Why Radical Localism Will Lead the Travel Industry’s Recovery Post COVID-19 and How to Prepare for This

By Hâfi Martinsdóttir

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes | 1146 words

If this crisis has done anything it has opened our eyes to our own locality, to the businesses there, to the people that we are surrounded by. Although this is very much a global pandemic, we are all currently fighting the enemy on our very doorsteps. As such, the experts are anticipating a surge of interest in local tourism and the call for greater support of local businesses post COVID-19. In this article we will help you prepare for this shift towards radical localism.

Our inability to roam freely at present has caused us to reassess our local area, to reach out to our neighbours and to come together as a community. In essence, this global pandemic has shrunk our world back to its roots, our local communities. Because of this, we are expecting to see an increase in people adopting a more supportive approach to their local towns, businesses and services. We have suddenly become aware of who it is that keeps our communities afloat and have a new appreciation for those who can offer us so much on our home turf.

In a recent post, Rafat Ali, founder and CEO of Skift asked the profound question; “If you were writing a letter/essay on April 5, 2025, about what happened to travel in the intervening years, what would you write?”. To which he answered, “Mine would be about how radical localism became the way travel industry came back. People began to appreciate their rural areas around cities and local small businesses in tourism/hospitality thrived as a result.”

Another response given by Joseph Fischer, owner of Vision Hospitality & Travel echoed views we have heard throughout the industry so far. He anticipates “the revival of camping parks, motorhomes, caravans and the age of glamping. Away from mega resort destinations to small resorts, away from ‘brand megastore’ to individual, new age, lifestyle, eco-friendly hotels.”

The sentiments of the industry are that small, wellness-focused and private accommodations located amongst nature will be the ones to thrive when the travel restrictions begin to lift.

Jon Bortz, CEO of one of the largest U.S. hotel ownership groups, Pebblebrook Hotel Trust thinks we will see drive-to locations recovering sooner than fly-to. People are anxious to get on the road and as our trust in the hygiene of air travel has taken a hit, we are more likely to opt for closer destinations within driving distance to rejuvenate after such a long time indoors, all without risking exposure to too many people.

“We think leisure comes first, then some business travel comes back, and group travel comes back last” Bortz explains. “Drive-to locations will probably be the biggest and earliest beneficiary in a recovery. Resorts fall into that category, particularly those with more space and are wide open where people feel comfortable outdoors.”

Consider your price points when marketing to your local area

Although we absolutely recommend continuing to market your guesthouse or hotel to your local community in a “we hope to see you soon” tone rather than a “book now” tone (depending on your current government and health officials’ guidelines), there are also a few things to watch out for.

While the international travel industry has to take a back seat for a while, we are anticipating that more and more people will begin to emerge from their homes and become domestic tourists within their own locality. It’s crucial that the tourism industry adapts its messaging and prices to accommodate a market that is made up of 100% pure locals as opposed to the international holiday maker.

Tourists abroad are far more likely to be liberal with their spending compared to when they are at home and we need to expect that the locals won’t be willing to pay our inflated prices that were designed with an international traveller in mind.

Queenstown in New Zealand, a hotspot for adventure tourism, is a perfect example, as Chris Roberts the Chief Executive of Tourism Industry Aotearoa explains: “Sky diving, jet boating and bungy jumping are essentially priced for an international market and businesses are going to have to look at whether they need to adjust their pricing for a domestic visitor.”

He goes on to share that New Zealanders often complain about the high cost of their local attractions and as such are not going to be willing to pay the current fees that are aimed at the international market. The majority of domestic spending tends to go on items such as fuel, groceries and a beer or two at the local pub compared to only a small allowance for activities.

In summary

Focus your efforts on marketing to your local community and positively reinforcing how important it is to support local right now. This also means you leading the way by demonstrating your support of local businesses. If you hire local tradespeople or other small and local businesses in order to be able to run your business, then write up an appreciation post on your social media of these amazing local businesses that you rely on so much. Thank them for their hard work, show your local audience that your guesthouse or hotel is an integral part of their community and is very much intertwined with the health of the local economy. If you weren’t pushing the “local is best” message before, now is the time to do so. Share your local connections proudly. As we discussed in our previous article, Why You Should Be Focusing on Building Emotional Relationships With Future Guests Now to Improve Your Chances of Recovery Post COVID-19, showcasing your integration within the local community fosters an emotional connection from local people with your brand. Especially those who also view supporting local to be important.

Don’t forget to review your prices. As the international market is set to take longer than the domestic market to recover, it’s worth considering whether your local fees might need to be altered slightly to accommodate this. If lowering your prices is not the way you wish to go, and it does require much thought and consideration as it can directly impact your recovery further down the road (see our previous article: How Should Hotels Manage Room Rates After the Coronavirus Crisis?), consider offering complimentary extras for your local tourists to encourage them to consider a stay with you.

How we can help

It’s important that we are ready for the increasing support for local brands over the next several months and years thanks to COVID-19 and getting your business found locally is going to be crucial for it to bounce back after these trying times.

Get access to our free online course to help your business get found locally by clicking “Learn More” below.

Getting through this requires the entire community to come together and help one another and we are part of your community. So if you think we can help, don’t hesitate to reach out as we would be delighted to assist in any way that we can.

If you're serious about getting your business found online.. take our free course to give your business' recovery a helping hand.

How to Get Your Hospitality Business Found Locally Online︱8-Part Course

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