In almost everything, innovation and technology are always shaping the way we live. This especially rings true in travel where new policies, procedures, and hospitality technology allows us to either travel easier or more conveniently. With the onslaught of a pandemic more than a year ago, many of these same technologies helped pivot the travel industry into one compliant with health and safety. Some of these — as well as the emergence of new travel trends — improved the quality of travel for many so much so that we hope they stick around long after the pandemic is gone.
When countries began reopening their borders, one glaring factor included in their health and safety protocols was having as many contactless procedures as possible. This meant digital check-ins, online reservations, contactless payment options, etc. Not only did this help in curbing overselling tours or having a more prepared itinerary, but it was also more convenient. Travelers did not need to be waiting in line to buy a ticket to a tour or make an in-person reservation. In fact in Belize, a requirement for a hotel or tour company to become Gold Standard Certified is having contactless booking/payment options.
Many restaurants in Ambergris Caye, for instance, have their menu online — easily accessible through scanning a QR code at the restaurant. Travelers don’t need to be carrying cash around and overall the pivot to digital is safer. All of the benefits made it clear how nice it would be for the change to stay post-pandemic.
If there’s one thing avid fliers love, it’s flexible booking options. Due to the uncertainty of the virus, many destinations’ requirements or COVID-19 cases were in constant fluctuation. Airlines took this into consideration and many of them provided more flexible booking or completely got rid of change fees. Could you imagine a world where you could just book flights on a whim and cancel whenever you felt like it? Sounds like a utopia, and I’d love for it to remain.
The rise of slow travel, along with regenerative travel, made a fierce comeback during the pandemic. Now, travelers are making conscious decisions on where to spend their precious vacation time and how it would impact the destination/environment. With slow travel, there’s a certain focal point on communities, sustainability, and ecotourism. Many are now trying to find ways to give back while spending their PTO at non-mass tourism destinations.
Instead of popping into a country for a quick weekender, or stacking countries back to back for one giant worldwide road trip, folks are now spending 10 to 15 days in one place. The pandemic brought on this trend since less traveling time means less contact with borders, people, and the outside world. However, the benefits were clearly seen where the destination’s economy and community were positively impacted. By spending more time in Belize, whose majority of GDP is made up of tourism, the locals and economy benefited greater. Those whose livelihoods depended on tourism had a chance to bounce back — albeit slowly — from slow and regenerative travel.
The previous point goes hand-in-hand with traveling in the off-season. With travelers averting highly-trafficked seasons, many decided to visit during the low or shoulder season instead. Belize’s off-season usually has businesses shutting down, amount of services and tours cut down, and a “dry spell.”
However, in the summer of 2021 the islands and other destinations saw an uptick in visitors, a welcome surprise after the terrible toll the pandemic took on the industry. If more people decided to travel all year round — which is ideal in Belize since the weather stays virtually the same — the local businesses are able to survive longer. This also ties in regenerative travel, wherein a way you’re already giving back by helping the backbone of Belize’s tourism industry gain its footing once again.