Every year travel trends come and go, however, 2021 is set to be one of tourism’s most significant years to date. As the world slowly recovers from COVID-19 and borders gradually start to open, we expect travel to look a little different than it did pre-pandemic.
Although nobody knows exactly what will happen, one thing is clear; we won’t be able to travel as freely (without consideration for our health) as we used to…at least for the foreseeable future. Your position as a tour operator in this rapidly changing industry is an important one as the tourism industry embarks on this next chapter. Governmental regulations, health awareness and the long-lasting attitude effects of a global pandemic will mean changes for the way your business may operate. However, with this comes an exciting opportunity to adapt and innovate, along with the likelihood of travelers being willing to pay more to reduce their COVID-19 exposure. Continue reading to get a glance at what’s in store for the future of tourism in 2021 and beyond.
Before COVID-19, exploring a crowded city would have been exciting and invigorating. Wandering through bustling markets, enjoying dinner at a bistro brimming with locals, and visiting tourist hotspots were often the hallmarks of a fulfilling holiday. Sadly, what once was the source of endless travel memories are now situations that incite fear and anxiety for many.
In a post-COVID-19 world, travelers will be much more cognizant of the need to travel to destinations that make it easy to maintain social distancing practices. Tour operators will need to get creative by designing itineraries that avoid public forms of transportation and crowded tourist areas, as their customers will expect this more considered approach to travel design. This may take the form of itineraries focussing on more remote locations or even the increased popularity of niches such as birding tours and biking tours, where travelers are less likely to come into contact with others.
Traveling in a group can be an appealing way for people to meet others, enjoy a unique experience, or simply save money on travel. However, in 2021 this option is likely going to become increasingly unattainable. Traveling with strangers widens everyone’s ‘bubble’ and also increases the reliance on others to practice safe behaviors.
Tour operators and travel agents who specialize in creating group tours may want to start thinking about how to pivot their business to operate safely and successfully in this new world. One option could be to pivot completely from group travel to 100% FIT travel. Another may involve continuing to offer group travel but only to those groups who already know and trust each other and regularly interact.
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