Did you know that the tourism industry generated almost 9 trillion US dollars in 2019? Even today, it’s estimated that the tourism vertical accounts for 9% of all jobs, which basically means that one in every ten people relies on this industry for a living. Unfortunately, the revenue of the tourism sector substantially dropped in 2020, a decrease that was mostly due to lockdowns and other measures imposed due to the COVID-19 health crisis.
The above has led many affiliates and other stakeholders to believe that the tourism industry is no longer alive. However, at ActiveRevenue, we work closely with some of the leading tourism publishers and advertisers, so we’re very familiar with the current health and future projections of this vertical.
Below, we’ll detail the impact that COVID-19 has had on the tourism industry. Additionally, we’ll also answer the question “is the tourism industry still alive?” and offer insights into how the pandemic has changed the vertical forever.
Before delving any deeper, let’s take a closer look to truly understand the impact of COVID on the tourism industry.
The main way the tourism industry makes money is by selling goods to, you guessed it, tourists. However, since the beginning of the pandemic, leisure travel has been brought to a complete halt. To put it in perspective, in 2019 the US hosted more than 80 million international tourists. In 2020, that number decreased by more than 75% to 19.45 million individuals from overseas.
What does this mean? Above all else, it means that the only way the tourism industry will return to anything close to what it used to be, tourists need to be able to move with relative freedom across international borders.
Let’s be clear about this. The travel niche may be dormant, but it’s definitely still alive and kicking.
As a matter of fact, leading market researchers believe that 2021 will mark the first year of a massive bounceback of the vertical. Early signs, like the US averaging more than 2 million air travelers per day now, are extremely positive, show a lot of promise, and pave a clear way to recovery.
With the above in mind, it will likely be a few years for the vertical to return to its pre-pandemic, perpetual-blossoming state. But, this doesn’t mean that affiliates and other stakeholders need to hold off until then. Savvy players can start taking action today and be among the first to usher the industry back into its righteous status.
Let’s take a look at some of the elements that advertisers and other stakeholders need to consider when coming back to the tourism vertical.
Countries that have a low or manageable number of cases will be among the main drivers behind the return of the tourism industry. It’s safe to assume that these GEOs will be the first to allow unrestricted international travel, so they will also offer the best opportunities for industry stakeholders.
Almost all countries that have near-zero cases are encouraging their citizens to take domestic holidays in order to avoid COVID-related setbacks.
This is a great opportunity for the affiliate space as domestic travel has always taken the backseat to its international counterpart. Affiliate stakeholders can successfully focus on domestic travel programs and campaigns as long as they work with GEOs that have a low chance of returning to strict lockdowns.
The tourism and travel industry has always focused on empowering users to take control of their holidays. But, from now on, businesses in this sector need to be more hands-on, and for good reason. Since the pandemic began, hundreds of countries have implemented requirements without following a global standard.
This means that you need to rethink the ideal customer journey and retool your efforts based on a new model where consumers receive more guidance, resulting in higher trust levels and a better overall experience.
Now, let’s take a look at how the travel industry has been permanently transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, content like videos of dolphins venturing into unused city canals have sparked a huge interest in environmental issues and sustainability. The concept of a tourist is following a similar trajectory, so many expect travelers to demand more sustainable amenities (and for tourism businesses to provide these).
While the pandemic has taken over most headlines since early 2020, the global social justice and equality movement has also become one of the major storylines of the last 24 months. The tourism industry should adapt accordingly, so don’t be surprised to see journey planning and promotions that follow all-inclusive themes.
Vans, electric-powered motorhomes, and other alternative leisure transportation methods were already gaining steam ahead of the global health crisis. Since most countries have limited international travel at one point or another, the alternative travel segment has experienced exponential growth. This boost has been mainly fueled by consumers who still want to have a memorable holiday despite the fact that they can’t travel internationally.
Ready to monetize your travel traffic? Get in touch with our team at ActiveRevenue and we’ll be glad to help.