Tourism Goes Domestic as Travel Industry Looks for Revenue Sources

2 min read
May 4, 2020
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Norwegian Airlines was in rough shape. And that was before the pandemic. The struggling airline just got some help from the Norwegian government. Other airlines all over the world are getting or will get such aid, usually from governments in their home country. Airlines are lucky, in a way. They are often so big and so tied to national interests that rescue packages are quick to come in hard times. Other parts of the travel industry are also looking for new sources of revenue. Several recent analyses show that focusing on domestic travelers could be the best short-term strategy.

The good news is that interest in travel seems to have arrived at a plateau, according to Sojern, a travel marketing data provider. The bad news is that the plateau is much lower than anyone would like. The UN World Tourism Organization announced last week that 100% of global tourist destinations currently have travel restrictions in place. Even if people could leave their homes, they wouldn’t get far.

For businesses dependent on travelers moving around freely, the question is, what next? Dollar Flight Club, an online travel planner, surveyed some of their most active users to find out. The company found that over 80% of respondents canceled travel plans in April and May, but that the majority still want to travel. The catch is that with lower budgets, restrictions, and concerns about COVID-19, interest in domestic travel is recovering faster.

The responses from Dollar Flight Club users are probably optimistic. The nature of the platform means that globetrotters looking for new exotic destinations are overrepresented. But the domestic trend appears to be real. A recent analysis by The Economist came to a similar conclusion. It showed that web searches for hotels in Italy by Italians for next March were almost back to normal levels.

Businesses of all kinds are looking for ways to keep money coming in. The travel industry will have to focus more on the domestic market for the near future. Fear around COVID-19 won’t go away for at least the next year or two. It’s an unfortunate fact that much of that fear will be directed at other countries. Locals desperate to just get out and go somewhere are not an ideal target market. But hopefully, they will spend enough so that when airlines start flying again, we’ll have somewhere to eat and sleep at our final destination.