Visible impact of tourism
The international tourism industry has been on hold for the past few months due to COVID 19. Closed borders, negative travel advice and no income for a large group of people. It shows us how many of the world population are actually dependent of tourism.
The recession of tourism has shown us how quickly nature flourished due to the absence of tourists. Wildlife moved back into urban areas and the Himalayas were visible again after 30 years. On the other hand, we have also seen how wildlife conservation was threatened due to the absence of tourism. It shows us tourism has a unique position to create benefits and positive impact for nature and people. If done right.
“We should use this time as a rare chance to think about how we travel” – Leigh Barnes of Intrepid Travel
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Developing new tourism experiences post COVID 19
The industry has been on hold, however, the urge to travel and discover the world is stronger than ever. But what do travellers expect nowadays and how can you make sure to develop good experiences that meet their needs, and are good for the planet and local people? This article gives you 7 key elements to consider when developing new tourism experiences.
- Off the beaten track
- Slow Travel
- Less frequent but longer travel
- Local travel
- Good travel
- Self-guided travel
- Personal and flexible
1. Off the beaten track
Due to COVID, social-distancing protocols and the visible negative effects of overtourism, travellers will want to avoid busy tourism crowds. Travelling to less popular and populated places is a great solution. To combat overtourism, we need travellers to not be at the same place at the same time.
Destinations need slower flows of travellers in order to stay authentic. Local people should be made priority. Develop tourism experiences that take travellers of the beaten track, into the unknown. Escape touristic highlights and show them hidden gems, discover less visited places and spread tourism impact.
2. Slow Travel
Let travellers enjoy the destination at a slower pace than they are used to. Take the entire trip into consideration. Reduce your carbon footprint by avoiding domestic flights and take the train instead. Almost every destination has beautiful scenic routes that will add value to the experience.
There will also be an increased interest in outdoor activities. Most travellers have been in lockdown for a long time and will now appreciate nature more. Take advantage of this change and include cycling, trekking and canoeing as transport mode. It’s no longer only about the destination, but more about the journey and truly experiencing the destination.
3. Less frequent but longer travel
When travelling off the beaten track and at a slower pace, travellers simply need more time to explore the destination. Thereby, in order to slow down global warming, we simply need to fly less. This doesn’t mean we can no longer travel; it just means we need to stay longer to spread the impact.
It also means travellers have the opportunity to travel beyond country highlights, experience more unique features of a country, and be able to truly connect with locals. Travelling longer will make it more special and significant. Develop three- and four-week standard trips and extensions for short trips to offer varied options.
4. Local travel
It will most likely be a while before international borders open up. This means that your usual tourists might not come back any time soon. In the meantime, there is a lot to see and do in your own destination. People are ready and excited to start travelling again after being in lockdown and will first start exploring their own surroundings.
Start developing tourism experiences that are also relevant and interesting for local people. Tailor your existing experiences to a new audience and keep in mind the tone of voice, content and itineraries. Show locals a different side of their own surroundings and let them discover and be surprised.
5. Good travel
We’ve all seen how tourism impacts destinations, both positively as negatively. Be the change and focus on good travel. Let travellers experience the destination properly. Support local communities, learn about their culture, their food, language and history. Include local hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops and guides. Let them boost the local economy.
Be sure to focus on animal welfare, nature conservation and creating a positive impact on the destination. Provide travellers with the realisation they will enjoy their trip more if they know their travel benefitting local people instead of negatively impacting them. Create purposeful and responsible experiences.
6. Self-guided travel
Due to the new guidelines of social distancing, travellers want to stay clear of other people. Take this into account and develop tourism experiences that are suitable for more intimate travel. Instead of joining larger organised group tours, travellers will now choose to travel in small groups with family and friends.
They are also more likely to choose self-drive and self-guided experiences as they can socially distance themselves from other travellers at all times. Include smaller lodges and hotels and stay away from confined spaces and tourism crowds. Make use of an app to ‘replace’ your local guide and still provide added value.
7. Personal and flexible
Personal service and tailored experiences were already important aspects. However, now it’s become more essential than ever. Travellers want to be cared for and need to feel safe for tourism to recover completely. Keep in mind your buyer persona and be ready to tailor your experiences to your clients to create a trip they feel comfortable with.
There will be a shift to touchless travel, strict health and safety protocols and digital tools to support this movement. Embrace them and show your customers you care about them. Be prepared for last-minute bookings and offer flexible cancellation conditions to build trust with your customers. They will want to be ensured they can cancel or change their trip if they don’t feel comfortable travelling.
Focus on the future
Despite this being a very difficult time for the tourism industry, take the opportunity to see the positive side of things. Invest in your business and find inspiration to develop new, good tourism experiences for the future. Use this time as a rare chance to think about how we travel. Decide for yourself and your business how you’d like to become a better tour operator.