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Published: 25 September 2020

Professor Morgan discusses the future of tourism on World Tourism Day, Sunday 27 September 2020

As we reflect on the past six months and enter a new stage of lockdown, we spoke to Professor Nigel Morgan, Head of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, to get an idea of the permanent effect that Covid-19 will have on the tourism industry.

© Ziga Plahutar via Getty Images
Tourist in London
Tourists taking in central London's sights

“The pandemic-induced pause is an opportunity to reset tourism worldwide. Coronavirus is not the only challenge the industry faces; others include: decarbonisation and carbon offsetting as responses to the Climate Emergency, plastic pollution, digital innovation and changing consumer trends. These have been side-lined by Covid-19 but remain highly relevant.

“Tourism will return post-Covid-19 but tourist behaviours will be fundamentally changed, although it is less clear which shifts are temporary and which are long-term. Destinations need to respond to evolving visitor mindsets and behaviours, and short-term recovery must be based on consumer, stakeholder and community trust and confidence. Less crowded outdoor and undiscovered destinations are likely to appeal in the short and long-term, and visitors may look to high-value products in search of more Covid-secure options.

“During lockdown many people have enjoyed spending more quality time with their households, connecting with families and friends, enjoying a slower pace of life, switching to buying locally and becoming more aware of nature, according to a report conducted by the Office for National Statistics. Since the pandemic, more UK consumers dream of a holiday that is closer to home. Research by the National Lottery recently showed that instead of travelling to exotic locations or taking part in adrenaline-inducing skydives, wish lists are dominated by work-life balance and living a healthier lifestyle. More UK ‘bucket listers’ now crave a seaside holiday home or an RV than a jet-set lifestyle.

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Tourist wearing facemak
Travellers are now required to wear facemasks on all forms of public transport

“These shifts in consumer behaviour accelerate existing trends, such as growing awareness of travel’s impact on the planet, the demonstrable need to embrace sustainability and decarbonisation, and an increasing focus on wellbeing and mindfulness. Responsible tourism and bio-positive tourism were already growing pre-Covid-19, and now low-impact, outdoor activity holidays, focused on nature, walking and cycling will increase, as will demand for locally-sourced food and produce. In the post-Covid-19 world, consumers will seek out memory-making, experiential travel, connections to nature, the outdoors and authentic places.

“This creates a real opportunity for destinations and businesses focused on minimising human impact on the environment, and building environmental and cultural awareness and respect, whilst generating revenue for local communities - much like the highly acclaimed Slovenian tourism industry has embraced green credentials. Sustainability is about innovating and responding to the long-term challenges faced by tourism businesses, their host communities and destinations, which will future-proof their competitiveness in our Covid-19-dominated world. The Covid-19-induced pause in travel may well be its best opportunity to reimagine and reset itself permanently.“

Topically, on Friday 11 September, the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management’s Centre for Competitiveness of the Visitor Economy held a webinar for international academics and students to promote their research on the impact of Covid-19 on the hospitality and tourism sector. Watch the webinar here and find out more about our School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

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