Major changes in the tourism industry after the pandemic will take place in four areas: tourism demand, health and hygiene concerns, digitalization trends, and sustainability.
In 2019, the number of tourists going abroad reached 1.5 billion people. The tourism industry creates more than 330 million jobs and contributes 10% of global GDP, according to World Travel and Tourism Council (rough translation: World Tourism Council).
The explosion of mass tourism has allowed many people to visit new places without learning about the local culture or language. Many tourists only meet locals when cleaning hotel rooms. 16 months of closure because of the Covid-19 pandemic has caused the tourism industry to suffer. However, this huge industry that holds hundreds of millions of jobs is not going to collapse. It will return with the hope of changing in a sustainable direction, for the better, South China Morning Post identify. Karon Beach in Phuket (Thailand) is deserted on September 30, 2020. Photo: SCMP. Report of World Travel and Tourism Council in September 2020 identified four major changes in the future of tourism: travel demand, health and hygiene concerns, digitalization trends, and sustainability. In terms of demand, visitors will shift to prefer things that are familiar, predictable and reliable, which means local tourism is boosted. That will be evident in major countries with solid tourism foundations such as the US, European countries, Japan and China. International tourists will pay more attention to local characteristics instead of rushing to any place containing the combination of “blue sea, white sand, golden sunshine”. Airline packages will become obsolete. Health and hygiene concerns do not stop at temporary levels. Attending events, especially indoor and crowded ones, is challenging. The pandemic has made foreign travel dangerous, especially for developing countries with weak health infrastructures. The cumbersome administrative procedures to check visitors during the epidemic season will hinder this demand. The trend of digitalization in tourism will interfere and influence in two opposite directions. On the one hand, social networks will help plan trips without human contact and reduce dependence on travel agencies. On the other hand, the need for reliable sources of information can also strengthen the role of travel agencies. In addition, digitalization will also raise concerns about data privacy in international travel. Finally and most importantly, sustainability is effectively addressed. Mass tourism has caused great harm to the environment, “polluting” the experience and enjoyment of trips. The beaches of Bali (Indonesia) or Boracay (Philippines) are much less attractive when filled with plastic waste and untreated sewage. Crowding along the Great Wall at the Badaling section with thousands of other hikers or queuing to conquer Everest lowers the excitement of the experience. The Chinese crowd the Great Wall as fears of an epidemic fade. Photo: CNN. Business trips will be limited but more purposeful, as deep knowledge of foreign markets and different cultures remains key to the success of international businesses. This affects the airline industry, but it’s not bad news. In the future, the tourism industry will probably still hold 330 million jobs and serve 1.5 billion people a year or even more. However, visitors will pay more attention to the local environment and culture. Small groups of traveling friends will be formed to replace crowded groups like “broken bees”.