The tourism sector was affected differently and more directly by Covid-19 than other sectors. Border restrictions and safety protocols imposed by countries meant that people from Europe travelled less. This had harsh consequences for the CARIFORUM States, which usually welcomed many European travellers. What are the long-term effects of Covid-19 on tourism?
According to the Centre for Promotion of Industry, airline tickets are likely to be more expensive in the short term because inter alia of reduced airlift due to limited airline schedules and rising fuel costs. As a result, it is likely that 80 percent of Europeans will travel within Europe, and 20 percent will still travel to other continents.
SMEs such as those in the CARIFORUM States need to think about the entire customer journey of tourists that come to the region in this era of ‘co-existing with covid’. Tourism SMEs should get creative with digital solutions targeted at previous and future customers. For example, they can use virtual reality technology to bring a rainforest tour to European tourists online. This is a great (marketing) strategy to at least stay on top of the minds of future customers. SMEs and tourism authorities must ensure that they are telling the story of the destination or tourism business online and increase their findability on social media. Social media platforms provide useful insights into the profiles and preferences of travellers.
European tourists are expected to crave less of the mass tourism product in the medium to long term as people seek personalised experiences. Tourism SMEs in the CARIFORUM States can attract future tourists with expertise and specialisation. To be successful with specialisation, there is a need for a good marketing strategy in order to be found by European tourists and alliances with tourism partners in Europe that can help to enhance customer experience and improve their strategy and services.