ECOTOURISM RECOVERY IN TIMES OF COVID-19
We are currently facing an unprecedented global health crisis, with repercussions that are being felt in all sectors of society and the economy, especially in the tourism sector. However, at moments like this it is important to remember that tourism has shown a strong resilience to adapt, innovate and recuperate from adversity and we should get prepared for recovery.
At an initial phase, domestic and intraregional tourism is expected to catch up faster than intercontinental travel. The impacts of actions such as restriction of movements have contributed to international tourism coming to a standstill and therefore many tourists are considering alternatives such as travelling closer to home while finding simple pleasures and reducing carbon emissions.
In addition to the growing tourism demand for more sustainable options, it is important to consider post COVID-19 trends such as the preference of travellers for outdoor activities such as long-distance walking activities, taking holidays in their home country, and considering the environment and travel emissions when travelling.
Booking.com’s 2019 Annual Sustainable Travel Report found that ‘sustainable stays are growing in popularity, with almost three quarters (73%) of global travellers intending to stay at least once in an eco-friendly or green accommodation when looking at the year ahead’.
These new and past trends represent benefits for the recovery of the ecotourism sector, which is founded on sustainability and looking towards partnerships and adaptation actions. We are happy to see that many of our members have been putting into action the ideas outlined in the UNWTO COVID-19 Tourism Recovery Technical Assistance Package.
We would like to highlight the following examples and encourage tour operators to continue with their recovery plan:
- Parks Australia have been helping travellers to imagine their future travel experience by providing expert advice and recommendations to inspire future planning and instil confidence in trip decisions. This aligns with UNWTO’s statement: “Stay home today. Travel tomorrow.”.
- Crystal Creek Meadows Luxury Cottages & Day Spa Retreat have been an example of using social media to notify guests about safety procedures. Informing guests about existing protocols in an easy and updated manner reassures travellers that they can get back to travelling with confidence.
- South Australia has been leader in designing a domestic tourism marketing strategy which identifies products and destinations particularly appealing to different segments of the domestic market. Understanding what domestic travellers want and love; e.g. food, adventure, and romance, etc. helps to customize their online experience.
- Ocean Rafting has focused on raising awareness of local experiences for local travellers, aiming to educate and familiarize locals about the importance of domestic tourism to accelerate recovery.
Congratulations to our members for their recovery actions and for being an example to others.
[Header image: Kosciuszko National Park by Steve Bruce/Unsplash]