The public and private sectors need to work together to recover the millions of jobs that have been impacted, rebuild traveller confidence, and build the tourism sector’s resilience, according to a new World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) report.

The report, ‘To Recovery & Beyond: The Future of Travel & Tourism in the Wake of COVID-19’, explores the implications of the trends for each of the four key travel and tourism sector stakeholders: travellers, businesses, workforce and communities.

WTTC worked closely with Oliver Wyman – a global management consulting firm – along with a number of WTTC members from key areas of the travel and tourism sector, to compile the report.

It emphasises that four macro-trends are expected to lead the way through recovery and beyond: demand evolution, health and hygiene, innovation and digitisation, and sustainability.

According to the report, more than nine out of 10 (92%) consumers trust personal recommendations with regard to health and hygiene, and 69% cite cleanliness as a critical component of a travel brand’s crisis response.

It is expected that travellers will continue to pay heightened attention to health and hygiene even after there is a COVID-19 vaccine.

“This signifies a need for destination readiness, as consumers’ priorities evolve, along with the need to adopt new protocols for health and safety measures to keep up with the demand evolution we are seeing,” said Gloria Guevara, President and CEO of the WTTC.

The report highlighted that digitisation had been paramount during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that it was here to stay, with almost half (45%) of travellers saying they were ready to move from paper passports to a digital identity.

Furthermore, almost three-quarters (73%) of consumers said they were taking note of brands that were making a difference during COVID-19.

“While there is still work to be done, this report gives us insight into how we can best approach recovery. It is crucial that we continue to learn from previous crises and come together in a co-ordinated way to make a real difference in reducing both the economic and human impact,” said Guevara.

Matthieu De Clercq, partner at Oliver Wyman, said: “The travel and tourism sector already accounts for one in 10 jobs globally, and will continue to be critical to the economic development of many economies.

“It is imperative to move beyond the crisis and continue to support systemic change in the industry to enhance its resilience to future shocks and improve its positive socio-economic impact.”

Recommendations for recovery

The report offers recommendations on how the sector can ensure a more seamless recovery. These include:

  • Border openings and repatriation:  A harmonised approach to remove travel restrictions, with a previous risk assessment in place, as well as standardised contact testing and tracing requirements at departure.
  • Define common health and safety standards: The public and private sector should jointly agree on the implementation of health and safety standards across industries within the travel and tourism sector.
  • Strengthen worker support schemes: Provide payroll protection and wage subsidies as well as general consumer stimulus cheques and tax payment deferrals.
  • Incentivise travel: Introduction of consumer incentives for travel spending, starting with domestic travellers and expanding to regional and international as quickly as possible and appropriate.
  • Promote tourism starting with domestic and regional travel: To capitalise on the initial recovery, governments, tourism boards and organisations should direct their early marketing and promotional efforts to incentivise domestic and regional travel. Importantly, they should also prepare and provide early marketing and promotional incentives to stimulate the earliest possible regrowth and recovery of internal travel and tourism.
  • Extend digital infrastructure to rural destinations: Investment in digital infrastructure of emerging destinations and remote areas will be critical, as well as enhancing digital skills within local communities.
  • Integrate digital identities: Accelerating the adoption of digital identities and solutions will be key to maximise accuracy for health and safety protections, while reducing bias in border control and expediting the movement of passengers.
  • Rethink the workplace: The rapid shift to remote work will require the public and private sectors to come together to determine how to optimise the new working arrangements.
  • Stimulate sustainability practices: Develop and provide incentives to encourage the implementation of sustainability measures within the private sector.

According to WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report, during 2019, travel tourism was responsible for one in 10 jobs (330 million in total), making a 10.3% contribution to global GDP and generating one in four of all new jobs.

Click HERE to download the full report.