International co-operation will be crucial to reviving the world’s coronavirus-battered tourism industry, travel industry leaders say.
Companies will need to build trust with customers to ensure they travel safely, industry leaders said at the online Future of Travel event.
They said that as more tourists look to take holidays in the coming months, personal safety, family and freedom of movement will help them to decide if they should take planes and cruise ships.
Leaders are optimistic that some of the 1 million industry jobs lost during the pandemic can be brought back through getting people on holiday safely and improving sustainability.
“We have to rebuild the trust people have in travel,” said Elizabeth Linder, chief executive at advisory firm Brooch Associates.
"When a protocol is globally consistent, that reassures the traveller that people are being kept safe."
The Future of Tourism event, held by the Aspen Institute, included speakers Nick Stace, chief executive of Saga Travel, Gloria Guevara Manzo, head of the World Travel and Tourism Council, and Ivan Eskildsen Alfaro, administrator general at the Panama Tourism Authority.
“The most important thing is to work on preparation. We need international collaboration,” Ms Guevara Manzo said.
Some changes will include health checks while travelling and fewer passengers on cruise ships.
“It feels like we are heading in the right direction," Mr Stace said. "We think, from September onwards, large parts of the world will open up.
“There is massive pent-up demand right across the world. It feels like we’ve been under house arrest.
“We feel very positive that we are ready to go. Our customers are insisting on vaccines.
"Resumption is important but so is, in parallel, the environment to ensure wherever possible we have the most efficient methods.”
Mr Stace outlined changes he believed were in store for the cruise industry.
“In the short-to-medium term, it is very likely that the small capacity ships, with 900 people, will be a reasonable number.
“If you’re a ship with 8,000 on board, that is a concern for people living in the port destinations. In time, those larger ships will come back.”
Tourism leaders in 2021 will look at expanding sustainability programmes and developing ways to avert the next Covid-style crisis.
“We are working with different international organisations and countries so that we can have one international mobility protocol," Ms Guevara Manzo said.
"This includes your vaccinations or negative Covid tests or antibodies tests.
“This year, you should still expect to travel wearing masks but we can resume international travel if we follow the rules.”
The priorities for the world council are sustainability and digital issues such as biometrics and health data.
“Travel is a force for good. We need to make sure we come back stronger and better than before,” Ms Guevara Manzo said.
She said that after the financial crash and 9/11, it took the industry 18 months and four years, respectively, to recover.