Long-stays to lead tourism’s post-Covid recovery

The tourism industry may see a rise in demand for long-stay vacations lasting more than a month when international travel resumes, especially among youth travellers, predicted experts at ITB Berlin NOW.

This comes as a result of pent-up travel demand, compounded with the need for extra procedures – such as vaccination and possible quarantine – that will likely be required for travel in the future.

Blecharczyk: Airbnb now offers more flexible booking terms to meet changing demands

Greg Richards, research advisor at World Youth Student and Educational (WYSE) Travel Confederation, said: “We’ve seen opportunities emerging in terms of long stays because, with people having to (undergo) quarantine, it doesn’t make sense to travel anywhere for a weekend anymore. Youth travel is one of the areas where long-stay travel is particularly important. The average length of a trip for someone who’s (travelling for) au pair, work experience or language learning is over 100 days.”

The promise of such long-term, “purposeful travel” jumpstarting travel again has rippled across the globe. Australia announced in February that the Covid-19 vaccine will be made available to international students, and countries such as Croatia and Greece are dangling digital nomad visas for remote workers itching to travel.

In Thailand, Sri Panwa Phuket completed its first Villa Quarantine pilot project on March 8, and 58 travellers are now free to embark on a one-month tour of the country. Based on this success, the project may soon be replicated across five provinces, including Phuket, Krabi and Chiang Mai.

Richards noted: “We’ve also seen youth accommodation providers profiting from this trend by offering long-stay packages. Now, you can get packages that are a month or more in many hostels. (These packages are) now increasingly based in private facilities as well rather than just dormitories, to facilitate social distancing.”

Home-sharing platforms are also looking to capitalise on the rising long-stay trend. Airbnb has adjusted its booking function to allow for a flexible range of dates, in anticipation of changing work arrangements and longer weekends, described Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb’s co-founder and chief strategy officer as well as chairman of Airbnb China.

As the vaccines bring about hope for the return of travel, WYSE predicted that travel agencies may see a resurgence as travellers seek assurance and safety in their holiday arrangements.

Richards explained: “Travel agents are positioning themselves to be advisors who can provide reassurance and knowledge, which is very important (when) travel advisories are shifting rapidly. Increasingly, travel agents are helping people understand travel restrictions, the terms and conditions that are attached to travel these days, insurance products, and how best to travel. From our previous research, this advice function that travel agents are able to offer often translates into sales as well.”

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