In preparation for the reactivation of the global tourism industry, our urgent task is to find ways to adapt to the new reality, the changing preferences and expectations of leisure travelers who have been severely affected by this pandemic.
Tourism marketing experts now ask themselves, “How do we restore travel confidence? How do we make potential tourists feel at ease, from the time they plan their trips until they return home?”
Everybody should feel safe when making their leisure trips, if the industry is to get back to its pre-COVID accomplishments. Safe travel, based on World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) guidelines, is the movement of people from one place to another, following the health and safety protocols prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and backed by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), while ensuring that these people, their modes of transportation, their origin and destination adhere to such protocols.
As a guide to potential leisure travelers, the WTTC now issues a Safe Travels Pass to tourism establishments all over the world that consistently comply with the prescribed health and safety protocols. Still, a significant number of tourists are hesitant to make the trip. In fact, Bloom Consulting, a leading Europe-based agency, conducted a survey creating various scenarios, ranging from no more travel restrictions, to no quarantine required at destination, to virus spread is controlled, to a cure is found. A variance of 15 to 45 percent of the respondents manifested their refusal to take a leisure trip.
So, what facts do we, in the travel industry, have to consider?
Although this pandemic brought about decreased disposable income for everybody, it is not the main reason for the reluctance of tourists to make the trip. Feeling unsafe kills the desire to travel for leisure. For those who feel ready to travel, outdoor and low-density destinations will now be their top choices, and places with good health infrastructure will now be preferred.
How then should the tourism industry respond to this new mindset of travelers? We have to repackage what we offer, to conform to visitors’ expectations and needs, meaning, we have to put forward something that is appealing and very safe. Smaller and low-density destinations should now take the limelight.
It is then useless to lower prices as cost is not as big a factor as fear is in the decrease of leisure traffic. A great majority is looking for less crowded destinations where an effective healthcare infrastructure is in place. Of course, whatever marketing promotions we make must be supported by government action and policies. Most of all, leisure travelers will now prefer a destination with a team ready to respond to whatever crisis may arise.
What changes and augmentations did our tourism establishments have to put up to assure visitors of their safety?
The standard health and safety protocols are now in place. Aside from the usual face coverings, negative RT-PCR test results, PPEs, temperature scans, foot baths, physical distancing, hand sanitizers, protective plexiglass barriers, health declaration and contact tracing forms, each sector of the industry has some enhancements to these basic items.
Airline ticket offices, travel agencies, and tour operators now encourage online check-in and contactless ticket purchase. At airports, cleaning and disinfecting measures of high-touch areas have been intensified, and they attend to senior citizens, PWDs, and pregnant women in a separate area.
On board the aircraft, cabin air is refreshed every two minutes, flowing from top to bottom, while cabin surfaces and lavatories are rigorously disinfected with high-grade eco-friendly cleaning mixture. The aircraft is also fitted with hospital-grade air filtration system that screens out 99.99 percent of airborne viruses and bacteria. In-flight meals are served in sanitized containers.
At hotels and resorts, same-day negative Rapid Antigen Test or negative RT-PCR test is required of each guest, and the number of guests allowed in a room depends on its size. Online advanced reservations are encouraged, and contactless transactions are practiced from check-in to check-out, including cashless payments.
At tourist attractions, visitors’ entry is controlled through pre-registration and allocated time slots. One-way entrance and a separate one-way exit are used to prevent guest clustering, while floor markers and demarcation lines ensure physical distancing. Digital maps and menus are provided, while tour guides use lapel microphones to avoid hand contact.
All of these I mentioned add up to the new reality of our tourism industry, the new standards of safety, making traveling a completely different ballgame altogether. With these enhancements now in place, I can confidently say, we’re ready for the new breed of leisure travelers.
For those who are still hesitant to make that leisure trip, here’s a gem-of-a-reminder from American motivational speaker and author Jack Canfield—“Everything you want is on the other side of fear!”
For feedback, I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org.
YOUR WEEKEND CHUCKLE
If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? Pilgrims.