COVID-19 Has Forever Changed Tourism

Bali Update thanks internationally renowned Indonesian business consultant James Castle of CastleAsia for bringing to our attention an article from Asia Nikkei titled “Old Fashioned Tourism Will Never Return”.

The article was written by Jacques Attali, the president of Positive Planet. Attai has also worked as a counselor to French President Francois Mitterrand and as the inaugural chief of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The 76-year-old Attali is widely regarded as a global visionary, particularly in the area of anticipating life and tourism in a post-pandemic environment.

Attali’s insightful and thought-provoking article says that the global tourism industry brought to a standstill by the global COVID-19 pandemic is slowly starting to “wake up.”

False Dreams

With the gradual restart of international tourism activities, stakeholders gladden and dream of the imminent return of the crowds, the availability of cheap air travel, and travelers “crammed into restaurants, museums, stadiums, and theaters.”

But are these dreams of a full restoration of the wide-ranging global travel business realistic? 

Attali says one lesson learned from the current pandemic is that travel will be fundamentally changed in the future. In the future, travelers will find themselves on journeys operated in a highly regulated manner to avoid the spread of a pandemic, designed to conserve the cost of fossil fuels and highly deferential to the protection of cultural heritage and conservation areas.

Long-Haul and Low-Cost Air Travel at an End?

The writer suggests that in the future, the growth of the global travel industry will take place at a more considered and considerate pace than in the past. Cheaper airfares, low-cost accommodation for travelers, cruise ships berthed in Venetian lagoons, Thai beaches crowded with tourists, and large groups descending on sacred temples of Kyoto, Japan are likely to be less in vogue than they have been in the past.

International travel to Asia from distant points in Europe and America will prove more difficult in the future. The major airlines that continue to operate will offer fewer seats sold at higher prices, automatically making long-haul travel to Asia a vastly reduced market segment.  

Attali admits that while global warming, pollution of the natural environment, the spread of pandemics, and declining biodiversity cannot be solely blamed on the tourism industry – but all these forms of degradation of the natural environment can claim tourism is at least partially culpable.

Growing social consciousness and a world forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic saw Atali declare that “old-fashioned tourism is over.” Writing for the Japanese publication Asia Nikkei, Attali underlines that Japan will be among the nations that must take this change into account. 

Everything Old is New Again?

Travel in the future, as it was in the distant past, may become an activity reserved for the wealthiest members of society. Airfares will cost more, and the choice of hotel rooms reduced with a bias in favor of more expensive accommodation. Add to this rethink on tourism generally will be a growing acceptance of the implications of the concept of “carrying capacity” that will limit the total number of visitors to any place deemed to be culturally or environmentally under threat. 

Both tourism destinations and international hotel companies now seek to become “green” and reduce their ecological footprint. This trend is growing in popularity – increasingly also adopted by tourism destinations and corporations. Hand in hand with the desire to be “green” is a concomitant growing emphasis on presenting products, services and treating employees in a hospitable and friendly manner. Friendly treatment to both customers and friends is now seen as a way of securing both product and staff loyalty.

Attali closes by suggesting that skills developed in the international tourism industry of the past may now be redeployed in the new global economy in reconfigured hospitality careers, such as the fast-growing sector of aged care.

Related Links

Related Links Old-fashioned Tourism Will Never Return (Nikkei ASIA)

Castle Asia Website