Getting Ready for the New Normal of Post Covid-19 Travel

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If the Coronavirus doesn’t resurge this Fall, tourist destinations should count on a more welcome kind of resurgence – a significant increase in tourism.

According to a recent cnbc.com report on travel after the pandemic, “Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s reservations are up 38%, 40% and 23%, respectively, compared to the same time in 2019.” The New York Post is advising its readers to “book now if you’re planning to travel during the holidays.” It reports, “reservations for the winter holidays have soared, too — 40%”.

After being cooped inside for months, people are excited to get out and see the world again. The fact that they are actually booking shows just how eager they are to travel.

The reemergence of international tourism will be a huge boost to the global economy, but measures must be taken by those who deal with travel and tourism to prevent a second wave of the virus. This means governments will need to implement risk-minimizing and automated processes for tourists and those who come into contact with them.

Luckily, advanced technologies can help minimize physical contact between people; most international airports already have automated self-service eGate kiosks, where visitors can breeze through borders by placing their passport on the scanner and glancing at the camera.

Another aspect of travel where physical contact can be minimized is the VAT refund.  International travelers are entitled to tax-free shopping in 52 countries, but to get their money back, the process has traditionally involved close human-to-human interaction while dealing with paper forms and their complicated explanations. This occurs at the store where the goods are purchased, and again at the customs counter where they must present themselves with their receipts and goods. Long lines of tourists can quickly ensue.

Refundit is an app that allows travelers to submit their VAT refund claim AND be reimbursed digitally. For government officials, it allows efficient monitoring and control of the VAT refund approval process, while assuring the safety of employees and travelers. For tourists, the app vastly improves their travel experience, with no forms to fill in and no long lines at the airport customs counter.

Post-Covid travel predictions say that tourists will seek to avoid crowds and that tourism will be more dispersed throughout a country. Over 84% of rural, small and medium businesses are unable to offer VAT refunds to attract high-spending tourists. Refundit proposes to fix this problem by digitalizing and democratizing Tax-Free Shopping for retailers and tourists.

Smart technological solutions and creative government strategies are vital in ensuring the travel industry doesn’t just ‘bounce back’, but actually boom and spread the wealth, as people visit more geographical locations than ever before.