Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the travel and tourism industry. However, the societal effect of Covid-19 could lead to a more sustainably conscious traveller.
According to GlobalData’s Covid-19 Recovery Survey, 45% of global respondents are ‘always’ or ‘often’ influenced by how ethical / environmentally-friendly / socially-responsible a product or service is. Furthermore, 49% said that reducing their environmental footprint is more important to them than before the Covid-19 pandemic, highlighting a shift in attitudes and potentially a change in traveller demands.
Sustainability was always going to be an important issue in travel and tourism in 2020. Although, it appears that Covid-19 has amplified the importance of sustainable travel, making it of vital importance to many companies within the sector.
Covid-19 effectively forcing some companies into creating more sustainability initiatives could create positive long-term effects for the tourism sector. UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili stated, “The timely and responsible easing of travel restrictions will help ensure the many social and economic benefits that tourism guarantees will return in a sustainable way. This will contribute to the livelihoods of many millions of people around the world.”
Customers are expecting more from companies
It appears that customers are now wanting more information about sustainability initiatives from the companies they use. According to GlobalData, over a third of global respondents (37%) want news about a brand’s sustainability initiatives. This is a large portion of the market that are now expecting companies to play a role in educating about sustainability issues, this growing interest in sustainability may also force more companies to take the issue seriously or risk alienating over a third of the market they operate in.
Releasing news and initiatives relating to sustainable practices could be an effective way for companies to engage customers during a period where there has been little to no travel in many regions. Staying relevant is critical in ensuring tourism companies bounce back as soon as possible once customers begin travelling.
Social distancing could have a positive impact on some locations
In recent years, popular tourist destinations such as Venice and Dubrovnik have been overwhelmed by the number of tourists flocking there each year, ultimately ruining the experience for many visitors and upsetting the locals who live in the area. Social distancing measures that will be put in place post Covid-19 will provide a sustainable model for companies and cities in the long term.
There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has been catastrophic for tourism companies. However, it may allow them to learn from past mistakes where they could have acted irresponsibly from a sustainability point of view, allowing for a more sustainable tourism industry in the future.