Charting future of travel and tourism: Here's what you can expect
The travel industry has slowly recuperated from the pandemic-induced slumber yet it continues to transform. On World Tourism Day, here’s a peek at what travel will look like in the future.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, climate change, technological advancements, and shifting consumer expectations impacting every facet of our lives, predicting the future of the travel and tourism industry has become unarguably a challenging task.
As per Skift's 'State of Travel 2022' report, the global travel industry has almost revived to its pre-pandemic level. Furthermore, a recent Hilton report, 'The 2023 Traveler: Emerging Trends that are Innovating the Travel Experience,' reveals that 56% of people are seeking 'frictionless' travel in 2023 through a blend of technology and human-led innovations.
While the travel industry has slowly recuperated from the pandemic-induced slumber, it continues to undergo a profound transformation in today's digital age.
On World Tourism Day, here’s a peek at the $9 trillion-generating travel industry in the coming years. Read along.
AI continues to revolutionise travel
Envision this travel experience: it's 2035, and you embark on your long-awaited honeymoon to a tropical island. A virtual travel specialist personalises your trip itinerary through videoconferencing and the support of generative AI which suggests tailored travel packages after analysing your preferences and also makes real-time adjustments based on your feedback.
A study conducted by the World Travel and Tourism Council projects that AI and Machine Learning will contribute to a staggering $1 trillion boost in global economic activity within the travel and tourism sector by 2025.
The study also underscores the increasing prevalence of AI-enabled features such as smart booking assistants, automated customer service, voice and facial recognition, and chatbots.
In the realm of travel and hospitality, AI-driven customer services automate critical processes like marketing and sales, hotel management, hotel and flight bookings, restaurant recommendations, and baggage handling.
AI-powered platforms like Amazon Alexa and Google Home now offer tailored suggestions for activities, destinations, restaurants, and accommodations based on individual preferences.
The integration of AR/VR technology has the potential to transform museums, attractions, and historical sites into interactive and lifelike experiences. Google extends the opportunity for virtual tours of places like the Pyramids of Meroë in Sudan, delivering an immersive online encounter accessible in multiple languages.
Furthermore, AI bolsters security within the travel and tourism industry by detecting fraudulent activities and malicious behaviours. Tech startups such as Booking.com, Kayak, and others employ these algorithms.
Aviation takes a green turn
A select group of international airlines is leading the charge in reducing carbon emissions and fostering sustainability in air travel.
Turkish Airlines has taken a significant step forward with its pioneering carbon-negative jet fuel. The airline is in the process of developing synthetic bio-kerosene fuel sourced from microalgae plants, addressing environmental concerns associated with crop-based biofuels, such as water consumption and competition for agricultural land.
To ensure a negative carbon footprint throughout the production process, carbon capture technology needs to be incorporated which extracts carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and securely stores it underground.
Airlines such as Air New Zealand and United Airlines are mirroring this initiative with their net-zero Flight NZ0 project and the target to achieve a 100% emissions reduction by 2050 respectively.
These airlines are gaining recognition for their commitment to a greener aviation industry through their efforts in investing in biofuels, electrifying their fleets, and harnessing carbon capture technologies.
Farewell to the era of airport queues
While the adoption of biometric identification, including fingerprint, facial recognition, and iris scans, remains a topic of debate, it is swiftly emerging as the technology of choice at airports across the globe.
Regarded as a swifter and more precise method for passenger screening, biometrics have the potential to halve the processing time for routine airport procedures, spanning from baggage check-ins and lounge access to boarding and immigration control.
For instance, Dubai International Airport launched its biometric "Smart Gates" tunnels in 2018 that allow travellers to verify their identities in as little as five seconds.
This technology has also found its way into various stages of passenger processing at airports such as Tokyo Narita, Indira Gandhi International in Delhi, Hong Kong International, Tokyo Haneda, London Heathrow, and Paris Charles de Gaulle, among others.
Sci-fi cinephiles, listen up! Your much-desired dream will soon be a reality as eVTOLs (electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft) have captivated the aviation industry.
These futuristic aircraft typically boast electric propulsion, lightweight designs, and advanced autopilot software, rendering it feasible for ordinary individuals to occupy the pilot's seat. This follows a VR flight simulation and an orientation session.
LIFT Aircraft, for instance, offers the opportunity for individuals in the US to fly its amphibious HEXA aircraft without the need for a pilot's license, as it falls under the category of an ‘ultralight’ vehicle according to federal regulations. Safety remains paramount; the aircraft is equipped with multiple automated precautions, including a triple-redundant flight computer, collision-avoidance system, and a full-aircraft ballistic parachute.
In the near future, customers will access LIFT flights through a mobile app, complete with proficiency tests, flight simulation training, pre-flight checklists, and ground crew support.
Firms like Ehang in China are working to combat traffic congestion with flying taxi drones and New York-based Kelekona is offering eco-friendly flight alternatives to mass transit via its battery-powered, 40-passenger drone bus.
Volocopter is paving the way to introduce a fleet of electric air taxis to the skies of Singapore and Paris in 2024, thereby heralding a new era in urban mobility.
Edited by Kanishk Singh