The travel industry had an incredibly slow year, thanks to COVID-19. In the last few years, affordable airfares have been luring travellers all over the world. But in March, when the virus began to take hold worldwide, many planes (and travellers) came screeching to a halt. Now, many people are staying local, travelling by car, and sticking to nature-centric destinations. But that won’t be the case forever.  Slowly, the tourism industry is picking up again, although it looks very different than it did pre-COVID. We probably won’t start seeing travel rebound fully for a good long time. So what can we expect in the meantime? What will Tourism 2.0 look like, and how can we begin preparing for Tourism now?

When Will Tourism Start Back Up?

It’s hard to predict exactly when tourism will start to pick up again. After all, many countries continue to keep their borders closed and many areas are experiencing new spikes in COVID-19 cases. Some countries are already welcoming travellers from all over the world, with some requiring quarantines and others not.

The individual rules have confused some travellers and have made some reconsider their plans altogether. Other travellers are concerned about contracting the virus when flying to their destination. Because of this, local travel will be the first to recover, with international travelling likely taking a year or more to return to some kind of normalcy.

We can expect tourism to start returning when borders open up, restrictions ease, and/or we get new regulations on “immunity passports.” When a vaccine is ready, more people will also feel comfortable travelling. But even then, travel will still involve extra steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

How to Prepare for Tourism Post-COVID

Working in tourism is a fun and exciting way to make a living. Lots of people are holding off on getting into the travel industry because so many people are staying home during the pandemic. But if you want to prepare for tourism post-COVID, you need to think about the skills and knowledge you’ll need to thrive in the new world of tourism.

Some people are going ahead and getting their hospitality and tourism degrees online right now. Other types of hospitality degrees meet the education requirement for many hospitality jobs. It’s a great way to prepare since you’ll have the time to learn all the information you’ll need while learning about the tourism landscape in real time. You’ll be able to ask your teachers questions about adapting to a post-COVID world.

Make Sure You Have Multiple Ways to Communicate

Communication is a key skill for anyone who wants to work in the tourism field. Many tourists won’t speak the local language and might be confused about how to find travel information they can understand. The key is to be warm and welcoming and to have multiple ways to communicate. This is known as cross-cultural communication, and it’s essential whether you’re considering hospitality and tourism degrees online or you’ve been working in the hospitality field for years.

If you will be working with people in a post-COVID world, you have to understand how to connect with them. Even if they have different cultural approaches or don’t understand your language. You will need to be able to communicate using signs, words, body language, and other tools to help guests understand any safety information. This way you help them make the most of their vacation. Becoming an excellent cross-cultural communicator takes time, but it is a crucial skill for anyone in the field.

Be Prepared to Take Cleaning and Sanitization Efforts to a New Level

Even after the threat of COVID-19 has been neutralized, many people will be suspicious about cleanliness for a long time to come. They will expect a certain level of cleaning and sanitation in hotels and other facilities and might feel uncomfortable if those expectations aren’t met.

In the short term, cleaning is important for preventing the spread of COVID and for complying with regulations. But in the long term, it will help to ease the minds of travellers and allow you to avoid uncomfortable confrontations or poor reviews. People will be travelling very differently for a while, and peace of mind will be a top priority.

If you’re considering one of the many hospitality and tourism degrees online, now is a good time to get started. You’ll be ahead of the pack when the world starts to open up, ready to use your skills and help people enjoy their first vacations since the beginning of the pandemic. And best of all, you’ll be prepared for Tourism 2.0.

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Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He is currently writing a book about scaling up business and his experience implementing lean methodology.