On the 9th of November, 2020, it was announced that BioNTech and Pfizer made one of the candidates for a COVID-19 vaccine that showed over 90% of effectiveness in preventing people from getting infected with the coronavirus.
This news immediately echoed throughout the world, finally providing the much-needed push that the dormant travel industry needed so badly to start reviving itself. This boost was necessary to get cruise and airline companies going with their share prices rallying and driving spikes in bookings and searches for tour operators throughout 2021.
With summer vacations just around the corner, one question is undeniably filling the air with uncertainty and anticipation—will travel post-vaccine help get things back to normal or have things changed beyond repair?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, and it takes time to see how things will be in the near future. It is expected to see things coming back up to a certain degree, but there is still a long way to go. Let’s see what we can expect to see in the time to come.
Current State of Things
If we look at the current state of things, we can see a significant drop in bookings and reservations across the world. However, vaccinations may just improve things for the travel industry.
Many countries have been working on developing their own vaccines and vaccinating their population in order to reduce the impact COVID-19 had on their economies. Vaccinating millions of people has been a challenge. That’s why most countries prioritize older generations as well as essential and health workers as they are more exposed to the virus.
Of course, there will be many challenges along the way and practical issues for the storage and transportation of the Pfizer vaccine. If some country is to apply vaccines with success, it will take time to find the best ways to ensure maximum safety.
Take a look at the US or Israel. They have had a steady pace of returning to normality after they have vaccinated more than half of their populace.
When it comes to such delicate matters, there are no rushing things, despite what governments are suggesting. That is precisely where the most significant problem lies as countries that solely depend on tourism to get by are the ones that suffer the most. They are desperately trying to get tourists to their destinations, but it’s more than evident that things won’t be back to normal until fall 2021.
Despite everything that has been going on, tour operators and travel brands have seen serious growth in bookings and trips to the US for 2022. At the same time, pretty much the same situation can be seen in the UAE and the Maldives—the two most popular destinations for the citizens of the EU looking to leave their COVID-19 worries behind.
Dubai is one of the most wanted destinations at the moment, heavily investing in getting their tourism up and running. The tour operators there are working around the clock to get people back safely.
The same goes for the Caribbean. There are certain predictions that the Caribbean will see a significant increase in the number of bookings while New Zealand and Australia will remain off-limits until the last three months of 2021.
More and more people are looking towards Asia when planning their travels. However, most Southeast Asia will be off the charts for the time being, or at least until all the certificates and testing at every border takes place.
Instead of the usual box-ticking, people will now choose their destinations more carefully with the primary goal to fully immerse themselves rather than just going for a visit. What used to be multiple weekend breaks will be replaced by 14-day trips.
ForwardKeys did a study by analyzing data on flight bookings. The research showed that Chinese domestic travel during the Labor Day holiday significantly exceeded pre-pandemic numbers.
Compared to the same time in 2019, China has seen a 5.8% increase in total airline tickets for the peak period between May 1 and May 5. The same goes for the number of bookings for the extended vacation period, exceeding the 2019 numbers by 9.8%.
List of Trends That the World Is Expected to See Once Vaccinated
If we take the current situation in the world, many tour operators are expecting to see a relatively successful year. Even though a large number of 2020 travels have been postponed for 2021, internet users are showing immense interest in travel for the year 2022.
Indeed, the world won’t see a real recovery until 2022 at least, but once things finally start moving in the right direction, the number of bookings will be the highest yet. With that in mind, there will be certain trends to count on too:
- Touchless travel—even with the effort to vaccinate the world,the travel experience has fundamentally changed, especially when it comes to the different customer journey stages. Airlines will increasingly adopt touchless experiences, particularly at the airport. When it comes to other restrictions, both airlines and hoteliers will remain on alert for a long time.
- Increased flexibility—flexibility is probably the best thing that will come out of the pandemic. It refers to the increasing level of flexibility that tour operators are already showing when it comes to 2021 deal offers. Brands will offer increased flexibility while guests will expect increased transparency. Flexibility will be the main driving factor of recovery for the travel industry. At the same time, that flexibility ensures that those wanting to book will be able to do so without any risks.
- New practices—the post-COVID world will only thrive by adopting new methods and new sets of rules.No one can tell how long it will take for the world to recover, but until it does, both tour operators and guests will have to abide by new rules and use new practices to ensure maximum safety.
The research, knowledge, time, and resources invested into the COVID-19 vaccine isn’t only changing travel for good but the entire world. We are now fully aware of the importance of being prepared for such a situation in the future.
Vaccines are the best answer to viruses and epidemics, and this research could benefit the fight against other diseases. People are also much more aware of the risks and viruses now. This increased awareness will be the very first step toward much safer traveling in the future.