The Covid-19 pandemic will cause a shift in travel preferences, with fewer people feeling comfortable about crowded resorts or cruise ships, according to the founder of G Adventures.

Speaking on webinar for UK agents, Bruce Poon Tip said: “The travel industry is going to have a lot of change. There are going to be fewer people that want to join crowds of thousands of people in a single walled compound. And I don’t know how many of us want to put our 80-year-old parents on a cruise ship any time soon.”

But he added: “These people will still want to travel; they just won’t want to do it with crowds, and this will help [control] the spread of the virus if they choose to travel in a different way from now on.”

He said Covid-19 would expedite a trend that had already been emerging before the pandemic, with people wanting to travel to more remote destinations.

He said: “There was already a buzzword of over-tourism before all this…people wanting to get away from the honeypots and to travel to more remote areas. So there will be a push now for community tourism and we’ll be at the forefront of that and partner for you for that demand. We will still go to the iconic places, but we surround those visits with more authentic, community experiences.

“It’s my hope that people will find destinations more relevant to where they travel and to how they travel. The decision that people have to purchase travel is a privilege and has to be taken more seriously because of the huge impact it can have.”

Poon Tip added: “Travel has the ability to be transformational but it needs to be a two-way thing so people don’t just take but they contribute and everyone benefits. Everyone should grow. Destinations and communities should rise as we rise. People should not just be sold on more amenities, or Broadway shows, or the number of restaurants to eat up, or swim-up bars – but by experiencing other cultures.

“I hope a group of people stop travelling in this crazy, ridiculous way and become more connected to the destination for more purposeful travel. It only needs a small number of people to change to be a major change for our industry.”

Poon Tip predicted countries such as South Korea, Vietnam, Bali and Thailand would be among the first to welcome back tourists, because they had been so successful in handling the spread of the virus through testing and tracking.

“They all addressed coronavirus very quickly and took it seriously from the start and didn’t talk about it as a hoax,” he said.

He also praised Australia and New Zealand’s methods of containing the virus, and said European countries such as Italy, Portugal and Spain had also managed to flatten the curve in their countries.

But he said would be a “longer, harder road” for countries like the US and Brazil, which had “not made testing available and haven’t been transparent”.

Poon Tip anticipated aggressive pricing from airlines and cruise lines to encourage people back to the skies and oceans.

“Airlines and cruise lines will run at a loss initially to get people to travel again,” he said. But he added that prices would then inevitably have to go up as there will be less capacity available.

But he said that could be partially offset by the lowest fuel prices in years, adding: “I don’t think it will be as bad as people think.”

Webcast: Bruce Poon Tip [Apr 20]

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