Only a few months into the Coronavirus crisis and some things about our future are becoming remarkably clear writes Valere Tjolle
As ever the future will be dictated by the market and you can be absolutely sure that the market is frightened. Treble frightened - frightened by governments, frightened by the internet and news and finally frightened by Coronavirus itself.
Too frightened to travel in 2021? Probably not, but most people won't want to stray far from home for a long time, maybe years.
So that means that the first destinations to benefit will be those close to source tourism markets. Probably those that can be reached by car.
And there will be another reason that medium and long-haul destinations will suffer. What will happen to the airline industry? It will certainly be hit by two sides - the market and the city. So far airlines have grown on cheaply-purchased planes, taxation feather bedding using their unique position, and high load factors. Probably they can say goodbye go all that. So to survive they will have to cut their services and overheads and consequently increase their prices. None of this will please their business clients who are probably already looking at virtual meetings rather than expensive, dangerous ones.
Accommodation? Will life ever get back to boisterous normal? Not in the foreseeable future. All the big brands are asset light and already live on tiny margins. The owners of their properties will reduce their dependence on tourism so that means wholesale disposals. As far as B&B's are concerned it's a bit easier - maybe people could actually live in them for a change. That would reduce the cost of housing!
And cruises. Well, no doubt the big cruise companies will disinfect their ships and play on the fact that their passengers will explore the world from a 'safe' environment. But is that not an oxymoron? And how would their customers enjoy the social distancing necessary on their 'Holiday of a Lifetime'. That's not to mention the prices which would have to change.
OK, so the WTTC calls for massive government assistance to 'save' the industry. I'm guessing that even they don't know how massive that could be. Now that the tide of money has gone out the black mountain ranges of debt rear their ugly heads. It looks like NOBODY - tour operator, travel agent, airline, hotel group, OTA, whoever - can actually even pay back their clients deposits. To save the industry would cost trillions. No government would see it in its interest to do that.
Let's be quite frank 2021 doesn't look like 2008. Then the market had the willingness but not the cash. Moreover the transportation providers and the accommodation was ready to rock.
2021 will see not only an unwillingness to travel and a cash poor market but also a transport and accommodation industry that is decimated.
So more like 1945 rather than 2008?
And who will be the survivors ready to take advantage of the situation? Those who have been extra prudent and those who have a strong local and regional marketplace. These will be the seeds from which a new travel and tourism industry will be built.
A new industry?
Yes. The reason that it has all gone belly-up is simple. The travel and tourism industry as it was could not be sustainable in any sense of the word.
Now the real meaning of 'sustainable' is revealed - and, long term it will be the real saviour of the industry - for visitors, destination communities and those organisations like airlines and travel organisations that bring them together.
Sustainable tourism - economically sustainable, culturally sustainable, socially sustainable, and environmentally sustainable will strengthen the industry.
Never have been the words "Good places to live: good places to visit" been more appropriate.
These are the words that will encapsulate the 2021+ opportunity and appeal to potential visitors:
Do these describe yesterday's 0.01% of iconic destinations that attracted 99% of the world's tourists?
Or the 99.9% of destinations - virgin tourism places - that currently attract just 1% of global tourists?
Those 99.9% are the safe and secure sustainable destination opportunities of the next decade.
And the markets? Local, regional, drive-in at least for the next two years.
And two final things - first, obviously, at the moment more and more people are turning to the internet for entertainment - and, in particular, gaming. Last month alone saw a 75% increase in web-based gaming activity. This is likely to surge into a tourism-based gaming activity - in other words the first step into virtual tourism - possibly the safest, most sustainable, most uncrowded tourism activity of all!
Secondly. Don't think that, although there are no tourists, the business of tourism has stopped. Every single destination management and marketing organisation - from country tourism organisations to global tourism financiers like the World Bank - are working harder than ever to get the very best, the strongest most sustainable destinations possible.
Want to join up to the new tourism? There are millions of opportunities available now in the Experience Economy.
Valere is the author of 'You Lucky People' the story of travel - the world's most delightful and devastating industry. Find out more about it HERE
Valere Tjolle is the travel and tourism insider. An entrepreneur, consultant, developer and journalist, he has been in at the beginning of almost every tourism development for the last sixty years. There is no one better placed to expose the seedy side of tourism nor its enormous opportunities to unite people across the globe.