DUBAI: Although the global travel and tourism industry is still reeling from the negative effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, adventure travel in particular is holding up.
“Adventure travel, which has been a booming industry, remains one of the resilient categories,” Alex Dichter, a partner at McKinsey and Company, said during the virtual Future Hospitality Summit on Monday.
Dichter explained the correlation by saying that adventure travel involved trips like “bucket list” experiences, and “COVID-19 has reminded people around the world that life is short.”
The management consulting expert likewise identified other global travel trends during the event hosted by Riyadh to celebrate Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the G20.
For instance, international destinations closer to people’s home countries are increasing in popularity, akin to domestic travel, as COVID19-related movement restrictions beyond national borders remain in place.
In general, travel interest dropped nearly 40 percent globally, but all regions — apart from the UAE — have witnessed a gradual recovery since July and August. The summer months are considered off-season for the Gulf country, and the trend has not changed this year, Dichter said.
Despite decline and recovery levels remaining mostly uniform across Europe, Asia Pacific and North America, volatility nonetheless remains high when measured at a country level, he said.
Hotel occupancy also remains lower by 34 percent globally, but only 20 percent in China, compared with the same time frame in 2019.
Several speakers, meanwhile, said that global travel was severely affected by movement restrictions and some COVID-19 measures, such as mandatory quarantines.
“When there are quarantine measures in the destination or the home country, the percentage of bookings drops by 100,” said Alexander de Juniac, the CEO and director general of the International Air Travel Association.
De Juniac suggested the implementation of rapid COVID-19 testing as a safe alternative to mandatory quarantine periods in order to stimulate travel activity.
Gloria Manzo, the CEO and president of the World Travel and Tourism Council, meanwhile, suggested that countries needed to decide who to quarantine based on individual COVID-19 test results rather than imposing broader rules based on nationality, or color-coding countries according to safety levels.
As for the global recovery of the tourism and travel industry, Manzo said it would depend on the levels of international cooperation.
“We can have an 18 month recovery or a 3 year recovery period, depending on the coordination of stakeholders,” she added.
Meanwhile, officials from Saudi Arabia discussed the Kingdom’s efforts to boost the tourism industry.
Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb said the country was working to develop the Red Sea coastline to attract more people.
“Last year we had more than 10,000 visitors discover historical sites,” Al-Khateeb said during the summit.
Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of Ad Diriyah Gate Development Authority, added that the Kingdom had spent 25 years restoring the UNESCO World Heritage site to support the contry’s tourism industry.
“We are taking tourism from 3 percent of GDP to 10 percent of GDP,” he said.
The Future Hospitality Summit is a two-day event organized by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism Saudi Arabia and the G20 Saudi Secretariat to bring international expertise and tackle current problems of the travel and tourism industry.