Undoubtedly, 2020 has been a troubled year for the tourism and travel industries, with the effects of the global pandemic driving a wedge between tourists and destination- the world may have ground to a standstill, but we will travel again! The future of tourism will experience major changes, in both human behaviour and business offerings, and the health and safety of travellers will be of the utmost importance.
What will the future of tourism in Africa look like, post-Covid-19? Malcolm Ainscough, Chairman of TMAC, shares his opinions and insights for the future of travel.
Future of Tourism in Africa | Space & Exclusivity
Bespoke, real and wellness have been some of the key features of marketing campaigns for some time now but the new focus will be on hygiene. Guests will rely on known brands because they will highlight the safety measures they have taken and their upgraded cleansing efforts.
There will be accelerated demand for destinations offering space and exclusivity, and our guests will be willing to undertake intercontinental travel only where the destination is unique and the experience, spectacular. If not, people will appreciate more of what’s available in their own country, so expect much less travel in the medium term to the busy centres of London, Paris or Rome for example.
More people will understand that Africa provides splendid reward for the travel-effort ratio with enhanced experiences that are less stressful and crowded, and this will be a key consideration for the future of tourism in Africa.
Future of Tourism in Africa | Travel Professionals
More people will use travel professionals. Uncertainty, new trends and inefficient on-line service when it is most needed will cause people to want more hands-on attention with someone they can text or call and will handle everything for them – especially when this service comes without additional charge.
Our principals will accelerate the move to more direct sales (especially for repeat customers), but will not undercut their preferred suppliers. Many travel professionals who have not specialised over the last decade should expect less perks to be offered, and commission structures to change in the longer term.
Further consolidation in the industry of distressed companies that are acquired by those still with strong financials will result in enhanced professionalism and value, but there will be less choice as many operators will go into liquidation and thousands of travel professionals will be retrenched. They will find jobs in other professions when the economy rebounds and may not return to travel. Bucket-list travellers will book with companies they trust and who have an extended and successful operational history.
Future of Tourism in Africa | Travel Insurance
This pandemic highlighted the fact that almost every travel insurance product proved to be ineffective for pandemics so the market will pay much more attention to what they are buying. Travel insurance will inevitably become more expensive but also much more popular.
Future of Tourism in Africa | First-Class Travel
Business travel will not ever return to previous capacity so for the first time ever leisure travel will become the foundation of hotel and airline profits and this will place our market in a much stronger purchasing position. As confidence returns, however, airlines will return to maximum utilization of space so economy-class will remain as crowded and uncomfortable as ever but there will be increased demand for first-class suites such as the Delta One, Qatar Q-class and Emirates suites with closing doors. Delta are introducing their Delta One product on the route to Johannesburg and Cape Town from Atlanta on October 24 this year.
Future of Tourism in Africa | Patience
The last major changes to the travel industry were post 9/11 and in 2002, we sold three safaris the whole year! This will be a similar situation and I don’t see the industry returning to any strength before the middle of 2021 with or without a vaccine.
Our guests will focus on areas that have managed COVID19 but remain primarily concerned about being stuck somewhere so I cannot recommend intercontinental travel to any of our clients until this concern is removed. This time we should again expect long-lasting changes some of which will be appropriate with others that are burdensome and pointless, so we shall need to be on our game more than ever and I believe we are well prepared to provide superior professional service for the many new guests wishing to discover the magic of Africa. A stronger future yet awaits for those who are patient.
The future of tourism in Africa will remain tempting and inviting. Once we are able to travel again, we look forward to welcoming you to Africa, and the incredible stories that she wishes to share!