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  • Mike Bartlett

Resetting our expectations and top trends for travel in 2021

The travel and tourism industry has been severely affected by the pandemic and unsurprisingly everyone in the industry is keen to try and get it restarted. In the UK alone the tourism industry supports over 3,000,000 jobs and accounts for nearly 10% of GDP. With the pent-up demand caused by lockdowns, it is believed that as soon as it is safe to travel the sector is likely to be one of the frontrunners leading the UK’s and the world’s economic recovery.

But what should travel look like when it returns?

Can the travel industry take a lead in the fight against climate change?

Not much can beat the feeling of getting away from it all, even the chaotic dash through Terminal 3 is worth it when you reach your destination. All your stresses, even the years fall off you as you change out of your travel clothes and relax into your own personal heaven. The only choices you have now are whether you head to the beach or the pool, visit the local Bazaar or savour a coffee in the Plaza.

What you’re probably not thinking about, whilst you upload proof you’re living your best life to the gram, is that cloud storage is overtaking aviation as a source of green house gasses, or how your new wardrobe is adding to the 300,000 tonnes of clothing that ends up in UK landfill each year, and by squeezing an extra kilo of clothes into your suitcase meant your plane had to burn more fuel.

However, if there is one positive that we can take out of 2020, it is that we are more and more aware of our impact on climate change, the drastic fall in car, train and air travel in March highlighted like never before the impact we have on our surroundings.

However, this hasn’t dampened our desire to travel or our need for holidays.

Unsurprisingly the predominant trend for 2020 has been staycations, which, in turn has seen significant rise in sales for campervans and motor homes, as people look to try and get off the beaten track and enjoy some respite from the Coronavirus pandemic.

The question is how will the travel industry and travellers respond when the threat from Covid-19 is neutralised?

Initiatives like Climate Perks have been championing the use of other forms of transport since well before the pandemic. They suggest employers offer employees a paid journey day at the start and end of their holiday to allow for the extra travelling time needed to use trains, boats or coaches in place of air travel.

All those new campervanners will be looking to take advantage of their new discovered freedom, and want to take their love of touring further afield.

What of those with less mobile holiday accommodation?

We know that holidays are vital to emotional and physical wellbeing, and that they make employees happier, healthier and more productive. However with prices set to rise drastically and more and more people being aware of the impact of holidays on the environment, what will be the trends for 2021 and beyond?

  • During Lockdown people have been working hard on refining their bucket lists, holiday searches have been up by ‘000s of %, as people have been dreaming about where they want to go first, where they will experience their first taste of freedom.

  • The trend is towards more adventurous travel, people are seeking more socially distanced travel, more interested in experiencing the natural wonders of the world.

  • There has been a growth in bookings for longer trips over 15 days and interest in sabbaticals.

  • There is a growing divide between early and last-minute bookings. With all the disruption of 2020 many people are holding off booking their 2021 holidays, whilst the others are worried about reduced capacity and are taking advantage of the deals that are currently available.

With many people having carried over holiday from 2020, employers will need to encourage employees to book time off early so that they can make sure they have appropriate resourcing.

Encouraging employees to get their time off booked, will also give them something to look forward to. 70% of people book a holiday just for the happiness boost it gives them, and think about their holidays once a day for a mood booster.

Travel Accounts help make holidays more affordable, whether employees want to book far in advance or at the last minute. In 2019 22% of travellers paid for holidays using a credit card or loan. With 61% of households reporting a reduction in income, and holidays set to increase in price, it is likely the number of people relying on a credit card to book a holiday will rise, further reducing financial wellbeing, which where Travel Accounts can help.

Employers who encourage employees to take and make the most of their time off, will have increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and will be best placed to thrive as the world recovers from Covid-19.

Holidays make people happier, healthier and more productive. Get in touch to see how we can help make them more affordable for your colleagues.

Article written by Mike Bartlett, Director at Travel Accounts.

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