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What next for Tourism?



It’s no secret, the global tourism industry is facing significant challenges due to the Co-Vid 19 crisis. And it’s no secret that countries will need even more significant (and smart) tourism strategies to drive recovery.

Asia has been hit more than most regions. While in Hong Kong & Singapore tourism may account for 4.5% and 4.1% of GDP respectively, in Thailand and Malaysia, the figures are 17% & 14%. Governments are rapidly developing Tourism Recovery Action Taskforces in various guises, and plans for many markets are definitely afoot.

From our work with businesses at every step of the tourism chain, we have gleaned some key areas of focus that our clients are focusing on to build the foundations and put themselves into the strongest position they can for the coming months.

  1. Tourism Starts at Home:
    When in-country lock downs end, travel restrictions will remain, and so it’s the domestic consumer that will drive the confidence to visit attractions, go to events, patronise hotels etc. The tourists will be the locals. How to drive the desire for domestic consumers to want to re-discover attractions, events, hotels and venues that they may previously have taken for granted, will be a major focus. Pricing will be key from the start as everyone fights for a share of wallet, a wallet that is markedly less full than some months ago.
  2. Friends not Foes:
    For domestic confidence to build, collaboration and cooperation must trump competition. Where events , attractions or even countries may have in the past been fierce competitors, a whole of industry approach will be required to succeed. We will undoubtedly see tie ups and co-promotions never seen before and through the current period of uncertainty, new relationships should form at every level of the tourism eco-system.
  3. Online first:
    In tandem with harnessing the domestic consumer, subtle engagement campaigns for local and international visitors will need to be rolled out. Virtual tours and the digitisation of events and experiences will be needed. Many attractions already have this as a stable in their engagement campaigns and will be looking to take these to another level. Sensitivity is key here particularly when engaging with consumers who have no idea when their visit may become a reality. An uplifting narrative will be needed, rather than a hard core promotion, a narrative that will remain in the hearts and minds of consumers when they are able to push the button on their dream or repeat destination or event. It’s likely that tourists may not want to travel too far and there will be a scramble for loyalty.
  4. Get Mining:
    It’s time to make use of all that data. Many organisations have more data than they know what to do with and usually no time to dissect it to ensure insightful data led initiatives. That time is now. Smart organisations will be using this time to pour over historical data and research to develop creative loyalty campaigns, re-package products and services, re-assess pricing strategies and develop tailored and targeted partnerships for specific groups of tourists.
  5. The ‘Mother of all functions’:
    As we navigate through and out of any crisis, marketing will be king. This will be the time when marketing departments will shine or bomb, so ensuring this talent pool is at its absolute best within organisations is essential. Government bodies should be in a good position here to maintain a strong investment in marketing and not be tempted to scrimp in an area often cut at the first sign of trouble. There is immense naval gazing at present about ‘the new normal’. Is this going to be something that people even recognise? What does it look like? Will it really be permanent? Flexibility, agility and doing things differently are the only things we really know that we need to be and do. The days of broad, vanilla ‘Visit “insert name of country”’ campaigns just will not cut it. Marketing must evolve.
  6. People & Planet: What is starting to become clear, is that consumers will think differently post this crisis and that in turn they may think differently about their experiences, their leisure time, their need for ‘fun’ and indeed what constitutes fun. Operators will need to consider their commitment to sustainability, to social responsibility; basically to People & Planet. The desire to have holistic experiences, the need to re-connect with nature, and for the short term, the desire to do this in smaller groups and not as a ‘tribe’ will shape the industry. Programming and curation of events will be re-thought through a responsibility lens as well as a demand lens…

While no one knows what the new normal will be for tourism and its associated businesses; one thing is clear. Planning, with hefty doses of fluidity and innovation, will make perfect.

About the Author

Helen Soulsby
Managing Partner, APAC
m: +65 6536 6634
hsoulsby@sriexecutive.com