A Bookazine Edition by
AFTER THE PANDEMIC THE NEW FRONTIER OF TRAVEL AND HOSPITALITY VOL V | NOVEMBER 2020
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4 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
A Global Affairs Media Network
AFTER THE PANDEMIC THE NEW FRONTIER OF TRAVEL AND HOSPITALITY VOL V | NOVEMBER 2020
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF ANA C. ROLD MANAGING EDITOR SHANE SZARKOWSKI ASSOCIATE EDITORS ADAM RATZLAFF MERCEDES YANORA CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS JUDIT ARENAS WALLERAND BOULNOIS ROSSELLA CARRARA DIEGO GARCIA CARVAJAL MARK A. CASSO JOHN CLAYBROOKS MARGERY KRAUS CODY LEBLANC DANIELLA LEBOR JASON MEYER NICOLE MONGE ADRIEN MOUCHET CAROLINE ROWE VALERIA RUBELLO KELLY STEPNO ZOLAIKHA STRONG RISHI TALWALKER RICHARD VANORNUM STEPHANIE WATIES KAT WAWNER PUBLISHER DIPLOMATIC COURIER | MEDAURAS GLOBAL WASHINGTON, DC DIPLOMATIC COURIER | 5
A NOTE BY THE EDITORS ...........................................................................................................................08
RESILIENCE THROUGH UNITY: THE NEW FRONTIER OF TRAVEL AND HOSPITALITY | MARGERY KRAUS.............................................................................................................11
A REVOLUTION NOT OF OUR CHOOSING: DIGITIZING TRAVEL AND TOURISM | JUDIT ARENAS & NICOLE MONGE..........................................................................................................14 EMBRACING LONG-TERM RESILIENCE CAN HELP THE TRAVEL AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRIES SURVIVE | KELLY STEPNO, KAT WAWNER, & STEPHANIE WATIES.......................................................................................................................................18 TRAVEL REIMAGINED: HOW COVID-19 CHANGED THE FACE OF THE FUTURE OF TRAVEL | CAROLINE ROWE & RISHI TALWALKER.................................................................22 LOGISTICS DRIVES OUR ECONOMY AS COVID-19 HIGHLIGHTS THE NEED FOR MORE RESILIENCE | JOHN CLAYBROOKS.............................................................................26 ROADS, BRIDGES, AND PORTS: REVITALIZING TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE TO BOLSTER ECONOMIC RECOVERY POST-COVID-19 | MARK A. CASSO.....................30 EQUITABLE MOBILITY: THE ESSENTIAL (AND MISSING) ELEMENT OF PRODUCTIVE URBANIZATION | JASON MEYER.............................................................................34 COURAGE AND VISION: THE KEY ATTRIBUTES OF THE CRUISE INDUSTRY’S RESILIENCE | ROSSELLA CARRARA & VALERIA RUBELLO....................................................38 CHANGING TRANSPORTATION PSYCHOLOGY: COULD COVID-19 SAVE CAR OWNERSHIP? | RICHARD VANORNUM.................................................................................................42 DIGITAL ETHNOGRAPHIES: WHAT ONLINE DISCOURSE IN ST IVES REVEALS ABOUT TOURISM RESILIENCY | DANIELLA LEBOR......................................................................46 LONG-TERM RESILIENCY REQUIRES SOLIDARITY HOW THE PROVENCEALPES-CÔTE D’AZUR MODEL SHOWS THE WAY FORWARD FOR REGIONAL TOURISM | CODY LEBLANC.......................................................................................................................52 ELECTRIC VEHICLES: DRIVING DECARBONIZATION AND POST-PANDEMIC JOB RECOVERY | ZOLAIKHA STRONG & DIEGO GARCIA CARVAJAL..............................56 MICROMOBILITY IS NOT AN OPPORTUNITY ANYMORE, IT IS A NECESSITY | ADRIEN MOUCHET.........................................................................................................................................60 MOBILITY DATA IS FUEL FOR RECOVERY | WALLERAND BOULNOIS............................................................................................................................64 DIPLOMATIC COURIER | 7
WELCOME A NOTE BY THE EDITORS
iplomatic Courier has been publishing its Chronicling COVID-19 series since May. Over this time, we have been fortunate to work with some knowledgeable writers and great partner organizations across a variety of sectors. This has allowed us to explore the impacts and implications of the pandemic for a diverse array of social groupings and industries, spanning the entire globe. In our fifth and final (for now) volume, we are pleased to partner with APCO Worldwide to explore what COVID-19 has meant to the travel and tourism industryâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and how that industry is changing to become more resilient and stronger. Producing this series has at times been a trying adventure for the Diplomatic Courier team. This is a difficult and confusing time for all of us, but it has felt important and rewarding to bring exposition 8 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
of the impacts of the pandemic that goes beyond headlines, politics, infection counts, and deaths. The social and economic impacts of COVID-19 are far reaching and we are seeing radical transformation in response to these challenges in nearly every sector. We have been incredibly privileged to work with great partner organizations to bring this series to you. We are especially grateful to close out the series on a strong note with APCO, exploring industries that has been rocked to their very core by the pandemic. Throughout the production of this volume, we have been struck by the innovations undertaken to survive this trying time. Most striking is how these innovations are poised not only to help travel and tourism endure, but catapult into the future a stronger sector, which will serve customers safely and efficiently. In this edition, experts from APCO Worldwide and their network take on an array of questions. COVID-19 itself is a daunting challenge, but so are the variety of national policy responses and the need to allay customer anxieties about travel and conditions at destinations. These experts explore technological approachesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;how does industry use digital technology to make things saferâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and also query what kind of policies governments can take on to encourage safe travel. This is particularly critical when we consider how many national economies rely on tourism for a significant chunk of their GDP. The good news amid all of this is that destinations around the world have found ways not only to make travel safe, but to address concerns of travelers who rightly want to safeguard their health as they venture back out into the world. Our experts emphasize the need for industry to turn to stakeholders to better understand their wants and needs while also considering both the opportunities and challenges around adopting digital technologies and big data to empower change. While the challenges are almost overwhelming, the industry is responding admirably. This is critical, as seamless travel is necessary not only for our global economic well-being but also for ensuring we remain a global community at a time when world-spanning challenges are proliferating. Diplomatic Courier is incredibly grateful to APCO Worldwide and all our other partners throughout the series. We are also grateful to you, our readers, for sticking with us. We hope you enjoy this final edition as much as we enjoyed bringing it to you. Please stay as safe and happy as you can as 2020 comes to a close.
