The past six months have altered the world we know completely. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every facet of society, the travel, and tourism industry has taken a tremendous hit. Even as (mostly domestic) travel starts up again in countries around the world, the future of travel is still uncertain.
Many people are wondering what travel will look like during and post-COVID-19 and with good reason. While it is impossible to predict how the industry will fare once the pandemic subsides, there are certain changes that are already occurring. Many of these changes are positive and will likely remain long after the coronavirus threat has receded.
Let us look at some the changes you can expect now and in the future as travel makes a comeback:
Focus on Hygiene and Cleanliness
The most obvious change we can expect is a greater focus on hygiene and cleanliness. Whether we’re on a cross-continent flight, checking into a luxury hotel, grabbing lunch at a restaurant, or taking a group tour, sanitization will be part of the process. Every area of the travel, tourism and hospitality industries will ensure cleanliness for travelers now and well into the future. There are numerous initiatives currently being put into place to increase cleanliness standards such as contactless services and guest service apps.
With a threat to our health being at the forefront of our minds for months, this trend is definitely not surprising. More and more people are searching for sanctuaries in nature away from the masses. People want to travel without fear of infection, which means more time in nature and less time in major cities. Consequently, this move will inspire more people to look for travel experiences that improve their mental and physical well-being. So, not only will secluded destinations be popular but also places that revolve around wellness travel.
Staycations and Domestic Travel
Even though we’re all dreaming of distant lands and faraway places, international travel will likely only make a true comeback in 2021. That means that staycations and domestic travel will remain popular for the next quarter. After months at home, people are eager to get out and explore. For most, local travel is the only safe and viable option available. People want to novel experiences and freedom after this long stress-filled year, which makes staycations even more appealing. Take the time to wander around your own country, either with weekend getaways or a cross-country road trip.
The separation caused during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown reminded us of our need for connection. By being forced apart, we realized what a privilege it is to connect with friends, family, and even strangers. That’s why the future of travel is likely to have an emphasis on cultivating connections. Travelers will feel a sense of responsibility to travel in ways that they can give back and form real connections with local communities and other travelers. This will take many forms depending on the destination. But there will be an increased demand for locally-produced food at hotels and restaurants, destination tours run by locals, and sustainability projects.
As a result of the pandemic, people are going to search for meaning and purpose in their travels in the future. Rather than traveling for the sake of travel, people will choose to travel with purpose and intention to find more meaning in the experience. Although there is likely to be a spike in flights once borders open up again, we all saw the positive effects in our environment when the world shut down. This is likely to leave a lasting impression that will make travelers think twice about booking an inter-continental flight without a reason.
Although the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry will look different, our desire to travel will remain. Masks and sanitizers will be commonplace for the foreseeable future, but it will only inspire us to seek out nature and solitude. Airport security and screening will be more thorough but we’ll still head for distant lands in our search for meaning. No matter how different the future of travel looks, one thing is for sure – we’ll never take that freedom for granted again.