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What Tourism and Hospitality Students Should Know About Post-COVID Travel

The travel industry has taken a major hit with the coronavirus pandemic. What can tourism and hospitality students expect -- both now and when it eventually bounces back?

Sep 6, 2023
  • International News
What Tourism and Hospitality Students Should Know About Post-COVID Travel

It’s not surprising that the airline industry is expected to have a long road to recovery ahead of it. According to The Guardian, this could take anywhere between three and five years. Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury said, “We are now in the midst of the gravest crisis the aerospace industry has ever known.”

But while much of what’s making headlines is doom and gloom, some cities are taking advantage of the travel restrictions to reset. The Guardian reported that “stag party capitals” like Prague, Budapest and Kraków are attempting to reinvent themselves. Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony said, “We want to spread out the spots in the city that are touristically interesting, and change the type of people who come. It shouldn’t only be bachelor parties and booze – we want to rebrand ourselves a bit.” Venice has also been held up as an example of a city that can benefit from the “vision of a new, greener kind of tourism.”

Tourists on Main Market Square in Krakow, Poland.

There’s good news, too, for fearless travelers looking for potential deals. While travel agencies have suffered amid the coronavirus, it may actually be an opportune time to book travel for peak times... especially if you find a great deal, according to The Independent. One caveat is that with so much in the air, you cannot be certain that your trip will go ahead. However, as long as you pay for your flights with a credit card you should be able to get your money back. Many travel companies are also taking a more flexible approach to bookings and cancellations.

The environment may also eventually come out ahead. A Financial Times piece highlights that COVID has led to an increased awareness of the impact of mass travel on climate change, suggesting that the ongoing crisis might lead to more responsible and sustainable ways of traveling. Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler says, “We’re not going to swing the doors open and go back to what was happening before. I don’t think that ‘where shall we go in Europe for the weekend?’ approach is going to come back in some casual manner.”

In fact, sustainable travel was a recurring theme on roundups of top trends for 2021, including The Evening Standard’s. Other anticipated trends included increases in staycations and trips to less popular destinations and wilderness destinations; the embracing of “pure” elements like fresh air, water, and wide-open spaces; the revival of traditional British seaside towns; and more group and multi-generational trips. Islands, Scandinavian countries, and Portugal and Greece are all expected to be strong contenders.

Speaking of top trend lists, many different entities have come up with projections of their own regarding what to expect moving forward.

BuzzFeed identified 14 ways the pandemic could change how we travel in the future, including the potential return of travel sooner than later and gravitation toward European travel in the US. We might also see a drop in airfare prices in 2021 followed by a surge, as well as airline mergers and fewer flights resulting in packed planes and high prices and fees. With many people still recovering from canceled trips during the pandemic, BuzzFeed further suggests we will see related changes, including increased flexibility in cancellation and refund policies and increased interest in travel insurance (along with potential limitations to coverage). Even the act of how we board plans may get an update, as well as food and drink service during flights. Lastly, more people may turn to long-term travel and/or become digital nomads.

Hospitality Net reported that the hospitality industry will need new strategies for reducing the impact of coronavirus while fueling recovery. First on its list? Adopting cloud technologies. Millennial travelers -- and their dollars -- will also be in demand. We can also look forward to improved hotel stays since many are using downtime during COVID for maintenance and renovations. Hotel restaurant meal delivery is also included as an up and coming trend. Hotels will also be rethinking their current health and safety policies as well as their communication strategies for sharing information with customers and employees.

According to the World Economic Forum, hotels can learn a lot from hospitals as both face similar challenges. This starts with the practice of putting the safety of employees first. Other safety measures borrowed from the healthcare industry will include investigating the science of air filtration and aerosol transmission and understanding and tracking evolving safety recommendations. Hotels will also follow the example of hospitals in creating incident command centers, adopting universal precautions and training, and establishing cleaning protocols. Through it all, we can also expect to see the continuing of physical distancing measures.

While the tourism industry may be down, it’s not out; especially with smart marketing strategies in place. Skift recently featured examples of five tourism promotion campaigns that still manage to make a strong case for travelConde Nast Traveler also featured “tourism campaigns keeping us dreaming of travel during coronavirus.”, meanwhile, shined the spotlight on destination marketing organizations around the world which have responded to the pandemic with “stay home” campaigns.

Speaking of stay-home campaigns, this is exactly what many people will do for the foreseeable future. CNBC and South China Morning Post both anticipated more domestic travel after the pandemic recedes. Tripadvisor’s Elizabeth Monahan said, “Tourism recovery typically begins locally. Travelers tend to first venture out closer to home, and visit their local eateries, stay local for a weekend getaway or travel domestically before a robust demand for international travel returns.”

There’s no denying that the travel industry has its work cut out for it. But as the lockdowns lift and wanderlust returns, people will rediscover their zeal for travel and yearn to hit the road. If you love problem-solving and thinking outside the box, studies and a career in tourism and hospitality may prove to be uniquely exhilarating.

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Tourism and Hospitality
Joanna Hughes


Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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