The Editors Washington, DC November 2020 DIPLOMATIC COURIER | 9
FOREWORD RESILIENCE THROUGH UNITY: THE NEW FRONTIER OF TRAVEL AND HOSPITALITY BY MARGERY KRAUS
ravel is the lifeblood of a vibrant civilization. The exploration of new cultures, customs, cuisines, and ecosystems brings about the exchange of ideas as well as helping us develop mutual respect and growth—as individuals and as communities. Traveling celebrates the striking wonders of our differences, while reminding us of our shared heritage and similarities as humans—always staying curious and exploring. Travel is a linchpin of modern society, empowering international relations, global commerce, and diplomacy. Furthermore travel —be it for leisure or business purposes—is an essential economic industry in and of itself. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, travel and tourism in 2019 contributed $8.9 trillion to the world’s GDP, or 10.3% of global GDP. Travel and tourism also provided 330 million jobs—or 1 in 10 jobs—around the world. Travel and tourism sectors continued to grow in 2019, according to the WTTC, “reinforcing its role as a driver of economic growth and job creation.” Lockdown procedures implemented around the world to fight COVID-19 have restricted global and domestic travel, impacting every sector, especially the travel and hospitality sectors. According to U.S. Travel Association, among those who traveled by commercial airline in the summer of 2020, just more than half (53%) said they felt unsafe traveling amid COVID-19. A recent McKinsey study concluded that travel will return, but that the rate of recovery will vary by industries—“business and leisure travel will return at different paces, as will domestic and international travel. What’s certain is that the next normal will be marked by structural shifts, especially around customer expectations for hygiene and flexibility.” DIPLOMATIC COURIER | 11
Listen and Innovate To stay agile and adapt to these changing expectations around travel and hospitality, governments and companies must first listen to their stakeholders. Start by identifying what these stakeholders are asking for, then look for opportunities to leverage and places to grow—together. Two articles featured in this bookazine do just that by exploring how two popular seaside destinations in the UK and France adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic and sharing what online discourse reveals about tourism resiliency. Research suggests that to establish long-term resilience, it is critical to normalize safety rules, create more engaging and creative communication, fund and promote public-private partnerships, and think outside the box by taking chances on innovative initiatives. The structural shifts caused by the global pandemic can act as a prompt for the travel and hospitality sectors to really listen to stakeholders and more quickly address preexisting, interconnected concerns impacting the sectors, particularly environmental consciousness and sustainability. COVID-19 has affected not only where people travel, but how people travel—locally, domestically, and internationally. This changing psychology has revitalized certain aspects of traveling—such as personal car ownership—and is opening opportunities for other relatively new industries—such as micromobility and electronic vehicles. The rising interest in personal modes of transportation introduces renewed opportunities for government and companies to research and develop innovative, sustainable, and hygienic solutions for the future. These same solutions can also help the ongoing revolution in how goods are transported—across seas, continents, or just to the other side of town. With fewer people venturing outside of their homes, there is an escalating consumer demand for greener, faster, smarter, and safer delivery of goods with minimal personal contact. Automated freight transportation technology may become the norm and redefine how companies and governments maintain healthy global commerce in an age plagued by a pandemic and catastrophic effects of global warming. Great Innovations, Great Risks All this is not to say that the solutions won’t have their own challenges; with great innovations come great risks. For example, the increasing need for smart solutions also mean there is an increasing need for access to and use of personal data. Con12 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
tact tracing, for one, is an essential tool in fighting the spread of COVID-19, but it also requires tracking of activities and locations traveled by individuals. Although technological solutions exist to implement contact tracing procedures—and some countries around the world have already deployed such measures—privacy and security concerns may limit mass global adoption. 2020 truly feels like a new frontier, shrouded with dangers and uncertainties around every corner. But, to stay resilient through the pandemic and come back stronger, one thing is clear: we must do it together. We must consider how the pandemic has impacted all of us. It has uncovered systemic fractures that have disrupted peoples’ daily lives across the globe, and we must approach building inclusive and forward-looking solutions together. This starts by listening—to all stakeholders—and working together, bridging differences for the sake of mutual progress and advancement. The COVID-19 pandemic knows no borders or differences between people—neither should the solutions. Resilience comes from unity and together, as a global community, we will defeat the global pandemic. I hope you enjoy reading the bookazine. ***** About the author: Margery Kraus is founder and executive chairman of APCO Worldwide, a global advisory and advocacy communications consultancy headquartered in Washington, DC. Ms. Kraus founded APCO in 1984 and transformed it from a company with one small Washington office to a multinational consulting firm in major cities throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
DIPLOMATIC COURIER | 13
A REVOLUTION NOT OF OUR CHOOSING: DIGITIZING TRAVEL AND TOURISM BY JUDIT ARENAS AND NICOLE MONGE
isiting cultural landmarks, tasting local cuisine, lounging on a virgin beach, meeting friends in far off destinations, just getting on a plane whether for business travel or to fly to an idyllic destinationâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;things that we took for granted at the beginning of 2020 have turned into dreams and fond memories of the past. But in this global pause, one where borders are closed and restrictions are in place, there is opportunity to emerge in a post-pandemic world more safely, efficiently and with better evidence-based decisions. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world in every aspect. While public health measures have triggered an unprecedented use of technology and solutions to connectivity and heightened our global appreciation of the value of interconnectivity, the pandemic has also had an unprecedented impact on travel and tourism. Restrictions on a global, national, and local level in April and May brought travel to a screeching halt. 14 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
This goes beyond the occasional vacation or business trip; the entire industry is crippled. Airlines are filing for bankruptcy, countries are seeing significant job loss and economic setbacks, and cruise lines are rendered optionless. In a time where there is unprecedented use of technology on a global scale and the industries thriving are ones that adapted to the digital revolution long ago, the opportunity to change the way the travel industry is there and it’s been accelerated by the pandemic. Public health measures and lockdown restrictions on a global, national, and local level brought the travel and tourism industries to a screeching halt. They also spurred a revolution in how we use technology to meet connectivity challenges which led to a heightened global appreciation the value of interconnectivity and what it means for the way we interact with one another. The travel and tourism industry have an opportunity to seize this moment and meet the rallying cry heard around the world, for better technology solutions to create a more equal, efficient and safer travel experience for all. Failure to seize this revolution would only create further disparity at the global, national and local levels in terms of access and safety that would continue to create divide. This would devastate the industry that is reliant on a complete ecosystem to create experiences that keep travelers moving and ultimately infusing the economy. The situation is dire. According to UN World Tourism Organization, between 100 and 120 million tourism jobs are at risk, with the economic damage likely to exceed $1 trillion in 2020 alone. The significant drop in international travel demand from January-June of 2020 translates into a $460 billion revenue loss for international tourism. This is roughly five times the record losses suffered by the industry in 2009 during the global financial crisis. The pandemic has also been a great equalizer, with everyone being forced into isolation alone or with their families and severe restrictions on international travel. With travel largely grounded, travel and tourism industry professionals have been forced to assess where, how, and why they are going to invest as they look toward a “new normal.” Some things aren’t changing that much. According to a Skift survey close to 80% of travel and hospitality leader respondents said that, even in light of COVID-19, it was much more important or somewhat more important that they proceed with their digital transformation plans today. For many, technology is often the first step in their travel experience. Even before booking a ticket, search engines and social media play a key role in determining a destination. And as destinations face tougher competition, innovation, fast implementation and smart use of data will determine the winners. DIPLOMATIC COURIER | 15
With tourism making up between 30% and 80% of exports for some of the poorest countries of the world , digital transformation is an imperative rather than an option, the only question is how quickly it will take place. Destinations and countries that rely on tourism for capital infusion are being forced—at a much faster rate than other destinations—to become what is known as smart destinations. These smart destinations feature strategies for technology, innovation, sustainability, accessibility, and inclusivity for the whole tourism cycle: before, during, and after. The concept of smart destination is also defined as one with residents and tourists interests at its core, considering aspects like multilingualism and seasonality. This allows the economy to flourish, it creates opportunities to better understand what influences a traveler, and it gives local businesses the weight they need to effectively contribute to the countries’ economic development. In Mexico, the push for digital transformation has been expedited by the pandemic. Visit Mexico had a pre-COVID-19 vision of making tourism in the country 100% data driven by creating a digital ecosystem where all tourism sector companies big and small could utilize technology to increase their competitiveness, enhance traveler experiences, and leverage data to make informed and more efficient decisions. The new Director General for Visit Mexico charted an ambitious vision for digital transformation in 2019 as a way of keeping the country’s tourism on the cutting edge. A year later, a drive to keep travelers and tourism workers alike safe, precipitated a forced digital transformation. The Mexican example gives us an idea of what a holistic digital approach could look like. Reacting to the closure of offices, there is now an active program to support travel agents in their digital transition. A partnership with Google My Business provides even the smallest mom and pop business with an online presence, allowing newly health-conscious tourists to be purposeful in planning their activities and reduce in-person contact. More ambitious is moving beyond using digital tools to understand what tourists feel about Mexico, to how they act, including using advanced technology to gather and use data about what happens when a tourist walks out of the airport and how they spend their money. The virtual travel fair Tianguis Turístico Digital Mexico 2020 is a positive indicator that taking business online is possible with its record of 27,539 business meetings over the space of two days. Another example of a popular destination with an opportunity to transform itself post pandemic lock-down measures is Hawaii. With over 20% of the state economy reliant on tourism, Hawaii was hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions and saw significant increases in unemployment as a result. But concerns around overtourism and visitors overstaying their welcome in the paradisiac islands existed before the pandemic as eco-systems buckled under the volume of visitors 16 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
which hit a record-breaking 10.4 million in 2019. Smart destination technology would allow Hawaii to account for fluctuating travel seasons, adapt to emerging technologies, and expedite antiquated processes such as manual ticket delivery. This technology adaption will be critical as people travel in new ways people will travel during and after COVID-19 restrictions ease to ensure travelers and residents are as safe and healthy as possible. For Hawaii, that means adopting proper screening technology since most visitors arrive by air. If travelers already expected real-time updates with ease and flexibility to make their investment to travel somewhere worthwhile, this has been heightened by the pandemic. Expectations about technology have been heightened as safety measures increase expectations of online presence and information, as well as contactless procedures. Ensuring access to technology—especially for the small and medium business owners that make up the bulk of the travel sector—will be make or break for the future of the tourism and travel sectors. The use of technology and the consistent infusion of intelligencebased services has the opportunity to create a more inclusive, efficient and socially, economically and environmentally sustainable tourism industry. As millions of families rely on tourism, the destinations and their tourism boards that most effectively infuse digitalreadiness into their processes—and do away with old practices that no-longer serve them—will be most poised to thrive. But, the question remains, will all destinations be able to infuse the technological updates at the same rate and with the same level of consistency? Or will the mass movement towards data create further economic disparities among countries with less resources to invest? **** About the authors: Judit Arenas is a senior director and senior adviser to the Founder and Chair of APCO Worldwide. An avid traveler, she advises business, non-profit, multilateral and government leaders on strategy, strategic communications and market entry and positioning. Nicole Monge is a senior associate director in APCO’s Washington office. She has worked with a wide range of clients in the consumer-technology, travel and health care industries, and specializes in a hybrid approach to digital and traditional communications, including earned, owned and paid media strategy across a variety of social and digital platforms.
