Italian Industry Pros Give Their Take on the Impact of Coronavirus on Tourism

Lauren Voges

May 28, 2020

As many countries start to consider lifting their lockdown measures and opening up museums and attractions to smaller numbers of visitors, the wheels of the tourism industry are slowly creaking their way forward. There’s no doubt however that the impact of the coronavirus on tourism will be a lasting one, especially in countries like Italy.

A popular destination with tourists the world over, Italy was one of the countries hit hardest and fastest by the coronavirus outbreak. Tourism in Italy is an important industry and one that many Italians are employed in, directly and indirectly. We asked representatives of some of the museums and attractions that we partner with to talk about how they think tourism will be impacted by the coronavirus going forward.

John Boulding, Chief Marketing Officer at VOX Group

Vox Group is a Tourism Smart Tech Company that is involved in the process of the post COVID- 19 recovery.

How do you think international travel will be affected by coronavirus?

We do know one thing for sure: the correct combination of lockdown and social distancing has been a tricky thing to figure out for governments. The right combination varies country by country, even state by state. In the short term, some lockdowns may continue longer than originally anticipated, while others may be shorter.

What do you think tourism attractions will need to do differently?

Travelers will be thinking differently about what they want and how they travel. It’s likely that for some time they will be very conscious about social distancing and will favor more individualized and flexible experiences. Attractions and venues will probably need to change the way they manage their venues, crowds, and ticket lines. They’ll have to make provision for restricted tourist flows, safe distancing, equipment sanitization, hand sanitization, and police the health policies and education of visitors. There will likely be an impact on group guided tours, with more restrictions on time slots and group sizes. Travelers may prefer to self-guide initially, not just for health reasons, but also for availability and savings.

“Attractions and venues will probably need to change the way they manage their venues, crowds, and ticket lines. They’ll have to make provisions for restricted tourist flows, safe distancing, sanitization, and police the health policies and education of visitors.”

When do you think people will feel ready to travel?

The first green shoots of tourism will be domestic travel, followed by international journeys as country borders begin to reopen. Initially, at least, international travelers will be FITs (fully independent travelers), driven by cheap deals and special offers. Later, when the broader public is confident that returning travelers have had a great time, the big wave of travel will begin, possibly in late 2020 but certainly during early 2021. The volumes in 2021 are likely to be boosted by pent up demand.

What kinds of holidays do you think will be popular?

The crisis will create new opportunities in travel. The lockdown has allowed consumers time to study and to develop new interests while learning new skills. A great example is everyone’s a better understanding of technology. In the future, travelers will want to use smart technology to deliver navigation and audio content within their experiences and will welcome this over old-style equipment and paper documents, like printed maps and booklets.

The early wave of travelers will probably favor short breaks over longer holidays and hybrid packages. Combining legacy content with the freedom of self-guided sightseeing will become a real opportunity.

A strong price/value proposition will be critical, so packaging commodities with digital services will be a great way for venues to set themselves apart from their competition and avoid a race to the bottom on price.

One thing is certain, we need to use this period of slow down as a window of opportunity to prepare a new mix of products for the changing dynamic in what will ultimately be a strong recovery.

Raffaella Scarano, Managing Director of Touristation

What do you think travel will look like after the coronavirus outbreak?

In my opinion, travel will return in three stages. First, travel for work, local travel, and traveling to visit friends and relatives will return. Then, individual leisure short-haul and weekend breaks will return. Finally, intercontinental and group travel will return.

Younger travelers will be the first to start traveling, then families, and finally the older generation.

I envision a socially-distanced style of travel; face-masks, people keeping their distance, and people constantly disinfecting their hands.

How do you think international travel will be affected?

The biggest issue is going to be the opening of borders. Unfortunately, different countries will ‘recover’ from COVID-19 at different times. This means that borders will open in a staggered fashion.

The aviation industry is vital for international travel. Before COVID-19, over 50% of aviation traffic was attributed to low-cost carriers (LCCs) and this was the driving force for growth in tourism. Aviation has been one of the hardest-hit industries, and airlines are expected to lose 1.5 trillion dollars in 2020.

social distancing will be one of the impacts of coronavirus on tourism.
Photo by craig hellier on Unsplash

“The biggest issue is going to be the opening of borders. Unfortunately, different countries will ‘recover’ from COVID-19 at different times. This means that borders will open in a staggered fashion.”

I am worried that the LCCs will not manage to keep their prices low and this, coupled with travelers with less money in their pockets, will be another reason why the numbers of international travelers are expected to be significantly lower for at least the next 12 months.

What do you think tourism attractions will need to do differently?

Tourist attractions will need to incentivize a regular flow of visitors to avoid queues. This can only be done by carefully allotting timeslots (reservations) for entry. They also need to provide sanitizing stations and ensure that their venues are kept spotless.

When do you think people will feel ready to travel?

Initially, people will be hesitant to travel. I think (hope) they will feel ready to travel by August 2020.

What kinds of holidays do you think will be popular?

Individual dynamic packages, city-breaks, ecotourism, and small boutique hotels.

Valentino De Angelis, Director of Leonardo Interactive Museum of Florence

What do you think travel will look like after the coronavirus outbreak?

Travel will return to normal progressively, but over a long period. The amount of time will depend on the actual availability of a highly effective vaccine and/or treatment against coronavirus. I believe that it will be possible to concretely restart the activity of our museum in about 12 months from now.

How do you think international travel will be affected?

The effects will be very significant, but with a solution for treating or curing the virus and a steady reactivation of flights, we can gradually return to normal.

What do you think tourism attractions will need to do differently?  

I don’t think they will have to change their business. They must mainly wait for some time – probably quite some time – to restart their business progressively.

When do you think people will feel ready to travel again?

They will feel ready to travel only after a particularly effective vaccine and/or treatment against coronavirus has been made widely available. In any case, after that, it will still take many more months before the resulting economic crisis can be overcome. Until then, many people may not have adequate financial resources to use for holiday planning.

A vaccine is really important for tourism's recovery from coronavirus.
Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

“They will feel ready to travel only after a particularly effective vaccine and/or treatment against coronavirus has been made widely available.”

What kinds of holidays do you think will be popular? 

I believe that, as in the past, habits will not change. In fact, there will be an even greater desire for holidays.


Interested in how consumers see the future of travel and tourism? Here’s what people doing right now and what they’re looking forward to.

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