We have been working with our partners at the Black Sea Sustainable Rural Tourism Program to re-think approaches for recovery following Covid-19 in the travel sector. There are several trends we think will be at the forefront of the recovery period and which offer us the chance to embed sustainable travel in the sector.
Direct, non-connecting flights: Overall, travelers may avoid connecting flights and select destinations that can be reached by direct, and perhaps even short-haul, flights.
More expensive flights: There is no question that physical distancing will be important on flights. But that means higher ticket prices because of fewer passengers per flight.
Smaller groups: Our own Black Sea Sustainable Rural Tourism Program, has always emphasized small groups or, even better, no group travel. Physical distancing will be a reality and mass-tourism will not return soon.
Customized, private excursions: Sustainable tourism that targets ecological and cultural preservation will gain momentum at the expense of the usual mass-tourism product. The Black Sea Sustainable Rural Tourism Program emphasizes community-based experiential travel to destinations that have been bypassed by the big tourism companies.
Accommodations that can exhibit good health and safety protocols in operations will be in demand: People will look for comfort and safety in less crowded situations. This means homestays, community-based sustainable tourism accommodation facilities will be chosen over larger hotels. These products with high-quality standards in safety, sanitation, and comfort will be in demand.
More focus on wellness, authenticity, environmentally-friendly, nature-loving, well-being, spirituality: People are thinking more about themselves, families, nature, improving lifestyles that matter, etc. Going local or “slow travel” will prosper.
No cruise travel: The cruise industry will be the last industry to recover as it is seen as the place to avoid.
Increase in business travel: On-line meetings are welcome, but face-to-face businesses still need to be done and business trips may be longer. We can encourage staying longer to experience the country visited in a more in-depth, experiential trip.
Increase of domestic tourism: Travelers will start looking into quick getaways as recovery begins.
Flexible booking options: Last-minute cancellations may become more prevalent. It is better not to impose penalties in the short-term. At BSST we will forego all penalties and will only charge for our expenses and the community fund.
Strict health and safety protocols for guests and staff: Although health and safety have not been at the forefront of products, it is now the most visible requirement. If you cannot show how you protect travelers, the business will suffer. The Black Sea Sustainable Rural Tourism Program emphasizes a requirement for accommodations and business to show how they deal with health, cleanliness and safety.
Buffet meals are gone: Fortunately, our BSST program emphasizes individual sit-down meals and not the large buffet style meals preferred by mass tourism models.
Tourism supports community development and those destinations that have not been on the mass tourism circuit will suffer if we do not support their efforts. When travelers return, we will be there.