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EMBRACING LONG-TERM RESILIENCE CAN HELP THE TRAVEL AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRIES SURVIVE BY KELLY STEPNO, KAT WAWNER, AND STEPHANIE WATIES
post-pandemic comeback for the travel, transit, and hospitality segment is among the most anticipated, but these industries have also been among the hardest hit by COVID-19. From global chains to regional hubs— especially smaller, independently owned operations— what was expected to be a temporary pause on life has given way to a larger pause on these businesses and their economic gains, often threatening their ability to continue operating. 18 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
We can expect to live in a constant state of disruption for the foreseeable future. Industries must respond with radical introspection that leads to big shifts in how they operate. Businesses will be forced to innovate and operate with agility. Personal and business travel will be the catalyst for both transportation and hospitality to thrive once again. When individuals and companies feel confident enough to safely travel and meet in person, the broader industry will start to reap the consequential gains as we start to resume some semblance of a normal life. Preparation for this future success must start now. At APCO, we have talked a lot about what the transit industry should be doing now to start building resilience, the most obvious being how to raise the bar on health and safety standards. Airlines were the first to really trail blaze these new protocols out of necessity, even in the beginning. Two of the three of us were travelling overseas when America began locking down, and the additional precautions that airlines instituted were as immediate as the scent of rubbing alcohol that permeated the flight deck. These standards set the bar for hotels, restaurants, and trails across the United States and internationally. Sustaining Resilience in the Long Term These measures boosted resilience, but how can this sense of resilience be sustained in the long-term? There are several efforts underway across travel, transportation, and hospitality to do just that. Efforts include a ride sharing mask verification program, certifications for hotels to showcase they are following the most up-to-date COVID-19 cleaning guidelines, and several accreditation programs for event venues and airlines related to infection prevention. These are not short-term fixes; they are long-term investments. What else need to be done? To some degree, it is about making people aware of these efforts. Next steps must also demonstrate the effectiveness of these programs in making activities like ride shares, hotel stays, flying, taking trains, and participating in in-person meetings safe. Each of us has done many of these activities in the last few months to varying degrees and we are happy to report that we have felt safe in doing so. We are not the only ones. APCO Worldwide has been working closely with several organizations in these industriesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;including the U.S. Travel Associationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Meetings Mean Business Coalitionâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;being deeply involved DIPLOMATIC COURIER | 19
in conversations about sustaining resilience. These conversations revolve around several points. • It is not enough to focus on one or two links in the chain— until and even after there’s a vaccine, there must be an emphasis on keeping every touchpoint for travelers safe and secure. That means new airport safety protocols, new air travel safety processes, new technologies being used to protect travelers’ health, new modern meeting processes, new event layouts and design, new hotel cleanliness protocols, and new expectations for travelers. It also means knowledge sharing across industries, and in some ways, even with competitors. A new model of rivalry partnerships is bringing together competitors and strange bedfellows to solve problems. • The industry has always prioritized cleaning and sanitation behind the scenes. The difference now is that travelers want to see it. Frontline service organizations providing essential travel, transit, and hospitality services must oblige and show—not tell—what steps they are taking. For example, cleaning that was once done in the middle of the night is now being done and documented throughout the day. • Effective and targeted communications will be key. Industry leaders want us to be prepared for a safe journey, and they are saying that doing so requires stakeholders all provide information that updates and empowers the consumer. Everyone plays a role, including consumers. As new stakeholders enter, and some longstanding powerbrokers are no longer in the mix, stakeholder capitalism is increasingly taking hold. The travel, transit, and hospitality industries must engage with new people and powerbrokers to achieve for sustained success. • There is no longer any question of how and when things will go back to “normal.” The world has fundamentally changed and it is important that those organizations shaping the future of travel, transit, and hospitality lean into these changes and attendant opportunities for growth, innovation, and evolution. To come back stronger, the focus cannot be on survival alone. Too much has been lost, gained, and learned to settle for anything short of progress. Organizations that will thrive in our new reality are those that are nimble, find new ways to engage with their customers, communicate widely about the changes they have made, stay ahead of the changing environment, and effectively work with other organizations—including their competitors—to come back stronger. ***** 20 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
About the authors: Kelly Stepno, senior director and APCO Worldwide’s North America crisis practice lead, is an attorney with almost 20 years of consulting experience. Katherine Wawner, a brand strategy and marketing expert, is a director in APCO Worldwide’s Washington office and leads some of the company’s largest corporate reputation and advertising campaigns. Stephanie Waties is a director in APCO Worldwide’s Washington, DC, headquarters, working with Fortune 500 companies, trade associations and coalitions to address issues at the intersection of corporate reputation and public affairs.
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TRAVEL REIMAGINED: HOW COVID-19 CHANGED THE FACE OF THE FUTURE OF TRAVEL BY CAROLINE ROWE AND RISHI TALWALKER
he COVID-19 pandemic has had a universal impact of crippling economies and spreading an all-pervading sense of cabin fever. As the world grapples with the possibility of a second wave, possible return of lockdowns, and an uncertain future, the one certain reality is the effect that this pandemic has had on the travel and hospitality sectors. Never before have these industries so deeply dealt with the issue of a failing operational infrastructure, compounded by the rapidly depleting workforce. Whether these industries emerge as the proverbial phoenix from the ashes or shrink in size to become much smaller remains to be seen. Unimaginable trends are emerging during this â&#x20AC;&#x153;new normal.â&#x20AC;? These trends have created room for previously reluctant sectors to evolve. Here are some examples. 22 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
Flights to nowhere: the new trends shaping the recovery of the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the travel industry with an unprecedented and unpredictable calamity. Losses to the industry worldwide could total USD $3.3 trillion according to the UN. It also estimates job losses at more than 100 million. As 27 airlines have filed for bankruptcy, and hotels and restaurants across the world have been forced to permanently shut their doors, it is a truism that the industry has changed forever. There are, however, ways to learn from recent triumphs and failures to better predict how the travel industry will change, adapt, survive, and ultimately thrive. Airlines have been taking to the skies in recent months to offer the excitement of flying, on flights to nowhere. Qantas launched a seven-hour sightseeing tour, including the perfect view of Bondi Beach and Uluru. It was the fastest ever selling Qantas flight. Other airlines focused on the experience of flying—All Nippon Airways launched a “Hawaiian-themed” flight and EVA Air in Taiwan offered a one and a half-hour trip on a Hello Kitty-themed A330 Dream Jet. Meanwhile residents from the South Coast of England have continued the cruising lifestyle without ever boarding a ship. With many of the major lines using the calm waters of the English Channel as a safe harbor, local ferry operators have started giving tours of the moored boats, complete with historical commentary. These examples affirm that the desire to travel is going to morph and adapt, but certainly not disappear. Going away while staying at home. A sense of escape from reality always meant getting away from familiar shores. The exhilaration associated with exploring new countries, immersing oneself in new cultures, and gaining new experiences started with the anticipation of travel and planning. With countries closing borders indefinitely and large source markets around the world still coping with the effects of the pandemic, the rise of domestic escapes and staycations seems to be in fashion. Tourism departments around the world have adapted to leverage domestic travel during the pandemic. Historical UNWTO data indicated that in 2018 around nine billion domestic tourism trips were made worldwide, accounting for nearly 90% of all trips made globally in 2018. Lithuania’s experiences have lessons for tourism departments looking to revisit their strategy for reviving the local hospitality sector. DIPLOMATIC COURIER | 23
The Baltic state made deliberate efforts to focus on its domestic traveller in 2014-2015 and has continued to reap the benefits of its investments. This domestic tourism strategy—which was remarkably simple and ahead of the curve—has paid off in the long run, with Lithuania’s tourism sector relatively unaffected, being geared to cater to the domestic traveler. Tourism boards from across the world, from Japan to Saudi Arabia and Ras Al Khaimah to Kerala have made concerted efforts to encourage domestic tourists to experience luxe staycations. This much neglected sector will finally be recognized, with travellers forced to “look within” before they are ready, or allowed, to jump on international flights. The digitization of an industry. Tourism destinations are modifying their approach by using digital technology to bring a place to life in the mind of someone who has never been there. The key here is to form an emotional connection in the mind of the would-be tourist. Some stunning advertising campaigns emerged during lockdown, taking advantage of the huge increase in screen time and the feeling of wanting to escape. Some of the most evocative campaigns were Greece’s “Greek summer is a state of mind;” Mexico’s “Love you soon;” and Egypt’s “Same Great Feelings.” Each sought to use evocative imagery, poetic wording, and emotive music to stir an emotional response and plant the idea of a dream holiday. Other destinations and attractions went a step further, allowing the armchair tourist a chance to really explore the destination in depth. Al Ula in Saudi Arabia offered VR tours of famed historical sites, the British Museum put together an extraordinarily detailed interactive online exploration of its collection, and both Monterey Bay Aquarium in California and Chester Zoo in the UK set up live cams from their animal habitats. By fast-forwarding these virtual experiences and digital offerings, destinations have had a chance to get closer to their audience than ever before. When restrictions ease and life returns to normal, these attractions and locations will have a head start. A new view of MICE. With COVID-19 upending large conferences, the conference industry—which is dependent on business travelers making frequent trips while using their loyalty points and miles to win coveted upgrades— must rethink its dependency on rewards. Once again, reevaluating the efficacy of travel bubbles (many of which burst prematurely over COVID fears) and focusing on scaling
down mega events could be a priority. Adapting to support virtual meetings is an opportunity for many operators capable of hosting simultaneous meetings in multiple locations via satellites. Industry leaders will differ from their peers if they adapt and invest in new technology-driven solutions. More mindful travel. Barefoot luxury is a trend that was on the rise before COVID-19 and will likely prove to be the most resilient of all travel phenomena. Travelers that subscribe to barefoot luxury seek authentic experiences in relatively unexplored destinations. This form of travel is steeped in the philosophy of exploring the local ecosystem—relying on the community to provide essential components of the experience— from food and produce to culture, heritage, and leisure activities. Destinations like the Nabatean ruins of Al Ula in Saudi Arabia, the trekking trails of Nepal, and the beaches of Kaplankaya in Bodrum, Turkey might emerge as “alternatives” to mainstream holidays known for attracting millions of global visitors. The Last Word. Travel and tourism are as ancient as civilization. People travelled for trade and grew to travel for pleasure. While these times might lead to a return to the basics, the sector has stood the test of time. It feeds off of the innate curiosity that makes humans different from every other species. It is a symbol of our evolution and has endured much worse—from famines, to wars, and other pandemics. The current moment may have paused plans, but we will adapt and get back to the road less travelled. Meanwhile, dreamers and travelers everywhere, take comfort in the fact that the world misses you as much as you miss being out and about. ***** About the authors: Caroline Rowe has spent close to 18 years in and around the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries. Rishi Talwalker is a Director of Strategic Communications at APCO Worldwide in Dubai.
