Industry Marketing Analysis: Tourism
The Post-Pandemic Rebound Continues
It’s no secret that tourism was one of the industries hit the hardest by COVID-19. We don’t need to talk about the billions lost or the massive industry unemployment rates that spiked between early 2020 and late 2021. The good news is that, as of 2022, the industry is slowly seeing a return to numbers similar to pre-pandemic levels. So how can marketing take advantage of this ongoing ‘boom’?
Tourism is an incredibly unique industry because the very product is subjective to its consumer. For example, every visitor to an equatorial resort can have a wildly different experience: some might love the food, while others might get sick; some may love the sounds of nature, while others will be tired of the crickets by the first night.
Because of this subjectivity, the tourism marketing opportunities needed to capture a specific audience must target the exact highlights that a potential traveler is desperate to find, relive, or experience.
Canadian Tourism Statistics in 2022
Broadly, the industry is following predicted models that accurately foretold the return of greater trust and leniency between traveller and governing body respectively. Simply put, government restrictions are dropping worldwide and people are crossing borders again, feeling relatively safe that the worst of COVID-19 is behind us. But though the graphs are all trending upwards, we still haven’t recovered to 2019 levels just yet – overall expenditure is at just 72% of what it was back then, for example.
While this number might seem disappointing, it might help to take a broader perspective. Canada’s tourism gross domestic product is an important industry, no doubt, but it is small relative to the big picture – just $39.72 billion in 2019 versus the slightly larger $1.645 trillion CAD total GDP. Other nations are staggeringly dependent on tourism dollars. Macau, Maldives, and Seychelles round out the top three nations with the highest percent of 2019 GDP tied up in travel and tourism, at 72%, 66.1%, and 65.8%, respectively – Macau’s GDP plummeted to $24.33 billion USD in 2020, compared to $55.15 billion USD in 2019. That’s a loss of nearly 56%.
Tourism Post-COVID: the New Menu
Trends began during the pandemic are continuing to take shape in the post-pandemic era. The very ethics of going from place to place came into strong consideration for many before lockdown even began, and now travel itself is entering a new generation.
Here are some key changes identified by the WJ strategists:
The Road Trip: Trails Close to Home
In 2020, The Wall Street Journal declared RV vacations “The Safest Way to Travel” for a leisure trip. In the year of the pandemic, that should come as no surprise. But even with the relaxation of travel restrictions and the return of air travel, the institution of the road trip has continued to shine. For many now, it’s about the journey, not the destination, and with one of the largest (and prettiest) road networks in the world, Canada excels on this front.
Remember when people were going mad from stress when we were initially forced to work from home? Then we learned, adapted, and now suddenly the ability to work completely from home is being demanded as a perk by employees. What if you take that mindset further? Ask yourself: could you do your job with a steady Wi-Fi connection? Why not take your 9-5 in the off-hours and spend the evening strolling the Champs-Élysées? There’s a great overview of this growing trend here.
The Solo Adventure
Simply put, a lot of people have gotten used to being distanced from others, and see no need to buck this trend even if they’re travelling to new places. This 2021 article from Lonely Planet sourced a poll from booking.com that suggests 30% of travelers would at that time consider a solo trip, up from 17% pre-pandemic. There’s freedom and independence in solo travel, and the romantic idea of discovering yourself continues to hold appeal.
The Digitized Experience
Travel, at its heart, is meant to be an experience. For some, it’s cultural. For others, it’s a challenge. For others still, it’s catharsis. Technology was already playing a big role, but the pandemic accelerated the importance of contactless, self-sufficient, sustainable places of interest in the travel world. Take a look at Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience to see a prime example of this. The comfort of a smartphone, the ease of a QR code, and the cost-to-benefit ratio of a guided tour on an app is a new reality all tourist destinations – and their visitors – face.
Conscious travelers are those who set their gadgets aside and connect with the value of human fulfillment through experiential means. This value add includes a gain of cultural understanding, and a recent poll states that travel ethics are becoming far more important: 78% of travelers are more ethically conscious than they were a decade prior, and 39% are harbouring guilt from previous tourist attractions that may have had negative impacts on an environment or its denizens: swimming with dolphins, or taking a ride on an elephant, for example.
Where Do We Go Now?
COPY: Because of every tourist’s subjectivity, catching and holding their attention while trying to track their individual opinions and philosophies is a defining challenge of the time we live in. Harnessing the trends listed above is a good starting point to capture the returning market. Our strategists are ready to help you, whatever you need.