Post-pandemic tourism and the role of 'specialised products'
Dubrovnik, Croatia's Mediterranean city, is a prominent setting for Game of Thrones. The perfectly preserved Medieval architectural ensemble has attracted millions more tourists to come and enjoy the legendary atmosphere they saw in the movies.
Dubrovnik, on the Mediterranean coast, attracts many international tourists.
After eight seasons of Game of Thrones, the most popular TV series in history, Dubrovnik became a global brand. Croatia possesses a tourist property that makes the whole world jealous.
When the pandemic is over, however, the Croats understand that they cannot live on the fame of a UNESCO heritage site.
The Mediterranean region is the most important "force" of global tourism: the countries in this region account for 30 per cent of the total number of tourists in the world. In addition, they are also among the areas most severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
What awaits the Mediterranean coasts after the pandemic is over? How has tourists' behaviour changed? What should entrepreneurs and executives do to prepare for the 'new normal'?
In 2020, as Europe began to 'take a hit' because of COVID-19, a group of researchers from universities in Croatia and Montenegro conducted a survey in the middle of the tourism season. They collect data on tourists relaxing on the two countries' famous Mediterranean beaches – then match them with data from tour operators and travel agents.
The main question of the survey: what factors will determine the product selection of tourists?
Kiss The Stars stage and Kiss Bridge in Sunset Town (Phú Quốc, Việt Nam).
This survey indicates that the “basic travel contents” – destinations and hotels – will no longer play a major role in travel decisions. This is because they have too many similar options with these two contents. A warm water sea, in Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean, or the Mediterranean, can have hundreds of sandbanks that are not inferior to each other. Choosing a trip now takes more than that. They need 'specialised tourism products'.
What is a specialised tourism product? Scientists list an unusual tourism infrastructure designed specifically for a particular segment, which is called a specialised tourism product; or creative tourism content that increases the attractiveness of the destination; or a combination of the many needs of tourists when travelling – adventure, health, food, culture and others.
"More complex travel content makes a more noticeable difference and is more appealing. A more noticeable difference is a prerequisite for generating higher prices," the study wrote.
Unique tourism products become the "key" to attract visitors. Photo of Tourist complex on the top of Fansipan: To Ba Hieu.
In Dubrovnik, which has just completed eight seasons of intense HBO promotion with tens of billions of views, the Croats have established a 'more complex' vision. They weren't just looking to the old city and the Mediterranean coast, despite the stream of people to relive the atmosphere of Game of Thrones.
The Croatian National Tourist Board is trying to promote Dubrovnik's wellness services, about "opportunities to rest, regenerate energy and find the necessary balance" in this sea, with "top health care facilities" and "therapeutic mud and mineral water" from the mountains by the sea.
Elevate the lands
The economic loss from restrictions on international movement during COVID-19 is estimated at $11 trillion – more than ten times the consequences of the last global economic crisis in 2009.
The tourism industry has also suffered heavy losses. Just over half a year after the pandemic broke out globally, Thomas Cook, the oldest travel company on the planet, declared bankruptcy after 130 years of operation.
But will the challenges end after the pandemic is over? Despite their abundant natural resources, the Mediterranean and Caribbean regions are investing billions of dollars in new tourism products.
Yoko Onsen Quang Hanh, a Japanese-style resort in Quang Ninh.
That is also the vision that Việt Nam is sharing. In 2020, more than ten kilometres from the core of Ha Long heritage, a healthcare tourism complex, including a resort and hot mineral bath will be inaugurated.
Although the mineral water resources of Quang Hanh have been known for nearly a century, Yoko Onsen was the first large-scale project to exploit this water source. The complex invested by Sun Group, designed and operated by leading Japanese companies, is hidden behind cliffs, surrounded by nature, becoming a new pearl of Quảng Ninh tourism.
Yoko Onsen Quang Hanh resort is a unique tourism product. It was established on a practical vision: even Hạ Long Bay, a world natural heritage site, cannot escape the seasonal tourism cycle. Tourists will concentrate on watching the sea during the summer – while caring for their health does not need a specific time.
"By being able to welcome many tourists at any time of the year, Yoko Onsen Quang Hanh will also help Quảng Ninh overcome its seasonal tourism weakness, turning Quảng Ninh into an appealing four-season tourist destination," said Dang Minh Truong, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sun Group, during the inauguration of the project.
Ba Den Mountain (Tay Ninh) changes its appearance thanks to the Sun World Ba Den Mountain tourist area.
Developing unique tourism products is becoming an irresistible trend.
In Tay Ninh, the Sun World Ba Den Mountain project is built around traditional cultural values – and attracts millions more tourists annually.
In Son Tra peninsula, among the splendid nature, is a restaurant called La Maison 1888, which has transformed the pinnacle of Vietnamese cuisine in the hands of world-famous chefs.
In Sa Pa and Ba Na, in addition to the endowed heritage, Sun Group continuously organizes thematic festival activities. New architectural symbols such as the Golden Bridge also appear, providing visitors with new reasons to choose lands.
In Phú Quốc, in the middle of the blue sea, architectural projects with bold artistic colours, new entertainment, shopping, and culinary experiences in the south of the island are expected to be the key that unlocks the door to prosperity.