DIPLOMATIC COURIER | 25
LOGISTICS DRIVES OUR ECONOMY AS COVID-19 HIGHLIGHTS THE NEED FOR MORE RESILIENCE BY JOHN CLAYBROOKS
ike many industries, the transportation and infrastructure sector have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike many other sectors, transportation and infrastructure have not shut down in the wake of the pandemic. Rather, transportation logistics companies have had to rise to the occasion to keep goods moving, grocery stores stocked, and essential supplies in the hands of those who need it the most. By quickly adapting their business practices and increasing safety standards, transportation and logistics companies continue to drive the economy. End consumers may not realize how these companies impact their day-to-day livesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;over 70% of goods consumed in the U.S. end up on a truck at some point before arriving at their destination. Overall, the impacts of COVID-19 will fundamentally change the industry, accelerating innovation by using the pandemic as an opportunity to address some of the industryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most pressing needs. 26 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
Meeting expectations for shifting consumer behavior and trends. With consumers spending more time at home, they have changed their spending behavior, turning increasingly to online purchases. While there was a rise in e-commerce before the pandemic, COVID-19 has only accelerated it. With the economy under significant pressure, retail sales are down while online sales are shooting up. Not only has consumer behavior changed, but there has been a shift in consumer expectations as well. Internal market research conducted by Schneider has indicated that shippers are overwhelmingly feeling the “Amazon effect”, or the expectation for faster delivery. Consumers are applying pressure on shippers to reduce lead times, and shippers are looking for ways to reduce the number of days between when the order is placed and its arrival. As an industry that continues to operate during any crisis or disaster, transportation and logistics companies work to keep freight moving by creating supply chains that are resilient, agile, optimized, and future-ready. Disruption is a buzzword in the marketplace, but there is a constant necessity to embrace it to stay on top of the ever-changing landscape and plan for shifting behaviors and trends in the next decade. This will allow establishing next-gen technology capabilities to ultimately improve the experience of customers, drivers, carriers, and end consumers. Amidst uncertainty due to resurgent COVID-19 infections, volatile markets, and supply chain disruptions, the industry is doubling down on long-term investments in data-driven decision science models to better manage freight logistics. By utilizing this framework, Schneider embeds advanced analytics throughout the freight processes and systems; enabling predictive, prescriptive and preventive decision recommendations. By leaning into this type of data-science technology, the industry is evolving in real-time and keeps pushing the economy forward. Making a bigger push to go green. Many in the industry are using the pandemic as an opportunity to renew their commitment to efficiency and sustainability, making a bigger push to go green. Companies are facing mounting pressure from regulators, investors and customers to act now. The keys to success will be to strengthen ESG strategies, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve fuel efficiency, and change global operational policies to reduce carbon footprints while creating tangible value and longterm profitability. Based on a recent study by the World Economic Forum, 70% of transport companies do not disclose—or only partially disclose—their DIPLOMATIC COURIER | 27
emissions and only 23% have set emissions targets. Of those setting targets, less than half have reduced CO2 emissions versus last year. Such goals are typically considered too low by climate change experts to have a meaningful impact over the next 30 years. Drawing on a depth of experience and expertise—as well as over four decades of working toward more environmental sustainability—Schneider has identified the following best practices for the transport and infrastructure industry: • Investing in sustainable equipment and technology such as EPA-compliant engines, terrain-mapping predictive technologies, adaptive cruise control, road speed limiters and automatic tire inflation systems. • Training and engaging drivers in sustainability initiatives early and often. Offering simulation-based driver training programs to show drivers they are the primary managers of truck energy efficiencies and incenting drivers on fuel management. • Shifting to multimodalism. Intermodal transport uses a combination of truck and rail is on average two times more energy-efficient than over-the-road transport. Multi-modal providers deliver maximum energy efficiencies: the more diverse the modes, the greener the supply chain. • Choosing the right partners. Working with the most energyefficient railroads and third-party carriers can help exceed energy-efficiency standards. • Using alternative fuels wisely. Support renewable fuels that are competitively priced and do not impact truck performance, durability or the ability to meet near-zero emissions standards set by the EPA. • Collaborating with customers, suppliers, associates and environmental groups. Shared investment and accountability will lead to greater energy efficiency. Addressing the labor shortage The transportation industry, especially trucking, continues to face a labor shortage that has been amplified by the pandemic. This shortage contributes to delivery delays and higher prices at the store as companies pass on the higher costs to consumers. Driver retirements, career changes, and the pandemic’s effects on drivers’ licensing bureaus and training schools amplify the labor shortage. Studies show that the transportation industry offers viable and respectable 28 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
career opportunities for millions of workers, including those without a college degree, and extensive on-the-job training. The roles also continue to be incredibly diverseâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;more than the industry is given credit for. Amidst staggering unemployment and a pandemicinduced economic recession, the transportation and logistics industries are among the few that are stable or growing. The pandemic has made clear how critical workers in the transportation and infrastructure sector are to the economy. But potential new workers may be considering health, safety, and social impact in new ways when considering whether or not to take employment in the sector. Traditional motivators, such as salary, benefits and location are only part of the equation and other generational factorsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;job security, sustainability, learning and development, and safetyâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;must also be considered. In the post-COVID-19 era, physical locations will hold less importance while safety will arguably be the most critical factor. The industry and policymakers will need to meet workers where they are, altering recruiting and training practices to build a future-ready workforce. Some companies are shifting to virtual training methods to ensure worker safety. This is also an opportunity and an obligation to ensure that a diverse workforce is in place to drive critical solutions of the future for nextgen mobility. The industry is not leaving talent on the sidelines but cannot overlook the need to be creative to attract a robust pool of qualified candidates. A diverse employee base leads to better ideas and stronger results, driving increased value for customers, partners and consumers. Overall, the pandemic presents a unique opportunity for the transportation and logistics industry to make a concentrated push to build resiliency and meet consumer demands by embracing datadriven-dynamic decision science, accelerating sustainability efforts and building a future-ready workforce. ***** About the author: John Claybrooks is the vice president of marketing for Schneider, a premier provider of transportation, logistics, and intermodal services.
