The Future of Travel: Mapping Predictive Trends in the Tourism Industry

Cody LeBlanc, Associate Director, Paris Office, APCO Worldwide

One of the most jarring consequences of a pandemic in our interconnected world has been the restriction of individual movement. The freedom to travel, locally or abroad, has been limited. Beyond canceled vacations and business trips, the travel, tourism and hospitality industries have been crippled. Only recently have experts begun imagining travel in a post-COVID-19 world.

To better understand predictions about the future of travel, APCO Worldwide’s digital team compiled an informal database of 100 forecasts published recently in more than 30 unique media outlets. Using a Natural Language Processing algorithm to group predictions by thematic similarity, the team analyzed common trends between the forecasts. Communicators in all industries can use similar predictive landscapes to understand trends.

In our travel example, two primary categories, or themes, emerged: Travel Motivators and Travel Destinations.

On the left, there are predictions that can be largely categorized as industry improvements necessary to motivate people to travel in the post-COVID-19 world.

Beyond the more obvious actions, such as increased promotions and cancellation flexibility, there also are predictions about promoting sustainable travel options that take environmental health into consideration. Emerging environmental and sustainability themes include predictions about reducing overtourism and carbon emissions of airplanes and cruise ships. In addition, there are efforts to ensure that natural landscapes are protected from people and people from nature (e.

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