There is no doubt that the tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit during the Covid-19 crisis. With travel restrictions implemented by governments across the globe, the world we have grown to know – with frequent and increasingly affordable inter-continental air travel – has suddenly become far more isolated.
Airlines and travel companies have been hitting the headlines since the outbreak began in March, with travellers who had experienced cancellations and curtailments seeking their rights to refunds and rearrangements, while travellers with plans later in the year were seeking clarification around their bookings.
With almost an entire summer season passing us by, with uncertainty around the safety of travel and quarantine measures changing by the day, travel companies are trying to respond to the fluid situation while keeping customers informed and looking to plan in some way for 2021.
On the whole there is very likely to be a reluctance by some holidaymakers to travel abroad as freely as many will have done in the past. With this in mind, domestic travel and ‘staycations’ are likely to be the default option for many looking to get away from home without the added risk of their trip being cut short or quarantine restrictions being put in place when they return.
Many Americans are regularly tourists in their own country, with a vast and varying array of city and beach destinations in the U.S. it is easy to understand why so many opt to stay within their own borders – could we see a rise in this sort of tourism in Europe? If the early evidence of travellers taking city breaks or flocking to the coasts of their home countries over the last few week and months is anything to go by then it could well be the case.
If this trend is to continue in to 2021 travel companies will be forced to readjust their services accordingly. This will be easier to do for flexible businesses with a strong foundation within the travel industry, it will be less easy for airlines and operators who depend heavily on overseas travel.
With hotel operators and coach companies severely affected during the lockdown, with non-essential travel advised against and many hotels and AirBnB operators hibernating their entire operations for many months, they could be lifted by a post-lockdown bounce with travellers opting to explore their home country in ways that may never have crossed their minds previously.
With the scale of the pandemic meaning almost every industry and walk of life has been affected in some way since the outbreak earlier this year, many travellers have been more understanding than they may normally have been on the back of cancelled or altered travel plans. It is important that businesses within the industry don’t abuse this good will by taking any longer than they absolutely need to in dealing with any cancellations.
As we look ahead to 2021, it is important to be cautiously optimistic about the prospects of travel in the next 12-18 months. With many travellers prevented from making the most of their holidays this year, there is likely to be an appetite for travel in some shape or form when it is safe and reliable again – it is imperative that travel operators are willing and able to offer suitable destinations and services when normality returns.