ATM 2021: Covid-19 prompts digital shake-up in attractions sector
Worth $254 billion in 2019, the tours, activities and attractions segment of travel and tourism is not just the third-largest part of travel; it is why people visit in the first place.
During the virtual element of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), Arival chief executive, Douglas Quinby, shared exclusive research carried out with 1,500 respondents on the outlook for tours, activities, attractions and key trends shaping the revival of the sector post-Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the research, although global gross bookings in tours, activities, and attractions in 2020 were down by 80 per cent, which is hardly a surprise, the impact of the downturn was uneven with mixed experiences across regions and variations from market to market.
Arival’s research identified that almost all operators implemented health and safety measures and that in a sector that previously lagged ten-15 years behind the travel and tourism industry in digitisation, there has been rapid adoption of technologies for online booking.
Virtual tours were also a popular way for platforms to try and stay connected to their customers and generate some revenue.
However, only 16 per cent of operators tried to launch virtually, with mixed results.
The research also found that as travel resumes, self-guided tours and experiences will become a viable alternative to large group experiences.
Addressing delegates online during ATM Virtual 2021, Quinby said: “This sector of travel will come back, as will the rest of the travel and tourism industry.
“However, as much as the impact of the downturn has been uneven for the sector, so will the recovery. What we expect to see is that recovery is hyper-local and very specific to destination and segment.”
Meanwhile, Emaar Entertainment chief executive, Zeina Dagher, shared how attractions have adapted to the downturn and where attraction development, distribution, and guest experience is headed in 2021 and beyond.
“2020 has been a year of unexpected change and the unknown. However, as an organisation, we have come out of it stronger and ready for 2021 and beyond,” Dagher said.
“The speed at which we came together as a team to tackle the crisis was instrumental to our recovery.
“We have had to completely shift the way we work in terms of marketing, operations and pricing to offer much more value from our attractions and also to ensure the health and safety of our guests.
“Our diversity now is our strength, and our focus is more on our domestic tourism market and the residents of the UAE.”
For those unable to attend the in-person event that took place last week at the Dubai World Trade Centre, ATM 2021 Virtual continues this giving the opportunity to view sessions recorded from the in-person event, as well as participate in a range of webinars, live conference sessions, roundtables, speed networking events, destination briefings, as well as make new connections in one-to-one meetings.