What will tourism be like after the pandemic?

Possible futures for our Planet is an initiative promoted by the Italian Institute of Culture in London and Nesta Italia, which involves design students from Italy and England in a series of workshops dedicated to the theme of sustainability, declined on three specific themes: mobility, tourism and the future of cities. The workshops began in January 2021 in collaboration with IAAD- Institute of Applied Art and Design (Turin and Bologna), Abadir (Catania), Royal College of Art (London).

Tourism of the future

The theme of the second workshop is “Future of Tourism”. This “hot-topic”, currently at the center of the reflections on the economic recovery of cities after the pandemic, is central to the debate on the sustainability of global communities.

In fact, the trade-off between economic and environmental sustainability in the tourism sector is more than ever significant: on the one hand, the increase in the flow of visitors increases the economic opportunities of an entire territory, on the other hand, however, undermines the sustainable use of both landscape and cultural assets.

Moreover, a growing number of tourist destinations, starting from the “Cinque Terre”, to Zion National Park and Machu Picchu, are adopting a system of policies to control flows, often setting limits on the maximum number of hospitable people. But is this the best solution?

At this very moment in history this sector can be rethought starting from the disruptive ideas of the new generations. So the students during this second workshop were called to respond to the challenge of developing visionary proposals for a more sustainable tourism of the future.

The workshop, coordinated by Federico De Giuli, Professor at ABADIR Academy in Catania, began with two keynote presentations to understand the current state of European tourism.

A new conception of space and time

The first presentation was that of Blueeggs Deep Trends, a new Data Analysis agency that proposes solutions strategies to companies after in-depth market analysis. They reported tourist trends in 2020 and 2019, underlining the increasing nullification of the term “border” in its geographical, physical and temporal conception, thus evoking the term “hypertime”, which demands to rethink the notion of “time”, especially considering our existence being “over time”, hence paying more attention to the time to devote to “us” and therefore investing more in these moments of life.

These trends characterise a new consumption model that could be the most common once the Covid-19 pandemic has been eradicated. The dramatic situation we are experiencing has allowed us to rethink the idea of seasonality, it has increased the need for inter-sectoral work and it has strengthened the digital dimension of our lives. A new scenario that opens up opportunities in every sector.

The second was that of Nextatlas, which is proposed as an alternative to the classic “market research”, implementing the use of Artificial Intelligence solutions to analyse trends useful for the development of strategic actions in response to the research results obtained.

Research through the use of their platform has produced interesting results in the field of sustainable tourism. Trends such as the “slow train”, the “Office friendly hotels” experience, and also “Working wanderer”, “visa for remote workers” and “nowhere flights” have been described. All these experiences are in close contact with the new idea of “Staycations” or “Workations”. The results have shown a vision of tourism in a “regenerative” and not only “sustainable” key; in fact, the predominant trend is to offer experiences to tourists so that they can contribute to the improvement of the environment they visit.

The solutions proposed by the students

Thus the students, divided into groups, made the most of the inputs received and worked on proposals for innovative solutions to the social problems related to the tourism sector.

The first proposal was to create a platform that facilitates the organisation of immersive trips in nature, helping the user in the choice of trekking routes and providing useful information for the correct use of the landscape heritage.

Group number 2, inspired by the App “USE IT“, tried to connect tourists with local communities proposing a “Relational Travel” APP, a platform which allows to get in touch with other travellers or residents to seamlessly integrate your travel experience into the local community.

Finally, group number 3 has decided to reverse the steps through which you book and choose a holiday. In fact, their proposal is to create a platform focussed on the reason for the travel experience, to then propose sustainable experiences to enhance the local market.

What are we going to do next?

The second workshop of the series will focus on the theme “Future of Cities”, will take place on the 18th and 19th of  March 2021 and will be conducted by the Royal College of Art, London.