Europeans are eager to travel. With vaccination campaigns well underway, travellers are becoming increasingly confident in booking their vacations. This is a positive development for Europe, as the tourism sector is a strong pillar of its economy.
Unsurprisingly, the EU undertook enormous efforts in enabling Europeans to travel freely again, even while the pandemic is not yet fully overcome. As EU member states were closing their borders, the EU developed tools to facilitate pandemic-safe travels. The most significant tool is the so-called Green Certificate, which seeks to harmonise covid-free travel across Europe and beyond.
Importantly, the Green Certificate is not the only digital tool that is supporting the travel industry’s recovery from the pandemic. Virtual museum tours, online cooking classes and, of course, vouchers became synonymous with tourism during the pandemic. Businesses with strong digital competencies were able to significantly soften the impact of the pandemic.
The pandemic recovery continues to pose challenges to the travel industry. Consumers are more spontaneous and tend to seek vacations close to home. On top of that, the Green certificate is not without problems and countries which are lagging behind on vaccinations remain cut-off from international tourism. Our reader Jthk is a supporter of the EU Digital COVID Certificate scheme but adds that “only through international cooperation [can we] stop [the] pandemic”. How can we fix the mess we are still in, and what long-term changes are needed to make the travel industry more resilient?
Maybe technology can be used as a tool not just to cope with the pandemic, but also as a means to ensure a robust and sustainable recovery. Our reader Victoria points out that during the pandemic, we have seen data and Artificial Intelligence “being used in multiple ways, from measuring the spread of the disease to ensuring hospitals and doctors have access to the supplies they urgently need”. Is there a potential for AI and other technologies to similarly transform the travel industry?
We brought Jthk’s and Victoria’s comments to Valentina Superti, Director of Tourism & Proximity at the European Commission’s DG GROW and Alessandra Priante, Director for Europe at the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). You can check out their answers in the video above.
What do YOU think? Are you optimistic about your future travel plans? Do you expect things to go back to normal or has your way to travel changed for good? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!