The new travel normal after Covid-19

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Safety will be an even more decisive factor when choosing a holiday destination after the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a study by researchers from the University of Coimbra (UC).

The conclusions of the study, conducted by Catarina Gouveia and Cláudia Seabra, researchers at the Center for Geography and Territorial Planning Studies (CEGOT), ranked security as “a fundamental factor to be considered in the recovery of the ‘tourism industry’.

The authors add that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a very significant effect on the perception of safety for the practice of various tourist activities.

Perception of risk

“Overall, tourists indicate a higher perception of risk for the practice of all tourism and leisure activities, especially those practiced in closed or restricted spaces, i.e. with larger gatherings of people, including amusement or theme parks, concerts and shows, sporting events, urban/historic centers, shopping in malls and streets, casinos, discos and nightlife venues,” said Cláudia Seabra.

Conversely, nature-related activities, such as sports or trips to ocean and river beaches “despite the negative impact of the pandemic, are still considered less dangerous activities”.

Visits to art galleries, museums and monuments and dining out “are also activities considered less dangerous, although the perception of safety has reduced after the pandemic”, stressed Cláudia Seabra.

The study focused on 320 tourists who visited the Center region for seven months – between November 2020 and May 2021 – the majority (98.4%) of Portuguese nationality.

“It was clear that the impacts of the pandemic were severe for central Portugal, one of the most diverse regions in terms of tourism in the country, which until the start of 2020 was booming. The results indicate that tourists from central Portugal have changed their habits, especially with regard to the type of accommodation, security and transport used during their trips,” Cláudia Seabra pointed out.

Changing habits

Before the pandemic, the accommodation most used by respondents was hotels (23.8%), followed by friends and family (18.8%), local accommodation (16.6%) and tourism rural (12.2%) but with Covid-19 “the situation has changed”, notes the CEGOT researcher.

“Most study participants now prefer their own home, local accommodation and the homes of friends and family, confirming the importance of domestic tourism in this uncertain phase,” she said.

The hotel, “which was previously the preferred type of accommodation for tourists, since the pandemic has become less suitable”.

And in terms of transport used to travel to holiday destinations within the country, “the car remains the preferred means, but following the pandemic, with a much more important expression than the plane or the train”, supported Cláudia Seabra.

The new normal

Thus, given the pandemic context, the study predicts that “nature destinations, without crowds, where travelers can find small hotels and arrive with their own car”, should become the places most sought after by tourists in a context post Covid-19. time.

The authors concluded that the results provide “important clues for the managers of tourism organizations to readapt their marketing strategies, in order to recapture the markets of this region in the post-pandemic context”.

“The brand image of these destinations must be strongly based on the safety factor and the communication strategies must take into account the new habits of tourists, focused on more exclusive and individualized accommodation and on leisure activities associated with nature and visits to museums, monuments and galleries,” concluded the UC researchers.

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