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ROADS, BRIDGES, AND PORTS: REVITALIZING TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE TO BOLSTER ECONOMIC RECOVERY POST-COVID-19 BY MARK A. CASSO
t is no secret world economies need to recover after the global COVID-19 pandemic and the collateral devastation caused by the numerous lockdowns. How and where each nation places its priorities to spur such a recovery remains uncertain.
In the United States, the challenges to create a sustainable economic expansion, restore or replace jobs, and to meet global market competitors will most certainly flow through a crucial commitment to transportation related infrastructure investments. Construction Industry Round Tableâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (CIRT) Q3/2020 Sentiment Index survey shows 73% of its members anticipate the U.S. recovery will be faster or on-par with other countries provided the design and construction industry plays a role. 30 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
An APCO Insight Survey, commissioned by CIRT, conducted during the first week of September 2020 found that the majority of the general U.S. public (58%)—and particularly the rural communities (64%)—agreed that they are affected by “outdated, crumbling or lack of infrastructure.” For solutions, the public largely looked to the government—specifically state (72%) and federal government (70%)—as most responsible for delivering quality infrastructure. Long-term transportation spending can be leveraged and multiplied throughout the economy if expenditures are smartly targeted to create meaningful projects in all market sectors, communities, and business centers. Not surprisingly, the APCO survey found that 62% of the U.S. public believe such investments to be of importance or very high importance. The U.S. transportation market has often served as a “laboratory” for innovative solutions related to design and construction methods, means, and technologies. Moreover, it has served as a testing ground for policy initiatives—such as streamlining regulations, One Federal Decision Point responsibility, concurrent environmental statement reports, and wide-spread use of Design/ Build contracting, etc.—and alternative funding mechanisms and/ or sources—including dedicated trust funds, tolling, mileage usage taxes, bonds, and infrastructure banks. In addition, the U.S. can learn and apply policies from other countries, such as extensive application of standard Public-Private Partnership (PPP) procedures, capital budgeting, and expanded use of private equity funding mechanisms. By combining these lessons with key elements from its own experiences, the U.S. can create a successful formula that should include: • Allocation of Resources: Bi-partisan political discipline must prioritize focused spending with an innovative commitment to transportation infrastructure expenditures, bringing the greatest return for the largest segment of the U.S. public and communities. The same APCO survey identified overwhelming support (87% agree) that “funds collected specifically for transportation, should be spent on those precise stated needs.” • Reliance on the Private Sector: Governments should rely on the private sector to provide the expertise, skills, and ingenuity necessary to plan, design, and construct infrastructure projects. The APCO survey discovered that more needs to be done to educate the U.S. public on the indispensable role private sector companies and staff play with respect to delivering critical infrastructure (only 36% of the public fully appreciated this aspect or role). DIPLOMATIC COURIER | 31
• Efficient Processes: Streamlining steps and One Decision Point need to be codified to reduce and coordinate redundant, conflicting, inefficient, and competing jurisdictional regulations. Permanent procedural changes like these can have a major impact possibly as much (5.0%) or more on the timely completion and cost of infrastructure projects. CIRT Sentiment Index Report (4th Qtr./2018) found with respect to “streamlining” some of its members have seen cost savings of approximately (5.10%) composite weighted average and time savings at (5.35%). • Alternative Financing Approaches: As we witnessed during the pandemic an “all hands-on deck” attitude brought together public and private assets/abilities to achieve seemingly unimagined outcomes in record time. The same is essential when amassing the $1.5-$2.0 trillion being suggested in the U.S. for infrastructure. The combined allocation of public sector dollars (federal, state, and local) along with alternative financing models that tap into vast amounts of private sector equity can achieve the goal of renewing the U.S. Expanded bonding levels, amounts, and uses, PPP financial models, and continue use of limited “user” taxes should be authorized without arbitrary limits. Combined with private equity alternatives, this would usher in a paradigm shift, seen in other countries, creating a sustainable funding mechanism for the future. While still a relatively new concept in the U.S., (51%) of the American public are open to alternative funding approaches as identified by the APCO Insight survey. 32 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
In the past, transportation expenditures in the U.S. have been widely embraced in a non-divisive manner. Cooperation and mutual interest around these types of infrastructure investments on land, sea, and air can achieve sustainable long-term positive results. More importantly, the public seems to understand this critical role or aspect of transportation spending with respect to rebooting or restoring jobs and a robust economy. The APCO Insight Survey found that a stunning (61%) saw funding of transportation infrastructure, etc. was “most vital” or vital even in the face of other potential budgetary reductions or contractions. The road ahead needs bridges, tunnels, locks, rail, and ports, for the world’s or America’s societal and economic health. ***** About the author: Mark A. Casso, an attorney and member of the National Academy of Construction, has been President of the Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT) since 1998.
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THE ESSENTIAL (AND MISSING) ELEMENT OF PRODUCTIVE URBANIZATION BY JASON MEYER
or decades, economists have highlighted urbanizationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s two primary benefits as the inherent connectivity that allows idea sharing and the resulting innovation engine that drives prosperity. The ease of forging relationships, whether deep or transactional, triggered more efficient growth in densely populated areas. But technological advancement and biased economic structures have impeded this grand vision and demonstrated that dense population alone cannot produce prosperity. Forethought, principled measurement, planning, and the courage to elevate inclusive policies above quick fixes are the ingredients needed to create equitable paths to access and opportunities for residents of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s urban centers. Integrated smart mobility sits at the core of this notion. 34 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
If ideas are truly the currency of our economic, social, and cultural advancement, we have to prioritize equitable mobility as a central democratizing element of opportunity for urban and suburban populations. In a time when COVID-19 and social unrest have ignited calls for systemic change across the world, governments and forward-thinking organizations should seek to lay out ambitious plans to reimagine transport solutions. Access to affordable mobility in urban centers has deteriorated consistently for years. In 2018, the World Bank estimated that more than 50% of the world’s population lived in cities. Yet a recent analysis by the World Resources Institute found troubling disparities in access to affordable transportation for the majority of urban populations. For example, in Mexico City—the largest urban center in the western hemisphere—20% of residents (primarily those living on the city periphery) have little to no access to stable employment opportunities within one hour of their home via existing transport systems. The consequences are simple to understand. Those residing outside of a city’s center can often face pricey, complex commutes that drain precious time from the day and cascade into challenging effects on quality of life, education access, and stable employment. Lengthy commutes for low-wage earners worldwide have become further complicated, if not perilous, during the global pandemic. The implicit bias toward constructing affordable public transit in the center of cities, where high housing prices displace those with fewer means, drives an imbalance in how the urban experience “seeks to enfranchise” all. These are not trends constrained to Latin America, nor a particular hemisphere. Cities like London and other “north star” urban centers exhibit unfortunate trends of painful commute times and lower access to transport for less wealthy residents. Equitable mobility at the center of urban opportunity. Ambitious leaders in business and government can start to address these challenges sooner than many think. In fact, cities like Milan have worked to capitalize on learnings from the COVID-19 crisis to reshape transportation policy in hopes that its 75% reduction in air pollution and other benefits of lower roadway congestion can become lasting markers of the city’s identity. In September, the World Economic Forum and the City of Los Angeles released “Principles of the Urban Sky,” a first-of-itsDIPLOMATIC COURIER | 35
kind report that outlines foundational elements of urban air mobility for city leaders, residents, and business communities to consider. Leaders globally would be wise to evaluate such guidance as sustainable measures that can reenergize urban locales through courageous innovation. Further, prioritization of some key principles for the future can help forge transformation that infuses more equitable transportation solutions into the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s urban environments. Cities have to embrace multimodal networks that offer affordable, accessible solutions for all inhabitants. This involves leaning into smart, resilient, and sustainable mobility solutions like never before. Electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircrafts, part of a new form of air mobility, are promising examples of a new pathway to making transport work better for urban and suburban communities. Additionally, as cities transition back to higher rates of on-site work in the wake of mass â&#x20AC;&#x153;lockdowns,â&#x20AC;? urban planners and policymakers must better manage demand for non-pooled travel in private automobiles. This will necessitate creative solutions that offer a wider array of accessible transit options, as well as incentivize their use. In the United States, more than 5,000 small public airports are underutilized. Those secondary and tertiary airports are increasingly important for the future of air travel and accessible mobility. Shifting passenger traffic to smaller, regional airports would help increase demand for multiple services and provide more convenient and affordable options for local residents. Increased use of smaller airports throughout the world represents a viable solution that should be on the table. Getting this right can revive the urban promise. For years, we have grown almost desensitized to the mounting knowledge that the condition of those with more resources (i.e. wealth) continues to accelerate, while the economic ascent of those with fewer means continues to stagnate. This is why it is almost no surprise when we hear that public transportation fare hikes in a nation like Chile, typically seen as a bastion for economic progress in Latin America, disproportionately impact the least wealthy citizens. Simply put, mobility solutions and the planning structures meant to facilitate access to employment and other economic 36 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
propellers have ground to a halt in affordably connecting individuals and opportunity. Part of urbanization’s promise revolved around spurring a vibrant network for idea exchange and business incubation that would result in rational investments, innovation, and democratization of resources. This promise has yet to be fulfilled in many cities, resulting in concentric circles of economic stratification in urban locales across the globe. Mobility with intentional planning for the benefit of all residents can help these cities to collapse these rings of “haves” and “have nots.” Without a demonstrable prioritization of equity, accessibility, and affordability, the disparities between who thrives and who declines in the world’s urban centers are likely to widen and eradicate the promise of urbanization. ***** About the author: Jason Meyer is a Director in APCO Worldwide’s Washington office.
