The Impact of Corona on the Travel Industry
Until the early 2020s, everything was still fine. People traveled almost freely around the world, could go on vacation wherever we wanted, went to many destinations in a short time on cruise ships, or enjoyed our vacations in social gatherings at parties. Then came the virus… and from one day to the next everything was different. Borders were closed, flights stopped, hotels closed. Thousands were stranded abroad. The world came to a standstill.
The tourism industry is one of the sectors most affected by the pandemic. And the consequences will be felt for a long time! Little by little we return to everyday life, regain our (travel) freedom, but it will not be like before for the time being. At least not until the virus is completely defeated.
Package tours vs. individual tourism
The last few years have been marked by the fact that there have been more and more options. There were flight tours offered to all parts of the world, and the list of airline destinations was constantly expanding. Large hotel complexes allowed you to enjoy unforgettable vacations with a variety of gastronomy, entertainment, sports and wellness. The magic word since Covid-19, on the other hand, is “social distancing.” Full vacation planes, one beach lounger next to the other, overcrowded discos and rich buffets where hundreds of holidaymakers use the same spoon to load the food onto their plates – everything you know so well from past vacations is now to be avoided as far as possible.
But of course we all don’t want to do without vacations, so when it comes to travel in the future, the name of the game is: rethink! First of all, the trend is away from package tourism to individual travel. Instead of sitting in the plane for hours with mouth and nose protection, many now prefer to travel by their own car. Fearing possible quarantine measures in hotels because another guest falls ill, many now prefer to book a vacation apartment. Vacations in one’s own country are more in demand than ever, because the health care system is one of the best in the world and that provides security. However, even when traveling abroad, many now opt for secluded destinations and smaller resorts to minimize the risk of infection or quarantine. Large resorts, as well as airlines, will continue to have a hard time for quite some time.
New daily routine at airports & in hotels
Despite this, guests are still drawn to faraway places – and airlines and hotels are doing everything they can to give you a great vacation despite the restrictions. That we all have to rethink a bit is clear. But with hygiene concepts and distance rules you can still enjoy nice vacations.
The mouth and nose protection you already know from everyday life, from shopping or from the journey with public transport. The same now applies first at the airport and in airplanes. Especially during the flight, the distances can not be maintained, so wearing the mask is extremely important. However, the ventilation in the machines is advantageous, because actually spreads the breathing air thereby not so strong. You should allow more time before departure and also after landing. Many countries – even within the EU – will also require personal data before or upon entry, in order to be able to quickly interrupt possible chains of infection. You may also have to undergo corona tests.
While in the past entry regulations were not changed overnight, this can currently happen at any time. The motto is to constantly keep up to date. So free and safely planned travel far in advance, as we know it, will no longer exist as long as Corona rules the world.
Everything will look a little different in the hotels, too. Capacities may no longer be used to full capacity, so it will not be as crowded. At pools and beaches, distances between sunbeds must be maintained and leisure activities will be reduced or only possible in small groups. Party in discos or show program in full theaters is not to think about for now. Also the popular buffets you will not find any more, instead there will be a choice of menus or a buffet, where the staff will serve you.
Oorganized large group outings are also temporarily a thing of the past. Many providers, however, strive to offer private excursions or trips in small groups. This will probably also have a positive effect on rental car providers, because individual excursions can best be undertaken with a rental car.
From boom to bust – the desperation of cruise operators
Even harder hit than the hotels are the many cruise providers, which have experienced an extreme boom in recent years. Going on a world tour by ship – or even just visiting parts of the world in a short time – without having to repack your suitcase over and over again; many had discovered the advantages of a cruise for themselves. Until that will be possible again in the usual form, some time will pass. Hygiene concepts and lower occupancy rates can be implemented on board, as in hotels, but the shipping companies can offer their program only as usual, if they find ports to the concern. Many countries already open their airports, but the cruise ports still remain closed. Finally, it should be prevented that the virus is introduced or carried out during day trips of guests from all over the world and then spread further. When the ports will then have reopened, every shore leave will certainly involve strong controls and health tests to minimize the risk.
However, regardless of this, shipping companies need a very convincing concept to attract guests back on board in the first place.Since some ships were completely quarantined for several weeks at the beginning of the pandemic, many vacationers are deterred and do not dare to board a ship for the time being. Extensive hygiene measures, regular health checks and medical care on board should provide security. Nevertheless, the restart time of the ship providers will surely take a lot longer than that of the hotels.
Business travel was yesterday, today you do online meetings
The business travel sector will also see some changes in the longer term. Aside from country travel restrictions, which will all have to be lifted first, many companies have found in recent months that meetings online are not only possible, but also eminently feasible. Thanks to providers like Zoom, business meetings, conferences, etc. could take place from the comfort of home. Before companies expose their employees to the risk of catching Covid-19 somewhere, they will surely rely on this conversation option for quite a while. In addition, many companies are feeling financial consequences of the pandemic, so the cost of flights and hotels will be saved.
… and what about prices?
Still remains a very crucial question: Will travel be cheaper in the future or do we have to expect significantly more costs? Well, as everywhere in the economy, demand determines supply – or at least contributes to it. Many travel service providers have suffered significant losses in recent months and are now in urgent need of funds. So those who travel at short notice can count on good offers. In the long term, however, hotels, airlines and other tourism service providers must continue to cover their costs despite lower occupancy rates. In addition, there are high investments in the hygiene concepts that have to be in place on site – and these naturally cost money. So even if savings are made at other ends such as (sadly) staff, it is to be expected in the long term that there will nevertheless be some price increases.
Regardless of how much longer we will have to deal with Corona – it has already changed the travel industry significantly and for a long time to come. And who knows, maybe the virus will permanently change some people’s attitudes toward travel as well.