In the year 2019, the travel and tourism industry accounted for 334 million jobs globally which is nearly 1 in 10 jobs, contributing $9’170 billion to the global GDP. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the contribution of travel and tourism to global GDP dropped by 49.1% resulting in an 18.5% loss in the total number of jobs created by the industry. The near stand-still situation of the industry has adversely affected the entire supply chain. For many developing countries and small island states that are most dependent on tourism, economic recovery will depend on the industry’s recovery.India is home to World Heritage sites, mesmerizing beaches, geographical biodiversity, historic monuments and much more. It is no surprise that it has and continues to attract travellers from around the world. In 2019, international travellers accounted for $29.96 billion in Foreign Exchange Earnings. The pandemic has halted most touristic activities, depleting revenues. Over the last 1.5 years, the government of India has been investing efforts and money into supporting the sustainable and resilient recovery of travel and tourism, providing free loans to MSMEs, developing medical, religious and adventure tourism, organising training and development workshops, etc. To recover from the hit the industry has taken, it is imperative to first identify changes in people’s perceptions and behaviours. Let’s look at some of the trends and evolutions in the Travel & Tourism industry:
Change in demand: As international travel takes a backseat, domestic travel is expected to drive growth in the industry in the short to mid-term. People will look to spend more time in the outdoors, have road trips, and visit places that are familiar and trusted.
Health and hygiene: Safety will become the first priority. Although quarantine regulations and hygiene protocols are critical at different touchpoints of travel, it shouldn’t make travellers feel like it is logistically complicated to travel. Individuals who are fully vaccinated, with a negative COVID test would treat it as the new passport for travel.
Reduction in mass tourism: We will see a shift in people choosing quality over quantity, with more and more tourists visiting the lesser-known areas and adopting a ‘travel slower’ approach. This will also help the smaller towns flourish economically.
Focus on sustainability and the environment: Since the pandemic, globally we have seen a positive impact on the environment due to reduced pollution. People are more aware and proactive about the choices they make and its impact, especially on nature. This will determine their future travel patterns as well – picking eco-hotels, reducing their carbon footprint, supporting local communities, etc.
Rise in inclusivity: With the rise in awareness of anti-racist and LGBTQ movements, the Tourism and Hospitality industry needs to identify and adapt itself to the needs of diverse groups of people and make its service more inclusive.
Tech Advancements: Technology is playing a crucial role in redefining the tourism and hospitality industry by providing safe and seamless service. There has been a surge in usage of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, AI and IoT, especially over the past 1.5 years to bring travel experiences closer to home.
Individuals travel for multiple reasons. It could be to relax, rejuvenate, escape or have an adventure and experience new places, cultures and food. ‘People’ are the main catalyst in delivering these experiences to tourists; the materialistic aspects fade while the feelings remain. While the pandemic has brought about its own share of changes, it has also forced the travel industry to introspect and discern the sentiments, behaviours and preferences of travellers that had previously gone unnoticed. The time for change is now! It will be interesting to see how the industry adapts to these changes and maintains elements of human touch while continuing to provide quality service!
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