Melissa Douglas
Award-winning British Travel Writer

How Will Travel Change After Coronavirus? Experts Share Their Predictions

The question of when we can travel again is at the forefront of every wanderlusters mind at the moment. Having a vacation booked gives people something to look forward to, and helps make getting through the day to day that little bit easier. Sadly none of us have a crystal ball to say for certain that everything will be back to normal by a particular date. Things may not be back to “normal” as we know it for a very long time. 

One thing is for certain though: Tourism boards, airlines, and travel companies are eager to get people traveling again as soon as possible. Those of us with travel plans that hang in the balance are eager to get out and see the world again the moment restrictions are lifted. 

European tourism chiefs are already discussing options for rescuing summer 2020 travel, with countries like Greece suggesting extending the Greece tourism season into October, and other destinations such as Sicily offering incentives to travel. We may be back out into the world before we know it. 

Coronavirus and the Travel Industry 

The travel industry has been one of the hardest-hit industries in the midst of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. Yes, travel may be something that many consider a privilege but the reality is that this industry constitutes 10% of the global economy. That’s millions of people who are out of work or have had their businesses negatively impacted by coronavirus. In fact, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) estimates that as many as 75 million jobs in the industry are at immediate risk.  

How Will Travel Change? Travel Experts Share Their Predictions 

Nobody knows for certain when travel will resume. However, if there’s anyone that can provide valuable insight on what may happen in post-COVID travel, it’s those that have worked in the travel industry for years. I asked a handful of well-known Travel Bloggers to share their thoughts on what may happen. 

More Discounts and Incentives, as Travel Companies Recuperate Losses – Claudia of Strictly Sardinia 

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I know most of you don’t read Italian. But perhaps you are interested in this anyways. Many asked me what you can do to help Italy. Together with 179 other travel bloggers (yes, 180 of us participated), I helped write a book about Italy – the very Italy you love – and the most beautiful and unique places to visit. It’s a 720 pages book so not exactly the brochure you’d get at a fair. We each wrote about a place we love (I guess the photo kind of gives away what I wrote about); each added our own photos, and the result is a book for you all to keep, read (that’s if you read Italian I suppose) and be inspired, included information on places that you may have never heard of. You can get the book – which, let me stress, is in Italian – it in exchange of a donation to Emergency, an NGO that has helped in the efforts to fight the pandemic in Italy, sending its doctors and nurses (some of which sadly died as a result). If you want to help, you can make a donation – follow the link in bio for that – and as soon as you do, you’ll get an email with a link to download your copy of the book. You have until 10 May to donate. Thank you all for your support #travelbloggerperlitalia • • • #visitsicily #igersicilia #igersitalia #igersitaly #igersicily #ig_sicily #visititalia #guardiantravelsnaps #travelstoke #traveldeeper #natgeo #natgeotravel #natgeotravelpic #gadventures #gadv #worldnomads

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Regions around Italy are still at a loss as to what to do to get back on their feet after coronavirus and how to react to the financial crisis that has inevitably hit them, and all sorts of suggestions have been made as a way of encouraging tourism. At the moment, it is all speculation. 

However, among the most quoted ideas, there is the introduction of a health certificate to be requested by the Region of Sardinia, which would allow anybody who is Covid-19 free to visit the island without having to face quarantine as soon as they land; or the use of incentives such as half-price flights and free hotel stays by the Region of Sicily.

Though there is no evidence that the Region of Sicily is offering half-price flights to visitors, during an interview on Italian morning show Mattino 5, Manlio Messina, head of the tourism board of Sicily, suggested that the region would buy hotel packages and other services to then sell them again to visitors from Sicily and from outside the region, adding that they’d add one or two extra free nights in a local hotel for bookings of minimum three or six nights. So if a family booked 3 nights in a hotel in Catania or the Mount Etna area, they’d automatically get to stay there for 4 nights instead, the extra night being paid by the local authorities.

Claudia of Strictly Sardinia

More All-Inclusive Vacations
– Tom of Travel Tom Tom

Although I’m not a fan of the all-inclusive concept I can clearly see why this will become even more popular. Big tour operators will offer package holidays that are Corona-proof. People will be tested before their flight, then they will be transported directly to a Corona free resort where all staff members are tested and no one is allowed to leave the all-inclusive resort (staff & tourists). People can this way still enjoy the beach and the warm weather they were looking for without having to be worried about getting infected.

