Tourism in 2021: How the Industry can Win Back Tourists

February 12, 2021 - 1:17 pm
Tourism in 2021: How the Industry can Win Back Tourists
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With vaccines rolling out in many parts of the world, a return to travel will also soon be on the horizon. The industry, being the hardest hit by the pandemic and probably the slowest to recover, is considering the overall economic downturn. That is why many tourism businesses are on the lookout for ways to make sure to boost tourism in 2021. Here are some ways to successfully do that:

1. Increasing online presence and engagement

A traveller’s journey has four phases: dreaming and planning, shopping and booking, the trip experience, and post-trip. Today’s tech-savvy, mobile-first travellers look for personalised content relevant to their preference throughout this. And prediction says that by 2022, more than a third of European supplier-OTA bookings will be transacted via mobile websites and apps. That is why travel businesses should consider investing more in their online presence.

Also, virtual tourism, which exploded since the coronavirus outbreak, is likely to remain a thing even after the pandemic. Even before the pandemic, the industry was heading in that direction, given that people are spending an average of 6 hours and 42 minutes online each day, according to Digital 2019 Report from Hootsuite and We Are Social. This figure is before lockdowns are imposed in different countries and companies shifted to work-from-home set-up. Only shows that many of us have already become comfortable with the Internet and perhaps would love the ability to transform reality into a close and more pleasing representation of itself. Thus, while many will always prefer physical travel, it’s likely that virtual travel will be enlisted in our “new normal”. 

When travel resumes, brands that have a strong online presence will be on top of the travellers’ minds.

2. Dateless departures 

Nobody can say for sure when we will go back to normal, or if we will even be back to normal. Travellers have put off booking future adventures because we simply don’t know when we will be able to travel again. That’s why travel planning without the stress of committing to a specific date will surely be appealing to those who have been aching to travel again. Play up the idea of trip anticipation: booking the very first trips to reopened destinations — whenever that might happen.

3. Maintenance (and even surpass) pandemic-era cleaning and service standards

During the pandemic, hotels and hospitality providers have struggled to find a balance between safety and providing guests with the same level of personalised service they have come to expect. These hospitality skills should be trained even further, post-pandemic. In such a way, a level of safety, cleaning, and maintenance standards that allow guests to enjoy worry-free stays can be achieved.

4. Travel bubbles

Trust will be paramount when travel reopens. Hence, some tour operators offer travellers the opportunity to travel with the people they trust most: their friends and family. Trafalgar, Costsaver, and Insight Vacations all offer the “travel bubble” option — small, private group trips for their upcoming 2021 journeys that allows a set of family and/or friends to share a tour while maintaining a safer distance from people they’re unacquainted with. This is also an opportunity for those who’ve been separated from loved ones throughout the pandemic to reunite and reconnect in 2021.

5. Prioritise travel sustainability and resilience through coordinated global policy

A large majority of global travellers – 87% – say that they want to travel sustainably. This is according to the new Sustainable Travel Report released by Booking.com in 2018. Bringing this up is of utmost importance in planning measures about travel recovery.

Global cooperation and evidence-based solutions is a must, so travel restrictions can be safely lifted. Although governments have taken impressive action to cushion the blow to tourism and to build recovery in 2021 and beyond, more needs to be done. And in a more coordinated way. The OECD outlines the following key policies to be prioritised:

  • Restoring traveller confidence
  • Supporting tourism businesses to adapt and survive
  • Promoting domestic tourism and supporting the safe return of international tourism
  • Providing clear information to travellers and businesses, and limiting uncertainty (to the extent possible)
  • Evolving response measures to maintain capacity in the sector and address gaps in supports
  • Strengthening co-operation within and between countries
  • Building more resilient, sustainable tourism

The crisis is an opportunity to rethink tourism in 2021, or even yet, for the future. Tourism is at a crossroads and the measures put in place today will shape the tourism of tomorrow.

We have to collectively consider the longer-term implications of the crisis while capitalising on digitalisation, combating climate change, and promoting the structural transformation needed to build a stronger, more sustainable and resilient tourism economy.

tourism in 2021
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