If there is one thing that is agreed by travel experts, it is that the future of adventure travel is still bright despite the unprecedented challenges presented by the global pandemic. “Nothing in my 35 years in the adventure travel business is approaching this,” said Ben Bressler, CEO of the sustainable travel company Natural Habitat Adventures. “But if 9/11, SARS, and the 2008 financial collapse taught us anything, then adapting quickly is vital, and that we will come out with a tougher end.”
That is especially the case for adventure trips, which basically have all the antidotes to post-pandemic antidotes, with a focus on small group outings, less tourist destinations, and wide open spaces. According to an ongoing survey by Destination Analysts, a tourism marketing and research company, more than half of American travelers say they plan to avoid crowded destinations after most of the restrictions have abated.
What can we expect from the next few months and so on? Our experts acknowledge that it is impossible to be certain about anything when we experiment with a new normal, and they note that if the second wave of COVID-19 hits, a rollback will occur. Returning to our trip will depend on a variety of factors, including “when the economy and borders are reopened, how businesses change their operations, whether airlines provide rapid COVID-19 testing, and, ultimately, when vaccines might be available,” Sandy Cunningham said , a long-time adventurous travel adventurer and co-founder of Outside GO, Outside travel company.
Mounting’s findings show that travelers are ready to go there so it is safe to do so. A recent report by Skift Research, the data analysis arm of travel trade publications, found that “one-third of Americans in our survey indicated that they would start traveling within three months after travel restrictions were lifted.” Most of our experts agree that just as states and countries now practice a gradual reopening, travel may reflect that process, initially with more home visits, camping and road trips, then domestic air travel, finally international travel. The first step is already underway when national parks, beaches and other parts of the country begin to reopen.
Many industry experts also noted that their clients had chosen to postpone the trip rather than cancel it, indicating that it was so safe to try the waters, they would do it. Such delays have helped some retail clothing sellers to survive this long. Retail clothing sellers also see an increase in new orders for the future.
Meanwhile, there is hope that travelers will explore in a more thoughtful and sustainable way. “We have the opportunity to make changes that we may have never felt the freedom to do before,” said Shannon Stowell, president of the Adventure Trade Trade Association (ATTA). “If there is time to rebuild properly, the world has a chance.”
From new health and safety protocols to more meaningful spike list-bucket trips, this is how our experts predict that travel will change in the future.
An adventure trip will be the first to return.
(Photo: Bobby Stevenson / Unsplash)
“Adventure travelers are basically more courageous, more willing to make the sacrifices needed to experience extraordinary, and they will likely lead,” said Richard Bangs, one of the founders of the MT Sobek adventure company and Stellar travel application and a member of the founding team Expedia. Stowell agrees: “Some aspects of an adventure trip mean that it will be a more attractive choice than before. Closed places like mass tourism resorts and crowded tourist sites will be far less attractive. ”
Future MT Sobek bookings reflect travelers looking for more distant destinations, with increasing interest in Alaska and raft rental trips. To meet this demand, the company has also recently launched a series of private trips to national parks and other domestic wilderness areas.
Intrepid Travel, the largest small group adventure company in the world, noticed similar changes in this type of travel. “From our North American customers specifically, we see a surge in interest for active tours that include outdoor experiences such as trekking, hiking and biking,” said its CEO, James Thornton.
James Sano, vice president of conservation travel at the World Wildlife Foundation, which has 35 years of experience in the industry, said he had witnessed the return of travelers who repeatedly after past disturbances such as SARS. “They are often the initial users, and their tolerance for risk is greater,” he said. “I think they will be at the forefront.”
The first wave will return to local and domestic travel, with an emphasis on camping and road trips.
Our experts all agreed on how the journey would open, but the time remained uncertain. Simply put, Bangs refers to a quote from novelist William Goldman about the film business: “Nobody knows anything.” Bangs anticipates a gradual return: “One: explore our homes. Two: take a road trip to the nearest state park and coast. Three: take a land trip to the national park, river trip, and hiking. Four: take a short domestic air trip to wilderness destination. Five: international travel. “For many states and national parks that have begun to reopen gradually, the first two steps have begun.
