Longer, closer, more flexible: three changes will shape travel in 2021

But to use the words of statisticians, these advances will be made from an extremely low level. After a year in which aviation came to an almost complete standstill and many countries closed their borders, even the slightest easing should still be welcomed as welcome progress.

In any case, the desire to travel is growing again. The website Skyscanner, on which one can compare prices for flights, hotels and rental cars, reports a steadily increasing demand. In China, where there are only a few Covid-19 cases, domestic flights reached pre-pandemic levels again in August 2020.

Short breaks across national borders will remain difficult

Three far-reaching changes will shape the travel scene in 2021. Short breaks across national borders will remain difficult. Most countries reopening their tourism industries will require both guests and returnees to be quarantined for two weeks.

With this, a three-day trip can easily escalate into a 31-day ordeal. Therefore, there will be fewer trips overall in 2021, but the length of stay will increase. Thailand, for example, wants to welcome tourists again – but only on the condition that they stay for at least 90 days. Other countries are likely to follow suit.

Domestic tourism will also boom in 2021

Second, travel distances are shortened. Domestic tourism will continue to boom in 2021. In particular, countries that are popular as holiday destinations around the world will try to compensate for the decline in foreign tourists with local guests. In the USA, the airlines rely on Hawaii. Singapore is handing out $ 75 vouchers to its citizens for visiting local attractions. And even Airbnb encourages users to stay “close” on its homepage.

It shouldn't be difficult to convince vacationers of this. Even if trips abroad are possible again, they will remain arduous: Countless forms, required Covid-19 tests and the constant risk of getting stuck somewhere in a risk area will deter many from trips across borders.

New work and leisure alternatives

The third change concerns the way we go on vacation. If there is less travel, but the length of stay increases, many who can already work from home will look for new work and leisure alternatives that are more attractive than their own four walls. Why not go on vacation and work on the beach or in the mountains while the next lockdown looms at home?

Many of these trends are likely to persist long after a vaccine has spread. Vacationers will get used to longer trips, as well as the growing flexibility that allows them to combine work and leisure. International tourism will ultimately return to its 2019 levels. But from 2021 it will look different.