Future of Travel Post COVID-19: Experts Share Their Predictions

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“Travel is a privilege, and it took a pandemic to remind us of that.”

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It is hard to imagine anything going back to normal when it comes to travel but what we do know is that there will be a new norm in how we experience the world in the foreseeable future.

Many of us will be more conscious and more aware of how we approach our travels and shift our expectations too. But instead of us pondering the what if’s, we took it to the travel experts to predict what we could expect from travel post-COVID-19.

“Intrepid sees travel evolving post-COVID-19 into more localised and sustainable travel experiences. We have provided travel experiences across Australia for many years now but the evolution of that product is to be more focused on local Australian travellers who are wanting to experience their backyard in a new light. We have seen a big shift within the Australian population to supporting local businesses and their immediate communities and we will see travel evolve in this way too, including smaller groups, local community support and having a more sustainable approach.”

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Sarah Clark, Managing Director AU/NZ, Intrepid Travel

Related reads: Lonely Planet Experiences: Carbon-Neutral Tours Launched With Intrepid Travel

“As lockdown restrictions ease, our human desire to reconnect with one another will create immediate reasons for travel, and we will be keen to reengage with friendship groups and networks. This need state will quickly develop into a desire to regroup for more emotional and celebratory occasions. Many birthdays, anniversaries and celebrations were postponed in early 2020, and we will spend the short to mid-term making up for that. 

Looking to the future, there will be a more deliberate and conscious understanding of measures to take for matters of health and safety, and this will affect everyone differently – some habits and behaviours could change. In the long term, most people love to travel and to discover new horizons, and where the world has been fractured, people will never take travel for granted again and instead will take every opportunity to go to those places they always wanted to visit.”

Simon McGrath, Chief Operating Officer for Accor Pacific, Accor Hotels

Future of Travel Post COVID-19: Experts Share Their Predictions
Source: Hu Chen on Unsplash

“Whilst it’s hard to predict a timeline of return to international tourism, I think that Africa is already very well positioned with existing arrangements to handle the bounce back to post-pandemic travel. My predictions are that travellers will seek out experiences that get them out into nature, keeping them active and healthy. There will be a focus on private dining and safari guiding for social distance, a guarantee of medical facilities nearby and transparency around hygiene and safety measures and procedures. Exclusivity will be key to this, and so getting out to a lodge or camp in the middle of the bush away from the crowds will have a great deal of appeal to many.

I foresee small group travel being more common than group travel so as to minimise any anxiety over social distancing, as well as small walking tours and tailormade safaris. Consumers should be seeking out experts to book their travel; companies that can guide them to the safest and most appropriate destinations and properties to meet their specific requirements. I anticipate that moving forward, responsible travel and more meaningful experiences will be at the forefront of people’s minds, with more wellness, spiritual and niche travel being a focus for many, much of which is already abundantly accessible in Africa.”

Cameron Neill, General Manager, Bench Africa

“I predict that mass tourism will fade – for a few immediate years anyway. This has been one of the biggest social and environmental issues of the 21st century – tourism numbers to places like Venice, Barcelona, and Bali have reached excessive peaks, which has seen a detrimental effect on both the environment and lives of locals. We can only hope that destinations will use this time to work on developing solid and sustainable tourism strategies to avoid taking the same path in the future. As a traveller this presents a unique opportunity to visit previously over-crowded destinations without the normal overwhelm.”

Meg Jerrard, Travel Blogger, Mapping Megan

Related reads: Hostelworld Launches ‘Beds For Backpackers’ For Stranded Travellers

Future of Travel Post COVID-19: Experts Share Their Predictions
Source: Artur Tumasjan on Unsplash

“Painfully long airport queues, constant health reminders, and timed tickets may become the norm for the next year at least. On the plus side, a greater number of people will finally realise the horrors of over-tourism and global warming now that we’ve seen evidence of what can happen when the earth has time to breathe – as such, people will hopefully be spreading out by default and treading with care. I also think local travel – road trips in particular – will skyrocket and remain more popular than ever before. Private villas may be preferred over hotels for quite some time.

Once we get international travel back, I also see more people focusing on destinations they’ve always been curious about, but have overlooked for flashier spots. We’ve now witnessed how easily and quickly travel can be ripped away, so those who can afford it won’t be taking travel for granted any longer. Travel is a privilege, and it took a pandemic to remind us of that.”

Chris Singh, Deputy Editor, The AU Review

“There will undoubtedly be a new norm for accommodation and tour operators like myself. Our business had introduced increased cleaning and hygiene practices as well as adopting appropriate social distancing on our tours. We are running with much smaller tour groups (max of 10 people) and making sure guides and guests are well spaced from one another. The new normal has impacted our food-based tours in the short term with restrictions on handing out samples, but I hope to see this return as everyone works out what is both safe and acceptable.”

Ryan Mossny, Tour Guide & Business Owner, Two Feet & A Heart Beat

“I think we can expect to see far tighter controls around boarding procedures, hygiene, and health protocols. That could mean mandatory mask-wearing on planes, stricter sanitization, and social distancing that could continue for years to come. It could mean slower boarding procedures in smaller groups – it may mean that some airlines choose not to fill to capacity on some flights. It also may mean mandatory quarantines post-travel continue for years, as well as pre and post-travel health checks. All of that may make multiple countries trips a little bit more difficult. 

When international borders open I expect countries that are hard hit will be reaching out to photographers and travel writers alike to boost tourism in places that are very dependant on tourism – places that people maybe a little more reluctant to visit. When it’s safe to travel again I look forward to being a part of the campaigns encouraging people to explore the world again.”

Rachel Claire, Travel Photographer, Field Notes

Future of Travel Post COVID-19: Experts Share Their Predictions
Source: Aaron Sebastian on Unsplash

“Travellers will have increased awareness of the economic and social impact of their choices on the destinations and communities they visit and this will become part of their decision making criteria. While their holiday consideration sets will become markedly more local, they will gain an increased curiosity about the cultural and heritage aspects of these areas which perhaps previously went unseen. The COVID-19 environment which has led to increased time online will further elevate the already growing trend of wellness and digital detox, leaving people searching for greater meaning and reaching into the spirituality and connection of nature.”

Jo Palmer, Managing Director, Gate 7

“When travel restrictions have been eased I think we’re going to see quite a big increase in the number of people choosing domestic holidays over international destinations. I think Aussies are going to be exploring Australia more than ever, even once the international borders begin to open. We’re so lucky to live in such a beautiful, diverse and safe country and there has never been a better time to get out and experience a destination in Australia that has always been on your bucket list. Road trips are likely to be back in a huge way, with the caravan and camping industry sure to boom even further.

When international travel is possible again I think people are going to be very cautious about the places they choose to travel after seeing the devastating COVID-19 situations in other countries, with an increase in Australian’s choosing to visit New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands if they do decide to venture overseas.”

Emma Shaw, Travel Blogger, Explore Shaw

“I expect by springtime we’ll see a surge in local travel, finding gems within our own areas and travelling to regional towns within our own state with longer road trips to lesser frequented or further away areas. With international travel being off the cards for some time, I expect we’ll all be dreaming of more epic “bucket list” trips and save up our money to make those happen in the future. I think this break from travel will give frequent travellers time to focus on conscious and purposeful travel.”

Roxanne Taylor, Travel Vlogger, Roxanne Taylor Media

Feature image: Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash

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Future of Travel Post COVID-19: Experts Share Their Predictions

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