Phase three can present several challenges. Travelers must stay abreast of news and follow federal and state health precautions. But this doesn’t stop travelers planning a trip – there’s a surge in bookings at Outdoorsy, an RV rental service. “We have seen our average daily bookings grow at an encouraging rate of 50 percent since April 1 and more traffic to our website than the previous year,” said Jeff Cavins, its CEO, who worked with RV owners to implement new cleaning practices. “Once it’s safe to get out there, I think people will have a strong desire to control the cleanliness and safety of their environment, distance themselves, and not have to worry about safety lines, narrow seating, or crowded places.” RV Share, an RV rental market such as Airbnb, recently announced the highest record booking since its establishment – a 650 percent increase since early April.
Camping is positioned to become more popular after locking restrictions. A recent KOA survey found that camping tends to account for 16 percent of post-pandemic holiday trips, compared to 11 percent previously recorded. The report also showed that the lock could create a new class of campers, because 32 percent of travelers who had never camped before expressed an interest in getting started. Camper also plans to go out responsibly – 70 percent say they plan to camp near home, and 68 percent are willing to travel to less popular locations to avoid overcrowding.
Camping and road trips are also more possible when many of us deal with financial uncertainty. “An important factor that must be considered by the travel industry as a whole in the coming months is that many people lose their jobs or have to take wage cuts during this time, so long trips may not be feasible,” Cavins from Outdoorsy said. Of the camper candidates surveyed in the KOA report, 41 percent noted that they were most interested in their affordability.
Then we will start flying again.
(Photo: James Coleman / Unsplash)
Next will come domestic air travel, with adventurers searching for wilderness destinations, for DIY trips and organized small groups. “Guided activities provide opportunities for adventure without assuming some risks arising from independent business,” said Alex Kosseff, executive director of the American Mountain Guides Association. While around 6,000 guides and instructors underwent mass cancellations this spring, they hope to return to large after it is safe to travel domestically.
As for international travel, retail clothing sellers pay attention to scheduling trends among clients. Intrepid Travel’s Thornton said that “May 2021 is the most popular time frame for re-booking trips, which are generally longer booking windows than we normally see. Those who make new international bookings plan to travel a little earlier, with the majority in March 2021. “Meanwhile, several countries, such as Iceland, Vietnam and Greece, plan to reopen their borders in mid-June.
Scott Keyes, founder of the Scott’s Cheap Flights-flight bulletin, believes that until there is a definite breakthrough – whether vaccine or herd immunity is achieved – the journey will return sporadically. “There will be no clear signal like the end of the fire drill,” he said. “On the contrary, certain places will open before others, and some places will likely pass the opening and closing waves.”
There will be a surge in bucket list trips.
What most of us have lost during this time is not material things. We lost experience. “The trip you have told yourself for six years that you will take but has not, more and more people will make that trip happen when we feel safe to travel again,” said Daniel Houghton, former CEO of Lonely Planet and author of Wherever You Go: Guide to Attentive, Sustainable, and Life-Changing Travel. According to a recent survey of 2,200 travelers in the US, UK and Australia conducted by Skyscanner booking sites, “Bucket list travel is a top priority, with 80 percent of Americans likely to travel to their dream destination once restrictions are imposed. lifted up. ”
This is reflected in the most popular destinations for reorder and new bookings. “The requests we see indicate a desire for remote places with a natural environment, while also examining bucket-list experiences,” Thornton said. His company sees most of the rebookings for Peru, Ecuador, Antarctica, Greece, and Japan and most of the new orders for Antarctica, Ecuador, Peru, Egypt, and Morocco, in order of popularity. Likewise, Outside GO sees the greatest interest in Alaska and British Columbia later this year and New Zealand in 2021.
