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Social Affairs: Losing the Desire to Travel or Rebounding and Rising?

With lockdowns easing, we present two differing views on how people may respond to newly-regained freedoms to travel:

Global travel demand will take years to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and many business travellers may never return to the skies, but what scale of demand could we expect to lose to technology adoption and changing travel behaviours?

The answer remains the same as it did a month ago - nobody really knows.

The consensus is that the figure will be somewhere around 5% to 10%, but some estimates put it as high as 15%. The true scale of the loss may be difficult to measure as ultimately business travel spend will grow as population and economic influences change and cloud the figures. Business travel is the foundation of the travel sector and an essential ingredient of any airline’s business model, but that certainty comes with a caveat: adaption to new technology could change how we approach corporate meetings in the future. It could also be the undoing of some airlines that have been reliant on its premium clientele to deliver revenues, in the short-term, at least. As William (Bill) Franke, managing partner of airline investor Indigo Partners recently noted, any company that is skewed to business travellers will ultimately be behind the recovery of the ULCC and LCC operators.

The global business travel sector is expected to take an USD820 billion revenue hit this year, USD190 billion in Europe specifically and right now there is limited co-ordination between countries. Quarantine requirements could add 14 day lockdowns at each end of any journey, and even if travellers are freely permitted from accessing a country via so-called bubbles, previous travel could ultimately force them to comply with entry restrictions.

This all makes technology a more attractive option right now, but when it comes to leisure travel you are not going to holiday via these platforms so we can still expect an pent up demand once restrictions start to ease. But, having faced lockdowns and travel restrictions this is all generating a situation where ‘fear transcends desire,” says nation and city branding and marketing specialist, Bloom Consulting. In a recently published report ‘Covid-19: Impact on Tourist Behaviours’ that brought together an international survey of 4,000 travellers with global online searches from its Digital Demand software, it highlighted some necessary changes that will need to occur in both tourism and the economy sector, as well as how perceptions will change as the pandemic unfolds over time.

The biggest impact on traveller behav