Travel has been off the agenda for the best part of a year, and it will return in a different form, writes JULENA DRUMI
It has been the worst of times for the tourism and travel sectors with many businesses worrying that they won’t survive the current restrictions.
The good news for the industry is that those suffering lockdown’s equivalent of cabin fever are champing at the bit to see the world.
US tourists are already looking beyond the pandemic and making plans to return to the UK and Europe.
So-called “revenge travel” is starting to trend in the industry, referring to those whose travel plans in 2020 were cancelled or postponed and are planning trips with a vengeance as soon they can.
However, tourists are likely to adopt new patterns of travel and seek out different types of destinations which will demand changes in how the industry markets itself.
Speaking to US industry news site Travel Weekly, Mark C Frevert, chief architect and chief relationship officer of Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) says: “Many travellers are eagerly awaiting the chance to travel again, with some notable differences in how they’ll travel compared to prior years.”
Solo travellers, in particular, are fuelling the revenge travel trend, says a recent Solo Traveller survey, conducted in conjunction with OAT, which specialises in customised small-group travel for Americans aged 50 and over. It found that nearly half of the 3,000 survey respondents reported an intention to travel even more in the post-Covid future than they had previously.
One new trend is women travelling on their own, with 50% of OAT travellers — or more than 30,000 bookings accounting for solo women so far for 2021 and 2022. In 2010 only 27% of travellers were solo women.
Other trends include slow travel, favoured by those who have spent months at home and have used to swapping rush hour for cycling and walking. There is also “purposeful travel” for those seeking authentic experiences that focus on adventure and taking part in helping communities or environmental projects.
While frustrated sun-seekers will simply rush back to the pools and beaches, an increasing number of travellers are thinking about the implications of how they travel, and the social and economic impact on the places they visit.
‘We need to stop buying last-minute flights. Our travel should be planned more intentionally and we should advocate for change in the workplace in terms of how we take holidays’
A report commissioned before the end of last year by travel community Trippin, and carried out by London’s public research university UCL, suggests purposeful travel will require an overhaul by brands.
The co-founder of Trippin, Kesang Ball, told Lonely Planet: “Travelling the world is amazing: it’s there to be explored, cultures are there to be connected to, and I think that it brings us together. By understanding people’s differences, we can understand more of our own.
“However, you’ve got to be mindful about how you move around in the world. Respect it and have respect for your people and yourself.”
Tourism accounts for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions and the UN’s Environment Programme has been an advocate for slow, low-carbon travel for decades.
Joycelyn Longdon, the founder of Climate in Colour, an education platform that aims to make climate conversations more accessible and diverse, says “We cannot continue into the future with our current travel habits.
“Our planet and environment are under so much pressure as it is and it’s only going to get worse,” she told Lonely Planet.
“We need to stop buying last-minute flights. Our travel should be planned more intentionally and we should advocate for change in the workplace in terms of how we take holidays.
“It also means advertising less frivolous, impulsive experiences and really showing the destination through a local’s eyes rather than tourist’s.”