Trends & Insight
January 27, 2021

A look at the key tourism and transport trends for Q1 2021.

Market trends and forecasts continue to remain uncertain due to the nature of the virus and the emergence of new strains. Based on scientific information, and confidence in the vaccination rollout, many UK tourism experts predict a slow recovery in 2021 with a small domestic recovery from Easter onwards and more international movements in May/June 2021 onwards. 

Here are six key factors to consider for decision makers in Q1 2021:

1. Competition for Target Audiences

  • Industry travel media suggest older vaccinated and younger generations are most likely to become initial travellers in the summer
  • An Expedia report published in December 2020 states that over 60% of Generation Z and Millennials were ‘positive’ about travelling in 2021
  • A key target audience for tourism in 2021 will be the 60+ generation who have been vaccinated. In the UK, the age groups most likely to have received vaccinations will be:
  • Q1 2021: Silent Generation (born prior to 1946)
  • Q2 2021: Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1979)

2. Airline Recovery will Take Time

  • An aviation sector report by IATA (International Air Transport Association) stated that it will take two years for the aviation industry to recover and far longer to return to post-pandemic levels. The report stated the pandemic resulted in the aviation industry requiring life support state aid of over $173 billion
  • Global aircraft fleet numbers fell from 29,697 in 2019 to 24,500 in 2020. Available global airline seats went from 4.5 million in 2019 to 3.4 million in 2020
  • The IATA report predicted some flight costs could increase by over 50%
  • Airlines such as Lufthansa and airBaltic (who aim to increase fleet from 25 to 80 aircrafts) have been supported by government subsidies to survive, and will likely have a competitive advantage over private sector budget airlines

3. Sustainability, the Environment and Communities

  • With Joe Biden in power, the US has re-joined the Paris Agreement | UNFCCC. Climate change and green travel will continue to be top of the agenda within the narrative of global media and social media platforms. All organisations are expected to have a social purpose in 2021
  • Generation Z and Millennials are the most eco-conscious audiences, PR and content will benefit by aligning with this theme more 

4. Sustainable Economies 

  • As tourists become more socially conscious, they will prioritise authentic local food, drink and products. The shorter the tourism companies supply chains, the more desirable the story for UK media
  • Tourism brands will be expected to put sustainability at the forefront of their messaging

5. Promoting Alternative / Rural Locations

  • The ABTA 2021 trend report from Dec 2020 stated that 35% of people plan to take a city / beach break in the next 12 months, down from 42% and 40% respectively in 2020.
  • However, 25% of people plan to take a countryside break, up 2% from the previous year. Lakes and mountains (14%), 'off the beaten track' trips (9%) and camping (slightly up to 9% from 8% in 2019) have all seen popularity rise
  • The Global Tourism Forum also recently reported a surge in the popularity of hiking. Our client the Wales Coast Path saw walkers increase by almost 20,000 in August and September 2020. Less densely populated countries appeal will be greater than ever, with a short-term trend in socially-distanced breaks and bigger demand for nature experiences

6. Brexit Communications

  • Brexit-themed ‘Bleisure’ tourism may increase. For example the Times (2/11/2020) newspaper reported 3,372 British citizens became e-residents of Estonia as a result of Brexit, mainly to register businesses within the EU
  • Brexit is not expected to have a big impact on tourism. However, improved communication internally and advice to British tourists will be expected from tourism boards. This includes improved information for visitors looking to stay for longer than 180 days, along with information on travelling with pets.

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