The tourism industry has been hit by the current crisis like no other. While other businesses have been able to adapt their activities to abide by the continually updated safety measures imposed in each country, tourism-related enterprises have seen the very core of their activities being shut down entirely all over the world, for long periods of time. Since vaccines were made available, there has been a lot of talk about “restarting tourism” and industry professionals have been gathering (mostly online, of course) to discuss strategies for the post-pandemic market. One such debate was held recently during GECO, the first online sustainability summit, which addressed, among others, issues pertaining to sustainable tourism.
Restarting tourism closer to home: local destinations will be more accessible in the short term
Most tour operators have had to struggle with both local and international bans on travel, but the latter have been in place for longer stretches of time than the former. This has led the industry towards a comprehensive rediscovering of local destinations, targeting their marketing campaigns at local audiences, and developing travel packages to allow them to explore their own region. Territorial marketing has played a major role in this campaign, with messages focusing on the beauty of travel and its intrinsic value regardless of the distance that can be covered or the exoticism of the chosen destination. Both natural and cultural attractions have been remarketed in an effort to look inwards, marvelling at the wonders we so often ignore because we perceive them as being too close to home to be interesting.
Working towards a sustainable future for the tourism industry
Another aspect that has been taken into account is sustainability. Restarting tourism without addressing its environmental impact is unthinkable in this day and age. We all know by now that air travel produces higher carbon emissions than any other form of transport and that mass tourism exploits natural resources and damages local communities. Alternatives are available and a growing audience of travellers is responding positively to them, showing an interest in the cultural and environmental aspects of travelling and demanding a sustainable offer, focusing on experiences rather than souvenirs, on personal growth rather than souvenir-grabbing and Instagram-worthy shots.
Harnessing new technologies
Technology is an essential ally to the tourism industry at this stage. New options are being made available every day, as apps are developed that allow to expand and organise the travel experience. Many tour operators, for instance, have started relying on virtual reality to offer previews of their available destinations to their customers. Contact-tracing has also become paramount in recent months, in order to allow social situations to remain safe and stop potential pandemic hotspots from growing. At this stage, it is not only essential to keep track of new technologies being developed, but also to find new ways of deploying existing technologies to improve travel experiences. The post-pandemic world is drawing near and the tourism industry needs to be prepared.