future of travel

This is what the future of travel could look like once this is all behind us

The future of travel in Canada and around the world could look a lot different once this pandemic is behind us. 

Though airlines like Air Canada are resuming some international flights next month,  it's hard to imagine people flying all over the world for vacations and business like they did only a few months ago.

Industry experts have a few predictions about what the future of travel might look like. 

Many Canadians could decide to take the air out of travel and opt for camping and road trips over vacations abroad. 

Hotels will also likely be preferred to vacation rentals as short-term rentals on Airbnb and VRBO have been banned in many cities. There could also be concerns about the cleanliness of Airbnbs even though the company recently issued an enhanced cleaning initiative.

Despite a changing landscape, Flemming Friisdahl, travel executive and founder of The Travel Agent Next Door, a Toronto-based travel agency, remains positive that Canadians will want to travel again soon. 

“Consumers always want to go away, and having been stuck in their homes for the past few months will make them want to even more."

Friisdahl says his company is still seeing bookings every day, with most of them for late 2020 and the following year.

A recent survey conducted by the Conference Board of Canada also showed a big increase in the share of Canadian travellers who are planning a trip within Canada this summer, according to the board's senior economist, Robyn Gibbard. 

“While the total number of visits will still be down, it’s a silver lining for domestic travel within Canada,” he said.

Gibbard thinks that Canadians will have a strong preference for activities that will help them stay isolated.

“That means a lot of transportation methods and activities will be less attractive. But by the same token, activities that allow ample social distancing - things like road trips, camping, hiking, or boating - will increase in popularity.”

Friisdahl agrees and says until there is a vaccine, travellers will opt for shorter trips so that they can quickly get home in case of a second or third wave of outbreaks.

“Consumers want to travel, however they don’t want to be locked down some place far away or get sick in another country. That’s the one thing that worries many travellers.”

Both Gibbard and Friisdahl agree that there will also be more of an expectation on hotels and vacation rentals to be very diligent and transparent when it comes to cleanliness.

Many hotel chains have already disclosed new protective measures they’re taking including steaming the beds, deep cleaning and various social distancing protocols.

“Travellers will want assurances about their surroundings,” said Gibbard. “Major accommodations brands will abide by local and industry standards; short-term rentals will have some work to do.”

Friisdahl says once the public health crisis improves and restrictions start to lift, there are still a number of factors that could impact international travel including whether countries choose to accept visitors and even more travel advisories.

“Presently they are very broad advisories, but the Canadian government may create more specific travel advisories for travel to countries that aren't seeing a reduction in COVID-19 cases.”

Gibbard says expect to see additional health screenings at airports, fewer direct flights and more connections, and a possible increase in air travel costs as carriers block middle seats for physical distancing.

“It’s important to note that not all restrictions will be lifted at the same time,” said Gibbard.

“We are already seeing a lifting of some restrictions on tourism businesses – in some provinces you will soon be able to visit a restaurant – but it will be some time before sporting events or international travel are normalized.”

He says though the damage to the travel industry will be temporary, Canadians should be patient.

“When all is said and done, tourism will certainly end up being one of the industries that suffered the most as a result of COVID,” Gibbard said. “The sector is resilient, but it will take years for activity to return to pre-pandemic levels.”

Lead photo by

Rafael Druck

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