Writer: Teresa Madaleno
Due to the worldwide pandemic, I was unable to travel to Italy with my family in September of 2020. Italy has been hit hard by COVID-19 – over 4 million cases and at the time this blog was published, just under 130 thousand in my ancestral home lost their lives to the virus. The fact that my much-anticipated trip was postponed was nothing compared to the hardship the Italian people have endured. Like Italy, other popular tourist destinations have been hit hard by SARS CoV-2, but there are signs that the travel industry is getting ready for a comeback.
While travel agents tell me that travel won’t be exactly the way it used to be, they insist that it will offer people the escape they need after months of feeling boxed in. Here are some trends industry insiders say they expect:
- Personal travel – while travel is traditionally all about the destination, tourism experts now say the focus will be more on the individual and relationships. People will want to travel to visit friends and loved ones. Voluntourism and peace tourism will also be factors. Voluntourism is a form of tourism that allows travellers to do volunteer work in another country, usually for a specific charity. It enables the volunteer to connect with other people, make new friends, and give back. Peace tourism is also expected to be big. Peace tourism is a form of travel that is motivated by, and linked to, conflict resolution. Having gone through the stress of COVID, and in some cases, loss due to the virus, many people are seeking peace. The idea is that when people travel, it helps them meet new people and get to know new cultures, new values, and new ways of seeking solace.
- New rules – in some cases it will not just be your traditional passport that is required; certain destinations may require a vaccination passport or certificate. Masks and social distancing will also be rules in many countries.
- Eco-tourism – research suggests that COVID-19 has forced many people to not only reflect upon human health, but also on the health of the planet. For this reason, the world’s top environmental experts predict that there will be a renewed focus on protecting the planet and trying to avoid further climate change. Travel agents believe this will also translate into more people being interested in eco-tourism. Eco-tourism is travel to natural areas that focus on environmental conservation. Such travel experiences tend to involve educational opportunities, like learning about the local wildlife.
- Longer travel – taking a one or two-week vacation used to be typical, but that is expected to change. People are now talking about taking longer vacations. Those who have been working from home throughout the pandemic and won’t be returning to their actual company office anytime soon, will stretch their vacation and simply mix work with some play. Making sure the destination has available Internet and electrical needs for any office devices will have to be a top priority for these travellers if they have to do work from their vacation spot.
- Staycation – while the desire to travel is not unusual given the world has been on lockdown, there are still a significant number of people who are nervous about travelling post pandemic. A lot of my friends have said they will enjoy a staycation this summer. For example, I have a friend who lives in Toronto, and she plans to travel to the east coast of Canada this summer as opposed to abroad.
Right now, many countries still have restrictions in place. In fact, some are still dealing with a third wave of COVID-19. Guidance from the CDC in early June 2021 was to avoid non-essential trips. Today, there are still challenges associated with travelling, including the possibility that foreign countries could suddenly change restrictions, stranding travellers overseas.
Whether it’s a vacation or staycation, wherever you want to go this summer, remember to plan carefully and stay safe!