The UK is set for a domestic tourism boom
Travel and Hospitality is one of the worst hit sectors in the current pandemic. When and how will we be travelling again? What will the industry look like? Which businesses will survive this period? Unfortunately, no clear answers can be given at present until we have a clearer picture of what the next steps will be. One sure thing though is where tourism will take off from. As whilst leisure travel abroad is likely to be severely hampered by restrictions, domestic travel will see a boom in 2020 as soon as lockdown measures are lifted. This will give the industry a clear focus on what market to target and to serve and it will give British people a unique opportunity to discover our country.
2019 was definitely an especially important year for responsible and sustainable travel, with a focus on climate change and on respecting our planet more. In October 2019, IoD launched its Tourism and Hospitality Special Interest Group. The launch event focused on Responsible and Sustainable Tourism, in collaboration with London & Partners. During the event we spoke about the importance to slow down, to go back to nature, to recycle more and waste less food, to walk more and use less public transport and travel more wisely to combat overtourism and reduce carbon emissions. All attendees came out enriched by the discussion, yet to most people the idea to follow this by the rule seemed an impossible mission to accomplish. Impossible to slow down; impossible to fly less; impossible to go local and impossible to give up some of our comforts.
At the same time, we kept seeing weekly protests invading our streets: from environmentalists to teenagers. Awareness started to increase in the eyes of the general public, many people were saying “we need to act now”, but who would have ever imagined that just a few months later the whole planet would have had to come to a halt, giving our planet and nature a break?
We have no choice now. We have had to slow down. Here we are, all locked indoors, dreaming about going back to our normal lives, going back to work, going back to travelling the world again.
Well, we all know now that it will take a while before we can go back to how we used to do things before Covid-19, especially in terms of travelling. Whilst outbound travel will be severely hit for many months to come, we will see a boost in domestic travel. It will be a fantastic opportunity to consider what travelling really means for us personally. Travelling is all about discovering something new, looking at things with different eyes, learning new things, meeting new people and nurturing our curiosity. How often does it happen that we seem to know better a country we have visited rather than our own? How often do we know the past, the culture, the secrets of other cities more than our hometown?
Let’s hire a car (preferably an electric one) or get on a train and go and explore Great Britain. Or even easier, let’s go and explore our own city. Most Londoners know less than 30% of what London has to offer. By doing this we will not only support our tourism and hospitality industry, but we will support our whole economy.
So, let’s go and explore our beautiful 19,491 miles of coastline, let’s go and visit some of our over 1,500 castles, let’s enjoy our stunning countryside, portrayed in movies all around the world. Or again, let us go and visit a city we haven’t been to, let’s go and climb Mount Snowdon, go and hike in the Lake District or in Scotland’s beautiful wilderness. Or let’s explore the world by staying in London, from its international communities, to its monuments, to its street art, to its markets, to its history, to its beautiful nature, canals and wildlife.
We will go back to travelling the world, do not worry about that. But my invitation to you is to focus on giving something back to your own country. Only by doing this we will have a chance to help our tourism industry get through this incredibly hard year, so let us all do our part, let’s start from London, let’s start from the UK.
To learn more about the future of Travel, Tourism and Hospitality, join us on 19th May at 5:00 pm at IoD’s webinar on the “Future of Travel”, where we will hold an engaging discussion on domestic travel, aviation and business travel with Steve Ridgway, CEO of Visit Britain, Tracy Halliwell Head of Tourism for London & Partners and Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association.
Register now for free