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Tour and activity operators have faced enormous challenges and losses due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak. It has also meant that travel industry leaders and government officials are rethinking how tourism will look in the future. Tourism New Zealand has announced that it will be rebooting the industry. They are doing this in order to be better prepared to face new challenges, opportunities, and ways of working. This reboot will include reimagining the governing and marketing of domestic and international tourism, as well as altering how tourists are managed. Any changes to the industry can only be positive at this stage. New Zealand is looking to use this restart as a foundation for creating an industry that is financially self-sustainable in the long-term.
If we take New Zealand as an example of where tourism is heading, we should expect further changes into the future. Looking at the new normal of travel, we are well beyond the stages of denial and panic. Now it is time to question how we move forward with rebuilding once the worst has passed. It’s too early to say exactly what it will look like but Timothy O’Neil-Dunne (author of the new normal) suggests that international travel routes will only begin to be rationed from June to September.
The arrival of the “Zoom-effect” and an increase in online communication has meant that much of the work-related travel that we have grown used to will disappear. Hotels will be substantially underfilled. Airbnb will struggle significantly well into the future. With the help of government stimulus, attitudes towards travel will slowly normalise towards the end of the year. Anticipating these changes is the only way to get ahead of them. Stay alert of industry news and your local government policies, as they will ultimately shape tourism in the next few years.
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