How Is the Travel Industry Looking for 2021?

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( — January 8, 2021) — Throughout 2020 one of the hardest hit sectors in the world stayed as the travel industry throughout the year – the lack of international travel and the discouragement for travel throughout the year certainly had a huge impact, but as lockdown measures were put in to place it became almost impossible for some to travel too even if they had wanted too. Whilst many were hoping this would change in 2021, some countries have already prepared lockdowns and restricted flights for the time being and there’s no telling just how long this could last for, which could cause future troubles for the already struggling travel industry. But there are also a number of opportunities that have come around for the travel industry too that may instead turn into a huge benefit and in turn be a saving grace.

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages that could come for the travel industry from this change is within businesses and work habits – whilst essential business travellers have been given the opportunity to continue travelling without much restriction, these trips only make up a small margin of travel in total, but with a change to remote working it opens up a host of opportunities. There has been some encouragement to get those working remotely to begin travelling and experience a little freedom and flexibility with their work, but this isn’t entirely a new idea.

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Many have been making a change toward a digital nomad lifestyle in recent years as infrastructure to allow us to do so has improved, with better connectivity and more options for an online connection around the world, it has become less required for many to stay in an office to do their day-to-day job, and as the coronavirus pandemic has revealed to many too their jobs can certainly be done remotely. There are many sources of information here for what the digital nomad lifestyle entails, but many new to remote working are starting to discover the many benefits of not being tied to one location, and as employers start allowing more freedom to their employees for the same reasons, travel by those hoping to shift more towards a digital nomad lifestyle may actually increase. 

This isn’t to say things will be flawless, however, as there are still many rules that need to be followed when travelling to other countries if even possible at this moment in time, so in the short term this avenue may not help as much as many flight operators would hope. However, once the dust starts to settle, vaccine rollouts are more complete, and travel becomes more open again, the likelihood of remote working sticking around for the longer term certainly seems to remain high, and with millions now able to work remotely it opens up travel options for a demographic that may not have had the ability to do so before. In a recovery period this could spur deals specifically aimed at those hoping to travel for work and unique options that become available to them, some of which have already been seen as some countries have enabled visa’s targeted specifically to those looking to remain somewhere for a longer period of time for remote working purposes and could be a great opportunity for travel as a whole if measured properly. 

There’s also the regular holiday maker, many haven’t been able to have a typical holiday for up to a year and the itch could certainly be coming back for them – the longer travel remains restricted, the more that may be saved in a holiday budget and allow for a few in quick succession where allowed. It’s still not certain whether or not ticket prices will be impacted by the past year and moving forward with more travel disruptions, but many suspects there may be big deals and opportunities from both airlines and hospitality industries such as hotels to encourage those who have forgone travelling during this period of time to book once again and will once again provide a great opportunity for the travel industry in 2021 wherever possible. 

That’s not to say that everything will be smooth sailing, however, as there are plenty of things still to overcome barring the immediate issues that are currently being faced. Some sectors such as the cruise industry may remain damaged for quite some time, being one of the bigger points of attention early on due to the issues with the Diamond Princess and it may discourage travellers from using the services for some time, particularly until a widespread vaccine rollout has occurred to ensure a little more protection. This may also be true for air travel as those a little more concerned with health may wait a little longer before travelling again through fear that the pandemic could still cause issues.

There’s also an issue with whether or not people can afford to get away too – many jobs have been lost over this period of time either through schemes such as furlough which may only cover the bare minimum for some to business closing completely which has left many without a job, those who had may otherwise been the most likely to travel may be less willing to do so more because they’re unable to afford it, particularly if there are price hikes at any point along the way. It may be up to many in the travel and hospitality sector to see if special pricing can be offered, but if prices do go up as some suspect, it could be a much longer wait.

One of the final issues may be within how different countries react to the pandemic too – whilst some are certainly fairing much better than others, there have been plenty of efforts made to restrict travel between these places. New Zealand has been a great example as a country that have dealt with the virus extremely well, but in order to protect the country remain limited at the border and depending how long the virus continues for could impact how many people can enter specific countries. Others such as the UK are also dealing with Brexit and this may impact European travel regardless of the ongoing pandemic state, whilst there has currently been little to no change to the way travel corridors work, this could also be impacted in the future through regulation change or relationship change and provides yet more uncertainty for the recovery of travel in 2021 in this specific part of the world too, particularly as the situation will continue to remain quite fluid.

It’s a difficult prediction, there’s no telling how long this situation could continue for and although vaccine availability is going up, we’re along way off mass vaccination – countries such as Spain have already announced that they will be sharing the names of those refusing vaccination too to prevent travel to other countries heading forward, and others may follow the same path if they feel it is necessary for protection. The bigger picture in the short term does look bleak, and with a few airlines failing early on in 2020 due to the heavy restrictions placed it would be difficult to say that others won’t experience the same now as further restrictions come into place, and those unable to secure funding or continue some level of regular flights will be the ones worst hit by the changes. 

All in all, it doesn’t look as if travel will get off to a great start, and with expectations that not much can change by Spring, it could be another long and difficult year to lean out the travel and hospitality sectors once again, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see that there are many who will be unable to make it through the other side with many closures and many hard times laid out in front.