Two years since COVID-19 began, how has the tourism industry changed?
People love to travel, and in the modern world it has never been easier. While the COVID-19 pandemic brought our expanding globalized world to a screeching halt, it has become clear during the past two years that the international tourism industry is not going anywhere, and we all hope COVID only impacts us in the short-term.
Modern tourists experience benefits including learning about our shared world and understanding other people’s perspectives in addition to the quality time spent relaxing with family and friends. At Solimar International, we resonate with all these goals and help build our projects accordingly. We focus on sustainable economic growth, inclusiveness, mutual understanding, and resource efficiency.
A Changing World for a Pandemic Tourist
As lockdowns are lifted and new variants appear in news headlines, tourists are met with an ever-changing set of protocols before they can travel abroad. Boarding airlines, trains, and crossing the border require vaccine passports, a negative COVID-19 test, face masks, and in many cases government forms, which have complicated the travel process.
It is often confusing for both the traveler and the staff facilitating the journey, especially when documents are in varying languages and formats. However, travelers and the tourism industry have done a remarkable job adapting to this new era and finding acceptable solutions that have kept travel possible in many cases.
These procedures add several steps to the already planning-intensive process of international travel. These measures add a basic level of security and mental reassurance that there are COVID-19 safeguards in place. Every country operates differently, but for European countries, the Re-open EU website is a good summary.
These restrictions have also made some tourists feel extremely hesitant. Between rolling lockdowns and ever-changing restrictions tourists worry if they will be able to make it to their destination. This has caused many tourists to move away from air travel and towards domestic holidays. This takes away the stress of potentially getting sick or being stranded in another country. For some people, domestic travel is the only option, with flight bans still in place from country to country. For travelers based in North America, Solimar has helped to create sustainable tourism projects around the United States.
Travelers largely remain eager and determined, even in the midst of COVID spikes, to explore the world and get the most out of their vacation. Governments and tourism companies are doing their best to accommodate this, with socially distanced tours and promises to open to other countries as soon as possible. Tourism companies, airlines, hotels and restaurants all desperately wish to return to pre-COVID crowds and profits. Countries find their governments under constant pressure to re-open for this reason. Everyone has an interest in maintaining our past level of global tourism and returning to the way things were pre pandemic.
How can I be a responsible tourist during the pandemic?
Tourists and companies know international travel is possible. The emphasis is on how to do it responsibly, more than ever before. It has always been commendable for travelers to learn about the country they are visiting and to try to be culturally sensitive. However, now safety is also at stake. It is paramount that as tourists, we follow the rules and procedures of the country we are visiting. Often this means wearing a face mask in shops or crowded public spaces, or maintaining a distance on tours. These rules may not always be in place, and there is optimism that after Covid-19 the travel industry will come back even stronger.
As countries look at their tourism recovery strategies, there is a growing movement to reboot the tourism industry in a sustainable way. Due to the drop in traditional tourism, water consumption and CO2 emissions have decreased during the pandemic. This gives hope that after COVID-19, tourism can reorient its priorities to tackle other global issues like climate change. This scale of change relies on companies and tourism boards to move towards sustainable alternatives, but it will also take a shift in behavior for the tourists themselves. The first year of COVID travel showed that tourists are willing to try different travel plans. Instead of energy intensive activities such as cruises and luxury hotels, tourists opted for bike trips and camping. This shows that if the tourism industry provides, customers are willing to engage in more climate and COVID responsible behavior.
Early in the pandemic, island destinations became a haven for international tourists because of their isolation and better ability to control COVID-19. Solimar is working with our partners in Timor-Leste to establish a safe and sustainable destination for travelers to experience tropical island life. In addition, new players and destinations are entering the tourism industry, focusing on responsible ecotourism for the long term. We are here to facilitate that journey. Our partners in Guyana are creating an eco-tour to showcase their natural environment to small groups of travelers that make a huge impact on their economic recovery from the pandemic.
Solimar is committed to reinvigorating and expanding the international tourism industry. We also wish to help with any country’s destination recovery strategy. Our primary focus throughout this pandemic has been on safety and sustainability. Our partners are affected by the pandemic in similar ways, but with different challenges.
Interested in how we can help your destination recover from the impacts of COVID-19? Contact us to learn more.