WTTC: Free Booking Changes, Cleanliness Top of Mind for Travelers

LONDON—The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), has released a new report that explores the implications of the trends for each of four key travel & tourism stakeholders: travelers, businesses, workforce and communities.

WTTC worked closely with Oliver Wyman, a global management consulting firm, along with number of WTTC members from key areas of the travel & tourism sector, on the report. It emphasizes the importance of taking a global coordinated approach to recovery: enhancing the current seamless travel experience, embracing the integration of new technologies and enacting global protocols for health and hygiene to ultimately rebuild the confidence of travelers.

According to the report, 70% of North American leisure travelers say they would book during COVID-19 if changes were free.

Additionally, more than nine out of 10 (92%) of consumers trust personal recommendations with regards to health and hygiene, and 69% of travelers cite cleanliness as a critical component of a travel brand’s crisis response. It is expected that travelers will continue to pay heightened attention to health and hygiene even after there is a COVID-19 vaccine.

Digitization has been paramount during the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the shift to remote working, as well as lockdowns around the world, there has been a rapid shift towards digitization, with people increasingly feeling comfortable with a touchless travel experience. The report reveals that it is here to stay with almost half (45%) of travelers saying they are ready to move from paper passports to a digital identity.

From widespread unemployment and anti-racism movements, to the restoration of natural habitats, the world has been energized to tackle social, environmental and institutional sustainability. Almost three quarters (73%) of consumers state they are taking note of brands that are making a difference during COVID-19, showing that growing attention is being paid to sustainability.

“This comprehensive research paves the road to recovery for the travel & tourism sector,” said Gloria Guevara, president/CEO, WTTC. “While there is still work to be done, this gives us insight into how we can best approach recovery and offers a vision and hope to the sector. It is crucial that we continue to learn from previous crises and come together in a coordinated way to make a real difference in reducing both the economic and human impact.”

She continued, “The economic pain and suffering caused to millions of households around the world, who are dependent upon travel & tourism for their livelihoods, is evident. We strongly believe that by taking a coordinated approach, we can beat COVID-19 and return to safe travels with world-class standards of hygiene to travelers and regenerate the jobs and livelihoods of the 330 million people who worked in the sector before COVID-19.”

Matthieu De Clercq, partner at Oliver Wyman, said, “The travel & tourism sector already accounts already for one in 10 jobs globally and will continue to be critical to the economic development of many economies. Creating inclusive opportunities for women, youth and minorities alike does not only make sense economically, but is also what tourists of the future want, especially post-COVID.”

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

Border openings and repatriation: A harmonized approach to remove travel restrictions, with a previous risk assessment in place, as well as standardized 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 & safety standards across industries within travel & tourism.
Strengthen worker support schemes: Provide payroll protection and wage subsidies as well as general consumer stimulus checks and tax payment deferrals
Incentivize travel: Introduction of consumer incentives for travel spending, starting with domestic travelers and expanding to regional and international as quickly as possible and appropriate
Promote tourism starting with domestic and regional travel: To capitalize on the initial recovery, governments, tourism boards and organizations should direct their early marketing and promotional efforts to incentivize domestic and regional travel. 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 maximize 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 optimize the new working arrangements.
Stimulate sustainability practices: Develop and provide incentives to encourage the implementation of sustainability measures within the private sector