BUSINESS

COVID-19 and the travel industry

Even today, coronavirus cases are popping up across the U.S. and abroad. As a result, the travelers in the U.S. who have their passports ready remain grounded. There are still countless countries with restrictions on American travelers, leaving so many people itching to get out and explore.

How long things will stay this way is still unknown. Everything from international flights, domestic road trips, and cruises from Miami and other ports have been impacted. Keep reading to learn about the impact of this pandemic on the travel industry.

The Driving Force of Sustainability

One of the silver linings from this pandemic is that more consumers than ever are focusing on sustainability. Industry experts predict that travelers will become more focused on the role of being “concerned citizens” and demand more responsible travel policies. The industry will respond with various active measures to help prioritize a healthier planet over higher profit margins. Some agree that the possibility of “fly-free days” will occur in the future, and additional measures will be taken to help control climate change.

You can act now. For example, you can reduce your carbon footprint by purchasing offsets from certain companies and booking a stay at certified green hotels.

More Inclusive Journeys 

After movements like Black Lives Matter, there is now a new focus on representation in every industry, including the travel sector. It is far overdue, according to many. There are countless efforts in place now that meaningful change will be visible in the future; however, there is also the concern that this change may be short-lived.

Once the pandemic has passed, and the trending hashtags are no longer trendy, will the industry’s gatekeepers still want to attract, cater to, and celebrate people of color who wish to travel? While there is no guarantee, let’s hope things remain inclusive.

Some have stated that the industry is moving in this direction. Some companies have addressed the needs of more diverse customers, which is something quite beneficial for everyone. For example, travel companies are now focusing on a trans female’s experience when deciding what bathroom to use or showing her license when checking in at the airport. There are also options for plus-sized travelers who want to scuba dive or surf, thanks to the availability of properly sized wet suits. And blind travelers can experience extreme sports when this may not have been possible in the past.

A great way to act on this is by paying a visit to one of the more than 200 living history museums found in the U.S. These shed light on all types of painful issues in the country, including racism along with hidden narratives.

Small Communities Are Playing a Larger Role

Travelers can have a huge impact on small towns that are struggling, especially those struggling since before the pandemic began. Try traveling to areas that are not as well known or popular, instead of going to the most trending destinations. Now is the time to support these locations by patronizing all kinds of local businesses and making donations to nonprofit organizations.

Try focusing on the global south or countries that are still developing and that is dependent on tourism. It is crucial to diversify locations and avoid cases of mass tourism in places that truly need it. After seeing so many suffering communities because of COVID-19, more light has been brought to these issues.

It would help if you tried to turn to more sustainable tourism and education. This will help you learn how you can empower local areas while protecting the environment.

People Are Now Seeking Quality Over Quantity

Higher mileage travelers are starting to put even more thought into their growing bucket lists. For example, some people have stated that after the COVID-19 pandemic, they are rethinking how they will travel. Today, there is more freedom to explore the different travel projects and find out what travelers are truly passionate about. Instead of just focusing on what is popular, exploring more unique and exciting areas is possible.

Many people are halting international trips and realizing what a privilege that travel is. Those who love to travel also realize how this may have been a privilege they have taken for granted. Today, privilege is seen in many different forms. Recognizing travel-related ones has caused many people to think about more intentional travel and not embarking on these ventures as often. This is the case, at least, if things begin to look “normal” or like the pre-pandemic days again.

The Resurgence of the Original Road Trip

Because of coronavirus and all the restrictions it has created across the globe, the only option is an old-fashioned road trip for many travelers. When done right, driving across state lines can be just as exciting as flying over international borders. The key is your mindset. When you embark on a road trip, you are getting to the very core of travel, exploring something new.

Now is the time to consider planning a COVID-conscious trip to a new state. Choose one that you or someone in your family or group has never visited before. Getting to try something new is half the appeal of traveling.

The Growing Use of Travel Advisors

There is a prediction that there will be a shift of travelers using established travel agents’ services. Some of the reasons for this are their extensive knowledge of the industry and the connections they have. Something that has been proven by 2020 is that the financial protection and expertise offered by booking a trip through a travel agent will outweigh what they are paid in commissions.

Also, consumers will begin looking for travel agents who plan trips with a focus on minimizing environmental impact. These are the people who care about where people are going and who find sustainable and green travel options whenever possible.

The Appeal of Remaining Close to Home

Traveling at home is another trend that is beginning to catch on. Today, online cultural cooking classes, virtual experiences, and games help keep the spirit behind travel alive by thinking about the feelings that traveling can create. You can even develop an extended travel community by exchanging postcards from different locations. This is a great way to experience all that travel offers once again and safely.

Compared to being locked up, for an indefinite amount of time, in your homes, a walk in the nearby park can feel like travel. Today, people are more willing to see the magic that is all around them and in things like having a meal on an outdoor restaurant patio in their neighborhood.

Now is the time to get outdoors. Adopt the concept of friluftsliv, which is a Norwegian concept. This is the idea of outdoor living that makes the promises that the colder months of the pandemic will be much more bearable.

Planning the Trip Will Again Be an Experience 

Even though many people have made the best of being grounded, it is also important to remember that traveling is something that improves some people’s mental health and personal growth. In fact, according to a study from 2013 involving 483 U.S. adults, it was found that travel helps to improve focus, empathy, attention, and energy. Planning a trip is something that can be just as beneficial. According to a study conducted by Cornell in 2014, looking forward to traveling helps increase a person’s happiness, much more than purchasing material items.

Planning Your Travel in 2021 and Beyond

As you can see, the travel industry has been significantly impacted by the pandemic. There is also the possibility that it will remain changed and that things will never be the “normal” you knew in the past, during the pre-pandemic era. While this is true, it does not mean that travel cannot be as good or even better than it was before. A lot of what you experience is directly impacted by your mindset. When you have the right mindset, you can make the most of your travel experiences.

Remember, you will still have to know and abide by the restrictions in place for any destination you are planning to visit. Be sure to keep this in mind and know what to expect for any location you plan to travel to. By doing this, you can feel confident that regardless of the plans you make, you will have an amazing experience and that it will be everything you hoped for.

Travel is changed forever. However, this doesn’t mean it has changed for the worse. Be sure to keep this in mind to understand what the travel industry is like today fully. Being informed and knowing what to expect are the best ways to plan successful travel adventures. If you are not sure you can handle the planning process alone, now is the time to call in a professional. Modern travel agents are available to help with post-COVID travel plans to any destination in the world.