The concept of travel has gone through a fundamental change due to the last few years of the pandemic. We are talking before and after the pandemic a bit like BC and AC. 2019 feels like an eternity ago when things were totally different compared to now. The pandemic has indeed had an out-of-the-ordinary impact on travel reaching the lowest point in over 25 years in 2020. In fact, we have to go back to WWII to find a similar unsteady situation for the travel industry. Last year saw a steady recovery for travel and tourism, reaching almost 60% of the pre-pandemic levels by mid-2022.
We will look further into the recovery of travel and tourism, sustainability, and how the future of the industry looks. Find out more also about the report of 2022 at Fattoria di Montemaggio below.
Numbers about the Travel Sector
During the second half of 2022, travel saw a near-full recovery in most regions all over the world with an exclusion for Asia Pacific. According to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourist arrivals to Europe almost tripled during the first half of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. More in detail, about 474 million tourists traveled internationally between January and July last year, of which 309 million were arrivals in Europe, compared to 2021.
If we look at Italy specifically, the tendency was the same with a strong recovery in the tourism sector but still at 10,3% less than in 2019. Istat (the Italian National Institute of Statistics) furthermore shows that it was mainly shorter holidays or weekend trips of 1-3 days that contributed to the strong recovery.
The airline sector is the one that has suffered the most from the pandemic having put almost a halt to air travel in the first half of 2020. The “restart” in the summer of 2022 brought lots of problems for international travel with constant delays, cancellations, and lost baggage. The airline reliability was at an all-time low in the summer months of 2022. Some of the reasons for the chaos could be found in shortages in ground staff and airline crews due to layoffs during the pandemic.
The recovery is uneven and also in this context domestic air travel has had a quicker comeback than international air travel. The forecast according to IATA is that air traffic will continue to be below pre-covid levels until 2040.
Domestic vs International Travel in 2022
Another important factor to keep in mind when looking at the recovery of travel and tourism globally is that the spending on domestic travel has suffered very little due to the pandemic, while international travel is still lagging behind. In the US, domestic travel was almost fully recovered by the end of 2002 while international travel is predicted to be back on track only in 2025.
In Europe, domestic travel has become much stronger during the pandemic with Italians wanting to discover their home country more and more. Still, the differences between domestic and international visitors were 174 and 164 million respectively in 2022 marking a very small difference.
Work from Anywhere to Travel More
Traditional business travel has gotten a new face as remote working became the new norm during Covid. Still, as we have come out of the pandemic remote working continues to be a new way of life in business. It allows for a new mindset when it comes to travel and even more than before 2020, it enables digital nomads to combine work, travel, and leisure. It further makes it possible for the “average traveler” to travel more frequently and to take longer trips.
It allows for a new way of life where an employee can do his or her job from anywhere and enjoy a more stress-free life. Look at Airbnb where the CEO Brian Chesky in April 2022 announced that the employees were free to continue to work remotely from anywhere forever if they so desire. They no longer need to come back to the office.
Other companies like Selina are providing people the possibility to “stay, travel, and work abroad indefinitely.” They offer accommodation choices and activities based on local research and knowledge in 163 destinations all over the world. Their revenue more than doubled in 2022 compared to 2021.
A new trend is also to combine travel through the Metaverse with actual travel. Emma Chiu, Global Director at Wunderman Thompson in the UK, gave a talk at BTO 2022 about the potential of the Metaverse for the travel and tourism sector. People are getting more and more interested in traveling virtually and many cities have or are about to develop “digital twins”, that is virtual city versions that are updated in real-time. It is a way to immerse yourself in other places, learn more about a destination before you go there, and experience, taste, and smell the destinations and products.
Will this become more and more the new normal? Will it give a more sustainable work-life balance?
What about Sustainability in the Travel Sector
Many agree that now is the time to change the way we think about travel, that it cannot continue as before. We have to be aware and take into account how travel impacts people, the climate, and the planet as a whole.
What does sustainable development in tourism mean?
According to UNWTO, sustainable tourism takes into account the “environmental, economic, and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development.” There needs to be a balance between the three different factors to achieve long-term sustainability. This includes things such as using ecological resources, helping to preserve the ecological cycle and biodiversity, respecting the local communities and their traditions, offering stable employment possibilities, helping to guarantee feasible economic operations, and much more.
Many surveys carried out, as reported by Skift, point to how sustainability is now almost essential as a concept for travelers. Yet, there is a problem in the equation as even though sustainability is important for most travelers today, very few are still willing to pay extra for carbon offsetting and similar to support the environment. There is a large gap between what people say and do and it often has its source in the fear of greenwashing. Travelers do not believe the traveler service providers and their commitment to sustainable measures.
There is no way back so we all need to become more sustainable in everything we do, especially in the travel and tourism sector. At the talk “Il clima che cambia, quanto è preparato il Turismo?” at BTO 2022, Peter Wadhams, Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, stressed the speed with which the Arctic is melting. He said that in 2021 it reached a level of melting seven times as fast as before. The climate emergency is thus nothing we can run away from any longer.
At the same talk, Jeremy Smith from the Travel Foundation in the UK described the foundation’s research into and promotion of sustainable tourism. One of his comments was that tourism is also to discover places locally by bike or hiking, you do not need to take a plane to the other side of the world to feel that you are on vacation.
It will be a challenge though because most of us are talking the talk but not walking the walk. We are, in general, not prepared to stop taking trips by plane to save the planet. The aviation sector is investing in research and innovation to develop electric and hydrogen-powered aircrafts but the road is still long. Today, about ten airline companies, such as United Airlines, Icelandair, and Japan Airlines, are investing in next generation air transportation technologies.
2022 in Review at Fattoria di Montemaggio
Fattoria di Montemaggio had about 4000 organic visitors for wine tours and wine tastings in 2022. During the pandemic, and especially in 2022, there was a considerable increase in domestic, i.e. Italian, visitors followed by Dutch, Germans, Americans, Belgians, and French people. The best clients that spends the most were Italians, Belgians, and French. It used to be Americans, but that part has not yet fully recovered since the pandemic.
Francesco Garuglieri, the wine tour manager at Fattoria di Montemaggio, says that the level of wine knowledge has increased a lot among the clients, almost 70%. Before the pandemic, most clients and visitors were at a beginner’s level while they today are much more demanding and require a larger attention to detail in the services offered. Among the Italians, he has noticed a desire to rediscover the local territories.
Francesco believes that the request for quality in the services and information offered by wineries will become more important than ever in the near future. The offering of traditional products that are typical for the local territory will also become of the essence. The wineries that will manage to innovate themselves and step away from the belief that “anything goes” toward offering experience-focused services will be the true winners. Wineries need to focus on their mission and values to move forward.
The Future of Travel and Tourism
The travel and tourism sector made a huge recovery in 2022 after the pandemic. There are some areas that are still suffering and will continue to do so for years to come, such as the airline travel sector. Despite the recovery, some things have undergone a fundamental transformation due to a change in behavior and mindset as a result of the pandemic.
Working from Anywhere is a concept that is becoming stronger and stronger allowing people to work remotely and combine it with travel and a more balanced lifestyle. Sustainability is crucial for most people when planning their travel and holidays, but many still fear greenwashing and have little trust in the companies offering travel services.
At Fattoria di Montemaggio, things have changed going towards a domestic and overall more knowledgeable clientele regarding wine.
What will the future bring for travel and tourism according to you?
Written by Katarina Andersson.