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The future of travel writing in the post-pandemic world

2020 has forced writers to experiment with new storytelling formats, focusing on staycations, sustainable tourism and diversity. Some of these changes are here to stay

With governments imposing lockdowns, planes grounded, and travel corridors continuously opening and closing like a revolving door, this year the travel writing industry has been paralysed by the pandemic.

Despite this, many writers have found innovative ways of continuing their work.

“Dream now, go later”

From reflective pieces on past trips to features on destinations that we can look forward to visiting after the pandemic, the world of travel writing has come up with new ways to tell stories.

Some travel writers experimented with more news-oriented articles that examined the impact of the pandemic on various areas of tourism. Or they have taken to interviewing travel industry experts and celebrities for more human-focused stories.

No need to cross borders

Just like we have all recreated our office routines on Zoom, travel writers had to quickly learn reporting on faraway destinations without leaving their homes.

Simon Parker, a travel writer, broadcaster and columnist with bylines in The Daily Telegraph and BBC World Service, cycled the length of Britain and documented his journey after all his international trips have been cancelled.

“There are still ways of writing about travel without having to cross lots of borders,” he says, adding that the pandemic has really encouraged a “national travel boom and it’s the same all over the world”.

It has meant that many travel writers are focusing more on UK staycations, rather than marvelling on the sunshine of distant islands. Features on tourist hotspots, such as the Lake District or the Cotswolds, are particularly sought after.

Sustainability and diversity

Will this new way of working have a lasting impact in the post-pandemic era or will we see a shift back to business as usual?

Once we are able to travel again, on-destination pieces will no doubt return. Tavel sections will be once again filled with features on international travel and we may see fewer human interest or news stories. But some of the positive changes are here to stay.

“I am hoping that the pandemic will encourage tourists as well as journalists or vloggers to travel in a more sustainable way both socially and environmentally,” says Alex Outhwaite, a travel TV presenter on travelxptv.

Lottie Gross, a travel writer for publications such as The Telegraph, The Times and the US-based Tripsavvy, is also optimistic about the future.

“I think on the other side of this pandemic lies a travel media that will be better than before, with more considered and diverse coverage.”

She added that travel writers may have a new audience to address.

“After a year of being unable to see friends and relatives, we might see an uplift in group travel or multigenerational holidays.”

The rise of remote working or “digital nomadism” for travel writers means that “there will be opportunities for journalists to explore that in their writing too.”

By: Alisa Anwar, first published on https://www.journalism.co.uk/ December 18, 2020