Tatasuyuki Ichinose runs a Management consultancy firm “Sekai o Tsunagu” based out of Tokyo, Japan. With an experience of over 30 years in the travel business with some of the World’s renowned travel companies, he has seen many changes in the travel industry in the past three decades. We spoke to him about his take on the current Covid-19 situation and how he sees the return of the travel.
Many countries are determined to bring tourism back on the map and are easing travel restrictions for overseas travel. How do you see this development?
As a person who belongs to the travel industry, I am delighted with the movement to restart overseas travel. Of course, I have a concern that the second wave of the spread of infection is occurring as we are resuming the travel. At the early stage of the Covid-19 pandemic, everyone thought that the spread of infection would converge within a few months and that the demand for overseas travel would soon recover after the convergence. However, as we now know that it is not easy to contain COVID-19 completely, it is time for us to consider how to make traveling abroad safe while minimizing the risk of infectious diseases.
Do you see long haul travel opening anytime soon from your region?
Tatasuyuki Ichinose says The Japanese government has not yet permitted the liberalization of travel of its own people. However, overseas business trips by corporates have already begun to resume, and some travel agencies have also started to promote their tour package for future travel.
For a tour operator, what is it going to take to get travellers to start travelling again?
I personally think the Covid-19 pandemic acted as a wake-up call for “Overtourism” due to the insurgency of cheap travel products. Travel opportunities are diminishing now, and tourists are looking for valuable destinations and purpose of the travel. Tour operators should strive to create compelling tour programs, and not indulge in price competition only.
And how will the travellers’ attitude change?
They will prefer Nature to Overcrowded cities, Close-knit travel (family, friends etc.) to Group travel, Hidden gems to Well-known places, Countryside to Big cities, Safe product to Cheapest product.
For the industry to recover, travellers will need to feel safe and confident. How important will be the role of a tour operator to bring that trust back?
Of course, safety is the most critical issue for the entire tourism industry. We must take proactive safety measures to meet the needs of consumers, in addition to following the safety guidelines established by each country.