The world’s largest employer, the travel industry, was brought to its knees during the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak. It’s not a secret that many lost their jobs during this turmoil period, and that industry, as a whole, suffered great losses. However, now, after a year into a pandemic, we’re hoping for a gradual and slow recovery of the travel industry. Sure, it won’t be a fast process, and we cannot expect things to be as they were before the outbreak – but there is a silver lining in all this mess.

The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on tourism

The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on tourism is enormous, especially for countries and regions that are heavily dependent on foreign visitors. When we see the estimates – like the one which predicts more than 197 million lost jobs could if anti-travel rules still remain in place, we understand the full impact of the pandemic on this industry. But not everything is black as it seems. 

One solution to recovery is the change in how we travel.

One solution to recovery is the change in how we travel. It’s quite possible that people will travel more purposely, meaning, we won’t be hopping on a plane for a “getaway weekend” without discussing the decision and going through the reasons why we should travel in the first place. For business travel, this means fewer flights too. Business people will be more likely to use video conferencing instead of travelling, and only book flights for important and necessary meetings.

To wrap it up, after everything we’ve survived people will think twice before their decision to travel. Leisure and business travel will still continue, but it won’t happen on a whim. Everyone will adjust to that mindset of more mindful travel.

We can expect a recovery in short-distance travel

Even in 2021, travelling within driving distance will continue to persist. People of all social statuses and ages will choose short-distance travel over long-haul trips that are supposed to be “once in a lifetime experiences”, which will take a longer time to come back. That said, we can see the increase in domestic air travel or travel in general, opposed to going outside of the borders.

There’s a simple logic behind this. If they go to remote locations, or they’re far away from home, people will worry if they become sick or are in the country that doesn’t offer them medical standards they get at home. People travelling in destinations that require multiple flights will be in minority.

Bottom line, domestic tourism is more likely to recover faster (around one or two years earlier) than outbound travel. This will happen due to fewer restrictions for travel within their own country, more options for nonair-based travel (such as cars and trains), anxiety, and a larger share of business travel. 

Hotels vs. Private Airbnbs

We can expect a surge in the use of Airbnb after (and during) the COVID-19 pandemic compared to previous years. Simply, AirBnB offers maximum control over space and minimizes contact with strangers, making it preferred and least stressful way of accommodation for many travellers.

Even when they’re going above and beyond to make their customers safe during travels, hotels are still provoking some fear – especially around lobbies and elevators. That said, hoteliers might experience a full recovery after several years.

What more can we expect from air travel?

By some estimates, passenger numbers will grow in 2021. And even though growth is projected to be around three billion (which is significantly less than in 2019), we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

What’s more, we can hope for a slight improvement in the second part of 2021, since the forecasted increased demand for air travel should cause a cash increase in the fourth quarter of 2021. 

To wrap it up, if we assume that COVID-19 vaccine distribution and increase in mass testing will help in opening the borders by the mid-2021, we can hope for revenue growth. To be more precise, by IATA’s estimation airline revenue should grow to $459 billion this year. Compared to 2019, that’s a significant fall (45%), however, if we take the state of the airline industry in 2020, it’s a significant improvement. 

Final words.

The whole niche suffered major losses, and some parts will take slower recovery, while the others even now see the growth compared to the past year. The path to recovery will be patchy, and we will have to work in unison to bring back things to how they were. But, one thing is sure – the ones truly in love with this business there’s no obstacle that’s unable to overcome.