To Recovery & Beyond: The Future of Travel & Tourism in the Wake of COVID-19

4th January 2021


COVID-19 has caused many setbacks over the world and will continue to do so, not least for the Travel and Tourism sector, which has come to a near-total standstill. However, the industry remains optimistic in the face of adversity.

The report produced by World Travel & Tourism Council in collaboration with Oliver Wyman explores the impact of  COVID-19 on the industry through a data-driven examined of four interlinked trends, producing recommendations that will support the Travel and Tourism sector and aid it in the future.

The four intertwined trends are:

  • Demand Evolution: Traveller preferences and behaviours have shifted toward the familiar, predictable, and trusted. Domestic vacations, extensive planning, and the outdoors will reign in the short-term, with tourism businesses and destinations already adapting.
  • Health & Hygiene: Health, safety and trust are paramount in this new era. Personal experiences, the fear of being stuck in another country, and concerns for distancing will guide consumer behaviour in the short- to mid-term. Businesses will have to collaborate even more closely with their extended value chains to ensure readiness.
  • Innovation & Digitisation: COVID-19 is proving to be an unexpected catalyst in the Travel & Tourism sector’s quest for innovation and the integration of new technologies. Amid stay-at-home orders, digital adoption and consumption are on the rise, with consumers now expecting contactless technologies, among others, as a basic prerequisite for a safe and seamless travel experience.
  • Sustainability: From widespread unemployment and anti-racism movements to the restoration of natural habitats, the world has been reinvigorated to tackle social, environmental, and institutional sustainability. In particular, heightened public awareness of wildlife markets and poaching has boosted advocacy for wildlife protection.


Some of the key statistics include 80% travellers fear quarantine as much as they fear contracting the virus, 45% air travellers are ready to swap physical passports for an electronic identity, and 78% of conservationists have been negatively impacted by the virus.

The Travel and Tourism sector will continue to adapt and adjust to the changes that will appear in the wake of the pandemic, presenting opportunities and challenges for outdoor recreation in equal measure:

‘To avoid crowds, travellers will increasingly seek out “off-the-beaten-path” nature and outdoor destinations…’

‘…it will not be so much about “huge bottles of champagne and silk sheets, but rather about adventure tourism with comfortable nights, delicious food and good wine’.

View the report online.