The pandemic’s impact on the travel assistance industry

It’s no secret that the travel and tourism industry has been one of the most severely affected industries during the global Covid-19 pandemic.

2020 was the worst year on record for tourism according to The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), who reported that international arrivals decreased 73% compared to 2019 levels. That equates to more than 1 billion fewer international arrivals.

2021 saw just a 4% increase on 2020, but the World Travel & Tourism Council are predicting the global Travel & Tourism to grow to $8.6 trillion in 2022, that’s just 6.4% behind pre-pandemic levels.

So how has the pandemic impacted the travel assistance industry?

It’s only natural to assume that the industry was going to suffer, especially when very few people were travelling abroad. If people weren’t travelling at all, you’d think there would be little to no requirement for vehicle or medical assistance at all.

This hasn’t been the case.

Inevitably there has been a reduction in cases. Obviously, at the beginning of the pandemic, there was a lot of focus on medical assistance and ensuring those outside of their home country could be repatriated home. But even as this necessity began to ease, the requirement for travel assistance overseas was still there.

Travellers requiring assistance during the pandemic

What’s interesting to learn is why assistance services were still required, not just for medical reasons, but for vehicle related rescues too. The pandemic may have reduced the number of holidaymakers or business travellers but its brought to light that there are many others who are in need of both medical and vehicle assistance overseas.

In a recent interview with Simon Johansson, Travel Support’s Head of Operations, Simon gave us an insight into who has been needing assistance over these past two years.

Commenting on this, Simon said,

“We support not only tourists but several different people who are travelling in another country. This includes expats, truck drivers, airline staff, aid workers, and many others who might find themselves abroad for a short period of time.”

Here at Travel Support, we saw an increase in truck rescues, mostly due to the amount of vehicles transporting supplies by road across Europe. Although mostly attributed to a sudden change in weather at winter time, Travel Support saw a 40% increase in roadside rescues towards the end of 2021.

How the pandemic has impacted Travel Support’s services and operations

In the same interview with Simon Johansson he told us how although there was reduction in cases at the beginning of the pandemic, it drove the operations team to focus and think about how to improve processes.

Simon says that

“If anything, it has pushed us to improve our internal communications and workflows, for instance, during periods when we had staff working remotely. We’ve adapted to the changes caused by the pandemic, and, thanks to our agile way of working we’ve been able to support all types of travellers who needed to continue travelling abroad during the past couple of years. We’ve never reduced the services we offer”

As for services, Travel Support has seen many changes in the most requested services. Particularly in medical assistance. There has been a huge upswing in telemedicine over the last two years, requests for phone or video consultations increased significantly. Travel Support already had partners offering these services, so the company was happy that it could provide this across all markets, and at short notice.

Reading tip > The rise of telemedicine and its impact on the travel industry

Simon also noted,

“It's been extraordinary to see how incredibly resilient medical professionals have been and the fantastic job they’ve done to cope with the pandemic while still supporting us and our customers with medical help.”

Learn more about Travel Support

Travel Support works with over 3,500 service providers across Europe to ensure it assists travellers whenever they need it. Day, night, and also during a pandemic!

If you’d like to learn more about Travel Support’s services, don't hesitate to get in touch, we'd love to connect and support your clients.

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