Hardly a day goes by without a webinar on the future of tourism after CoViD-19 and a new publication of stringent rules for hygiene in hotel chains. The end of the hotel breakfast buffet seems to be unavoidable. The removal of all notepads and pens from the rooms and the choice for the hotel guest to decline any cleaning of the room will bring less social contact while also reducing cost, a welcome side effect long known for the re-used towel in the hotel bathroom.
Many musings about the future are not looking beyond the question of the fate of the middle seat in aircrafts or the question of masks in public will become the “new normal”. The more advanced ones use scenario technique to present a number of possibilities like PhocusWright did in four articles by Mario Gavira, presenting one in each scenario. The depth of the economical crisis and lasting changes in travel behaviour are put as x and y axes. For travel behaviour, four potential game changers are named:
- Consumer shifting towards online shopping and experiences
- Virtual becomes business as usual
- Health and hygiene standards go mainstream
- Social distancing while traveling
Colleagues Ian Yeoman, Albert Postma and Stefan Hartman from the European Tourism Futures Institute present four more society-oriented scenarios especially for New Zealand:
- Recovery: Covid-19 has been eliminated, global tourism has rebounded quickly and in the drive for recovery, sustainable tourism guidelines are suspended.
- Contagion: Covid-19 has spread throughout the world, there was no vaccine. Globally, social disorder prevails. Tourism as we know it has disappeared, although a few of the super-rich have descended on Stewart Island – now a gated community of the privileged class.
- Gate Communities: Covid‐19 is a permanent feature but governments step in to manage it with regulation. Borders are closed and opened again as waves appear and disappear. There is less tourism than before. New Zealand is a safe place for a holiday, relatively speaking.
- ReThinking Tourism: Covid-19 has changed the world and tourism has changed, too. We are more altruistic and take a collective approach to collective well-being and towards others in society. Tourism is right at the heart of our communities with the balance between residents, business, and tourists just about right. Every hotel in New Zealand is graded from a sustainability perspective.
However, such linear projections will not provide much help to tourism and the tourism industry to find its way forward. Climate Change, AI, IT and a growing demand for international travel are all still there and will influence the development in the coming years probably more than the – hopefully – temporary problem of CoViD-19.
The expectation that more stakeholders than usual are willing to think outside of the box should lead to finding new ways to organise tourism including the biggest chunk of it, the 12% of international trips undertaken by Mainland Chinese citizens. To prepare for and also to help to shape the reasons, forms and activities of future Chinese outbound tourism by offering innovative products based on a thorough understanding of the market can be a part of the solution how to combine growth, improved quality and better safety for travellers, hosts and the planet.
Changing the KPIs is the necessary step. Buttonless lifts and high-speed trains running on energy produced with renewable sources were invented long ago and just need implementation. A return to travel as a pastime for the super-rich only is not in the interest of the other 99%. Changing the KPIs is also, but not only, a “green” or “safe” measure. The Chinese outbound market seems to be a good starting point.
Stay healthy and best wishes from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the COTRI WEEKLY team!