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COURAGE AND VISION: THE KEY ATTRIBUTES OF THE CRUISE INDUSTRYâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S RESILIENCE
BY ROSSELLA CARRARA AND VALERIA RUBELLO
ntil recently, cruises were the fastest growing sector of the travel industry. Experts were anticipating 2020 to be a successful year, with a further increase in the number of passengers expected to set sail this year. However, COVID-19 has dramatically changed everything, with the cruise industry being one of the most severely hit by the pandemic. Despite the numerous challenges, cruise companies have the chance to turn this crisis into an opportunity to come back stronger, greener, and further attract consumer preference. To achieve this goal and make the most of the lessons learned from the pandemic, the cruise industry must focus on four strongly interconnected elements that will define the future of 38 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
cruising and its resilience over time: environmental sustainability, modern infrastructures, a personalized customer experience through greater digitalization, and a value creation-oriented relationship with local communities. 1. Environmental Sustainability. With societyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s increased environmental consciousness, sustainability is becoming top of mind for many consumers and will continue to guide their choices after the pandemic. Cruise operators have the chance to reinforce their ongoing efforts to reduce environmental footprint in anticipation of future consumer and societal demands. In this context, the fleet renewal process accelerated in the past few months and will continue in the foreseeable future. This renewal process has led to the dismissal of a number of older and less sustainable (from both an environmental and economic point of view) ships, while companies look at ways to uphold their commitments and continue investing in alternative and greener power supply systems. In this particularly delicate economic phase, the industryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s long-term plans towards zero emission cruising will need the support of the entire ecosystem (public authorities, suppliers, business partners, industry experts) to become a reality and meet the emission targets set by international institutions. The R&D efforts towards more eco-friendly technologies must become a priority for public and private stakeholders at national and international level, who need to join resources and knowledge to achieve this important milestone. Consumer demands for increased sustainability will also reflect on the onboard experience and excursion offers, which will need to comply with more sustainable behaviors (e.g. 100% waste recycling, zero food waste and ban of single-use plastics) and propose more ecological shoreside activities (e.g. cycling or walking tours, increased use of electric buses to reach the destinations). 2. Modern Infrastructures. The modernization of infrastructures, their ability to ensure a more efficient movement of people and to support the green transition of transports represent another important pillar for the future of the industry. An incredible opportunity is now offered by the significant investments that governments will make to foster the economic recovery, which should include the upgrading of infrastructures, with an eye on accessibility and port infrastructures. DIPLOMATIC COURIER | 39
This upgrade should aim at connecting ports more efficiently to airports and train stations, thus making them more easily accessible and allowing tourists to travel also to less popular destinations, mitigating the effects of mass tourism in major locations. It can also support cruise operators reducing their environmental impact by providing electric energy supply to ships at berth. The so-called cold ironing will allow ships to turn off their engines in port, resulting in much lower emissions to the benefit on the local communities and the environment. In this context, cruise companies can partner with other interested players and institutions to identify the needs and design adequate infrastructural solutions, joining once again resources and knowledge to achieve the best result. 3. Personalized Customer Experience through Digitalization. With COVID-19, technology has taken a more prominent role in defining a customer experience that permits the current need for social distancing. As a result, digital interaction is no longer just a trait of onboard life, but a key component of bookings and embarkation activities. With this evolution, the customer experience will become more and more appealing. In a single app, customers will have a broad array of services at their fingertips: from check-in operations, to customer service, to booking excursions and leisure activities, to food & beverage orders. Tailor-made experiences will be enhanced, making every holiday onboard different. This uniqueness and additional diversification will help cruise companies stay ahead and respond to evolving consumer demands. Technology will also build longer-lasting relationships with consumers after they have disembarked by maintaining a high level of engagement and nurturing the recurring client base. 4. Value Creation-Oriented Relationships with Communities. The economies of destination locations rely on a flourishing cruise industry, even more so considering the economic fallout of COVID-19. Their cultural heritage and local ecosystems can be preserved by creating synergies with industry players that establish mutually beneficial partnerships aimed at generating long-term sustainable growth. Such growth can contribute to creating value in broader geographical areas by expanding value chains outside of port cities and renowned destinations. This can contribute to the broader economy while also improving the 40 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
sustainability of tourism. In cooperation with the local communities, a more holistic destination management process aimed at a greater valorization of the cultural, historical, and gastronomical landmarks will create mutually beneficial opportunities. Cruise players will need to quickly embrace change and act on these four pillars to set themselves apart from their competitors. The future success and livelihood of cruise companies will very much depend on the courage and vision they will demonstrate in listening to consumers and responding to the needs of society. Due to the pandemic, we will see more cruise operators recognize that a profitable business is tied to the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s social purpose and that being part of an ecosystem means establishing meaningful partnerships to advance broader public objectives as an integral part of daily activities. ***** About the authors: Rossella Carrara is Vice President External Relations and Sustainability for Costa Group, the leading cruise company in Europe and Asia. Valeria Rubello is a Senior Associate Director in APCOâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Rome office. Valeria has significant experience in the cruise sector, as she supports several clients in this industry providing advice in reputation building, public affairs, stakeholder engagement and crisis communications.
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CHANGING TRANSPORTATION PSYCHOLOGY: COULD COVID-19 SAVE CAR OWNERSHIP? BY RICHARD VANORNUM
42 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
or much of modern history, the automobile played a fundamental role in the cultural and economic identity of America and the world. In the post-World War II world, the rise of the family car and the development of suburbs were inextricably linked. Neither could exist without the other and both played critical roles in the global economy. But in recent years, younger generations have increasingly snubbed suburban comforts for the opportunity of higher income in urban centers. They have opted to forgo the traditional coming-of-age car purchase for a Metro card, a bicycle, or an Uber account. The summer road trip faded as affordable air travel made international travel destinations more attainable. In the eyes of many economists, the heyday of the automobile had passed, replaced by a future dominated by public transportation, ridesharing, and automation. Then COVID-19 hit. Within a few short weeks, the world ground to a halt. While the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on attitudes towards transportation remain to be seen, enough evidence exists from prior crises and the initial re-emergence from full lockdown to draw some initial conclusions about how this dramatically disruptive crisis may play out on the transportation industry. Bad news for shared modes of transportation. In the new socially distanced reality, shared modes of transportation appear likely to sufferâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;both public transportation and previously booming rideshare services. In a recent global survey of those who use mass transit regularly, 41% said they would use it less often. In the United States, transit ridership and fare revenue has fallen by as much as 80%-90%. While the impacts of such a dramatic shift in commuter habits may be mitigated by a workplace future in which remote work is more widely accepted, rebuilding trust in the safety of public transportation will be a fundamental challenge in a post-COVID-19 world. In order to re-promote shared mobility, public transportation systems must implement and communicate strong safety and social distancing measures. Additionally, they may need to consider rate discounts or other incentives to entice riders to return. While these measures may be a tough pill to swallow for ridership systems already reeling from reduced revenues, restoring confidence and rebuilding trust in public transportation will be an essential post-pandemic task across the globe. DIPLOMATIC COURIER | 43
Public transit system administrators may find a measure of long-term solace among indications that the long-term regulatory environment appears likely to favor carbon-neutral and shared modes of transportation. It is also important to note that these modes of transportation remain vital for residents on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. Further, long-term analyses of the economic impacts of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) indicate that public transit initiatives produced 70% more job hours than those focused on highwaysâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;an important proof point for public transit systems seeking to justify their broader socioeconomic impact. Mixed news for car salesmen. In a future where individuals are reluctant to share personal space, the automobile may experience a resurgence. However, in an economy defined by uncertainty and market volatility, consumers may be less inclined to invest in new cars. In fact, as a result of increased demand, low interest rates, and reduced new car supply due to temporary COVID-19-related closures of car manufacturers, the global pandemic may lead to a boom for the used car market. In the United States, the average listing price of used vehicles was $21,558 in July 2020, up $708 from June 2020. Elsewhere in the world, the global pandemic is driving similar car industry trends. China has seen a dramatic surge in car sales as consumers increasingly shift to personal modes of transportation. In Europe, months of pent-up consumer demand appears to be driving a resurgence in the automobile industry. Looking at prior global crises, overall economic health and the job market appear likely to emerge as the most impactful factors for the automotive market. While the current global environment is not experiencing the high gas prices or credit issues associated with the Great Recession, the spike in unemployment claims does pose continued questions about the appetite of consumers to invest new vehicles. In the long run, automakers, policymakers, and urban planners will be compelled to grapple with policies that impact the balance between personalized and shared modes of mobility, as well as factors relating to the ability of consumers to invest in automotive purchases. An opportunity to refocus on environmental impact. While the long-term environmental impacts of COVID-19 on the world remain unclear, from a transportation perspective its psy44 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
chological impact appears clearer: it has driven a re-examination of the essentiality of travel and the modes of travel used. In the United States, nationwide sales of bicycles, equipment, and repair services have doubled. Similarly, air travel, the most carbon-intensive form of transit, has dropped by 70%. In many ways, the global pandemic has created an opportunity to rethink both transportation emissions and consumer perspectives on transportation. Preserving and extending these environmental benefits will hinge on a variety of factors, not the least of which is the ability of public transportation to rebuild a sense of trust and safety in order to avoid a fundamental shift from shared to personal mobility. The immediate impacts of COVID-19 on the global transportation ecosystem have been sudden and dramatic. In the long run, the ability of policymakers, urban planners, and transportation industry stakeholders to responsibly shape consumer behaviors will be essential to a transportation future that balances safety, sustainability, and convenience. ***** About the author: Richard (Van) VanOrnum, director at APCO Worldwide, is a member of the corporate communication and issues management service group.
