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Resonance Highlights Shapes and Stages of Tourism Recovery

VANCOUVER — Resonance, a Vancouver-based advisory company focused on tourism, real estate and economic development, recently hosted a webinar highlighting three broad potential recovery scenarios for travel and tourism.

The recovery scenarios were developed based on Resonance’s scenario-planning expertise and were presented by Resonance president Chris Fair, EVP Richard Cutting-Miller and VP, Marketing Strategy, Scott Erickson.

“Different types of destinations, hotels and resorts will recover in different ways, and we’re going to outline…three scenarios to help you think about the future and how that recovery might unfold for your particular type of destination, hotel or resort,” said Fair. “It’s important for us to understand that using the modeling of recovery from recessions in the past and looking at consumer sentiment is only half the story. This recovery will be so different, based on the fact that we have new constraints that we need to deal with and that it’s going to be public-health officials that are going to determine the pace, speed, shape of the recovery.”

Fair referenced a quote made by Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer of B.C., where she stated: “International travel, the way we used to think of it, meetings where we all got together, conferences, those are not going to happen this year anywhere in the world.”

“I thought that was a pretty frank summary of the effect [of COVID-19] and how public health officials are thinking about the types of restrictions that they are going to recommend or mandate in various jurisdictions,” added Fair.

He also noted restrictions will likely be rolled back similarly to how they were rolled out. “One way to think about what the recovery would look like and what those stages might be — how they might unfold in the future — is to really step back and look at how this crisis unfolded in the first place,” he explained.

Fair highlighted six key factors that will impact the speed and strength of travel and tourism’s recovery from this crisis. These include:

  • local infection rates
  • local healthcare capacity
  • effective implementation of test, track and trace (for virus)
  • national, state and provincial restrictions
  • cancellations and closure of events, businesses, restaurants, et cetera
  • historic market composition
  • “wild card” medical developments, such as effective drug therapy, seasonality or a vaccine

The three potential recovery scenarios presented by the Resonance team were: quicker recovery, staged recovery and delayed recovery.

Fair pointed to those most likely to experience a quicker recovery as rural and resort destinations that have a strong local or regional market, such as Muskoka, Ont. A historically strong drive-to market will likely be a key factor in this type of recovery.

“A staged recovery is probably the most likely scenario for most destinations, hotels and resorts that have a mixed composition of visitors,” said Fair, explaining that as travel restrictions are loosened, more customer segments will begin returning to these destinations. Provinces with strong regional drive-to markets, such as B.C. and Ontario, were pointed to as examples of destinations that would likely experience this type of recovery. “Non-hot-spot cites” (i.e. Portland, Ore.) and resort destinations with a strong regional fly-to market (i.e. Puerto Rico) are also among those expected to fit in the model.

Fair described the third recovery model, delayed recovery, as the worst-case scenario for destinations — “where the distancing restraints and policies are such that [they don’t] allow for very much travel at all.” Destinations likely to see this kind of recovery are those that have historically relied on the international market for more than 80 per cent of their customers. He pointed to destinations such as the Caribbean and New Zealand as those that will likely recover in this fashion. “We also think this might be the shape of the recovery for some hot-spot city destinations that had high rates of infection,” Fair added.

Cutting-Miller and Erickson followed with a breakdown of the management and marketing actions that should be taking during the phases of recovery (pre, early and late) — regardless of the speed of recovery. These will be included as part of a toolkit Resonance is set to be released online this week.

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