Industry insiders agree that the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has changed travel forever. We reached out to Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico, a country known for its resiliency about his predictions for a post-Coronavirus COVID-19 world.
Andrea Doyle (AD): How will Coronavirus COVID-19 change travel?
Brad Dean (BD): While the long-term impacts on the travel industry are still unclear, we have seen some immediate changes in the industry, and Puerto Rico is adapting to this shifting environment, with safety and security as our top priority. To start, we are taking significant action in the areas of increased sanitization and encouraging our local partners to do the same, within meeting spaces, hotel properties and beyond. Since the start of the virus, we’ve seen enhanced cleaning procedures in high contact areas and additional hand sanitation stations in key facilities.
We’ve also increased communication with stakeholders, another critical aspect in prioritizing safety
While more will become clear with time, a trend we anticipate as we slowly enter our new normal, is a decrease in international travel and a focus on domestic travel, with regional travel as an immediate option. Puerto Rico offers all the commodities of the U.S., with no passport or currency exchange requirement, and the appeal of an international destination with unparalleled culture and nature offerings for groups. In a post-COVID world, it will also offer the security of traveling domestically.
(AD): What will the new normal look like?
(BD): We anticipate hybrid forms of connecting and flexible booking policies, as those traveling will be apprehensive considering the climate. This, together with the enhanced implementation of sanitation practices, as cleanliness will certainly be an increased priority across the board. This includes destinations and facilities ensuring these tactics are clearly communicated to planners and visitors.
Discover Puerto Rico has learned from experience that there are immense benefits to preparedness planning. Our DMO, for example, has invested heavily in crisis preparedness, and developed a preparedness playbook, which included airborne pathogens, pre-COVID. We anticipate seeing this type of planning as priority when we emerge into a new normal following this experience, to ensure a plan is in place to react quickly and set a foundation that allows for a smooth recovery.
(AD): Will buffets be a thing of the past?
(BD): This remains to be seen, but certainly a possibility. We are already seeing local partners changing food and beverage practices in order to ensure safety and will continue doing so, to ensure the security of our communities and visitors.