Industry Update
Opinion Article 2 February 2021

What Impact Has the Pandemic Had on Future Youth Travel and Tourism?

By Charles Knowlton, Global General Manager at Topdeck Travel

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For almost a year, the pandemic has impacted travel. We have seen plans in a state of flux, not just for the young, but for every generation. With the travel corridor list everchanging and the UK infection rate rising again, the travel industry's need to adopt flexible policies and take proper health and safety precautions is more important than ever.

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At Topdeck, we understand that travel is a very crucial part of life for young adults. It provides an escape from the busy every day and an excellent remedy for stress, anxiety, and depression.

Looking ahead to future travel experiences and adventures will help boost today's young Brits' wellbeing during an anxiety-ridden lockdown period.

A study that we, at Topdeck Travel, recently conducted revealed that 35% of young adults aged 18 -25 years old felt that going on holiday and enjoying the perks of travel was an essential part of switching off from the events of the last year.

What's critical is that as an industry, we help build confidence and trust among young travellers, reassuring them that they can still make travel plans for the year ahead with the flexibility to change or cancel should they have to.

The importance of worry-free adventure

Making future travel plans will help young adults get a much-needed release from the stresses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Ensuring peace of mind when it comes to the booking process will be high on the priority list for those looking to plan their next travel adventure. Our recent customer research highlighted a strong desire to travel, yet a lack of customer confidence when booking.

Providing flexibility is the most sought-after factor for ensuring young travellers feel at ease to make future travel plans. By allowing them to make changes to their bookings, such as cancel or move travel dates if necessary, travellers will feel they are covered against any unforeseen circumstances caused by the pandemic and will be more likely to book trips in 2021 and beyond.

As well as a newfound importance placed on flexibility, another important factor for post-pandemic travel among young adults will be for travel providers to specify clear health and safety measures to reduce the risk of infection. At Topdeck, we've adopted globally recognised health and hygiene protocols. We have been continually updating training and supplier audits, as well as reviewing the measures and protocols being put in place to ensure trip operations are in line with government regulations, World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, World Travel and Tourism Council Safe Travel guidelines and industry best practise.

The events of the last year have had a huge impact on how hygiene conscious we are as a nation. Young travellers will be choosing to travel on trips, as well as staying at hotels, based on how confident they are that they will be clean and hygienic.

Looking to explore the great outdoors

With the current travel restrictions in place, many have reassessed what is important to them whilst travelling. After so many months trapped indoors, there appears to be a pent-up demand for enjoying the great outdoors. In our recent study, one in four 18-25-year olds stated that experiencing nature as much as possible would be necessary to them when travelling again.

With travel being limited for so much of 2020, it makes sense that young travellers will want to get out and explore the world again. Due to lockdown restrictions, a new sense of appreciation for nature and its effect on our mental health has been discovered by many. We expect that travel destinations' choices will correspond with this desire, with young travellers choosing to visit destinations and places that offer natural surroundings.

Choosing enriching experiences

For many young travellers, the pent-up demand to travel caused by a lack of it due to lockdown will have encouraged a greater need to experience different cultures. Our research also proved this to be the case, with 28% of Gen Z admitting that they seek meaningful and authentic travel experiences, and 23% hoping to experience a different culture to what they've been used to over the last few months.

The pandemic seems to have shifted the importance placed on mindlessly following others and doing things just because they look good on social media. More than ever, young individuals are working out who they are in this current landscape and their identity in the 'new normal'. Travel allows the young to build a new chapter, one filled with refreshing discoveries, a chance to strip back the norm to identify their real selves and what it means to truly feel something real.

Following three national lockdowns, they will desire to escape from the mundane day to day of home. It will likely be that young travellers want to meet new people, gain new perspectives, and create meaningful memories. We know that our audience wants deep culture and the ability to see and feel a different side to a destination, not just to have the standard' copy and paste' experience.

Given the significant impact that lockdown and social restrictions have and will have, we are confident that young adults will turn to travel for a much-needed release and that there will be demand for youth travel in 2021 and beyond.

Charles Knowlton

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