Absence makes the heart grow fonder, according to a popular proverb, and that could well be the case with international travel.
Travel expert and founder of G Adventures Bruce Poon Tip believes after a year of lockdowns and closed international borders, people will have an increased sense of wanderlust.
As well as his predictions for future travel trends in the post-COVID world, Mr Poon Tip has also addressed what has changed in the year since he launched his ‘instabook’ Unlearn: The Year the Earth Stood Still, a love letter to travellers about what travel could look like on the other side of this pandemic.
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With more than 30 years of experience in the industry as a pioneer of community tourism, Mr Poon Tip says he believes the industry has ‘hit the bottom’ and for the first time can start to look forward.
According to G Adventures’ latest survey, Aussie and Kiwi travellers are hungry for travel and ready to go, but they are also becoming more conscious in terms of where their money goes.
‘Milestone holidays’ and ‘bucket list’ trips are high on the travel agenda, but travellers want to be more purposeful with their holiday choices and to know where their money is going with 73 per cent of Australian and New Zealand travellers wanting their money to benefit local people.
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Once-in-a-lifetime trips are attracting a lot of attention, including high-profile hiking tours like Mt. Kilimanjaro, Everest Base Camp and the Inca Trail, with 23 per cent of travellers saying they were keen to take an active tour when they can get back out in the world.
Additionally, 42 per cent of people want to head out into nature, presumably as an antidote to lockdown fatigue.
All signs are pointing towards a quick rebound for travel, with 46 per cent of Aussie and Kiwi travellers saying lockdowns have made them want to travel more than ever.
As a result, pent-up demand is rapidly building, with 80 per cent of people yet to book their next international holiday, and 28 per cent indicating they are happy to book a holiday less than one month in advance.
Additionally, 23 per cent of travellers who are waiting to be vaccinated to travel say they will travel within three months of being vaccinated, rising to 36 per cent for travel within six months of receiving a COVID-19 inoculation, meaning there could be a flurry of bookings as vaccines roll out.
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Cost of travel
When asked whether he thinks travel will become more expensive post-pandemic, Mr Poon Tip believes it will be cheaper in the short and long term, but in the mid-term prices will rise.
Noting how travel suppliers are offering discounts and added flexibility at first to get people to book travel again, he believes prices will see a spike in the mid-term once the industry eventually hits its stride.
However, this is nothing to worry about as he expects the booking climate to even out and stabilise in the long-term.
“People are becoming more purposeful about where they want to go, and they are thinking about why they want to go to a destination rather than thinking about the amenities,” Mr Poon Tip said.
“It just takes a few people to make a huge difference.
“There has been more change during March than any other month since the pandemic hit. Now we can see the light.
“Countries are trying hard to open their borders and there is a positive feeling right now – plus consumers are talking about travelling again which is also what we need.”
Have you felt an increased sense of wanderlust since you have been unable to travel overseas? Where are you most interested in travelling to?
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