How Covid-19 Is Changing the Travel Industry for the Better

Written by: Peter Minkoff

As the lockdown restrictions still prevail in some parts of the world, while certain countries are slowly lifting various travel bans, more people are looking towards the future and how their own plans will change. It’s not about the immediate month or two once the pandemic is officially over. It’s more about the years into the future when we can safely assume that our own behavior could prevent such an event from repeating itself, or contribute to another health crisis.

This has been one major lesson for us as individuals, but also for the entire travel and hospitality industry. For example, have you ever considered renting a luxurious yacht instead of a full-scale resort for your week-long vacation somewhere on an exotic coast? Or spending a weekend in a remote cottage rather than a ski resort with hundreds of visitors?

While some might be inclined to believe things will change for the “worse”, chances are that we’ll actually greet a brighter, more cautious future of travel. Here’s what we can expect from the travel industry after the pandemic.

Discovering local beauty

Visiting remote and exotic regions will always have a special place in every traveler’s heart. Due to the pandemic, however, we need to learn to appreciate what we have at our disposal, whether that means taking a family road trip or spending a week camping at a local lake.

The travel industry will focus more on precisely those features of local communities, hidden gems of nature, and cultural value each country offers.

More opportunities for smaller ventures

In addition to making smaller corners of the world more attractive – which we’ll get to in a moment – the COVID-19 crisis will lead to another change in our travel plans that will benefit another branch in the travel industry. Specifically, family-owned, small-scale accommodation will become a prime opportunity for people to explore new places.

Families that own their own vacation home will be able to recuperate by renting out their home, while the local tourist attractions will gain infinitely more popularity as a result. More such opportunities will bring more transparency, since most of these rentals are published and promoted online, where reviews and comments help people choose smarter. As another result, travel agencies will need to put a greater emphasis on trust and transparency and make sure their clients are truly happy with their service.

Venturing off-shore

What better way to steer clear of crowded streets and beaches than to have a little slice of heaven for yourself and your travel companions? The travel industry will certainly make the most of the changing travel dynamics in favor of more exclusive, less densely populated options, to offer more off-coast travel adventures such as yachting.

To ensure the same level of comfort of a beautiful, serviced hotel, more travelers will turn to crewed yacht charters to explore various coastlines, stop in stunning marinas, and still keep their distance from too many other tourists. Visiting the Mediterranean, for instance, will no longer be limited to beachside hotels, but will move towards sea-based travel for smaller groups of people with the same, if not greater perks and comfort.

Mini adventures on the menu

Metropolises the likes of Rome or Venice will still have their place in everyone’s travel itinerary, albeit later into the future, if everyone sticks to what health officials suggest. This will, in turn, allow smaller, more secluded locations such as villages and small towns to develop their own travel ecosystems.

As a safer, less crowded alternative, people will flock to areas such as Portofino to experience that genuine Italian lifestyle and culture without the hectic pace or overwhelming crowds. These options will revive the travel industry in the regions that have been especially hit by the pandemic such as Italy, but other countries will follow suit, as well.

A greater emphasis on cleanliness

In the decades before COVID-19, travel agencies would emphasize luxury, amenities in any accommodation, the natural beauty of a destination, you name it. Yes, all of these details will matter in the future too, but there will be another selling point to add to the list: hygiene. The hotels, boutique or otherwise, as well as motels, inns, and private forms of accommodation will need to ensure each visitor that they comply with the strictest possible recommendations for cleanliness.

Less frequent, but more in-depth cleaning processes will likely be applied in hotels and restaurants alike. Providing ample privacy and more space to practice some form of social distancing will be yet another expression of hygiene among guests. As it turns out, less can indeed be more for the travel industry after the pandemic.

Changing the focus from quantity to quality and safety will take time, and it will slowly reshape how we travel, how agencies create their offers, and how specific places enforce certain rules. Of course, we’ll all need to adapt our own expectations and use our own behavior to give rise to a safer, healthier world of travel and adventure. That alone will reshape the travel industry into a more caring, more refined version of itself, better prepared to safeguard the world and everyone in it – while still granting us plenty of opportunities to bask in all of its beauty.

Related: Bracing for a Slow U.S. Recovery