Slow travel way forward for post-pandemic recovery

Regional tourism players are shaking up their marketing strategies post-Covid, predicting multi-country holidays will be traded in for slow travel in a single destination when tourism resumes.

“Multi-destination travel has always played a large role for travel in the region,” said Ruben Derksen, Exo Travel Thailand’s director of product and digital.

Multi-country vacations predicted to lose lustre as post-pandemic travellers look for leisurely-paced trips

He cited typical 14-day itineraries from longhaul destinations taking in the cultural heritage sites of Luang Prabang in Laos, Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and Chiang Mai in Thailand before a few days on a Thai beach.

But he said while demand for multi-destination travel will prevail, the practicalities of moving from one country to another will make it unappealing to many tourists.

He added: “If countries allow vaccinated travellers to freely move between destinations, without quarantine on arrival and extensive paperwork, then the proportion of multi-destination travel could remain as it was. If not, then it’s feasible to think we’ll see a focus of travel within individual countries. People are, after all, on holiday and they won’t want to put themselves through any difficulties.”

This sentiment is being felt throughout the industry, as new itineraries and marketing strategies are drawn up to sell countries as single-destination packages.

Ronni Dalhoff, managing director of Diethelm Cambodia, said slow travel will be the new norm. In addition to sticking to one country, he predicts travellers will seek to restrict their movement within the destination.

“People will want to minimise the risk of anything happening,” he remarked. “They won’t be moving around too much.”

To cater to this predicted shift in demand, Vietnam-headquartered LUX Travel DMC has launched DMCs within each of the 10 South-east Asian countries, with each seen as a single destination. Additionally, in Vietnam, it is only selling north, central or south Vietnam tours, as opposed to the usual country combinations.

Pham Ha, CEO and founder, said: “People will want to slow down and choose one destination to feel it and focus on their travel experiences. They will discover, explore, relax, indulge and immerse themselves in local culture and nature.”

Derksen said this presents the opportunity for travel operators to get creative with tours and curate itineraries that dig deep into the essence of destinations.

He added: “Slow travel is better for the environment and allows people to enjoy more time absorbing the beauty of the destinations they travel through. Hopefully, this will (encourage) them to go more in-depth in each country, and explore mind-boggling beautiful destinations.”

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