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Tourism in the 2020s – a decade of tourism challenges

„2020 stands for a decade and time change. The beginning of a new era. The 1920s have already shown us that socially and politically everything was possible. We in the tourism industry are also facing a decade of challenges in tourism.”

At the turn of the year we entered the 20s of the 21st century. Does it mean a real change of times like in 1920s, which saw everything from high culture and the Golden Age to the Great Depression?

The development of the few past years have been too fast and the changes too big – we will all have to process and realign a lot socially and politically in the 20s. In the tourism industry the problems range from the big issue of climate crisis to a shortage of skilled workers.

The climate crisis of this decade can be overcome through sustainability, not least when comes to travel and vacationing, but there are still multitude of changes that will distinguish the 10s from the 20s. I compared some of them without being able to answer them comprehensively.

2010 -2019 2020-2029
The hottest decade in human history: extraordinary temperatures, glacial melting and a worldwide rise in sea level. Sustainability becomes the focus of political and social action.
Worldwide travel has reached huge proportions: 1.4 billion people embarked on a trip abroad in 2018. That is 50 times (!!) as many as in 1950. (Source: BMWI) Travel will diversify and become more sustainable, but economic development does not suggest there will be a decline.
The desire to travel strengthens tourism abroad, medium and long-haul travel is the trend of tourism. Vacationing without air travel comes into focus and the idea of the vacation becomes more diverse.
Mobility comes to the fore, both in respect of travel and once at the holiday location. Cooperative mobility and public transport become more important.
Digitization and mobile use, alongside the rise of social media. Greater mobile use in networked applications, with a focus on the benefits.
Existing infrastructure sees a constant growth in tourism use and therefore an increase in competition. The creation of a dedicated tourism infrastructure for tourist use – bike paths, mountain bike trails, hiking trails; A break-up of applications.
Seasonality and annual holidays. The dividing-up of tourism throughout the year to create shorter but more frequent vacationing periods.
The shortage of skilled workers and poor working conditions in seasonal employment contracts leave a mark on tourism. Attractive jobs and professionalization all year round.
With so many statistically still in the middle of their working lives, the focus remains still on family vacations. These people enter into the final phase of their working lives, there are fewer family vacations and more specific types of vacation according to certain wishes come about
The selection of holiday destinations are based on price and availability, status and comfort The holiday destination is selected because it fulfils a more specific reason
Bookings grow using online channels resulting in the first failures in the travel agency industry. Online booking takes over completely: All tourist services are now booked online.
Overnight stays in tourism in Germany grow by 20%, but the growth of foreign visitors to Germany increases 50% The continuing growth in the share of foreign visitors to Germany.

From this the following action would be recommended:

1. Focus on sustainability

    • Sustainability & environmental protection
      Sustainability and environmental protection are important reasons when deciding whether or not to vacation. Those who can demonstrate the option of a more environmentally friendly holiday will have an advantage. This begins from the point of arrival and lasts the entire duration with everything to be factored in, from eating to accommodation.
    • Sustainability & funding policy
      It will be a task of those in the tourism industry to promote travel that is less environmentally impactful, such as by bus and train, and to actively deal with difficult political and social developments. Tourism players have a hard time getting their voice heard and yet this remains a key role. The entire funding policy must also be fundamentally changed to favor sustainability goals. When will you again invest in the “welcome” of a guest at the train station?
    • Sustainability & natural habitats
      Guests will want to associate sustainability and environmental protection with an intact, natural landscape. It is also the task of those in the tourism industry to help preserve such pieces of nature.

2.Strengthening the brand and reason to travel

    • Having a specific product
      Creating a reason to make the trip to your destination will become increasingly important, so destinations should set a clear focus and demonstrate a specific product and brand. The careful management of content increases the visibility of this message.
    • Promoting short stays
      Shorter stays make it possible to weaken the effects of seasonality and to make tourist businesses attractive throughout the entire year.
    • Expanding and making infrastructure more purpose-built
      A strengthening of the destination’s brand should be complemented by the expansion of its tourism infrastructure, with provisions for specific activities being kept in mind. Mountain biking, for examples, will take place wherever the right environment was created and hiking regions with 100 kilometers of forest roads will be the losers. It makes sense to segment and build a dedicated tourist infrastructure and to strengthen the destination’s brand further, activity-specific affiliations (hiking, cycling, mountain biking, mountain sports associations) should be forged as these become crucial partners.
    • Offering themed seasonal holidays
      Doing more during the off-season by introducing specific, seasonal holiday offers is a huge opportunity – there will no longer be one main holiday, but several holidays based on different ‘themes’: cycling holidays, health holidays, cultural holidays will represent equal value to the guest. However, the more activities and experiences you can provide your guests with, the longer the stay will be.

3. Increasing foreign visitors
Capitalizing on guest arrivals from abroad will be an important task. As the last decade has shown, the growth in the number of overnight stays made by foreign visitors is 50% higher than the growth in the number of overnight stays by domestic guests (with a 29% increase in the number of overnight stays abroad between 2010 and 2019). There is an international desire to travel to Germany, but in many cases there is still a lack of market preparation and product awareness abroad to show the countries nature and outdoor tourism potential.