The New Normal - Country branding at the time of COVID-19.

Updated: Jun 5

We are living through extraordinary times with an unprecedented restriction on personal movement. The question is, is the new normal really going to become our new normal? How will an already increasingly flight conscious traveller behave in a post-pandemic world? Lockdowns have prompted the necessity to find alternative ways of telling stories,

In a world that will surely be reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, what does this mean to those at the heart of the travel & tourism marketing industry? Presenter Sam Martin from the WTM Global Hub received Samantha Adams, Alex Greenwood and Alessio Nesi from BBC StoryWorks to discuss the past, present and possible future of the travel industry, the shifting consumer mindset and ultimately what this might mean for travel brands. Here is what we took away with us:

  • The tide for sustainable tourism was already turning before COVID-19.

  • The initial reaction to COVID-19 was for destinations to shut down. They have since then resumed communicating as there is a clear need for them to do so whilst being mindful about the messaging.

  • BBC ran a research piece in April 2020 showing that the pandemic has not completely changed the consumer values but sustainability haw now become a key element.

  • The majority of consumers feels that destinations should keep feeding information and concentrate on brand values. Now is the time for travellers to look for inspiration.

  • Going on holiday is more than just a break away from the daily routine. It is an opportunity to experience something new, something better.

  • Since COVID-19, the discussion taking place in households has changed its focus to the importance of values including safety and sustainability.

  • Sustainability benefits our health and the public is more aware of it than ever before.

  • Today, thanks to modern technologies, there is a much wider ranging approach to portray a destination and develop affinities with travellers before these even visit the destination(s).

  • Destinations have to adapt to the new way consumers are gathering information. They need to establish how to best showcase all the aspects of their countries; sustainability being an important element.

  • What is next? There will be a greater emphasis on domestic travel initially. For many this will be a first-time experience that they wish to repeat in the future.

  • International travel will follow but people will be more interested in staying away from crowds and visit national parks and big open spaces.

  • City breaks are likely to take longer to come back.

  • Destinations who are able to embrace the shift to a more sustainable approach of tourism are deemed to succeed as long as the narrative is delivered properly.

Next week we will report on more talks from industry partners but for now, feel free to leave some comments below