Trends such as sustainability, health and wellness and community-based travel were once thought to be niche. In a post-Covid-19 world, trends such as these will grow in popularity as more travellers may desire to see the overwhelming benefits that tourism can bring from a social, economic and environmental standpoint.
Travel agencies and tour operators that work within one of these themes are already at a competitive advantage and will just have to survive, then they may experience a quick uptick in sales. Traditional travel agencies that adhere to the typical ‘mass tourist’ and sun, sand, sea and beach model will be threatened as consumers look for more specific types of holiday.
Now it is the time to be proactive as evolving consumer behaviour is typically a key barrier faced by companies but in a post-Covid-19 world, changes are likely to be even more significant.
Companies that specialise on niche holidays may already hold a slight competitive advantage
Travellers are seeing the effects of no travel across destinations worldwide. Destinations that were suffering from over-tourism now have time to heal. Waterways in Venice have become clearer, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is healing and wildlife is returning to many destinations across the globe.
Seeing the effects of the dramatic standstill of the travel sector will encourage tourists to be more responsible, sustainable and supportive of local communities when travelling. Community-based tourism encourages authentic experiences, negating a positive impact on both the tourist and the host community. Experiences such as this are likely to gain considerable traction.
Smaller, independent operators are typically at the most risk due to Covid-19 as the precipitous slump in demand and spending will have depleted cash reserves – an area where a larger operator will be at an advantage. Although, if management can pull through this challenging time, there lies great opportunity ahead.
Agencies that typically contributed to mass tourism will be threatened
The traditional travel agent model has been around for many years and the idea of a ‘mass tourist’ first emerged in the 1950s when British travellers started flocking to beaches in the UK and then into Europe.
The effects of mass tourism can be detrimental to a community as local culture, authenticity and resources are depleted at large. Even after lockdowns begin to ease and international travel restrictions are relaxed, after months of social distancing, the appeal of an overcrowded beach or hotel resort may have been reduced.
Evolving consumer behaviour is typically a barrier that travel companies face and have to adapt to. There is a clear scope that niche travel themes that were emerging pre-Covid-19 will be considerably more important in future travel. Therefore, companies that are proactive now and adapt to future changes in the market may hold a stronger position in a post-pandemic business environment.