Comment: Coronavirus will change the travel industry forever

The Residence Zanzibar's director of sales & marketing shares his thoughts on how people will travel post pandemic

Syed Aftab
Syed Aftab

The COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly having a tremendous unforeseen and undesirable impact on the travel industry as a whole. Industry professionals across the globe have been seeing occupancies plunging from over 80% to single digit overnight. With many hotels temporarily suspending operations for an indefinite period is the current grim reality of the travel industry.

Travellers will be more anxious while making travel plans post the pandemic. This anxiety will be more among the older generation as compared to the millennials who will still be willing to take the so-called risk before travelling.

One good thing about the travel industry is that the industry is very resilient and does rebound fairly quickly from a crisis. We are also anticipating some pent-up demand and that people will be ready to travel. At the first the travel might mainly be domestic and non-essential international travel might pick up slowly.

The industry will have to work on building the confidence of travellers to take the risk to travel again. Countries might impose visa restrictions post the pandemic too. Although midscale city hotels will be the first to recover with domestic business travel to start with. The luxury resorts would need to time to recover, due to so many job cuts globally, the spending capacity will also be impacted.

Travel to unexplored serene locations away from the bustling city life will be more preferred as travellers will be more health conscious and would want to surround themselves with more of nature and avoid the pollution in cities. Eco tourism, Wellness Tourism and Adventure Tourism will be the key focus while making leisure travel decisions.

When restrictions do ease, I think the first thing that will come back is regional travel. More road trips within the country will be the first step. People will still be sceptical about travelling out of the country for the fear of being quarantined unexpectedly. If there is no recurrence of COVID-19, I would expect a steady increase of leisure travel through 2021, as more vacationers and business people take to the air.

The priority will be on high class hygiene standards. Hotels will look to more robotic kinds of cleaning and travellers are going to be very, very mindful of how close they get to other people. More hotels will upgrade to touch less check in, check out with Digital Check in and Digital Key enabled rooms.

If the COVID-19 vaccine is developed and used globally, the world might revert to the age-old practice of travelling with a health card with record of all the immunisations of the traveller in the past.

That being said, people’s need to travel is as important as the basic human needs like food and water. To travel is to live and the world will start travelling again soon. However, the world of travel will never be the same again.

About the Author
Syed Aftab, has an MBA from Bharati Vidyapeeth University and is currently working as The Residence Zanzibar's director of sales & marketing. In the hospitality fro more than 14 years, Aftab is specialised in marketing, business development and in revenue management in destinations such as Oman, UAE and India.

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