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How COVID has changed tourism – the beginning of a new, more sustainable era of tourism

Lena Melcher, Head of Marketing at Viatu on how Viatu is creating a long-term net positive impact in their destinations by prioritising the interests of people, wildlife & the environment



Before the Coronavirus pandemic, crowded attractions and jam-packed destinations

were a common sight. Overtourism was burdening destinations, communities and

environments – being effectively unsustainable. Is this the opportunity to redesign

travel as we know it?


As the Coronavirus started waving across the globe, strict lockdowns and travel

restrictions saw worn-out destinations regain their balance as travelling was no longer

an option. Decreased tourists resulted in a reduction of crowds, pollution and adverse

effects on local communities. And the current pandemic has largely affected travellers’

behaviours too. Nowadays, they are eager to explore remote destinations at a slower

pace, seeking to immerse in local cultures. They are also likely to book last-minute trips

because of fast-changing travel restrictions. This behaviour is enhanced by the

pre-existing digital trend of booking with 52% of millennial travellers arranging trips

online and 25% doing so from their mobile phones[1].


One thing is for sure though - not travelling at all is not the answer. Just because

old-fashioned tourism was unsustainable does not mean that tourism as a whole can’t

change. When managed, directed and guided with sustainability at its core, tourism has

the capacity to create lasting effects on local communities and largely contribute to the

conservation and preservation of the environment and wildlife. For this reason, we

believe that this crisis is a chance to rethink travel.


A recent study found that 76% of travellers are more concerned about sustainability

after COVID proving that they believe the sector needs reform as well. However, the

same study shows that only 55% of travel businesses implement a sustainability

strategy – indicating an evident gap[2]. Travellers’ principles should be matched by the

tourism industry, presenting a unique opportunity to redefine travel collaboratively.

Current trends reveal that travellers desire to support local businesses and initiatives

that are eco-friendly and look for sustainably managed travel options. Given consumer

trends and the pandemic, travel in the future must become more conscious and

sustainable - preserving destinations rather than exhausting them. To achieve this goal, the focus should be on promoting encounters and experiences with local people and the

support of local businesses as well as the protection and conservation of nature and

wildlife. Tourism stakeholders need to develop new strategies that incorporate

sustainable practices to support this movement.


This is the beginning of a new, more sustainable era of tourism. At Viatu, we aim to

create a long-term net positive impact in our destinations by prioritising the interests of

people, wildlife & the environment.


If not now, when?



Author: Lena Melcher, Head of Marketing at Viatu



References:

1. Passport, December 2020, Digital Travel Innovation Across The Traveller Journey

2. Passport, December 2020, From Sustainability to Purpose: Roadmap to Recovery

for Travel and Tourism


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