Tourism has taken a big hit since the COVID-19 outbreak started and is among the most affected sectors with a massive fall in demand and revenue. In 2020, Asia and the Pacific saw a 82% decrease in arrivals, the Middle East a 73% decline and Africa a 69% drop compared to the year before.
Now that vaccine distributions are being ramped up around the world, and more countries are opening their borders for international tourism, the future of travel is looking a lot brighter. Adventure travel in particular has the advantage of taking place in the wide-open spaces of nature, usually in less touristy and thinly populated remote areas, and we’re convinced it’s going to be the first to make its recovery post-COVID. Here’s how we expect adventure travel to recover in the near future!
1. The Biggest Travel Trend is… Small
Do you remember the big tourist busses packed with people? They were never our personal favorite to begin with, but the pandemic has completely put a stop to this type of travel. Smaller is safer after all. Adventure trips organically already encourage people to travel with a smaller bubble, whether that means traveling on your own, with a couple of friends or a small-group travel organization like Pure Exploration.
2. The New Approach to Health and Safety
Travelers are looking to travel as safely as possible, so the adventure tourism industry is revamping their health and safety protocols to suit these needs. Pre-departure tests and mask-wearing are for instance implemented on the customer side, but companies are also taking things into their own hands. Contactless check-in processes, new cleaning guidelines and a digital sales process decrease the interaction between the traveler and the organization, while still keeping communication channels optimal.
3. A New Road to Net Zero
Sustainable tourism has been a travel trend for a couple of years now, and it’s not looking like it’s slowing down any time soon. In the wake of the pandemic, travelers are reflecting on the way they travel and they are craving deep, meaningful experiences. This is the time for countries and organizations to take charge and demand that tourism is supporting the communities they visit instead of harming them.
Adventure tourism organizations like Pure Exploration in particular have had a long history with environmental and conscious travel because of their strong connections to nature, and it’s only going to increase moving forward. Many adventure companies are looking at how they can continue to improve the impact their journeys have on the planet, support local communities and treat the environment with due respect.
4. A Renewed Interest in the Wilderness
Camping and glamping operators are making a quick comeback and are experiencing some of their busiest seasons to date, which doesn’t come as a massive surprise. Outdoor recreation like camping, hiking, biking and fishing was social distancing before it even had a name.
Being locked away in their homes for such a long time, people are eager to go out into the wilderness and explore outdoor environments. The added advantage is of course that the transmission risks are lower outdoors than inside. That is to say, the virus circulates a lot less when you’re sleeping under the stars than when you’re spending the night in a hotel or hostel because there is more air circulation in the fresh air and less touch surfaces.
5. Domestic Adventure Travel Will Boom First
Domestic adventure travel was the first to recover because there were no borders to cross and consequently a lot less uncertainty. Many rediscovered their own backyard when countries closed their borders, and started making road trips to nearby national parks and forests.
Certain countries like Nepal and Mexico have already opened their borders again for international travel, and for others, border openings will most likely depend on the vaccine rollout. It’s impossible to be certain about anything these days, but what we expect is that more and more countries will be opening their borders, and vaccinated travelers will be the first to be welcomed back with open arms.