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Inaugural MSL Access event, #TourismTomorrow, gathers perspectives and trends from across industry

Industry experts from Google, Hotel Data Cloud, Global Village, VFS Global and Kandima Resort Maldives map out positive steps towards economic recovery for the tourism industry

PR agency MSL has launched MSL Access, a platform to encourage cross-industry dialogue around relevant and timely themes. MSL says the platform’s strength lies in “the petri dish of insights and exchanges from the panellists providing a comprehensive response to the topic under discussion”. Future sessions are pkanned to focus on key issues such as the economic impact of equality and technological drivers on various aspects of society, with bespoke sessions available for development upon request.

The inaugural Tourism Tomorrow  insights session, produced by MSLGroup Middle East and moderated by Nadege Noblet, founder of NANOU Destination and Hotel Marketing, brought together experts from across the travel industry. Inspired by the Boston Consulting Group and Google co-authored report, “Actions For Destination Marketers to Navigate in a Covid-19 World”, the objective was to gather perspectives and trends that may point the way to a more optimistic travel and tourism sector, one of the driving forces of the UAE and wider global economy. The report unearthed thoughts on what the 2021 recovery might look like and guided Destination Marketers through a “5 R Approach”: Reassess, Reassure, Raise awareness, Remove barriers and Revive spending in the local economy.

Key #TourismTomorrow insights from the session included:


  • PPP (Public-Private Partnerships) must drive the recovery – an alignment on everything from pre-departure testing and a systematic approach from governments and private entities.
    • Public-Private Partnerships where industry and government collaborate
    • Countries should agree on basic expectations to facilitate international travel
    • Domestic regulations should be understandable and feasible
  • Governments working together with governments and the rest of the ecosystem to develop one clear global regime to facilitate tourism uplift.


  • IATA recently revised 2021 projections to 46% revenue losses for the airline industry.
  • WTTC announced 100 Million jobs recovery plan as the travel sector is one of the worst impacted.
  • Importance of collaboration through the industry chain – airlines communicating with resorts and destinations. Maldives resorts, for example, formed a cooperative group to support each other across the ecosystem.
  • Timeline for recovery will be impacted by vaccine tests being approved and the speed of results coming through.
  • Novel ways of testing and getting results quickly will impact confidence and increase people considering to travel.


  • Exotic and remote locations need a different approach – “welcoming in and waving off” guests are very different experiences.
  • Resort-owned testing facilities to reduce cost from holidaymakers and remove reliance on governments to encourage free-flowing safe travel in such luxury bubbles.
  • A reassessment of the most important values for both brand and customer, reflected with agility and purpose, will speed up recovery.
  • Destination weddings on the rise – more manageable and controllable overall.


  • Consumer behaviour as a crucial driver of supply and demand, and with markets reopening at varying speeds, DMOs must stay ahead in order to regain market share when the opportunity arises – know your customer better through increased digitalization of their brand experience.
  • Health, safety and wellbeing are now essential topics in the immediate customer conversation and continue to be necessary while trust is being rebuilt.
  • How has the traveller mindset changed and how do brands reach them to rebuild that trust? Bucket lists have moved and how brand experiences can become part of that.
  • Reduced pollution during 2020 is likely to be immediately reversed once travel becomes more accessible, with environmental issues likely to be glossed over in a rush to feed the travel bug once more.
  • 65% of people planning to travel in 6 months, half in next 3 months.
  • Business travel may never recover but will retain status symbol.
  • Shaking hands and face to face meetings will never lose their appeal, though efficiencies are likely. Why travel twenty minutes for a meeting that can be done over video call?
  • Business travel, with everyone glued to webinars, will potentially be penalized in the short term, taxed to compensate for overall reduced numbers. We can expect to see new cross-selling opportunities and co-branding in order to reduce costs.
  • The social bubble has extended to travel – smaller groups of travellers from immediate surroundings, even without the children.
  • “More than just Instagrammable” – unscripted moments to cherish, authentic experiences, are still sought after as human beings.


  • “Netflixification” of travel powered by data, based on a machine learning and AI-powered recommendation engine.
  • Technology, including machine learning and artificial intelligence, and the digital transformation of both operations and communications will drive optimization.
  • Technological uptake and digital transformation become a necessity rather than the initial opportunity most tech vendors were driving pre-Covid. Digital transformation as a multi-year process will outlast Covid-19 – technology partners will continue to be crucial to ongoing development.
  • Technology should not be allowed to overpower customer experience and authenticity.

Reports referenced during the session:

Actions for Destination Marketers to Navigate in a COVID-19 World – Boston Consulting Group and Google

2020 Summer Travel Report – Expedia

Insights from the following experts:

Hotel Data Cloud – Gregor Amon, Founder and Managing Partner

VFS Global – Peter Brun, Chief Communications Officer

Kandima Resort – Neeraj Seth, Director of Marketing Communication and Public Relations

Global Village – Jaki Ellenby, Executive Director

Google – Elie Tabchouri, Head of Public Policy and Telco

#TourismTomorrow was moderated by: NANOU Destination & Hotel Marketing: Nadège Noblet, Founder and Managing Director