Now is also a good time to mark your calendar for adventures that only get permits that need to be booked up to one year in advance.
And there will be an agreement.
“When it’s safe to do it, I’m not sure there will be a better time to be a traveler,” Houghton said. “This industry has been hit hard, and when the time is right, the trips we once dreamed were able to reach.” This is especially true for airlines, because airlines continue to cut prices in the future to encourage travelers to buy now for travel on the phone.
According to Brian Kelly, CEO and founder of Points Guy, a travel website that focuses on loyalty programs and credit cards, “Now is the right time to start planning a trip for the post-coronavirus world.” Kelly has seen airlines offer fares of less than $ 100 to the Caribbean, wide open date ranges for award tickets to Europe for winter holidays, and first-class tickets to Japan for only 55,000 miles in January 2021.
There was also a 40 percent surge in what Keyes of Scott’s Flights called “error rates”: when technical disruptions caused airlines to post fares with large discounts. “With airlines carrying out major operations for their schedule, one side effect has been a spike in the number of error rates,” said Keyes, who saw a $ 210 round trip from Los Angeles to Santiago, Chile.
But before you make any transaction, be sure to carefully read the terms of the change and airline cancellation policy and look into canceled travel insurance for any reason.
Airlines also will not be the only place to find offers. Visit Sicily recently announced that it will cover half the cost of airplane tickets and part of the cost of staying at a hotel to inspire tourists to return to the Italian island. And some hotel chains offer ways travelers can now travel later, which helps hotel staff stay paid or for health care. Cayuga Collections, a group of sustainable hotels in Central America, offers a green bond program, where your investment for the future will now double in value when you are ready to book. Other travel deals are likely to come.
We want to spend quality time with friends and family.
(Photo: Pamela Joe McFarlane / iStock)
“With so many people forced to separate from friends and family, we anticipate travelers who want to make up for lost time with loved ones through meaningful experiences,” said Allison Fleece, co-founder of Whoa Travel, an adventure travel company serving women. “The pandemic era that we live in today teaches us all about what is important in our lives and how fragile life is, and we think it will be strengthened by people’s travel decisions.”
Multigenerational travel will be a popular choice after the lock. “Reconnecting has become a big part of our break, and what better way to do it with all our loved ones in a safe and wild place,” said Cunningham from Outside GO. In fact, the glamping Collective Retreats operator has witnessed “uptick in inquiry for smaller marriages and elopement, as well as late birthday celebrations and celebrations,” said Peter Mack, its CEO.
We will use travel agents and clothing retailers more often.
When thousands of Americans are stranded abroad because lockdown quickly closes international borders, those who have travel agents or retail clothing sellers have a much easier time to go home than those who don’t.
“When the COVID-19 crisis began, our first priority was ensuring the safety of our customers and workers worldwide,” said Thornton of Intrepid Travel. “Our local tour leaders and global operations teams work around the clock to help more than 3,000 travelers return home safely as the border approaches.” Outside the GO also goes into emergency mode: “From getting clients who were evacuated safely from countries before the lockout took effect and advocating on their behalf with a travel insurance company to working with our land partners to offer refunds for parts of the trip that are not used are cut, the team worked long and hard to solve all this, “said Cunningham.
“There is so much frustration for so many people who order through online services [like Booking.com and Orbitz], with footage everywhere, “added Cunningham.” Human-to-human contact is more important than ever. ”
Because the travel landscape will look very different for a while, and information found through online sources in forums and other places may be out of date, travel agents or retail clothing sellers will have more accurate information about access, open business, and where it’s safest to avoid the crowd.
Outfitters build closer relationships with current clients, share memories about past trips and dream about the future. “We regularly outreach with pictures and stories to make our guests and prospective guests dream,” said Bangs MT Sobek. There is also a bond in the travel industry itself, with retail clothing sellers supporting each other. ATTA has united retail clothing sellers through online seminars, and on May 26, ATTA will launch a free community membership for financially compromised companies, laid off employees, and others who want to try the organization to stay connected. (This link will go live on May 26 for those who are interested in registering.)
