COVID-19 has upended global travel. What new trends in travel can we expect as border restrictions are lifted?
The coronavirus pandemic has caused great turbulence in the travel and tourism industry. However, we see travel restrictions being lifted here and there. With the advent of COVID-19 vaccines, the demand for travel is likely to come back stronger than ever in the near future.
But things are unlikely to exactly go back to the way things were. Some trends we can anticipate in the future are: travel bubbles, sustainable travel, slow travel, and adventure travel.
These are essentially travel agreements between countries believed to have controlled the spread of COVID-19. They allow travel across closed borders without long quarantines and other major restrictions. However, travellers won’t be able to travel as freely as they would have pre-pandemic, as travel bubbles would carry with them testing requirements that must be met to avoid quarantine.SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL
While people are yearning to take to the skies again, the long hiatus during the pandemic has very likely seen a shift in perspectives on travel. Rather than head to crowded cities post-pandemic, travellers will want to travel to places where it’s easier to maintain social distancing practices. In line with this, they are also likely to make sustainable travel choices and consider their impact on a destination before booking a trip, surmise travel experts.
Sustainable travel, or ecotourism, consciously supports local communities. It encourages engaging with and learning from other cultures while minimising environmental impact. The revival of sustainable tourism would be especially significant, considering that aspects of environmental tourism — such as wildlife conservation, which depend on tourism dollars — have been hard hit by the pandemic, pointed out Erin Green, a travel advisor at a Minneapolis-based travel agency, in an interview with Penta.
After a year of international lockdowns, travel experts predict that travellers would favour a slower pace of travel. Slow travel entails extended stays at a particular place rather than superficially hopping from country to country or region to region.
The pandemic has led to the realisation that more people are able to work from any location. This means we can work equally well from Malta to Morocco to the Maldives. Being so mobile allows us to take longer trips and spend prolonged periods immersing ourselves in a particular destination, learning more about the communities there.
After being cooped up in their homes for months at various levels of quarantine, reconnecting with nature is likely to be on the wish list of many wannabe travellers, particularly those who live in densely populated urban settings. The need for social distancing will also drive a demand for itineraries that avoid public transportation and crowded tourist areas. Given this scenario, travellers would be in search of places that are off the beaten path and tours that revolve around activities where they are unlikely to come into close contact with others such as cycling, trekking, surfing and birdwatching.
As being around hordes of people is now considered a health risk, the need for privacy will also be high on the list of demands. At the luxury end, tourists are likely to choose private villas and hotels in remote areas with private entrances and lifts.