As young people unite across the world on the 25 September, in their first global action during the pandemic, it becomes clear that COVID-19 is not the only obstacle for future profitability for travel operators.
Johanna Bonhill-Smith, Travel & Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “38% of GenZ and 41% of millennials desire to hear news about a brand’s sustainability initiatives right now. How a brand is acting during COVID-19 is still the main priority, but this pandemic has shown the global population the impact that travel and tourism can have on the natural environment.”
Operators continue to struggle amid slumps in travel demand and fluctuating travel corridors – for example, Ryanair recently reported its booking for November and December is only at 10% of normal levels. Restoring consumer confidence so that the public continues to book holidays is the main priority, yet this is not the only hurdle facing operators, as concerns regarding sustainability and environmental impacts have likely been accelerated.
Bonhill-Smith continues: “When international travel restrictions were strictly enforced, destinations that were suffering from over-tourism had time to heal. Air pollution began to decrease, alongside carbon emissions and general footfall of travelers in one concentrated location.”
Prior to the pandemic, solely 15% of global travelers typically went on an ‘eco-holiday’. 40% of travelers still expect to reduce their international travel plans this year, but when consumer confidence is stronger, the environmental impact will likely be a greater decision within the booking process causing increased interest in eco-holidays.
Bonhill-Smith adds: “Operators were already under intense scrutiny for their sustainability initiatives and how they were tackling climate change prior to COVID-19. While all will continue to struggle with the effects of COVID-19, operators with a more centralized focus on the environment may hold a strategic advantage and a stronger competitive position in the future marketplace.”