It might take longer than before to get through the airport.
(Photo: AJ Watt / iStock)
If you think it takes a long time before COVID-19, the post-pandemic journey can be even more intense. “After 9/11, many new security measures were implemented, such as the introduction of the TSA, the bulletproof and locked cockpit, and identification requirements issued by the government,” Points Guy’s Kelly said. “The impact of COVID-19 is likely to lead to new health-based policies, such as riding smaller groups of people at a time, needing seat sanitation, and even eliminating backseat bags.”
While most airlines have improved aircraft sanitation and require crews and travelers to wear masks, the FAA has not enforced regulations throughout the industry. This has resulted in uneven responses from domestic airlines, from Alaska Air blocking the middle seats on large aircraft to other airlines announcing possible temperature checks for passengers before boarding.
Several airlines have led accusations in conducting pre-boarding health checks. “Emirates has offered COVID-19 testing results quickly,” said Cunningham. The airline has plans to extend the test to all flights departing for countries that require passengers arriving for inspection.
Many of us will remember the yellow card, a pamphlet that is now no longer issued by the World Health Organization where a traveler’s vaccination date is recorded. “For most of my career, certain countries require vaccinations for diseases such as yellow fever, tetanus and typhus and as part of the entry process will require you to produce your yellow book,” said Sano from the World Wildlife Foundation. “I can easily imagine this digital version, like a QR code, where you have electronic evidence that you have been vaccinated.”
Similar movements gain momentum in the form of “passport immunity” which will be issued to those who have recovered from the virus and may have antibodies. According to CNBC, during the first quarter earnings call on April 22, Delta CEO Ed Bastian indicated that the airline was considering instituting a number of steps, including an immunity passport. “Could there be a new public health agent who needs a new passport to travel?” He asked. “We will be at the forefront of all that progress.”
Chile has already begun issuing health passports, while other countries, including Britain, Germany and Italy, are considering doing so. (It is important to note that a number of health organizations say not enough is known about the immunity of those who have recovered from novel coronaviruses.)
When it comes to the future of airports, Luis Muñoz Marín Puerto Rico International Airport and Vienna International Airport are good indicators of what to expect. Luis Muñoz Marín has installed a thermal imaging camera that filters passengers on arrival for temperatures above 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Those who exceed that threshold and show symptoms will be evaluated and quarantined. Meanwhile, travelers who arrive in Vienna will get a swab test for COVID-19 which will be processed within three hours and costs $ 204. Those who test negative will be given a certificate and allowed to move freely, and those who test positive will be charged quarantine 14 days. Biometric check-in, TSA designation, and non-passenger restrictions from entering the airport are some other protocols that can be implemented.
Travel companies will rethink their approach to health and safety.
(Photo: Special Nomadic People)
Adventurous travel adventurers use this time to change their protocol. At Backroads, a company that specializes in bicycle travel, it means “increasing safety training for travel leaders and working with hotels, restaurants, transportation operators, and other vendors to comply with improved safety protocols for cleaning rooms, handling luggage, and preparing food, among others, “said CEO Tom Hale. He added that “before the trip begins, our guests will be asked to undergo a pre-travel health check to ensure we have done everything we can to make sure they are okay.”
Intrepid Travel will consider implementing similar steps alongside “the contactless check-in process and increased transparency about cleanliness,” Thornton said. Kathryn Walsh, founder of the Alaska Backpacking expedition company, said they would start “making a single tent available to everyone, including a final bleach solution on a plate after meals and individually packing food to prevent cross-contamination, to name a few.” And OARS, known for rafting and sea kayaking trips, plans to conduct “guest guides and screenings before the trip, enforce PPE when applicable, and pay greater attention to hand washing and sanitation of vehicles and public surfaces,” according to Steve Markle, vice president of brand sales and marketing.
