In 2021, “Vaccine VIPs” – a name coined by my travel trend forecasting agency Globetrender – will be the most privileged people in society.
Immunity passports, while dystopian, will become a reality in some form or another (CommonPass and IATA are both developing apps to display globally recognised health status certificates). Those citizens who are not demonstrably immune will need to undergo pre-departure and on-arrival testing, which is something we will all need to budget for next time we plan to travel abroad. Quarantines will also be a possibility.
As Globetrender predicted in its summer 2020 report on Travel in the Age of Covid-19, Domestic Sanctity will continue to see people choosing to holiday in their own country (if you plan to, book now as there is going to be a frenzy to get out of cities after lockdown).
Other trends that emerged last year and will gather further momentum will be Wilderness Seeking (nature has never been so appealing), Isolation Vacations (think private villas and hotel-takeovers) and Airline Hunger Games (there will be fewer flights and higher prices but also bargains to be had).
Which trends will define the year ahead? At Globetrender we predict that while many travel companies will be touting sustainability as a priority, it will be revenue that comes first. Reunion getaways with family and friends will be high on the agenda, as will yachting and safari holidays, which offer the chance to be in a “bubble” while doing something far removed from sitting at home in front of Netflix. Adrenalin-seeking will also be a motivating force, as we seek to feel alive.
Here are excerpts from three trends published in Globetrender’s 2021 Travel Trend Forecast.
In 2021, an entirely new movement of “untethered” professionals – free from the constraints of offices, commutes and homes in the city – will mean a rush to temporarily relocate somewhere more beautiful and inspiring. This will coincide with a pent-up desire to travel and the fact that getting to places abroad could be complicated and stressful, meaning staying in one place for a longer period of time makes sense.
As we have already seen, the luxury sector (as is often the way) has already been innovating, with resorts, particularly in the Maldives, selling long-term stays branded as “workations”. A standout example is the Vakkaru, which has a clever “Work Well” package that includes a free upgrade to a bigger villa with a study kitted out with a printer and office supplies for anyone staying for 21 days or longer.
Striking a balance between rebooking trips prematurely (only to have them cancelled again) and waiting too long (only to find everything is booked up or too expensive) is the dilemma that try-again travellers are now facing.
Having been burned before, opting for flexible, refundable rates will be prioritised over rock-bottom prices. In many cases, it may not be until autumn 2021 that most people dare to try to travel long-haul.
To help build confidence in 2021, luxury travel company Black Tomato has launched “State of Flex”, a guarantee that customers can cancel bookings up to 30 days before departure and still get a full refund, by paying a 10 per cent deposit. Many airlines have also waived date-change fees to allow travellers to change their mind if they need to.
As the crowds gradually return, it will be interesting to see which social distancing measures remain to manage tourism more sustainably in future. An unforeseen innovation born out of Covid-19 could be a framework for tackling overtourism, and there is a real opportunity for destinations to introduce positive changes as they open up to the world again.
When travellers see the sights in 2021, they can expect temperature checks, two-metre gaps and mask-wearing to be compulsory – whether they are queuing for a ski lift (which will need to operate at two-thirds of pre-pandemic capacity in Switzerland) or admiring the beauty of the Taj Mahal (which visitors are no longer permitted to touch).
Globetrender’s ‘2021 Travel Trend Forecast’ explores 15 essential trends that will define the near-future of global tourism – it can be downloaded here for £35.
Jenny is the founder of Globetrender – for more information go to globetrender.com.