The tourism market is experiencing a crisis unprecedented over the past 30 years, which falls heavily on both on the demand side and the supply chain. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) forecasts, in 2020 the number of trips around the world may decrease by a quarter. It is a huge loss for HORECA. And that is even without considering the impact of the fact that people will be afraid to travel on airplanes and trains, because they will have to be in a public place.
We are not talking only about COVID-19, but also other future viruses and possible biological hazards. Existing players in the tourism business have already noted a sharp decline in demand for services, which leads to a loss of profits, a reduction in turnover and a decrease in the number of jobs. The rapid spread of coronavirus worldwide has become the black swan for the tourism and other industries of 2020.
- What do you think, can there be any advantages of the current situation?
I suppose yes. Any crisis, in my opinion, becomes a powerful incentive for business: it forces us to find new solutions and learn to respond to difficulties as quickly as possible. The virus and its consequences do not only affect the purchasing power of people – they will change their behavior vector.
- How will the tourist behavior change?
The main factor that will determine their choice will be the safety of location, where they decide to relax and, I think, and the quality and accessibility of medical care there. After the virus situation stabilizes, people will begin to plan trips, and it will become obvious which country will be the safest vacation.
Also tourists will gradually begin to abandon public transport in favor of individual solutions, as I already said. After the virus outbreak, some people will be scared to realize that they are literally locked for hours, with a huge number of unfamiliar passengers. And this fear will not pass instantly, it will linger with us for a while. People have already begun to abandon trains in favor of transfers, we see steady growth around the world, and this trend will only intensify.
- Is refusal of public transport connected only with the fear of getting sick, or are there other reasons for that?
Of course, there are many reasons and the first of them is the desire not to depend on rigid schedules and to be able to choose the means of transport that correspond to the individual needs. I call this transition an area of individual solutions. For example, at GetTransfer.com we offer our customers various transport solutions: from economy cars to helicopters and business aviation planes. People choose the option convenient for them based on their budget and requirements for the car and driver. Passengers do not have to adapt to the conditions of carriers, and they can always be sure that their transfer requirements will be met. In addition, an important point is the lack of fear of strangers who will become their neighbors, for example, by coupe, since travelers can travel with families, groups of friends, couples, which makes the trip more comfortable and safe, especially in the current situation.
The world after the virus: what’s coming?
- Alexander, what are your forecasts for the further development of the tourism market situation? When will it return to normality?
It depends on when the peak of the pandemic will pass and the disease’s incidence within the population will decline. And in this issue, we focus on data from the World Health Organization. You see, in a situation where people in different countries of the world are infected with the virus, there is no need to talk about the tourism business stabilization.
In my opinion, it will be possible to make any forecasts closer to the start of the summer, when there will be better visibility on when the world can move away from this outbreak, the borders of countries will be open, and people will become less anxious and begin to plan trips. Again, their plans are strongly influenced by the economic situation and the factor of financial losses that they suffered as a result of illness or prolonged self-isolation. I believe that the situation in the industry will stabilize in the next couple of months, and then we will be able to make some decisions and understand how we will develop.
- Do you think people will begin to travel abroad immediately after the borders are opened, or will they wait for some time?
It depends on where the person decided to go. I think that if he had previously planned to relax in the country that was most affected by the virus, he would start looking for another direction or wait for the time when the trip would become as safe as possible. According to the past experience, countries in which outbreaks of dangerous infections were recorded for a long time remained less desirable destinations for tourists.
Alexander, how, in your opinion, will the tourism industry develop? What trends are coming?
First of all, there will be a transition from the mass recreation system and transportation to individual tours and individual rest planning. People will try to travel in small groups and carefully approach the choice of carriers.
Solutions will become more individual. Tourist destinations will also change: for example, I think that if people decide to spend their holidays in Italy, they will choose the region where they can be closer to nature and away from civilization. The same is likely to apply to other countries. I am sure that more attention will be paid to issues of security.