The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant effect on the tourism industry worldwide, which is now slowly awakening from the crisis caused by the spread of the virus. To analyze possible scenarios and solutions for the future of tourism after the pandemic, it can be useful to have a look at what happened in the past following exceptional phenomena.
Coronavirus like SARS?
During the 21st century, there were two phenomena similar in magnitude to the Covid-19 crisis. Firstly, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and secondly, the SARS epidemic of 2003.
Despite the necessary distinctions, there were two types of effects caused by these crises. The first is a short-term effect closely linked to the subsequent fear of getting sick, to be infected and so forth. The second, long-term, concern the signs that the crisis will have left. These will generate behavioural models with consequent changes in tastes, needs and choices and their effects on the market.
Both previous crises led to a change in the perception of travel risk, an accentuation of the proception and safety systems to which we have had to get used to.
China an Indicator
In China, where the epidemic broke out earlier than in Europe, a tourism pattern has been observed. Online searches, the main indicator of tourism trends, show that with the reduction of infections, there is an increase in the search for travel and tourist destinations. However, significant decreases have been registered compared to 2019.
This trend is likely to be confirmed also in other countries. For example, according to data in Italy, 57% of people will have no interest in travelling during the summer, while 32% will have very short holidays.
It is expected that tourism after the crisis will resume between September and December 2020. Safety, health, insurance, as well as cancellation and reimbursement policies will be the important selection criteria for future travelers, followed by the options of maximum flexibility on travel and personalization. The travel budget for 2020/2021 will be cut by around 10 to 30% compared to 2019 spending, according to a recent survey by Interface Tourism group. At this point, it is clear that the scenario in which to operate has changed. And it will still change with behaviours that will consolidate after the short-term effect.
Businesses Will Need to Respond
Businesses will need to react to the developments. Successful tourist offers must be created systematically, all-year-round and with a professional approach with respect to the needs of the market and operators.
Countries and regions that base their economy on tourism must have a specific and constant focus. Promotion and tourist offer must be done on par with what is happening in the modern market-oriented companies that constantly case about their brand and the marketing of their products. The activity must be structured and systematic with strategic objectives shared with the stakeholders.
It is likely that the permanent effects of the crisis will redesign the tourism industry. Those who will be able to create a personalized and targeted offer, different from the mass proposal, will come out successfully.
The new tourist offer will have to meet the trends in the need for sustainability and regenerative recreation that the public will demonstrate with greater vigour. Among the public, needs related to the environment, social and economic well-being and safety will grow significantly. There will also be a tendency to seek a niche rather than mass attractions.
If destinations will be capable of mapping, enhancing and promoting their “pearls” in a strategic, systematic and a professional way, getting out of this crisis will also become an opportunity to relaunch their respective locations.