COVID-19 | The future of tourism: younger, more rural and more dispersed

How to lift a sector hit like no other by the pandemic? The World Tourism Organization and the World Travel and Tourism Council held a telematic conference on the island of La Palma this Monday with the participation of representatives from more than 60 countries to analyze how to launch the recovery of international tourism. To learn more about the conclusions of this meeting and about the impact that the pandemic has had on the entire planet, we have spoken with the Secretary General of the UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili:

“We can say that this year has been a historic disaster for tourism, and not only for tourism, but for the world economy. Different numbers are being considered (on economic and employment losses), we are talking about 100 million job … Economically, we are talking about more than 100,000 million dollars. It is very difficult to say how long it will take to return to the numbers or the situation that tourism has always had, which was a success in the last ten years “, explains the Secretary General of the UNWTO.

The success of COVID-19 vaccines, the reopening of borders or the reestablishment of many air connections will help bring those numbers back, but they are not the only factors to consider:

“Fear (of traveling) is another problem and, psychologically, we have to change a bit. Traveling with masks, taking pcr tests and behaving in a responsible way there is less risk of getting infected, and I have personally seen that on the plane and in the hotel is safer than anywhere, “says Pololikashvili.

In any case, the pandemic has caused lasting changes in the tourist mentality to which the sector must adapt:

“I think two things have fundamentally changed. The first is age. Older people will travel less than young people, because they are more afraid, they are in risk groups. And secondly, and there we are going to bet a lot. , we have ideas for the development of rural tourism and domestic tourism. People started and will begin to do it within their countries. We already have impulses in different countries and regions. People will travel in their countries. In the future, we see a development of rural tourism and regional tourism. The way of traveling will also change. People will travel less with groups, less in places where there is a large concentration of people. “

The UNWTO asks governments for greater financial support to the private sector, which will need liquidity for the next year and a half to be able to stay afloat and eagerly awaits the reopening of borders and the end of quarantines … to return to live in a normalcy without adjectives.