It is a pity as for example, an all-inclusive trip to Thailand is completely different than if you travel to Thailand by yourself. It is the local people that often make a trip one to remember. Will the fear of a virus win over the urge to explore the world?

– Tom Grond of www.traveltomtom.net

Restaurants Continue to Provide Takeout Options
– Gemma of Two Scots Abroad 

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HIYA! We're Gemma + Craig – two Scots with a love for travel. Since 2013 we've backpacked around 23 countries together……………………………………………………………………>>>>> ???????? Our fave for food: Hungary ???????? Our fave for history: Bosnia + Herzegovina ???????? Our fave for music: Austin, Texas ???????? Our fave lesser-known: Colombia ???????? Our fave for hikes: Scotland ???????? Share your faves in comments below???????? —————————————————————— ???? Stac Pollaidh, Ullapool in Scotland Sharing this with ——-> #mrandmrs #travelcouple #wifeandhusband #lovescotland #nc500 #northcoast500 #visitscotland #scottishhighlands #scotlandlover #scotlandsbeauty #travelscotland #traveling_scotland #insta_sss #igersscotland #scotland_greatshots #highlandcollective #icu_scotland #thisisscotland #lovegreatbritain #topukphoto #mybritain #unlockscotland #breathtakers_ #cnbctravel #huffpostgrams #areyouawake #travelmemory #lovelovetravel #traveldiary2017

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Restaurants and cafes who never delivered before may continue to do so. You can get everything from fish to fine dining delivered from Edinburgh restaurants now. Great for apartment stays and holiday hangover days.

– Gemma of Two Scots Abroad 

An Increase in Flexible Booking Policies
– Eric of Penguin and Pia 

Given that both consumers and businesses in the travel industry have felt a heightened level of uncertainty, I believe that post-COVID we will see an increase in flexible booking policies. Travelers will be looking for a guarantee that they can change their bookings in the event of changing circumstances. Simultaneously, travel vendors will want to make sure they have a source of income in uncertain times. As a result, we might see more flexible booking options becoming the standard in the future.  

Currently, many travel companies offer travelers vouchers to utilize in the future. This is a retroactively applied policy to help those who have had their plans affected. But what if this policy was how travelers booked their travel in the first place under “normal” circumstances?

Many airlines have recently begun offering more flexible booking policies independent of the type of ticket booked. This allows travelers to change their flight dates free of charge if they need to. While this seems to be a temporary change, a more “fluid booking” system for travel activities might be on the horizon to reduce travelers’ hesitations of booking anything travel related.    

Of course, this notion opens up a whole range of questions around “availability”. It may be harder to gauge demand when consumers aren’t as tightly bound to specific dates. This goes for any service – from a seat on a plane to a spot on a guided activity in popular tourist destinations like Niagara Falls. However, ultimately, I think there is validity to giving consumers the peace of mind and making them confident in travel again.

Eric of Penguin and Pia Travel Blog

Less Organised Tours, More Independent Travel
– Dariece, Founder of Goats on the Road and Into Fly Fishing

One of the many changes I see happening in the travel industry is more of a focus on independent travel rather than group tourism. By this, I mean, fewer cruise ships and large tour busses filled with travelers all being shuttled from port to port, city to city, and site to site. 

Due to hygiene and health reasons, consumers won’t be interested in traveling for long durations in small quarters with groups of strangers. While this will definitely affect the larger companies and brands that run these types of tours, it will give a chance for smaller, local operators to benefit.

I foresee travelers searching for locally-owned, discounted Airbnbs rather than large hotel chains. I think people will be looking for residents who are running private, bespoke day tours (rather than typical tours with large groups), and I think when it comes to modes of transport, people are going to want their own vehicle to get around.

Not only does independent travel allow for a greater chance of staying healthy on the road, but it also helps spread tourism dollars around by supporting more than one business during a trip — while having more authentic and meaningful experiences along the way. 