Host-driven rental companies must rethink their protocols as well. On May 1, Airbnb launched an initiative that would certify hosts who practice the new cleaning guidelines (developed in partnership with former US general surgeon Vivek Murthy) and implemented a minimum 24-hour waiting period between bookings. For hosts who cannot comply with the guidelines, the company has suggested waiting 72 hours from the time the last rental was occupied before accommodating new guests. Others, such as the camping booking site Hipcamp, have sent recommendations to the host regarding new guest cleaning and interaction protocols. Hipcamp CEO Alyssa Ravasio said it also “added an additional step to our booking flow in which all Hipcamper had to check boxes to certify their bookings themselves did not violate local regulations or travel restrictions.”
Glamping operators are ready to make a quick comeback because of the nature of their lodging arrangements. “Unlike traditional hotels or accommodation rentals, our air handling system consists of fresh air, our hotel lobby is a large canvas tent, and our hallways meandered through open paths and natural landscapes,” Collective Retreats’ Mack said. The company operates five locations throughout the country. “Over the past few months, we have continued to operate our retreat in Austin, Texas, and have begun to sell many weekends,” he said. “On Collective Governors Island, in New York, we have ten cancellations after July 4, and for August, September and October, we are currently projected to be ahead of where we were last year at this time.”
Under Canvas, which operates a luxury tent site outside the national park, will open the location of the Great Smoky Mountains on May 28, followed by Zion and Moab on June 4, then the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone on June 11. Each site will comply with the location reopening policy. Individual check-in via touch screen kiosks, takeout food and drinks to eat in tents, and hand-washing stations throughout the camp are among the new preventive measures implemented by the company.
The journey will change for the better.
Our experts agree that the journey will be more deliberate going forward. “We really think people will be more appreciative and interested in meaningful experiences, responsibilities, the environment and moments that unite people to learn and grow with each other in a post-pandemic world,” said Allison Fleece of Whoa Travel. Alaska’s Walsh of Backpack agrees: “I know I have fooled myself before thinking that the substance will spontaneously come out of my way to a distant destination that sounds exotic. This pandemic has highlighted that many people crave something real and lasting. ”
Others noted that now could cause travelers and travel companies to prioritize sustainability and ethics. “I think there will be a depletion of mass tourism, a depletion of meaningless experience. People will look for deeper experiences and fewer instant gratification tourism, “Outside GO’s Cunningham said. Stowell of ATTA recalled what Canadian astrophysicist Hubert Reeves said at the 2009 summit on climate change: “I’m not optimistic, I’m not pessimistic, I’m determined.” Stowell said: “We at ATTA and in our community are determined to see the trip done better. In the case of some of the more destructive types of tourism, they must be completely reorganized and rebuilt to begin to be healthy for the destination. Now is the time for destinations to take over and demand that tourism benefit their environmental efforts and support the local population rather than being dangerous or exploitative. ”
Many companies have seen how they can recover in more sustainable ways, which according to the Sano World Wildlife Foundation can turn out to be more profitable. “Because we can see from the impact of this pandemic on the environment, travelers will likely be more aware of the impact than before,” he said. Ravasio Hipcamp added: “At times like this, where it becomes very clear that we are all connected, travel gives us the opportunity to practice empathy. How can I respect and protect the community that I visit? ”
All our experts see a promising future. “I look forward to more trips in the future than before,” Daniel Houghton said. “Travel offers something that you cannot copy or create at home. All the things we miss in quarantine – fresh air, places we’ve never been to, dinner with people we just met – this is the best quality of travel that is available endlessly, no matter where you are on the planet. ”
And Bangs MT Sobek emphasized that the journey always returned: “This enthusiasm for adventure does not fade or fade over time. This is a basic desire, itchy curiosity, and when the road is open, there will be travelers, top down, full speed ahead. ”
Deputy Editor Mary Turner and Assistant Editor Kaelyn Lynch contributed to the reporting of this article.
Photo of Lead: Akela From Alp to Alp / Stocksy
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