ITB is the global travel industry’s largest think tank and this year will be attracting leading opinion-formers and visionary minds to discuss the industry’s future. Interestingly, the virtual edition will examine segments such as, medical tourism and wellness tourism, which have high growth potential as the coronavirus pandemic particularly showed how important mental and physical health is.
All in all, Covid-19 is setting a new reality for the industry. The event will focus on digitalization and sustainable travel as ways out. But will this also mean a new, smarter future for the travel industry?
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, Covid-19 is expected to result in an annual decline in the number of tourist arrivals of 60 to 80 percent compared with 2019. This translates to tourism revenue losses of between US$910 billion and US$1.2 trillion, with up to 120 million tourism jobs at risk – by far the worst crisis that international tourism has faced since UNWTO records began in 1950. Yet, paradoxically, the lockdown requires companies to stay more engaged and connected with their customers and partners than ever before and also position themselves to rebound after the pandemic.
It’s also obvious that travelers’ perceptions are changing during lockdowns, and we are likely to see certain new trends to develop once we are free to travel again. For once, many may decide to make more environmentally friendly decisions. As we are learning not to be bound by fixed offices, holiday housing industry will see more longer-term stays. All-inclusive vacations are very likely to shift to accommodate all sorts of tastes and become more customized. “Sharing” is going to be more normal and outgrow ownership, which will include more options for car-sharing, house-sharing, office-sharing.
The pandemic also changed the way people look at travel. A common prediction is that people will think more before they decide to travel. Business and leisure travel will continue but become more purposeful and conscious.