In 2021, those visitors who do return could find they have the run of the piazzas, parks and promenades, unencumbered by tourist hordes — as well as finding hoteliers and restaurateurs eager to welcome them back. And, given that many national coronavirus vaccination programs are prioritising older people first, it seems possible that a lucky group of elderly travellers could find themselves in the vanguard, with a unique opportunity in 2021.
Aside from the pandemic, the salient trend in travel has been growing concern about the environment and the effect of tourism on the destinations visited.
An annual survey by Abta, a trade association for UK travel agents and tour operators, found that in 2020 half of consumers deemed sustainability to be an important or essential consideration when choosing a holiday — up from only a fifth in 2011. Trips that don’t involve flying are similarly on the rise: Inntravel says it has had to triple the number of rail specialists it employs to keep up with demand, while Byway, a new British operator offering only no-fly holidays, was launched in defiance of the pandemic in November.
The latest mantra is “regenerative travel”, meaning trips that actively help rather than simply mitigating their negative impacts, often involving some charitable work or making contributions to fund positive projects.
Steppes Travel, for example, has formed a partnership with the European Nature Trust to offer a range of trips in which guests accompany wildlife researchers and with donations to support their work included in the cost of the holiday.