4 Transformative Strategies to Develop Tourism Cities in (Post) Covid-19 context

4 Transformative Strategies to Develop Tourism Cities in (Post) Covid-19 context

There would be no “post-” Covid context. Governments and real estate developers need to find solutions to corporately adapt to the Covid-19 indefinitely. enCity planning experts shared about tourism cities development, policies and legislation, with convincing worldwide case studies.
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There would be no “post-” Covid context. Governments and real estate developers need to find solutions to corporately adapt to the Covid-19 indefinitely. enCity planning experts shared about tourism cities development, policies and legislation, with convincing worldwide case studies.

Current trends in tourism industry

As the tourism industry has been heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the future of international tourism became uncertain as countries are still struggling to experiment with policies such as “tourism bubbles” or vaccine passport. According to Statista, the industry accounted for approximately 10% of global GDP during the last decades up until 2019 and lost about half its share during the year of 2020. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is indeed greater than any previous crisis in the tourism industry: the number of airline passengers fell by up to 60% in 2020 compared to the previous year on a global scale.

In light of the increasing vaccination rates and easing travel restrictions around the globe, the tourism sector is slowly recovering by reflecting shifts in travelers’ priorities. It is followed by 5 pandemic-related trends that shape the sector to adapt to a new age of travel with changing demands and standards:

(1) Shift from international to local destination: In regard of strict travel restrictions, industry stakeholders have to target on domestic rather than international customers. As new value propositions and reprioritization of needs arise, hotels, airlines, MICE organisers, and other stakeholders would have to implement new measures to appeal to the local consumers

(2) Adoption of travel technology during the journey: Online channel has become a key platform across the travel journey. Operators that can provide detailed online and offline itineraries will be top of the mind for travelers. Additionally, as the metaverse matures, tourism industry would have to embrace virtual travel to allow visitors to socialize and explore in new ways.

(3) Reprioritisation of perceived safety: The future travelers are expected to prioritise the needs of hygiene, safety and security. According to Google Trends, ‘sterilisation’ became a breakout global search term in 2020, growing by more than 5,000%, especially in the United Arab Emirates, Japan and Hong Kong.

(4) Emphasis on eco-travel: There is an increasing demand for sustainable choices at the micro level due to the greater awareness of the fragility of globalization. Eco-travel is just one example of these tourism trends, reflecting a growing concern among today’s travelers for ethical and sustainable tourism options.

(5) Emphasis on local experience: Travelers are expecting to have a deeper connection to the place they visit and local people they meet. New travelers don’t want to be insulated from the places they visit inside a cultural bubble. They want to engage with and participate in the local culture. From enjoying local cuisine to celebrating regional festivals and holidays, local experiences are set to become some of the top tourist trends to watch.

5 trends which are shaping the tourism industry (Source: enCity)

Above all, it is undeniable that urban planning plays a crucial role in creating tourism products. Therefore, providing appropriate strategies and guidelines for tourism cities is necessary in the (post) Covid-19 context.

Holistic strategies to develop tourism cities in the coming years

Cities are very important to the tourism industry. A study by Oxford Economics found that the world’s 300 most tourist-friendly cities account for 50% of all international visitors. The study also confirmed that urban destinations shall be the main growth drivers of the industry and the number of visitors is likely to reach 173 million in 2025 compared to 2019. Although this study was conducted before the Covid-19 pandemic occurred, the important role of cities in the tourism sector is undeniable.

Urban planning is the foundation for the development of the tourism industry. The close ties between tourism and urban planning could identified from the research in the government’s policies in positioning cities as a global tourist destination. Tan Chin Nam, the former CEO of Singapore Tourism Board said that: “Tourism will make Singapore attractive because we want to make the experience of the visitors memorable… effectively increasing the choices for Singaporeans, enhancing the quality of life for Singaporeans, making the city a lot more liveable.”

In light of the gradual reopening of international traveling, it is imperative to provide a set of principles and guidelines that will help strengthen the tourism sector in the years to come.

