Last year, I recognised that each and every one of us in this country, and in fact all countries around Europe, were jaded by the limitations imposed by the Coronavirus. I watched as my fellow Travel Commentators waxed lyrical about the return to travel in 2021 and of the delights of those destinations we so missed. The end of 2020 provided plenty of travel predictions, but most of them proved to be way out in their claims or were simply wrong. At the time, I saw no point in joining the long line of bloated commentary, so I provided no travel predictions for 2021, reserving myself instead for Coronavirus travel-trend-predictions.
But the end of 2021 is different. Different because, we are all different; our lives and our thought processes have changed irrevocably; or they should have. Over the last 6 months I have wondered whether we shall all view travel in the same way, or have our expectations on what we want from that experience changed?
Perhaps 2021 provided the signposts for the way ahead?
So, my 8 Travel Predictions for 2022, are as follows:
- Climate Change. This is going to be a big factor in the year ahead and indeed beyond. The Travel Industry knows it, but it appears that a fair number of Travel Consumers don’t! There is little impetus or pressure for real urgent change. But, I detect that there is an important underbelly of Consumer opinion that is beginning to factor Climate Change into every aspect of their lives, and so it will be with Travel. There’s a terrifying figure that says that we have only 3,000 days to change our personal habits and the very machines and society that drive our lives. Another figure reveals that if 3.5% of us bring pressure to bear, then changes will be made; that’s 700,000 UK Package Holidaymakers that could bring real urgent change. As Climate Change factors affect our world, it will now begin to interrupt or influence our travel choices, from destinations to flying, ferries and environmental & sustainability crises!
- Brexit. Again, a word to send both sides of this intractable camp into their respective burrow-holes! But it is here and it is real. This coming year, British Citizens will face challenges from Duty-free to Disabilities and the lack of reciprocal schemes. Pet-owners will face bureaucratic nightmares and holidaymakers will have to deal with the yearly ups and downs of the £ currency fluctuations, which will affect their financial choices. The very nature of Brexit is both uncertain and unpredictable; Consumers will need to heed to rules of the countries they intend to visit, along with the UK, so ensuring that they do not fall foul of those rules, for many years to come!
- COVID19. Many commentators believe that ‘normality’ is just around the corner. Consumers should take great care when reading or listening to those siren-like voices. The ‘new-normal’ is going to mean pretty much the same level of measures that we have already become familiar with. Our countries may well be highly vaccinated, but many parts of the world are not and that raises the prospect of new variants and the ease of cross-border transmission. It will require solid research from Consumers before they commit to making Travel choices and parting with their monies in this coming year!
- The Return of 2019 Normality. I predict that at its earliest, we shall return to 2019-levels of normality, possibly by the end of 2023, but quite likely into the beginning of 2024. I base this prediction on how the airlines of the world have modelled their future business-operations. Their hope of a ‘2019 business model’ is based on a rising vaccination level globally, which will in turn lead to a recovery of confidence in our economies and health-care systems. Consumers need to model their own decisions around this reality!
- The Return of Travel. By April/May 2022, we may begin to witness the rise of travel-options. Those options will continue to be limited by destination, availability and price, and whatever the glowing headlines, the volume of 2019 will simply not be there. Many will seek the solace and safety of private-rentals abroad, but it will be staycations that again present the greatest option and opportunity for travel in 2022!
- Short-breaks & Locality. As Staycations will lead the way in 2022, they will also demonstrate how we as Consumers will travel in the future. We have discovered the convenience of locality and its undiscovered wonders. But, holidaymakers will take short breaks to City locations or to cross-channel locations or across to the Republic of Ireland. They will want that ‘new’ foreign travel experience, but with the sense that they are not too far from home, and the all important, familiarity of health-care systems.
- Consumer Rights. If you want to understand the direction of travel for Consumer Rights, then you need not look any further than what has happened to those rights during the pandemic. Rights have been overridden by the narrative of vouchers and credit notes, thereby ensuring the liquidity of companies with Consumer monies. Enforcement of rights has been non-existent and Ministers provide little reference to the rights carried over by Brexit into our legal system. There is an agenda toward de-regulation, and what has happened to rights during the pandemic, masks not only those rights, but what will now happen to them in the future! I expect a de-regulatory commentary to develop during 2022. Once they’re gone, they’re gone!
- Pandemic Investigations. Whatever about the source of this pandemic, any investigation will have to examine the methodology of the global spread of the virus. This will raise increasingly difficult questions for Aviation (whatever about cruises), throughout 2022, and beyond. It will also shine a light on governmental actions during the early stages of any growing health crisis. The wisdom of packing aircraft with passengers, by citing the ‘safety’ benefits of an airflow system will be brought into sharp focus, and will produce an examination of the wider internal aircraft environmental and arrival management realities. Such an examination will be important for the management of spread in future pandemics!
For some holidaymakers, they will likely dismiss such predictions; that is their choice. For a greater number of Consumers, these predictions will bring a focus as to the what is or will happen, and they will in some way, guide their future decisions. As I said at the beginning of this article, the pandemic has changed our thinking on so many different levels and we need signposts, pointing our way through to a greater understanding during this time of uncertainty. In all the ‘New Year’ articles you will read on Travel this year, few, if any, will set out this range of predictions. The gloss of newspapers or magazines only feed into a quick-high for Travel and do nothing to promote the long term health of this important industry.
Wishing all my readers and followers and their families, the very happiest and safest of New Year’s!
(All Rights Reserved - Frank Brehany © 2021)