Better get used to holidays at home. Experts looking at the future of travel are predicting that the golden age of cheap flights and accommodation could be the latest victim of the global pandemic.
Cities like Rome and Venice, which have been most shrill in their complaints about over tourism, are now in love with silent streets, empty airports and traffic-free roads. So much so, that they are pressing their governments not to return to the days when anyone could visit on a cheap flight and stay at a Novotel.
They want visitor numbers contained. The simplest way to do that? Increase prices to keep out the riff raff.
According to former American Airlines boss Robert Crandall, the pandemic will prove to be a watershed for the travel industry. “COVID has certainly up to this point been a watershed for the cruise business, and now you’ve got places like Venice and Rome saying ‘wait a minute, maybe we don’t want every traveller in the world to come here”.nnn
Environmental concerns as well as health worries will lead the charge. “People do want to travel, it’s the greatest, the most desired product in people’s minds. But there’s this conflict between what we have to do to safeguard the environment and what we would like to do in a whole variety of areas including travel,” he said.
“Maybe the average citizen can only take one trip by aeroplane because that’s all the CO2 we can allow transport to burn,” he suggested.
Venice has already banned cruise ships from its famous lagoon – something that decades of protests failed to do until, now. what prompted the chace of heart was residents photographs of crystal clear waters and dophins arriving at the Grand Canal to hunt for cuttlefish because of the lack of sea traffic.
Rome and Barcelona are considering taxes to try and keep large numbers of tourists out. But what might also dampen demand is a 25 per cent increase in air fares predicted by American airlines who see a huge pent up demand with fewer aircraft. Many airlines have mothballed or even sold off planes to stay afloat during the 18 months of travel pause.
Many countries are rejoicing. Spain and New Zealand are among countries telling their travel operators they want high-net-worth tourists who spend more and take less of a toll on the environment.
New Zealand is using its Premium Partnerships Programme to provide funds to tour operators who target travellers worth more than US$1 million. Spain’s tourism minister says his country is “moving from a model of ‘the more tourists, the better’ to one of higher expenditures, more nights and premium tourists.”
Even Asia, haven for families, backpackers and younger travellers is succumbing.
Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka are all tailoring holidays to higher-paying visitors.
Viktor Laiskodat, governor of Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province which includes Flores and Komodo was quoted on local news site Tempo: “Those visiting this place must be wealthy. If you’re not classified as such… it’s better to go elsewhere, such as Jakarta, Bali or Lombok.”
Mr Crandall predicted: “Maybe the average citizen can only take one trip by aeroplane because that’s all the CO2 we can allow transport to burn. We’ve got to control the climate, and we’ve got to control the rate at which we are using and destroying the world’s resources.”
So where will you chose on your one air ticket in a year? Tell us here at exploretravel.com.au.