As we proceed to mostly put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, industries the world over are finally sighing a breath of relief as things return to normal.
Travel and tourism, two intertwined industries that are entirely dependent on human interaction and physical presence, were naturally among those most impacted by lockdowns and social distancing measures. This, as a result, led to the shut down of many businesses that couldn’t keep afloat. Others managed to pivot and adapt, releasing new products and services while capitalising on new traveller expectations and trends.
For many, staycations offered a simple reprieve to dwindling revenues. Travel agencies, booking platforms, airlines and others shifted their focus inwards as opposed to outwards. Marketing campaigns now focused on local hotspots and scenic destinations, and the discovery of local cultures and history. Road trips within borders became all the rage, as citizens looked for a reprieve from isolation.
With remote working on the rise, the workation trend emerged as well, where people would travel locally and internationally (in the later stages of the pandemic) to enjoy new and foreign experiences while still committed to their day jobs. The emergence of 5G networks also served to support this.
While wellness tourism has been a growing niche within the sector for many years now, COVID-19 only served to amplify demand further, as the world’s population had to stop and take a hard look at its personal wellbeing in the face of a new biological threat that reminded us of simple things like personal hygiene and sanitisation.
Technology, as usual, played a major part in all these developments. With the improvements in AI and machine learning technology, booking platforms and aggregators have had the chance to double down on customer personalisation, where the right customer is recommended the right room, trip or destination, for the right price. This is the most ‘early-stage’ of all these developments, but the one with the greatest future potential.
A common sentiment among travellers is the desire to make up for lost time. Many birthdays, vacations, weddings, and family celebrations have had to be put on hold in the past two years, and therefore a large part of travel will naturally serve to reconnect loved ones and renew shared bonds.
The travel and tourism sectors have quite a long way to go still, but history shows that the duo has always rebounded following terrible disasters, and now we watch as it makes its well-earned return.
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