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WTM Virtual Day 1 Focuses on the Travel Industry’s Future

The first day of WTM Virtual on November 9 pulled together ministers, travel leaders, entrepreneurs, experts and researchers to discuss the future of the travel industry in the post-Covid-19 era.

Following are some highlights from the event’s first day.

Restarting tourism

During the UNWTO, WTTC and WTM Ministers’ Summit, industry leaders agreed that greater international coordination and a widespread antigen testing regime are the most important factors for restarting tourism.

“Antigen is the solution, in our mind,” said Gloria Guevara, CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council during a panel discussion entitled Leading the Way to Recovery, Rebuilding Confidence, on Monday of WTM Virtual.

Ministers agreed that the focus needed to shift from PCR tests to Antigen tests, which give rapid results and are cheaper to produce.

During the ITIC Tourism Investment Ministerial Panel innovation in crisis was the subject of the panel.

In a session entitled Rethinking the Global Travel & Tourism Industry with a Comprehensive Recovery Plan, ITIC chairman and former UNWTO Secretary-General Dr Taleb Rifai, argued that the travel sector needed urgent local investment, followed by a focus on domestic tourism and finally on international tourism.

“What governments need to do is something different, some out of the box thinking,” he said.

Euromonitor: Accelerating Travel Innovation After Coronavirus

Euromonitor session at WTM Virtual concluded that digital and sustainable innovations will boost travel recovery.

According to Euromonitor International at WTM Virtual, creative new ideas in digital and sustainable technologies will help travel and tourism to rebound after the pandemic.

The global research specialist said its best-case scenario sees the travel and tourism sector taking at least three years to recover to pre-coronavirus levels.

However, the industry has a chance to build a more sustainable, equitable future, said Caroline Bremner, Head of Travel Research at Euromonitor International.

“We have an amazing chance to reset and chart a better path forward,” she said on the first morning of WTM Virtual.

She was presenting the findings of Euromonitor International’s major global study, called Accelerating Travel Innovation After Coronavirus.

The report said global tourism arrivals will plunge by 57 percent in 2020 and the sector could take three to five years to recover, depending on the availability of a vaccine.

Greece preparing to bounce back in 2021

Meanwhile, the press conference for Greece presented by Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis detailed the swift actions of the Greek government to deal with the Covid-19 crisis and how these have helped the country’s tourism industry to remain resilient and prepare to bounce back in 2021.

Minister Theoharis told WTM Virtual that the country took “decisive action very quickly” so it emerged from lockdown sooner than other European countries.

“The Greek economy is faring better than average in Europe, as we went into lockdown quicker and stricter early on,” he said.

Greece re-opened to foreign tourists from 1 July and has seen more than 4.5 million overseas visitors this year.

How aviation is reacting to Covid-19

The aviation session The Long-run Evolution of Aviation Activity explained how aviation is reacting to the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the key takeaways was that passenger routes could be determined by where the cargo is going.

Ticket flexibility will overtake inflight entertainment or on-board dining as a key reason to choose a particular airline – while carriers may start prioritising destinations by where the cargo’s going rather than where people want to fly to, according to WTM Virtual.

Moderator, Euronews presenter, Damon Embling, invited a panel of experts to assess the lasting impacts on passenger behaviour as well as airline activity.

Virgin Atlantic Head of UK and Europe Sales, Rami El-Dahshan, said one of the changes brought about by COVID-19 will be “a complete mindset change” and an end to airlines putting on new routes, then waiting a while to see if the route becomes popular.

Who will travel next year?

YouGov research also revealed that Gen Z and Millennials are more likely to travel than the older generation.

About 52 percent of consumers surveyed for YouGov’s Vacation Dreams report said they would travel next year but only about 27 percent were considering overseas trips.

Eva Satkute Stewart, Global Sector Head for Travel and Tourism at survey specialist YouGov, said:

“It’s the younger generation that wants to travel first, so it is important to think about how to market.

“They use social media differently and they are looking for low-cost carriers and cheap hotels.

“Compare that with babyboomers – what drives them is value for money, temperature, outstanding natural beauty and the fact they have been [to a destination] before and like it.”

She said there were differences in attitudes to sustainable travel, with Gen Z and millennial consumers considering themselves as responsible travellers.

Held by Reed Exhibitions, the organizer of World Travel Market London, WTM Virtual will run until November 11, offering delegates the chance to arrange one-to-one virtual meetings to do business, attend conference sessions and roundtables, take part in speed networking and more.

The Greek Travel Pages (GTP) is an official media partner of WTM Virtual.

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