Dariece of Into Fly Fishing

More Hiking and Nature Trips
– Mario of Rest and Recuperation Italian Travel Blog 

If we want to be very optimistic and see the glass half full, we can surely find some small positive outcomes of the Coronavirus pandemic. There is certainly one thing that benefited enormously from some weeks of confinement: the environment.
If clearer skies and increased flocks of birds are not unequivocal signs, you just need to see some satellite images and read recent studies to understand how the slowing down of productive activities gave a break to the exploitation of the planet.
The environment will probably be central to the travel industry in the future due to post-Coronavirus measures. We will need to do social distancing for a while, that is a given. These measures apply to tourism too. We will not be able to enter monuments freely as before. For the above reasons, there will be a spike of hiking holidays and other activities in nature.
A resurgence in holidays immersed in nature will increase the amount of money spent on the preservation of the environment. Sadly though this comes with a caveat: more tourists might mean more damage to it. It will all rely on local authorities and policies to safeguard properly their land. I think in particular of less famous hiking paradises like Chapada Diamantina in Brazil, or some trails in Patagonia, or some African itineraries, hence those that are not as well organized as the main trekking destinations. All of us will need to work towards sustainable and environmental-friendly holidays after Covid-19.
– Mario of Rest and Recuperation Italian Travel Blog

Virtual Travel Experiences Here to Stay
– Ingrid of Ingrid Zen Moments 

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Hello beautiful view ???? I wish I had more time to spend here, and I promise I’ll be back to stay for a couple of days (when I’ll be rich ???? have you seen the hotel prices in Positano? ????). Positano is maybe the most glamorous Italian destination, but it’s sure worth visiting. With its colorful hills, terraces with incredible views, little shops with colorful tiles and plates to take home, delicious food, and the list could go on and on. La bella vita! ???????? Wishing you a colorful day! ???? * * * #perfect_italia #italia_dev #ig_italy #best_italiansites #italiainunoscatto #italian_places #italy_hidden_gems #thefullcolors #italia_photogroup #framesofitaly #vivoitalia #thehub_italia #italian_trips #italianlandscape

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As travel outside our own countries is less accessible in the short term, and people prioritize their spending elsewhere they will start looking for alternatives. On top of the increase in local tourism, I think we will see people turning more and more towards alternative touristic options.

Virtual tours will become more popular, and travel companies or tourist boards will invest more resources into the development of close to real-life online experiences, travel apps, and 3D virtual tours. Travel lovers will still look for ways to see some of the places they’ve had on their bucket lists for so long, and good virtual tours could be one way of escaping reality.

Many companies have tours that offer comprehensive information and you get the chance to learn much more than you would on a day trip when you want to fit everything in a tight schedule. Especially the ones held by local guides are great ways to sit down and talk to a specialist about one of the places you’ve wanted to see for so long, ask questions, and be transported on location. With so many options developed it will become so easy to go on an Italy virtual tour, see the Acropolis in Greece, and even spend hours learning about history at the British Museum directly from your couch.

Travel guides but also world-renown chefs or sommeliers have developed online versions of their cooking classes or wine tasting experiences. Thus, spending weekends at home in the future could be so much more fun and way cheaper, when you cannot travel.

Less Destination Hopping, More Slow Travel
– Vicky of Vicky Flip Flop Travels

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First trip abroad of the year tomorrow and I'm going skiing in Bansko, Bulgaria, woohoo! Bit nervous tbh. It's been almost two years since I last skiied. Last time was in Finland with @thetravelhack (see pic 3). I seem to remember us both bottling it on the mountain at one point? We made it though. The hot choc got us through. * ???????? * I'll be joining the wonderful @danflyingsolo for our @snomads_ski trip. We're staying in a chalet and there are spas and restaurants all round. And loads to do beyond the slopes too. Ok, excitement is overtaking nerves. Better go and pack! * ???? * Anyone been to Bansko? Any recommendations? * AD #finland #levi #skiing #skiblogger #ukblogger #skistyle #bansko #bulgaria #cheapski #snomads #skibulgaria

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I think that people will travel more meaningfully and for longer. I don’t think we’ll see the quick travels of before – like people doing 20 countries in 30 days. I hope that people will stay, and have a proper look around rather than just visiting the main touristy sites of a country and then moving swiftly on. As social distancing measures continue for the foreseeable future, I think it may be a while before world festivals and events can resume because of the crowds that they bring.

– Vicky of Vicky Flip Flop Travels

Rethinking the Packing Process
– Cindy of Travel Bliss Now

While in the past, we focused on traveling light, the new mantra for packing your travel bags is to be prepared.