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DIGITAL ETHNOGRAPHIES: WHAT ONLINE DISCOURSE IN ST IVES REVEALS ABOUT TOURISM RESILIENCY BY DANIELLA LEBOR
46 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
he COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the global tourism industry. While the short-term effects are frequently covered in the news, the full extent of the longterm consequences on the hotel, restaurant, and travel sectors are yet to be seen. Using approaches grounded in digital anthropology, we examined how two towns—one in the UK and the other in France, which will be covered in part two of the article—are taking measures to promote tourism resilience, and how they are communicating these measures to reassure cautious travelers. Whilst resiliency is a ubiquitous theme in discussions about tourism and the COVID-19 pandemic, in this article we focus on the political meaning of resiliency: the ability of states and societies to recover from internal and external crises. We conducted localized research into the ways in which government policies around health, safety, and future resiliency have been received in tourist hotspots in the UK and France during the COVID-19 pandemic so far. Our research relied primarily on publicly available digital communication data, including social media, websites, blogs, digital video, and audio sources, which provided us with a rich source of information and insights into how tourism-dependent communities can act now to build resilience for the future. Why St Ives? St Ives is a popular seaside town in Cornwall, UK, renowned for its idyllic coastal landscapes, sub-tropical climate, and quaint fishermen’s cottages. St Ives is an interesting microcosm for investigating tourism resiliency because of the high number of tourists who normally visit this location—220,000 staying visitors and 540,000 day-trippers per year according to the St Ives Tourism Association (SITA). The town also has the second highest visitor-related spend in the UK, topping £85 million per annum. Aside from this, the town’s physical idiosyncrasies, and in particular its winding cobbled streets and alleyways, create new challenges for local government and businesses trying to ensure a safe return for visitors. APCO Worldwide’s digital strategy team consequently decided to research this more formally and look at how the ways in which people express themselves on digital platforms like social media can reveal insights into ordinary life, cultural norms, and social practices. Below are three key findings. DIPLOMATIC COURIER | 47
Local government is spearheading local policies, but over-relies on traditional channels for communicating new rules. St Ives’ tourism strategy notably demonstrates the power of local governments to create localized policies and regulations for tourists. In June, the St Ives Town Council launched an Emergency Summer Safety Plan, with detailed new rules to safeguard visitors and residents. The plan included guidelines on how businesses and individuals can stay safe, as well as measures like traffic restrictions and a “keep left” pedestrian route system to help facilitate social distancing. From a strategic communications perspective, however, the way in which these new measures have been relayed to tourists felt somewhat lacking, with the local counsel relying on traditional channels and content formats, such as the St Ives Town 2020 Summer COVID-19 Safety Plan Facebook group and lengthy PDF website brochures to communicate their new COVID-19 measures. Given the increasing evidence that young people may be primary spreaders of the novel coronavirus, it is surprising that the local government hasn’t utilized channels and platforms used by younger demographics, such as Instagram and TikTok, or in more tourist-friendly formats, such as short videos and digital ads. Facemasks are also notably absent in both the creative designs and safety advice provided by St Ives Town Council. Businesses are on the front line of safety communication. Businesses, like hotels and restaurants, have been on the front line of communicating and enforcing COVID-19-related measures through their digital communications. Consider, for example, this Instagram post from the St Ives branch of the fashion clothing retailer, OSKA, showing a customer modelling one of its fashion masks on the beach with the hashtag #iptotectyouyouprotectme [sic]. These, and similar communications, have become commonplace among responsible businesses as part of their COVID-19 continuity measures. The adapted communication methods of local businesses stand out because they normalize COVID-19 rules for visitors, with some businesses sharing posts outlining the ways in which they are adapting to new safety rules. Public discourse paints a contradictory picture. The public discourse on tourism in St Ives paints a different picture. On platforms like Instagram, content which has been geo48 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
tagged to St Ives is overwhelmingly focused on holidaymakers enjoying St Ives’ beaches and coastal walks. It is a stretch to find any photos of tourists wearing masks tagged at this location. Looking at this content, one could be forgiven for thinking there is no pandemic. Yet, on a more politicized platform like Twitter, much of the most engaged public discourse is focused on the ways in which social distancing rules are being ignored. However, as Daniel Millar notes in Social Media in an English Village, “platforms are merely the vehicles by which social media travels. To understand social media, we need to focus instead upon content, which often migrates and switches easily between entirely different platforms almost regardless of their properties.” Under Millar’s logic, the content we see across different platforms about St Ives are equally valid as sources for ethnographic insights into the behaviors taking place in this town. Then, why are we seeing such different types of content across different channels? Could these conflicting types of content point to a case of cognitive dissonance around pandemic tourism? On one hand, our research into St Ives shows tourists are sharing their holiday photos as if everything is normal; on the other hand, we see the exact opposite behavior playing out, particularly on Twitter and Facebook, where members of the public are engaged in debates about viral transmission and public health. It will be critical for tourism stakeholders to understand these complex and in some cases conflicting behaviors, as they seek to promote safe travel and tourism in the long term. DIPLOMATIC COURIER | 49
The tourism industry is facing greater challenges ahead. By analyzing and responding to digital behaviors, tourism locales and authorities will be better able to understand how their rules and communications are being understood and interpreted at a cultural and societal level. With no end to the pandemic in sight, this understanding will be critical for them to build resilience for the future. Based on our research, we have identified two key opportunities for tourist localities to become more resilient for the future: Normalize safety rules like mask-wearing and social distancing as social and cultural practices. While it will be tempting for tourist-reliant towns and businesses to promote escapism from the pandemic, to be resilient for the future, communication should be grounded in social realities. Communicating visuals showing people safely complying with COVID-19 rulesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; for example presenting mask-wearing as a social and cultural practiceâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;will help make this safety measure more normative, thus protecting tourist hotspots. Create more engaging and creative communication. Tourism stakeholders have an opportunity to push the limits of how 50 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
they normally communicate, particularly given that the safety of their communities is at stake. In particular, there is an opportunity for tourism agencies to embrace new social media channels and content types, which reach more diverse demographics and audiences. ***** About the author: Daniella Lebor is a Director and Co-lead of APCOâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s digital team in Europe. An awardâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;winning communications expert, Daniella is focused on leading campaigns which are at the nexus of politics, media, and social change.
