What might tourism in Britain look like after coronavirus?

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It is early days to think about ‘after-coronavirus’ and when we do, there are many huge challenges facing us. But in times of hurt and suffering, hope and optimism for the future help to keep us strong!

The tourism sector, along with leisure and retail have been catastrophically affected and sadly some of those businesses will not make it through. Tourism has effectively been temporarily wiped out with international travel all but stopped and leisure and tourism attractions across the country all closed.

As businesses begin to think about rebuilding when restrictions are removed after coronavirus, we have identified a few green shoots that regional domestic tourism can perhaps look to build from:

  1. There is likely to be considerable growth potential for regional domestic tourism. As people emerge from ‘lock-down’ they may well be encouraged to visit the parks and open spaces that have featured on the news (for the wrong reasons).
  2. The value of local will be better appreciated. The targeting purely of local trade used to be ‘frowned on’ by some, who saw it as a lack of ambition or vision. In the current ‘lockdown’ many businesses are now (re)discovering the size and value of their local customer base. Going forward this will perhaps provide new focus and opportunity for tourist and leisure attractions to reconnect with and grow their local visitor base?
  3. Further growth in demand for experiential activities: In the #StayHome environment, there is a renewed interest in learning and self-development. The travel sector was already seeing grow in experiential activities, but it is likely that this sector will see further growth once movement restrictions are lifted.
  4. Family activity growth. Whilst some may say they need to get away from their family after weeks/months isolated with them, the reality may well be that families (re)discover how to spend time together and enjoy others company. This should provide potential for family-orientated attractions post ‘lockdown’.
  5. Embracing digital. Many attractions are developing their digital capabilities rapidly with virtual tours, expert guide pods etc. These skills will be valuable going forward to integrate with the ‘real’ visit experience. Our hypothesis is that the virtual tours currently being shared on social media will lead to an increase in desire to visit in the future.
  6. Lower cost holiday and leisure activities may well be needed, as many people will come out of ‘lockdown’ less well off. This may well lead to a resurgence of domestic day trips and short breaks as people adjust to a new economic situation.
  7. Consumer confidence is at an all-time low and will take time to rebuild. This may lead to an increase in ‘last minute’ travel and activities that do not require long lead-time pre-booking, again potentially to the benefit of regional domestic attractions.

Clearly, it is a difficult time for domestic tourism and will continue to be so even after we start to rebuild ‘normality’, but there is potential for some positive outcomes.

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