(1) Conserve heritage and nature to attract visitors and create local identities. For instance, Hoi An has become one of the most popular destinations in Vietnam by preserving its ancient heritages and beautiful nature. Hoi An Waterfront Eco-community, a project by enCity, proposes a solution to the challenges faced by all new development: the tension between urban expansion and preservation of nature. Hoi An, a World Heritage site named by UNESCO since 1999, has experienced the rapid economic growth depending mainly on the tourism sector by drawing up to 4 million visitors every year. In the Master plan of enCity, the new eco-community in Hoi An is designed around balance, rethinking the concept of an exclusive residential enclave to bring it closer in harmony with local cultural values. The 140 ha nypa palm forest along the coast will also be planted along the waterfront of the development and within the site to extend the mangrove coverage and encourage other developments to take a similar approach.

The urban design draws on the urban scale and aesthetics of Hoi An, with low-rise buildings and vernacular architectural styles (Source: enCity)

(2) Create new local destinations to minimize travel restrictions due to global pandemics. The challenge is how to make these familiar destinations more attractive to domestic tourists. North Da Lat District Master plan, an awarded place-making project by enCity, strikes a balance between environmental preservation, cultural awareness, and economic development. With the vision of celebrating local heritage and healing nature, the project focuses on restoring lost natural elements such as waterways, natural lakes and native pine forests, carried out with much respect to the heritage and the local identity, making the whole area more attractive.

The Green Spine at the north leverages on Dalat’s natural assets with a view deck looking towards Langbiang Peak (Source: enCity)

(3) Allow a greater flexibility in land use policies to enable tourism strategy in the city. In the Singapore Master Plan in 1985, a separate land use category for hotels and mixed-use development was applied in the land use. It established a separate zoning category for hotels which included both hotels and backpackers hotels. 10 years later, the “White Site” concept by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) enabled flexibility of mixed-use development in a rapidly-changing environment. For example, the integrated resorts (IR) such as Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa have gone beyond the concept of a casino, comprising a variety of lifestyle, leisure, and tourism attractions such as entertainment and concerts, hotels, restaurants, convention and exhibition spaces, shopping, public spaces and gardens, and a museum or an amusement park. Tourism real estate is the most sensitive product. Therefore, tourism cities will need to adopt flexible policies to ensure the supply of land for tourism itself and other various needs.

(4) Increase accessibility by expanding and upgrading critical transport infrastructures: To reach larger international markets, most-visited destinations have well-performing transportation systems, connecting them with the rest of the world as a transit hub. This is one of the most important features to boost tourism. A case study in Western countries is the Barcelona Airport. Its extension during 2005-2009 including building a new terminal of 500’000 sqm has increased the passenger traffic to 55 million pax/year. Another example is the Barcelona Cruise Port, a leading European cruise port with 2.5 million pax/year, has signed several international cooperation agreements with leading cruise hubs such as the ones in Miami to strengthen collaboration and passenger traffic between them.

It is the opportune time for tourist cities to implement emerging policies to adapt to the new trends. These strategies will not only help the cities to respond to the shifting demands of future travelers, but also to transform them through a new paradigm and innovative products.

Dzung Do Nguyen (Co-founder & CEO, enCity), Pablo Acebillo (Manager of Master Planning & Design, enCity Singapore), Yerin Hwang (Associate in Urban planning, enCity Singapore), Huong Ly (Intern in Urban Planning)

Nguyen Do Dzung is an expert in city planning and design with 15 years of experience in plan-making and implementing for fast-growing regions, emerging cities and revitalized urban districts in Asia. Dzung has led multi-disciplinary teams, engaged decision-makers in real estate sector and multiple government levels, and explored new frontiers of urban innovations in order to provide market-responsive, context-sensitive and implementation-ready urban solutions.
Pablo Acebillo is enCity Senior Associate in Transport Planning. Due to his background, Pablo has focused on projects which require the integration of design, land use activities and transport planning considerations such as the implementation of mobility systems and accessibility levels. In addition, his experience in research and academia has contributed to a greater analytical capacity and communication skills.
Yerin Hwang is an international communicator equipped with knowledge and experiences in understanding the dynamic cultures of East Asia. She is a fast learner with excellent urban problem-solving skills and high cultural sensitivity. She is a young professional interested in integrating community and environment for the future generation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Urban planning is the foundation for the development of the tourism industry. The close ties between tourism and urban planning could identified from the research in the government’s policies in positioning cities as a global tourist destination.

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