It takes two to tango, so (destination developers and marketers) have been shaping the narrative the right way themselves, through messages that inspire meaningful, immersive and sustainable travel.
In the early days of the Covid travel disruption, industry observers and leaders said isolation and self-reflection would trigger an awakening among consumers to desire a more meaningful life when the lockdown was over. The numerous traveller intention surveys that followed us through the past two years also pointed to an era of more responsible, meaningful travel.
Now that travel barriers are increasingly being dismantled and travel freedom is being returned to most people, we will finally know if these expectations were correct or if traveller intention surveys were distorted by social desirability bias.
The good news is, many destination developers and marketers are not leaving it to travellers to make the right move. It takes two to tango, so they have been shaping the narrative the right way themselves, through messages that inspire meaningful, immersive and sustainable travel.
Throughout the travel freeze, Spain Tourism Board has been deepening South-east Asian travel agents’ understanding of Spain’s various points of appeal, with the aim of spreading post-lockdown tourism attention to lesser-known parts of the country and play up unique local experiences.
Raising awareness of off-the-beaten-path destinations and customised programmes is recognised as an effective solution for overtourism issues that were present pre-pandemic.
Tourism Western Australia has redefined its strategy to emphasise the Australian state as a premium destination that offers bucket-list worthy adventures across the destination, not just in the busy heart of Perth. It wants high-value travellers, who are known to spend more, disperse farther and stay longer. This approach ensures that the NTO acts “sustainably and in good faith for the protection and preservation of our natural landscape”, said managing director Carolyn Turnbull.
Mauritius tourism stakeholders are moving in similar directions, crafting and promoting authentic experiences that enable visitors to form meaningful connections with the locals.
At the Southeast Asia Development Symposium 2022 in March, PATA CEO Liz Ortiguera said the metrics by which tourism is measured “will be completely different” from pre-pandemic yardsticks. Performance based on large arrival volumes is out; quality dispersion, longer stays, and tourist receipts that flow into the local community are in.
That’s not to say that the world has no place for travellers who just want to shop and feast. There is nothing wrong with that. Some forward-thinking destinations have long been putting the spotlight on local entrepreneurs, especially those with a sustainable business model, and whose products and services tell a valuable story of the local culture and heritage, so that every purchase is unique, meaningful and impactful.
So, will the travel and tourism industry be able to truly build back better? It does look like we will.