One of the biggest challenges will be how to pack everything you need into your carry-on to cope with the new realities of air travel.  The obvious item you’ll need is hand sanitizer and plenty of it.  Some transportation authorities will allow small bottles of sanitizer in addition to the carry-on quota for liquids, but travelers should carefully review their airline’s rules.

You’ll need antibacterial wipes to clean surfaces, and a bag to dispose of them.  It’s expected that airlines will reduce or even eliminate food servings to reduce contact, so plan on packing some snacks.  Pillows and blankets may not be available either, and in any case, you may want your own for long-haul flights.  Finally, if you’ve managed to pack all of that, you need to leave room for the stuff from your pockets, like your phone or your keys.  You’ll be asked to put these items in your bag, instead of a bin, for security screening.

Plan to pack extra sanitizer, wipes, and face masks in your suitcase, along with any other essential items to stay healthy while traveling.  We’ll be more diligent about our first-aid kits, including some items we didn’t pack before, like thermometers. Finally, think about what you’ll need in case you get caught in quarantine or lockdown.  That means that you should take at least 14 extra days worth of prescription medications.  Even if the trip is a planned vacation, you may want to pack what you need to work remotely, just in case.  In the post-COVID days of travel, we’ll need to be ready for anything.

– Cindy of Travel Bliss Now

A Smaller, More Sustainable Travel Industry
– Claudia, The Travelling Mom

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ON TOP OF THE WORLD. OR AM I? ⁣ ⁣ There’s no doubt that being outdoors and in the mountains is my happy place. I LOVE walking in nature, the effort of hiking, the reward of going from Point A to Point B, of reaching a destination goal, and eating a tasty picnic lunch or snack in celebration. ⁣ ⁣ We’ve raised our kids to love hiking and the outdoors as well. Which is why, behind this very genuine smile, is the story of why the smile and trip nearly didn’t happen. ⁣ ⁣ We’d planned this hiking adventure in BC’s gorgeous Purcell Mountains with our young adult son, like 4 months in advance. This trip was right up his hike-loving, adventure-craving alley. Plus, there were helicopters. It was going to be epic and awesome.⁣ ⁣ Then one week before the trip, he asked us if he really had to go, whether he could bow out. He was going to miss his girlfriend who was retuning to school. ⁣ ⁣ I get it, young love and all that. But I was not having any of it. Hello?! Helicopters?! Hiking?! My reply was swift; there was no way he was not coming unless he was in the hospital. He’d committed to the date months in advance. We were doing this family trip, no matter what. ⁣ ⁣ The truthbomb of travelling with older kids is that planning travel with them can be really hard. Schedules are different, they have GFs, BFs and their own lives, jobs and obligations. We’re no longer in control of their every moment. And they may not want to travel with us anymore. *sob* ????⁣ ⁣ Letting go as a parent is hard. I’ve cried a lot of tears, mostly over the kitchen sink, as they’ve moved away from home and begun adulting. But we’ve raised them to function as nearly-formed adult humans, capable of living and thriving in our world without us. That’s our job.⁣ ⁣ This is a good thing, so I’m doing to keep smiling. ????⁣ ⁣ p.s. Of course he came on the hiking trip. And yes, it was epic and awesome. ⁣ Share if you can relate to feeling stressed about loosening those apron strings with your kids.⁣ ???? ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ #thetravellingmom #inspirationalthoughts #parenting #inspireddaily #inspireothers⁣ #familytravel #explorebc #takeyourkidseverywhere ##dametraveler #girlswhohike #adventuregirl #travelwithteens #juicedsma

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I believe that the biggest and longest-lasting aspect will be the reckoning over the lack of sustainability of many segments of the travel industry – from financial to ecological sustainability.

The travel industry is going to go through some severe shrinkage, of size, of capacity, of operators. Not every hotel, tour operator, travel agency or airline will survive, and the repercussions of such an industry contraction will be enormous and may include higher prices, less choice, and narrower opportunities for employment. I believe the repercussions will be significant but remain hopeful that a new and more sustainable travel industry will emerge, one that encourages quality over quantity.

