We long to travel and we will again, but what has changed?

Tuesday, 23 March 2021 – written by Anna Kron Boysen


We all hope to live and travel more normally again soon. Surveys in Germany, Denmark and Sweden show that the desire to travel does not only exist but is also increasing at the moment. There is a pent-up need for travel and new experiences. But how will visitors and tourists act now, when a new mind-set has affected our way of life and our vacation and traveling habits? And how should the tourism industry act to attract visitors and tourists, when the borders reopen? Several surveys and trends point to a number of things that have changed.


People have a pent-up need to experience something other than their own home. At least one in four tourists in Germany, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have more desire to travel than they had at the same time last year, according to a recent survey from Visit Denmark. According to YouGov Global Travel profiles, Danes are the people in Europe who are most likely to plan a holiday abroad right now. As many as 36 percent of Danes plan to travel abroad in the coming year. The German research institute FUR expresses optimism about the travel year 2021, as their ReiseAnalyse 2021 shows, that there is a strong longing for holiday travel among German travellers. The proportion of Germans who do not want to travel is unchanged compared to the time before Covid-19 and the Germans consider travel to be the second most important consumer goods after food. Vaccination has begun throughout Europe and a brighter and warmer season gives us hope that we will be able to travel again soon.


Nearby trips by car in nature

The big trend during the pandemic when it comes to travelling is ‘staycation’ where people go on holiday in their home country or ‘nearcation’ in neighbouring countries, where they feel safe and secure. This trend offers a great opportunity to get people to discover destinations and experiences close by. 


Nature has a larger appeal and plays a greater role than before in the choice of destination. Even before the pandemic, the interest in nature tourism increased, primarily driven by an increased focus on sustainability. Outdoor activities such as hiking and biking of various kinds are more popular than ever. It is safer to be out in nature in the fresh air and you can choose how many people you want to be close to.


Today, people prefer to travel by car to be able to control who they travel with and have the freedom to return home when it suits them. When traveling by car, your home country and neighbouring countries are natural destinations. To experience something new and get that wonderful holiday feeling, you want to travel to another country. Neighbouring countries offer a feeling of ‘real vacation’. Previously, many felt that nearby destinations could not offer the holiday feeling to the same degree as long-distance destinations, but now we have opened up our eyes to our neighbouring countries in a new way.


Communicate safety and security

Already in 2020, the tourism industry adapted its offers to the changes in travel patterns and the new situation. In 2021, travel patterns will continue to be strongly influenced by the progress of the pandemic. What will be the most important factors in succeeding in getting foreign guests back, when we can travel again?


First and foremost, guests need to feel safe and secure. Good hygiene conditions and a safe destination are important factors for destination selection. This must now be communicated clearly, so that potential guests get a positive impression that you as a company take hygiene and safety seriously in every way. 


Another hugely important parameter is booking terms and conditions and cancellation possibilities. People want to travel, but do they dare to book? This season we will see a shorter booking horizon than ever before. The bookings must be flexible and possible to change or cancel, without risk of losing money, if guests should dare to book.


Last but not least, you must be prepared for the new situation when borders open and summer approaches. Be clear and transparent about security measures and booking conditions. Communicate continuously with potential visitors on your own and earned channels, so that your destination is relevant when things start to move. Knowledge and timeliness are crucial when future guests will choose their destinations on the other side of the vaccine.