The road to travel industry recovery is unlikely to be smooth and straight.
That was the prediction from Travel Trade Consultancy director Martin Alcock, speaking during TTG’s inaugural Keep Your Business Alive virtual seminar, predicting tourism will experience a “W-shaped” recovery.
He said an initial post-pandemic bookings boom could mask a more widespread reluctance to travel, which will take longer to overcome.
This could impact takings into 2021, he explained.
“Immediately after the [lockdown ends], you will see a surge in interest as people look to make up for lost time – missed Easter holidays or maybe missed summer holidays – but that could mask a slightly longer-term problem.
“It’s going to depend on the depth of that economic recession.”
He also stressed different client demographics would respond in different ways, and destinations will reopen in stages and at their own pace.
“Assuming one homogeneous recovery where everybody starts travelling again like they did before is a mistake,” he said.
For example, the older demographic who are historically big spenders but are more at risk from Covid-19 may struggle to obtain travel insurance and may be put off booking.
Alcock predicted destinations that rely heavily on tourism and are relatively successful in containing the virus would reopen more readily than places that saw greater numbers of fatalities.
“I don’t think we should underestimate the changes in our buying behaviour attitudes that might result from a [lockdown] of [this] scale,” said Alcock.
“It’s dangerous to think we will all just go back to what we did before. When lockdown is over, will we go straight to jumping into group tours, boarding large cruise ships and heading to busy resorts? Or are we more likely to want to avoid crowds?”
However, Alcock stressed the travel industry was resilient enough to weather the pandemic, and he encouraged firms to “hustle like mad” through the storm.