The Tourism of Tomorrow
By Marc Gagné, April 21 2021
The Tourism of Tomorrow
For more than a year now, we have been facing a pandemic that has heavily impacted the tourism industry, contrasting with the strong growth observed over the previous ten (10) years. According to the World Tourism Organization, international tourist arrivals in January 2021 dropped by 87% compared to 2020. The pandemic has changed the behaviour of travellers, who have turned to holidays using the car rather than taking a plane (Tourism Intelligence Network, 2021) . Some people are disappointed that they cannot travel abroad, but from another point of view, one can see it as an opportunity to explore the rich nature, culture and heritage of Quebec!
At this time, like any sport, art or cultural activity, tourism is waiting to start up again and to allow for moments of relaxation and disconnection from the routine. For residents of the Portneuf RCM, outdoor activities—such as a hike in the Parc naturel régional de Portneuf—are relaxing, safe and close to home.
Getting the most out of a tourist activity on every level and making it a unique adventure requires using your senses. As a musician who performs private concerts, I detest giving virtual concerts; video games are there to entertain me until face-to-face tourist activities return to normal!
Promoting local tourism?
Since international travel was not an option, tourism took a regional, and even local turn in 2020, which carried over into 2021. Many of Quebec’s towns and cities—the key drivers of our tourism industry—are more than ever worthy of a visit from some of the province’s 8 million inhabitants. Out of the 96 million visitors in 2018, 9 million were from outside the province. That goes to show just how, year after year, we have been able to maintain this tourism craze in our Belle Province! But we could see a major deficit as international visitors are very scarce these days. In 2018, 66% of Quebec residents planned to travel within the province, but also to other destinations, including 45% to Canadian destinations and 34% to American destinations. These figures should increase this year and reassure regional tourism stakeholders.
Is there any hope for a return to out-of-country travel? New Zealand has agreed in principle to a bubble with Australia, within which citizens of both countries could travel without having to quarantine. Note that New Zealand is one of the countries that has been the most successful in dealing with the pandemic (Journal de Québec, 2021) .
My guess is that if the number of cases finally decreases in Canada, authorities here could very well take a similar approach, with the return of inter-provincial travel, followed by travel authorized to nearby countries. Personally, I think we will get through the pandemic long before the project is carried out in Quebec. In the meantime, I will continue to explore the province and discover its natural, cultural and heritage wonders, particularly those in the RCM of Portneuf. For instance, one could think of the Voies du Sacré, a tour of the region’s most beautiful churches.
We were thinking of travelling to Dubai, Berlin, Italy, Asia, or Cuba, yet we hadn’t even properly visited our own territory. Why not grab the chance to have a look at what our Belle Province has to offer? Some of the activities you can enjoy here in Quebec might surprise you, especially in the summer season.
The province is full of tourist activities and attractions, so if we are still unable to travel abroad in 2022, just look closer to home and start planning your family trip in Quebec!
Large cities around the world are currently developing their pedestrian areas to make them safer and to encourage the use of local businesses. A group of architects, urban planners and other landscape professionals has highlighted good practices in developing concepts adapted to pandemics during the wintertime. For example, Winter Places is a design competition for the development of low-cost, quickly implementable winter outdoor design solutions (Tourism Intelligence Network, 2021) . Below are the recommendations made in that relevant publication:
Create special offers specifically for residents, whether for hotels, tourist attractions or guide services, in order to reduce the businesses’ dependence on tourism and to attract a mixed clientele.
Include more active transportation in the travel options available to tourists.
Increase the promotion of restaurants and make residents their ambassadors by encouraging them to discover local gastronomy.
Give greater visibility to the independent stores characterizing the main streets
According to Statistics Canada (2021) , 32% of employees are currently working mostly from home. In this age where working remotely has become the norm, there are nevertheless some gaps to be filled, such as the lacking client-employee connection, with the simple fact that online purchases are made quickly and without any advice on the products. The same applies to restaurants, where the most common option has been delivery. All this leads me to believe that in the long term, our society is going towards a virtual-based system. One of the worst ways of encouraging “cocooning”—which has already increased with our favourite activities that we so cherish—would be to stop interacting directly with people, to no longer go to restaurants and shops or even stop visiting the cultural or tourist attractions that now offer a range of online experiences (e.g., virtual concerts or guided tours remotely).
Things to remember
Finally, if the vaccination rate increases rapidly across the globe, we should see more significant numbers of international travellers in the post-COVID of 2022 or 2023 . According to IPK’s January 2021 survey, two-thirds (62%) of international travellers intend to travel abroad again as soon as possible . Will the ways we used to travel and consume return to what they were prior to the pandemic, or will we have changed our consumption patterns to a system where we alternate between online and local buying? It is up to us. We will likely see this reflected in our daily consumption habits this summer!
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