BusinessDay

COVID-19: Travel trends to look out for in 2022

As the world battles a new variant of COVID-19 just a few months after it seemed as though global travel was recovering, the uncertainties around travel are already making people set trends on how they want to travel in the coming year.

Travel and tour companies are keeping a watch on these trends to build and adapt their products, and to help their clients to be prepared for the changing demands from travellers.

The resurgence of COVID-19 is accentuating the alteration of social and business norms and interactions, while also becoming tiresome.

Daniel Batchelor, vice president, Global Corporate Communications and Social Responsibility, says, “With vaccines and digital health passports now making the rounds, we can finally begin looking forward to new adventures, both near and far.”

Seyi Adewale, CEO – Mainstream Cargo Limited, tells BusinessDay that the trend for 2022 will continue to include increase in diplomatic spat because of this resurgence, flight restrictions, forced isolation in government centres, huge levies on Covid related remedial or mitigating actions, cancellation of major global events and limited powers of global institutions to prevail on sovereign states for harmonised Covid approach.

Adewale says the reaction of individuals, families and indeed businesses is to postpone planned travels and send money to loved ones rather than the preferred physical travels as experienced in the now resolved UK-Nigeria red listing ‘brawl.’ This has discouraged many travellers both ways.

Despite these obvious realities, here are key travel trends that will shape travel in year 2022:

Reduction in business travel

There are indications that business trips will be reduced as countries may increase the cost of tourists in a bid to cushion the effect of losses incurred from reduced business trips.

Read also: Omicron: Nigerian travellers lament over treatment by Ghanaian government

According to Adewale, for businesses, online meetings and conferences appear to now be the norm as so many consulates worldwide are operating below capacity in order to tame the Covid spread, and this has hampered travellers who now have to wait several months beyond the ordinary for travel visas.

Short-haul destinations

COVID-19 has made many people keen to travel within the country or to short-haul destinations. If there is any chance of a global lockdown, they would not be stuck far from home. Besides, travel restrictions, including testing requirements and quarantine, are also forcing people to opt for domestic travel or within the same region.

Prashant Pitti, co-founder, EaseMyTrip, says his company found that people are making the most of long weekends where bookings are up by nearly 60 percent, such as during Dasara.

Kojo Bentum-Williams, UNWTO senior expert on communications, says, “We are effectively providing a focused and thematic tourism development agenda for building strong domestic tourism economies, health, online and offline safety and security, sustainability thinking, and talent development in the tourism industry and the AfCFTA.

Travel by chartered planes

Another noticeable feature is that the demand for travelling by chartered planes is also on the rise. Sachit Wadhwa, co-founder, BookMyCharters, says his company has seen a rise in inquiries now compared to pre-Covid times, pointing out that wedding charters are also in demand, especially between November and March.

“Indeed, government activities such as the recently concluded IATF Conference in South Africa needed the intervention of states to fast track visa issuance, charter private jets (flights) to convey delegates to this event as an example and growing trends that was also experienced during the Arise Fashion Event in Dubai,” Adewale explains.

Domestic tourism/travel

The driving force behind the recovery of the tourism industry and the local economy; domestic tourism is what travel experts believe will be the first step and leading role in 2022 trends in the travel industry.

Exploring closer to home is the final piece of the puzzle. With travel bubbles on hold, travelling closer to home is the perfect way to itch that travel bug while having as little impact as possible. Better yet, travellers can get to know their own country a little more and visit those places that they have always wanted to see.

With outdoor experiences being hot on the trends, a traveller taking their own car adds to the experience with the chance to really immerse themselves in nature, maybe even camping too.

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