CELTH long-term scenarios for travel

This study was published by Dutch-based Centre of Expertise Leisure Tourism & Hospitality (CELTH) which brings together experts from academia and institutions specialising in developing potential future scenarios. CELTH is a partner of ETOA’s.

Four ‘explorative’ scenarios are described to consider the longer-term nature of post-pandemic tourism, with the authors’ goal being to stimulate greater dialogue between key players such as DMOs, governments, business and thought-leaders. 

The study looks ahead to 2025 through four scenarios; ‘Business as usual’, ‘Survival of the fittest’, ‘Business as unusual’ and ‘Responsible tourism’.  The central premise is that which scenario reflects reality five years hence will be largely determined by two key uncertainties; the length and depth of the COVID-induced recession and the behaviour of people on a continuum from ‘consumer’ to ‘citizen’  both factors tourism cannot influence. 

It is argued that a short-lived recession and people behaving as ‘consumers’ will deliver ‘Business as usual’ whereas a prolonged recession and consumerism would result in a collapsing of the visitor economy under the ‘Survival of the fittest’ scenario. 

By contrast the authors suggest that a short recession and a greater sense of citizenship would transform the visitor economy and deliver ‘Responsible tourism’.  This leaves the possibility of a lengthy recession but people turning their back on consumerism, a combination underpinning ‘Business as unusual’, or a visitor economy that is ‘in transition’.   

‘Business as usual’ is characterised as ‘an overstrained visitor economy, heavier ecological pressure and negative social impacts’ with ‘few lessons learned’.  Under ‘Survival of the fittest’ lower demand leads to heightened price competition at the expense of quality.   

The authors frame ‘Business as unusual’ as ‘a fundamental break from the past’ being ‘value driven instead of profit maximisation’ and identify a risk that ‘laggards (suggested as generations before GenY) are unable to keep up with the changed nature of tourism. 

In the ‘Responsible tourism’ scenario there is a recognition that international travel and globalisation has ‘largely contributed to the spread of COVID-19 and to the recession’ and the new visitor being ‘well-informed; sustainable; aware of local impact who is willing to accept far greater intrusion on their privacy for the greater good. 

It is made clear that the scenarios are not predictive nor goal-based, rather they are ‘explorative’.