Updated March 2023 – There’s no doubt about it: the past several years have completely transformed the travel and tourism industry across the globe. Tourism operators of every size have adapted amazingly well in the midst of an economic downturn and monumental changes that seemed to happen practically overnight. Fortunately, 2022 saw the tourism and travel industry soar to new heights as travelers eagerly packed two years’ worth of travel into one.

So, what kind of tourism trends are ahead? Can we expect the travel momentum to keep growing in the year ahead? What kind of lessons have we learned from the past several years and will they continue to impact the way we travel? 

To look ahead, we first have to look back at how far we’ve come.

Post-pandemic travel

future of tourism industry

Travel and tourism had been booming just before the COVID-19 pandemic, but travel restrictions caused a quick shift towards ultra-local tourism experiences. Where travelers could once jet-set across the world instantly, travel options were almost instantly limited to neighborhoods and local areas.

With vaccination rates high and most countries lifting travel restrictions, the world has officially opened back up. And the great news is that there’s a healthy appetite for travel. 

COVID restrictions are slowly becoming a thing of the past

Most countries and regions have had some level of social restrictions in place over the course of the pandemic. It’s realistic to expect that varying levels of restrictions may still be used to manage public health risks. Fortunately, as risks subside through vaccination and rapid testing, these restrictions have become much less limiting for travelers. Almost all countries have lifted travel restrictions, welcoming in international tourists who are excited to finally explore beyond their home town for the first time in two years. 

Hygiene and safety during travel

As the effects of the pandemic continue, hygiene and safety will continue to be important factors. Nobody wants to fall sick during their travels and growing awareness of how easily diseases can be transmitted has left travelers more cautious of hygiene than ever before. Be sure to outline your COVID safety plans and policies clearly on all your booking platforms. This will help to reassure travelers as they plan and prepare to make travel plans.

Sustainable travel is the way forward

sustainable tourism

68% of modern travel customers agree they’re trying to be more aware and supportive of sustainable travel brands, while close to 70% of travelers say they’re more likely to book travel accommodations if they know the property is environmentally friendly. In a world that is growing increasingly aware of the environmental damage that thoughtless tourism can generate, being an environmentally responsible travel tour operator is a key opportunity to promote green tourism.

Flexibility will make travel accessible to more people

As travelers book their next activity, they’re doing so knowing that these plans could still be interrupted by illness or ever-changing restrictions. Considering this, it’s not surprising that one of the defining tourism trends of the past year has been flexible booking policies. There has been a shift in customer attitudes and many travelers now expect flexible policies around cancelations and postponements. 

Flexibility is key right now for the future of tourism, and flexible booking options are proving popular. For example: 

  • Many airlines have cut fees for date and destination changes to encourage bookings. 
  • Travel booking apps have seen increased interest in their services that allow people to rebook or cancel free of charge.
  • 34% of travelers have had much shorter booking windows since pre-pandemic times, and as much as 80% of bookings have been made within a fortnight of departure.
  • Trip.com and Google research shows that for Asian travelers, the most important factors when booking travel are flexible bookings, free cancellation, and insurance coverage.

Travel is all about connection

After two years of not being able to travel freely, many are finally looking to reconnect with the world again.

Reconnecting with family and friends

future of tourism

Many families have been kept apart for two or more years, and reunions are front of mind for many. Time apart has led many people to reassess the important relationships in their lives and make more of an effort to maintain connections. 

Reconnecting with nature

25% of travelers have recently participated in new outdoor activities, indicating that we’re ready to get outside and reconnect with the natural world around us. Tour and activity operators will ideally be thinking about fresh, new ways to help guests experience the great outdoors.

Reconnecting with self

With burn-out at an all-time high thanks to the pandemic, we can expect plenty of travel to be booked as a form of self-care. 79% of travelers agree that travel helps their emotional and mental well-being more than other forms of self-care. Switching off has also become more important, and 73% of travelers say their holidays will be strictly work-free in the future. Tour and activity operators may want to consider innovative ways to meet the demand for transformational travel, wellness experiences, and the rare chance to switch off devices.

future of tourism industry

Technology is at the forefront of travel trends

It’s safe to say that the future of the tourism industry will continue to be influenced by modern technology. In fact, if you’re not assessing your booking and business technology, you might be falling behind: McKinsey research indicates that the pandemic has led to companies fast-forwarding their adoption of technology by three to four years. 

Personalizing experiences for guests

One of the key benefits of modern technology for businesses is its ability to dramatically improve customer service processes. AI chatbots, for example, are an essential tool for tour and activity businesses looking for a proactive answer to limited staff availability. By providing quick answers to common questions, AI chatbots cater to your global audience with consistently excellent customer service that’s not condensed into working hours.

the future of travel

Big data is similarly empowering businesses to better understand and respond to customers. By using the insights from hospitality business intelligence, tour companies can more accurately analyze trends, anticipate customer demands and optimize their pricing strategies. This enhanced awareness of the customer pipeline and decision-making process can do wonders for improving your business’s marketing.

Streamlining booking, payment, and communications

The days of struggling to decipher your coworker’s messy handwriting on a printed calendar are well and truly gone. But lots of businesses fail to recognize that all of their processes don’t have to exist in isolation online. Instead, there are plenty of channel manager tools available to tour and activity businesses simplify and automate tedious tasks.

An all-in-one booking software, such as Rezdy, can cut down unnecessary admin time and enhance internal communications by acting as an up-to-date hub for bookings, payment, and reporting.

The future of tourism is bright

The really great news is that the future of the travel industry is looking bright as people can’t wait to travel. Ensure that your business is ready to make the most out of the world’s hunger for travel by setting up systems that enable simple online booking. By utilizing an online booking system, you’ll be able to streamline your admin duties and simplify your customer’s booking experience. For instance, Rezdy’s booking software equips your business with advanced features such as real-time availability viewer, automatic communication, and integration to various payment gateways.

Rezdy also offers a distribution solution that connects you to the largest distribution network in the industry with over 25k active resellers and agents. Rezdy Channel Manager is a powerful tool that ensures your pricing remains consistent across all channels, allowing your business to streamline its pricing strategies for travel agencies and other third-party sellers.

Ready to set your business up with the right technology to support effortless online bookings and distribution management solutions? Sign up for a free trial or book a demo today to see how Rezdy’s advanced software can support your business well into the future.

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