Industry experts reflect on travelers’ mindsets post-COVID crisis, from more regional vacations to outdoor adventures.
Embracing the Outdoors
Hans Pfister, president and co-owner of the Cayuga Collection, a group of five-star sustainable luxury hotels in Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua, says that “following this period of social distancing, I expect consumers to seek out more off-the-beaten-path experiences, private accommodations and adventure activities where they are able to be outdoors and surrounded by open air. We’ll be keeping that in mind when planning out summer programming.” Lisa Burns, executive director of the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council, concurs, stating that “we predict there will be a larger emphasis on outdoor, open-air attractions and destinations as social distancing phases out slowly. For us, we’ll see an uptick in travelers visiting our hiking trails at places such as Letchworth State Park, the 100+ waterfalls of Ithaca and water activities on our 11 pristine lakes and Lake Ontario.” She adds that travelers will also want to visit close to home, “choosing to drive via their own cars to explore nearby destinations.”
Regional Vacations, with Stays at Boutique Hotels
Closer-to-home vacations will mean more road trips, says Phil Hospod, owner of The Wayfinder Hotel. “Now, more than ever, when we are allowed to travel again, we expect to see families, friends, and couples jumping into their cars and hitting the open road. We also predict we’ll see more travelers choosing convenient, nostalgic vacation destinations, like Newport, Rhode Island, that hold meaning, a sense of familiarity and positive associations.” With Michael Cady, v.p. of marketing for Charlestowne Hotels, adding that those staying close to home will “gravitate towards the smaller, boutique hotel experience.”
People Will Travel Again
Alaia Belize’s director of sales and marketing Edward Donaldson says, “People will travel again. There will be a very enormous pent-up demand that people will want to travel. Destinations will play a large part in the recovery: what did they do, how they are involved in making it safer for their staff/locals and even the rates of infections being a part of the overall calculation of consumers selecting destinations.” And the founders of Tourism Exchange Japan, Tomohiro Muraki and Mika White, note that “instead of spending the majority of a travel trip in dense cities, we foresee the reverse and travelers will spend the majority of trip in off-the-beaten path communities and locales. We also anticipate in greater shoulder-season travel where travelers can still enjoy all that a country can offer without the crowds.”