LONDON – The travel industry experienced an existential crisis this year with real GDP growth at -4.8% in 2020, according to global market research company Euromonitor International.
In its new report ‘Accelerating Travel Innovation after Coronavirus’ launching on November 9th, Euromonitor will explore how innovation will be key to kickstart recovery, as businesses try to bounce back and, digitalisation and sustainability accelerates.
The pandemic revealed some unpleasant truths about the environmental impact caused by travel. The industry’s engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals is lower than other industries, such as consumer goods and packaging, specifically for responsible consumption and production (SDG12) with 46.2% of travel businesses engaged, compared to an industry average of 62.7%.
This awareness is pushing consumers to question their travel behaviours and shift towards responsible consumption. “Globally, over a fifth of consumers consider permanently shifting away from international travel with the desire to reduce carbon emissions and stay closer to home,” comments Caroline Bremner, head of travel research at Euromonitor International.
“This message is reinforced in regions such as Scandinavia and Europe, where 65% of travel businesses in the Nordics are implementing a sustainability strategy, 10% higher than the global average.”
To create a safer environment for travellers, the use of AI and automation accelerated, reinventing the customer journey. Virtual experiences became popular with European cities introducing ‘off the beaten path’ virtual tours led by locals; while contactless and self-service, now commonly used, are reinforced with stricter hygiene and social distancing measures.
The travel industry is showing resilience, agility and strength in times of adversity, and innovation is a key vehicle for adapting to the new normal and moving towards recovery.