Several long-haul destinations have used the Covid time-out to develop their uniqueness, drive innovation and review business models.
International tourism, and long-haul in particular, was worst hit by the pandemic, for obvious reasons. Nevertheless, several destinations have used this period of reflection to redesign their strategies and business models even from a long-term perspective, as shown by some of the most popular foreign holiday destinations for European travellers.
Innovation, above all else, is seen to be key for reopening long-haul destinations after the pandemic, as explained by Libra Haniff, Director of the Malaysian Tourism Board in Paris and head of the Italian market, while presenting a new e-learning platform in Italian: "We have the full support of our Italian Tour Operators and the major DMCs in Malaysia, with new ideas at their disposal, such as 'slow tourism' like City Walking Tours and Street Food, Art Itineraries, Yoga, Meditation and Mandala Therapy, Boutique resorts, Essence of Sarawak, cooking classes at local farms, the hidden jewels of Borneo and a wide array of fresh ideas for experiencing Malaysia not just as a naturally beautiful destination, but as a place to experience unforgettable moments too”.
Not just innovating in safety, but in providing unique offers as well, where combining nature and culture will be crucial for the post-pandemic relaunch. Neyda Garcia, Director of the Dominican Republic Tourism Board in Italy, comments: “The recovery plan, which has been in place since September, provided rapid tests carried out randomly on incoming travellers, such as diagnostic COVID-19 breath tests, and, more importantly, it provided free insurance covering possible COVID-19 infection, starting from the moment you check in to a hotel, until the 31st of March 2021. This support plan completely covers medical emergencies, as well as outpatient visits, admissions, medicines, potential holiday extensions; specialist care, treatment for those admitted to hospital, a wide range of health centres across the country; emergency transport; hospital expenses and fees for changing flights. This insurance is provided to visitors free of charge and 100% paid for by the Dominican State. Of course, social distancing and wearing a mask is still mandatory for the duration of a visitor’s stay.”
The Ministry also created a virtual traveller centre to respond to queries and needs which is always up-to-date: https://www.drtravelcenter.com/
Through these measures, the Ministry of Tourism aims to ensure the safety of tourists who don’t want to miss out on the beauty and charm of the Dominican Republic.
In terms of promotional strategies, in keeping with 2021 travel trends that highlight travellers’ search for crowd-free green getaways, even long-haul ones, the focus is on the island’s great natural heritage. An array of isolated places where you can reconnect with nature, such as parks, long stretches of beach, lagoons, bays, forests, and places where you can practice social distancing and enjoy a holiday in total safety.
Innovation is also key for offers in the Seychelles, which is looking at sustainable and conscious tourism beyond experientialism: "'In fact, our 2021 claim is 'Another world ' — explains Danielle Di Gianvito, Marketing Representative of Seychelles Tourism Board in Italy — which is what Seychelles is ready to offer travellers, now more than before. Not just beaches and sea with snorkelling, diving and fishing, but lots of nature too with trekking routes and excursions. Plus, a growing number of environmental initiatives, which might interest more conscious tourists. Not just high-end hotels but lots of guest houses, allowing for more direct contact with local businesses, and a good 21 sustainable certified facilities".
Another crucial aspect of relaunching is responsiveness. "We’re the first ever destination to go back to offering long haul long stay travel packages — concludes Sandro Botticelli, Marketing Manager for the Thai National Tourist Board in Italy — for anyone looking to escape the European winter and feel the warmth of Thai sand between their toes. This is possible as Thailand is one of only 7 countries to be considered low risk. These two Escape Packages highlight a desire to gradually get back to normal. Subject to abiding by a 15 day quarantine as is protocol for access to the country, a measure introduced at the beginning of the pandemic, incoming tourists no longer need to apply for a visa. These two packages are available for purchase exclusively through agencies."