be the first to see new life, compared to the short and long-haul leisure markets? When overseas travel does return, what will the journey look like? Are pandemic safety measures adopted by airports and airlines here to stay for the long term? How much more of a role will technology have in the future of travel? And will it cost us more to get on the move again?
What about destinations? How are they adapting, as they look to win back lost revenues? What will they need to do to win back visitors in the short and long term, some of whom may face huge demands when it comes to reassurance? What does this mean for branding and communications?
The pandemic has changed us all, which may well determine consumer behaviour in a post-Covid world. There is much talk of the emergence of the conscious traveller, keen to have unique and authentic experiences while making a positive mark on the planet. What kind of new trends and desires will we see? Or will travellers go back to their old ways?
Travellers will be increasingly likely to expect greater flexibility from airlines and tourism providers when it comes to planning their trips. What kind of demand are companies and booking platforms already seeing? And what are consumers telling them? What are they looking for?
Many travel and tourism commentators advocate that the pandemic has presented a huge opportunity for positive change in the sectors, a chance to build back better, with sustainability front and centre. What now for the future of these hugely important economic sectors?
SPEAKERS: David Goodger, Managing Director, EMEA, Tourism Economics Gloria Guevara Manzo, President & CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council Maria Elena Rossi, Marketing and Promotion Director; Agenzia Nationale del Turismo (ENIT), Italy Chris L. Thompson, CEO, Brand USA Andrew Van Der Feltz, Senior Director, Business Development, Expedia Group Media Solutions