In the recent (virtual) Indagare Future of Travel Summit, top industry partners and journalists gathered to talk about where travel is headed next. With 2021 fast approaching, its a matter of acknowledging the ongoing impact of Covid-19 in the year ahead and how to travel as safely as possible now or in the future. While Pfizer’s announcement earlier this week about a promising Covid-19 vaccine (up to 90 percent effective) makes the industry hopeful, it will take time for widespread distribution and adoption. Below, we’re sharing findings from Indagare’s Future of Travel Summit that predict what to expect for 2021’s top travel trends.
Expect the Unexpected—and, Yes, More PCR Testing
The primary concern for travelers continues to be how to travel safely during the pandemic, should you opt to do so. Testing requirements will continue to be a priority and a necessity for entry around the world; they can also be a gauge of how states and countries are handling the virus. For a 2021 travel trend, changes like these are expected in flux with the projected rise of Covid-19 cases in the U.S. While new tests with faster results are now available (12-minute nasal swab or saliva), the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) Covid-19 test, which allows for genetic photocopying and the rapid detection of bacteria and viruses, remains the gold standard, for now.
Protection In the Air
Minimizing your risk of exposure to the virus is still the number one consideration when it comes to air travel and spending time in public spaces. For now, Etihad Airways Vice President, Americas, Vincent Frascogna likened the recent changes implemented in the airline industry—such as HEPA filters that capture up to 99.9 percent of particles and constant sanitization—to being an extra layer of protection: “The theater of security that came about after 9/11 all became part of normal business.” Adding that “the theater of cleanliness”—stepped-up sanitization policies and social-distancing protocols—are likely to continue for the foreseeable future as a key safety measure. He also believes that masks will be an important part of the protection process against the virus for some time, when we are in public spaces.
Safety-First Approach: The Covid Hotel Experience
Hotel companies have put into practice more Covid-cleaning protocols than ever before to combat the virus. Last summer the hotel industry mandated mask-wearing at most hotels. In Belize, find the “The Gold Standard Program” in certified resorts; those recognized are required to have an on-site hygiene manager, daily inspections, hourly cleanings of public areas, and provide masks, wipes and sanitization stations for guests, as well as maintain social-distancing protocols and reduced restaurant dining capacity. Not to mention, this has been a positive push towards enhanced visitor experience with conveniences, like contactless check-ins and QR code menus.
Across the globe, properties are currently seeing an uptick in demand for private options, a welcome boost for business. The appeal? They are places “where guests can create their own bubble,” says travel experts at Indagare. To be sure, the draw of more sequestered and spacious villas—like the kind you find at Sirenian Bay Resort or Chabil Mar—makes complete sense right now. Whether it’s a private villa, private island or total resort buy-out, People are looking for seclusion and to create their own controlled space. Plus, private boat charters are another way to ensure that the guest experience is more protected, personalized and private. Being on a boat means plenty of time outside for connecting on (and in) the water and a shared sailing adventure together. This is one travel trend to stay in 2021.
For those truly looking to focus on well-being and self-care, there are also options to do so safely. Whether you consider a destination spa or mental health retreat, you can breathe in relaxation abroad. Those upping the ante on outdoor activities will reign supreme; indeed, that may include yoga, fitness, mediation classes, and even outdoor spa treatments. Not to mention, limiting screen time and the stress that comes along with it, to remain connected to the experience instead.
“Before, we always lived in the future, rather than the moment. Live here—enjoy the moment.”
– Simon Marxer, Miraval’s Director of Spa and Well-being
Going Remote Abroad
Now, there’s new travel benefits of going remote—being able to work (and stay longer) almost anywhere, like Belize. At Turtle Inn, from the Family Coppola Hideaways in Belize, G.M. Martin Krediet recently had a guest stay for three months “to immerse themselves in the local culture.” We were surprised that even luxury hotel brands like Aman are willing to negotiate rates up to as much as 30 percent for longer-term stays. So whether you are looking to hole up off-season in the Caribbean, like Belize, or head to far-flung destinations that are still open to American travelers, now may be the time to do it.
Where to Go in 2021 & Taking a More Considered Approach
Hoping to travel? Start thinking of destinations with strict protocols and a low volume of travelers, where there’s a window of opportunity, if you’re willing. As a destination surrounded by vast landscapes, travelers to Belize have plenty of options for isolated experiences outdoors. Although no matter your plan, we hope that when you are able you will be able to experience the joys of travel once again. As Melissa Biggs Bradley said in her keynote address during our Future of Travel Summit, one thing is for certain: “Among all of the things that travel gives us, perhaps the most universal is that it opens a world of possibilities, and it is within these possibilities that we find the best parts of ourselves and of each other.” We look forward to the possibilities and travel trends that await all of us in 2021.