– Claudia of The Travelling Mom 

Batchelor and Bachelorette Parties Enjoyed Closer to Home
– Fiona Maclean of London Unattached 

The short term future of travel may see a temporary end to the bachelor party/bachelorette party weekend overseas culture. They won’t be regarded as environmentally desirable (if they ever were) and the mandatory quarantines and long queues at airports, etc will not be worthwhile for a few days overseas. Instead, people will opt to celebrate in their hometowns, or have weekends away in their own countries, i.e. a short break in Eilat if you live in Israel, a getaway to a charming boutique hotel in Devon if you live in England.

– Fiona Maclean, London Unattached

More Appreciation for Travel Experiences Post Coronavirus – Brianne of Everyday Runaway 

When we are able to travel again, I think our mindset will be different, and we will be happy with much smaller trips and experiences – whether visiting islands in Hawaii or simply traveling close to home. With the Coronavirus being something that we all had in common, I think we will come out of the pandemic with greater internationalism and a stronger sense of camaraderie. I think this new perspective will give us more patience and appreciation towards others while traveling, and we will no longer take for granted the ability to fly on an airplane, dine in a restaurant, or stand in line with strangers.

We have been reminded to view travel for what it is: a gift; and I believe that mentality will stick with a long time after the world re-opens.

– Brianne of Everyday Runaway

A Temporary Reduction of Flight Routes
– Diana of Travels in Poland 

For decades, airlines have been expanding and new airlines have been forming, creating a multitude of destinations for travelers.  From major cities in Europe and the Americas to smaller mid-size cities, connections were being made easier as time went on as smaller and regional airlines created additional destinations based on popular demand.

In Europe for example, budget airlines such as Ryanair and Wizz Air, have created thousands of destinations that were low in cost and off the beaten track.  Connections from places such as Stuttgart to Podgorica in Montenegro, neither destination as a primary location for travel.  Even mid-sized cities such as Krakow in Poland were getting an increase in airlines servicing the airport allowing for the city’s gradual increase in tourist revenue.

The coronavirus has completely upended many airlines.  Many will be struggling for some time to come and bankruptcy is a real possibility for many of them. When they begin to restart operations on a more normative level, airlines will have to make hard decisions on how to increase their revenue and dropping lesser-known destinations that don’t bring in much, will likely be one of the biggest ways they will re-strategize in their long term plans.

Areas, where tourism has been increasing but hasn’t shown profitable returns for the airlines, will likely be the first to get cut, possibly resulting in traveling by other means. Top destinations to major cities may also see fewer flights as demand will be the main driver for determining supply.  Travel to mid-size cities may see fewer flights or see cities being completely dropped as a destination for major airlines.  In this case, it is possible that regional carriers may see an uptick on their side, providing they are still in operation.  However, regional carriers will likely have to determine which destinations they can successfully compete for passengers and reorganize their flight destinations accordingly.

– Diana of Travels in Poland

Changes in Cruise Ship Travel
– Mary of Calculated Traveller 

We’ve sailed on more than 30 cruises, and I’m sorry to say, that it’s going to take a little bit of time to see what measures the cruise industry makes in terms of passenger/crew health and safety after COVID-19 before we get on a ship again.

One prediction is that the cruise industry will need to completely change the way cruise ships present their famous buffets. Gone will be the long lines of people helping themselves to hot trays of food with shared tongs.

I think the self-service buffet will still exist to feed the thousands of passengers on board who don’t wish to eat in the traditional dining room. But I feel that long continuous self-serve buffet lines will change to smaller stations of separate items, i.e., salad station, soup station, sandwich station, dessert station, etc. Selections of food will be pre-portioned and plated for you to grab and go, or staff will be on hand to serve your item of choice to you.

Instead of vast eating areas of tables and chairs where people find their own seat and eat en masse, there will be a move to more dining areas with smaller passenger capacity, and a reservation system so that there is no searching for a seat or waiting in line for a table.

– Mary of Calculated Traveller

The Future of Travel 

If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s the fact that our appetite for travel, adventure, and new experiences has not diminished. We may have to be patient until we can explore the world as we once have done. Until then, we can climb mountains and tread trails in our minds through books, travel blogs, and travel movies. We’re all in this together.

About the Author
Melissa Douglas is a professional travel writer and full-time digital nomad from the UK. She manages www.highheelsandabackpack.com - a trusted solo female travel website, which she uses as a platform to encourage women to push themselves outside of their comfort zones.
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