Travel in 2021 will most likely be quite different than in previous years, but with the roll out of the vaccines worldwide, we can look forward with optimism at the possibilities for travel over the next 12 months. (To listen to Fergal's podcast, click here)
The most pessimistic reports suggest that travel numbers will not get back to 2019 levels until at least 2029. Consumers appear to be looking at future travel in a new light since the pandemic started. The where and how we travel will change for many people.
Industry experts say consumers are now using obvious terms for travel like safer, less crowded, nature, outdoors, quality products, staycation but also ideas finally gaining traction are ethical, sustainable, reduced climate footprint, slow travel and remote work vacations.
There will be a lot of pent up demand for holidays in 2021 and this will be exasperated by Irish people with vouchers for unused flights and hotels from 2020. Combine this will a reduced flight route capacity and reduced Airbnb stock due to many landlords leaving the market in favour of long term rentals and you have extremely high demand and reduced supply leading to higher holiday costs this year.
This will be good news for the beleaguered tourist industry but bad news for the consumer looking for a bargain. We can expect a lot of Irish people to go for a staycation again this year. Irish people rediscovered the beauty and the convenience of an Irish summer holiday last year.
Industry experts are saying that city breaks, and long haul flights will be a hard sell. Consumers want to go to places with low Covid figures like Portugal and the Canaries. They want to get away from the packed beaches of southern Europe and are looking at more remote places like Galicia in northern Spain.
Everybody is talking about vaccines and how it will be a game changer for the travel industry. Quantas CEO Alan Joyce, from Dublin, said late last year, that proof of vaccination would be a non-negotiable condition of international air travel. He warned that air travel could not resume until staff and travellers were fully vaccinated.
However, for European airlines and countries heavily reliant on the tourist economy for survival a more pragmatic approach is expected. It is expected that they will not wait for the full roll out of vaccinations but look for a negative PCR test. All international airports are busy building testing facilities and as demand goes up it is hoped that the cost of a test will decrease.
Slow travel is a trend that is expected to grow as people seek to avoid airplanes and reduce carbon emissions by taking ferries and trains. This has already led to some ferry operators increasing prices by up to 10%. In this more environmentally aware era, there is also talk of a revival of the overnight sleeper train trip that is both eco-friendly and avoids crowded airports.
Slow travel also means people will be more inclined to take less holidays like city breaks in favour of one longer holiday for up to 3 weeks to better immerse themselves in the local culture.
The final trend of the year is remote work vacations. People can combine work and a holiday and stay abroad for a much longer time that usual. It is now just as easy, with good Wi-Fi, to check into that business zoom meeting from a sunny poolside at a villa in Greece.
Hotels are tapping into this trend with the Quinta Do Lagos Resort in Portugal offering long stay cottages with one bedroom converted into an office. Countries are targeting remote workers with tax incentives and long term stay offers. Barbados introduced a “welcome stamp” which allows people to stay and work for up to a year and there are reports of Irish people being included in the 3,000 applications last year
The aim of the Travel Tales with Fergal Podcast when it was launched in 2020 was to provide some escapism by helping to bring back memories of great travels and destinations from the past and to fuel dreams of future travel. All episodes from Season 1 are now available to listen on all podcasting platforms where Fergal chats to special guests about their travels, adventures and experiences living abroad.
The podcast’s host Fergal O’Keeffe has a lifelong love of travel. He loves going on adventures and dreaming and planning of future trips. He brings his natural curiosity and passion when interviewing a wide range of guests from the arts, sports, journalism, business, travel professionals and adventurers. For more information get full details on Instagram @traveletaleswithfergal and his website