We are in unprecedented times. Aside from the obvious and devastating human costs, the planet is also experiencing an economic shock rivalling World War II. One of the key industries being affected is travel. Once this pandemic has been controlled, people will travel again.
However, the travel sector can be expected to change after being dramatically affected by the outbreak. These are the key trends and changes we expect to see – short and long term – on the travel industry.
Domestic and Regional Travel, then Intercontinental.
Travel is likely to pick up in separate phases, playing out at different times and speeds across the planet. First, expect domestic travel to restart as keen travellers test the waters in their own backyard. For many in this age, the goal of travel has been to search for the far away and exotic. We may again find appreciation in the sights and activities on show in our own country. If they were ever out, road trips are back in fashion.
In regional areas where the outbreak is deemed under control, short-haul regional travel will be next off the block. Think South East Asia and the Middle East. Those of us cooped up in urban metropolitan areas around the world, craving a getaway are likely to escape. Those from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur may chase a quiet island in the Philippines or luxury resort in Thailand.
Long-haul international travel will ramp up once people deem the world and travel safe again. With popular destinations such as Europe and the USA in the middle of the crisis, it’s difficult to see long-haul travel being widespread until some time in 2021.
A Renewed Focus on Safety
Personal hygiene practices have always been a more considered factor of life in Asia than the West, as pollution has been more of an issue. However, expect the entire planet to adopt a more conscious approach to personal health and safety, particularly whilst travelling.
It’s hard to believe interpersonal connections, like a handshake, will be removed from collective culture. However, expect more caution in airports and travellers to invest more in their wellness and those little sanitizer bottles than ever before.
Whilst online opinion is split as to whether prices will be cheap or expensive as this crisis recedes, we believe prices will inevitably rise. With many airlines struggling for survival and all of them in a current crisis, we expect overall prices will be higher. Sales to drive volume will be a popular and necessary marketing tactic to mobilise many parts of the travelling population.
Though in the early months, high prices to travellers willing to pay any price to board a plane will help airlines recoup costs and build their revenue bases. These high prices are likely here to stay.
Custom Health Measures
It’s difficult to imagine borders and airports not implementing strict health-check procedures to ensure the virus cannot re-spread throughout the world.
It’s most likely international travel restrictions will be one of the last things rolled back by the international community in the COVID-19 fight. Nations will not want to compromise their national health and economies by again letting infected individuals flow easily through borders. The security and health checks required to move internationally may take a little longer now, but that’s a small price to pay for continued vigilance against this pandemic.
Update: You may need to show you’ve not been in contact with anyone with Coronavirus in the past 14 days to travel.
In more recent developments, Apple and Google have teamed up to help trace COVID-19 patients. This means you’d be able to see when and if you’ve come into contact with someone with Coronavirus. You may be required to show your recent stats on this soon-to-be-built software in order to cross borders. On a positive note, this software would also allow you to ensure you’re not coming in contact with infected people.