A Rapid Evolution: Coronavirus’ Impact on Travel
According to the World Tourism and Travel Council, travel contributed $8.9 trillion to the global economy, making up for roughly 10% of the GDP in 2019. The final numbers for 2020 won’t be in until 2021, but there’s no doubt that the travel industry has come to a screeching halt to mitigate the spread of the Novel Coronavirus.
However, the social distancing measures are paying off, countries are opening again, and the travel industry is beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Global Travel Bans
The Covid-19 pandemic has presented a time of deep reflection for all of us and has caused the Centers for Disease Control to discourage all non-essential travel.
The United States implemented a European travel ban on March 11. A week later, European Union (EU) leaders implemented a 14-day mandatory quarantine for any individuals entering their 26 respective country boarders for non-essential reasons. These bans are expected to last through the end of July.
Though Switzerland is not part of the EU, as of March 26, country officials declared that foreign citizens, with the exception of those with valid residence and work permits and citizens and residents of Liechtenstein, would not be allowed into the country.
Switzerland could potentially open back up to tourists as early as June 8th.
These bans have greatly impacted all tourist agencies worldwide. Many operators have cancelled all tours for June and July, uncertain whether they might open up again.
At Alpenwild we are stepping back, slowing down, and creating tours that facilitate and adapt to the rising travel preferences induced by the Novel Coronavirus.
This includes a revolutionary change in the size of travel and tour groups. People are rethinking boarding cruise ships, tour buses, and other crowded vehicles and venues. The evolution of preferences is increasing the demand for small group and self-guided travel.
Small Group Travel
Small group and self-guided tours were widely preferred by Europeans before Covid-19. However, the Novel Coronavirus has motivated North Americans as well to seek out small group and self-guided tour options.
This is not necessarily out of fear for the virus but because social distancing measures prevent previously preferred high-volume trips such as cruises and motor coach tours.
In my opinion, authentic small group tours include a company guide or two and just six to 14 people. In a group that size, there are just enough people to make new friends, but not so many that it is impossible to hear and reap from the knowledge of the guide.
Group tours are usually all-inclusive with regards to price. They are a “show up and go” fashion as everything is prepaid and a guide is there to be your friend in a new land and lead the way.
As Covid-19 has taught us, these small public tour group sizes are safer medically, physically, and mentally compared to travel groups of 20 or more people. It is easier to make new friends and feel part of the group when you alone make up a significant portion of that group.
Self-guided tours are like small group tours but without the guide. In response to travelers’ small group preferences, many operators are adjusting their offerings to include more of these self-guided tours.
For instance, instead of providing a guide on a self-guided tour, Alpenwild now offers assistance before and during (not many companies offer assistance during) the tours.
Self-guided tours are excellent for those who prefer to set their own pace and travel independently or only with those they know. A self-guided tour is ideal for those who want a flexible schedule to linger here a little and there more.
A self-guided tour takes the guess-work out with a detailed itinerary, luggage transfers, and booked hotels. This gives you the freedom to explore and do what you want and reduce the uncertainty of navigating unfamiliar places. That way, your vacation can be a true get-away, and help is only one call away if you need it.
Coronavirus has hit us hard, and the world of travel will never be the same, but I am confident it will be better than ever before.
Do you think the small group and self-guided industry will grow? Where in the world would you book your next self-guided tour? Who would you go with? Please share your thoughts and preferences with our community!