Domestic tourism to drive the hospitality industry recovery

Thursday, June 18th, 2020 00:00 |
Young Kenyans learn snorkelling off thew beach in Lamu town. Photo/PD/FILE

Hasnain Noorani

While the Covid-19 pandemic is unprecedented, hospitality industry players believe that the travel and tourism sector will revive itself once this difficult phase has passed. 

People have travelled since ancient times even when transport means were limited and it will continue to remain a popular leisure and economic activity.

Different destinations will rediscover their travel norms differently, but travel will surely bounce back over time.

Indications are that international travel will take a while to resume in its entirety, as it is dependent on global decisions on re-opening up their airspaces and airline schedules.  

Domestic travel will be a key driver for the industry. The desire for indulgence, pent up demand, disruption of holiday plans of families will influence this surge.

After months of partial lockdown, people need well-deserved breaks and the sense of wanderlust will influence the desire to explore domestic destinations. 

Local flights 

For until local domestic airlines resume flying, destinations which are at a ‘travel-able’ distance will be in demand.

Hasnain Noorani, CEO and Founder of PrideInn Group of Hotels and chair of Kenya Coast Working Group.  Photo/PD/courtesy  

Available data points to a double-digit reduction of 22 per cent in tourism the first quarter of 2020, with arrivals in March down 57 per cent.

This translates into a loss of 67 million international arrivals and about $80 billion (Sh8, 560) in receipts. Losses by airlines— especially mega carriers —may be unfathomable.

While domestic travel contributed over 30 per cent of Kenya’s leisure travel in 2019, it will grow with renewed vigour this year. Demand from locals will mark the beginning of a new era of travel in coming months. 

Road trips 

Normally, April to July sees a huge outflow of travellers going to Dubai for holiday.

Now that the international option is out, it is a huge opportunity for Kenyans to optimise local tours. I also foresee people taking multiple domestic trips this year.

Every crisis is an opportunity too. The pandemic has increased awareness and consciousness about the environment and community. 

Travel in the future will be strongly influenced by a growing sense of responsibility towards sustainability and local communities. 

This situation has accelerated the growing importance of sustainability. Driven by the desire to travel post Covid-19, local travel will be characterised by road trips to less tourist-centric destinations, leading to rediscovery of unique and secluded locations. 

Slow travel with a heightened need for immersive experiences will be in demand as people look to explore authentic local traditions and culture.

Fear of missing out has been heightened during these Covid-19 times and this will drive a new age of travellers across age groups. 

Environment concerns 

Post Covid-19, even as people increasingly seek experiences that allow them to enjoy the nuances of travel and all that a destination has to offer, travel will focus more on providing ‘value’ other than just rate amendments.

Over the years, the perceived value of international travel has often superseded that of local travel.

Post Covid-19 gives us an opportunity to showcase the many unique and often, undiscovered touristic attractions that many travellers are yet to get familiar with.

It  also magnifies the tremendous value of travelling within a vast and diverse nation.

This will only be achieved through value-led offerings such as experiential holidays, wellness-focused retreats and healthy and detox offerings, all the while maintaining the new and required social distancing norms.

Domestic flights, one of the key growth multipliers for the travel and hospitality industry, will be impacted by the new norms.

The effect on pricing will only be seen once travel slowly resumes over time.

Growing demand for slow travel will make brands to offer unique experiences authentic to destinations.

Combined with the highest standards of hygiene, these will be some of the key offerings hotels will aim to provide post covid-19. The writer is the CEO and Founder of PrideInn Group of Hotels and chair of Kenya Coast Working Group . [email protected] 

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