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LONG-TERM RESILIENCY REQUIRES SOLIDARITY HOW THE PROVENCE-ALPES-CÔTE D’AZUR MODEL SHOWS THE WAY FORWARD FOR REGIONAL TOURISM BY CODY LEBLANC
he emblematic Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) region of France has been especially hard-hit by the COVID-19 crisis: and like other global tourist hotspots, PACA is facing difficult questions about its preparedness for short- and long-term environmental challenges. Fortunately, PACA’s regional response indicates that public and private sector actors are closely working together to create a more resilient tourism sector and their model could serve as a roadmap for other tourism-focused regions as they prepare for 2021 and beyond. For Nice and the Côte d’Azur, tourism makes up 15% of the local economy—more than twice the national average in France. Devel52 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
oping, communicating and executing a successful tourism plan will be crucial for Nice and other tourism-focused regions not just for their short-term economic recovery, but also for their long-term resiliency in the face of other environmental risks, including future pandemics or environmental degradation linked to climate change. From the PACA region, we can identify the following short-, medium- and long-term best practices for tourism resiliency that other regions can adopt to their local context. In the short-term, tourism actors should use simple and visual communications to reassure travelers and locals that travel is safe and all measures are being taken to ensure a safe environment. In Nice, local public and private officials coordinated one of the earliest responses to the fear and uncertainty sparked by COVID-19 with the confiance sanitaire label: an easy-to-recognize symbol that businesses could display if they respected the sanitary and social distancing measures outlined by French health authorities. The publicprivate partnership was intuitive, visible both online and in physical locations and ultimately reassured both business owners and customers that health and safety was the number one priority. In the medium-term, the tourism sector will need to reallocate resources to establish a communications strategy for tourism promotion that fosters a more sustainable and local industry that is less exposed to extreme global fluctuations. Accordingly, the region has heavily invested in local resources for businesses and customizable communications campaigns that local partners can use to more effectively reach the domestic market. For example, Niceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s municipal website outlines the exceptional measures the government is taking to support business owners in the city and links to an entire microsite dedicated to reinforcing the local economy. The site also details measures to reinforce the visibility of business owners, through enhanced communication campaigns. DIPLOMATIC COURIER | 53
One such campaign focused on the “re-entry” time frame, referring to the return to the worlds of school and work following the summer holidays. This campaign was more focused on the local population and provided a centralized hub for citizens of Nice to see what cultural activities were offered by various associations in the fall. This initiative appears to be the local government’s effort to stimulate local activity even after the tourists leave and reflects a growing realization that long-term resiliency will have to increasingly rely on local economic activity. The regional government has also heavily invested in supporting the tourism industry during this uncertain time. The Provence-AlpesCôte d’Azur website includes a detailed plan for 1.4 billion euros worth of investments in everything from tourism, transportation infrastructure, renewable energies and education to restructured international tourism offers and cooperative regional initiatives. This summer, the regional tourism authority also invested in the most expensive communication campaign in its history (2.3 million euros) when it launched “On a tous besoin du sud” (we all need the South). The campaign’s objective was to compensate for the loss in international visitors in the medium-term (40 percent of all tourists to the region come from abroad) by stimulating domestic 54 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
travel to the region. This strategy strongly focuses on expanding and reinforcing tourism-adjacent partnerships throughout the region and the campaign was designed to be highly visual and customizable for each territory within the wider region. Moreover, the campaign dovetailed with the nation-wide tourism campaign this year, #CetÉtéJeVisiteLaFrance (this summer I’m visiting France). In the long term, tourism actors should work with government agencies to invest funds in regional partnerships and take chances on innovative initiatives. Nice and the PACA region are working together with businesses to secure low-interest lines of credit for tourism-dependent businesses while simultaneously launching calls for new ideas to achieve long-term resiliency, including: • A virtual hubinar that gathered all of the business leaders across various economic sectors in the PACA region to discuss economic resilience in the face of the COVID crisis. • A public-private partnership between the regional tourism authority and Vinci Autoroutes to support increased local tourism in the region; • A call for proposals for innovative projects that promote responsible and sustainable tourism. The tourism industry in Nice and the PACA region is still facing challenging times, but has ultimately reacted quickly to the challenges posed by COVID-19 and are organizing themselves around innovative solutions for the future. The PACA region highlights numerous measures that local and regional governments can enact to support tourism, notably in the mediumto-long term as tourism actors realize that they cannot solely rely on international tourism and must boost engagement with domestic audiences to ensure the more sustainable, long-term resiliency of the local economy. The deliberate focus on large-scale, long-term partnerships that use regional, sectorial and public-private collaborations as a way to plan for an uncertain future is a compelling model for France as a whole and for other tourism-focused regions seeking to plan for a post-COVID future. ***** About the author: Cody Le Blanc is a senior associate director and co-lead of APCO’s Digital team in Europe. Cody specializes in developing and applying data-driven research methodologies to business challenges. DIPLOMATIC COURIER | 55
ELECTRIC VEHICLES: DRIVING DECARBONIZATION AND POST-PANDEMIC JOB RECOVERY BY ZOLAIKHA STRONG AND DIEGO GARCIA CARVAJAL
fter another year with an intense hurricane season in the Atlantic, a rash of record setting forest fires globally, and yet another intense heat wave across parts of the EU, it is clear that the need to address climate change is increasing every day. Both the European Parliament and the UK Parliament have declared climate emergencies. Meanwhile due to COVID-19, transportation habits have been disrupted, and unemployment continues to rise in Europe and remains high in the U.S. with millions out of work in both regions. Action is needed immediately to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and help the world recover from the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout. One of the best solutions to decarbonize and revitalize the global economy is a continued push for electric vehicles (EVs). 56 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
The Transportation Sectorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Climate Impact and the Case for EVs. The transportation sector contributes significantly to climate change, with 20% of CO2 emissions and 25% of final energy consumption coming from road transport in Europe. In the United States, transportation accounts for the highest amount of carbon emissions at 28%, with 82% of those emissions originating from road transport. Transport emissions in Europe have also continued to increase over the past few decades while emissions in other sectors have decreased. The long-term impacts of COVID-19 on mobility habits are still to be determined, however the public health crisis has pushed many to rethink public transportation and place a higher value on access to private vehicles. It is clear that even with more people staying home, at least in the short to medium term, transport will remain a significant contributor to global emissions. Disruptions to transportation habits like this only further highlight that if the world hopes to meet its climate goals, the transportation sector must be decarbonized through a rapid adoption of EVs. In comparison to traditional combustion vehicles, EVs release three times less CO2, with the added benefits of emitting no harmful Nitrogen Oxides (NOx). Switching to EVs can also increase energy security in regions like Europe, which imports 87% of its oil demand, nearly half of which is used for road transport. With COVID-19 inflicting significant damage to the global economy and destroying millions of jobs, many of which have been in the clean energy and vehicle production and supply chain sector, expanding the use of EVs presents a way to help economies in Europe, the United States, and other regions recover while decarbonizing. The European Green Deal is now being described as a growth strategy, giving a strong signal for a green recovery. The multi-stakeholder group Platform for Electromobility estimates that a shift to electricpowered transportation could create up to one million jobs across the EU in the vehicle and rail manufacturing sectors by 2030. The World Resources Institute in the United States also predicts the production of electric buses and their components alone will produce thousands of jobs across facilities in Alabama, California, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, and other U.S. states. Global Progress is Already Underway. In Europe, progress on bringing more EVs online has already been made, with the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) 2020 EV Outlook predicting the region will become the second biggest EV DIPLOMATIC COURIER | 57
market in the 2020s, behind only China. The European Green Deal also includes initiatives on sustainable mobility, showing it will remain a priority for the EU in the coming years. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the EU has reiterated its commitment to the European Green Deal, and to using it as a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;growth strategyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; for the coming years. One critical aspect of supporting the EV market, and ensuring consumers are comfortable switching to EVs, is guaranteeing that proper charging infrastructure is in place to support the uptake of EVs. The Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive is one critical piece of legislation in this regard. The European Commission, the EUâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s executive, is currently reviewing this directive, with the aim of enabling greater interest in EVs across the bloc. A revised directive must keep up with the latest technologies like urban wireless charging, smart charging (controlled time and power of charging), and e-roaming across Europe. This will ensure the EV market in the EU continues to grow, and that Europe meets its climate goals and implements the European Green Deal. In the United States, with the absence of strong federal mandates to spur additional use of EVs, several states have either started their own programs or banded together to pursue joint initiatives. California, New York, and New Jersey have invested a combined $1.3 billion in EV charging stations. Utah and several of its neighbors, including Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada, New Mexico, and Montana, updated a pre-existing memorandum of understanding in December 2019 to recommit to developing EV charging infrastructure along major transportation corridors in the region. National U.S. EV programs may not be far behind, as Congress has considered several bills in 2019 and 2020 to fund research into innovations for EV technology and establish state and local grants for EV charging infrastructure. Additionally, in the face of the dual climate and COVID-19 economic crises, a diverse coalition of organizations including the Copper Development Association, the Bipartisan Policy Center, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Nature Conservancy are calling for the House to consider a host of legislative proposals that would enable accelerated development of energy and climate-related technologies, including those supporting greater adoption of EVs. The Copper Development Association also joined a similar group in pushing the Senate to pass the American Energy Innovation Act, a bill that also encompasses a number of measures with the same goals of spurring job recovery through investment in clean energy, EVs, and other innovative technologies to reduce carbon emissions. 58 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
Other governments across the globe are putting policies in place to support the uptake in EVs. China, currently the largest EV market, has established numerous measures to support the switch from traditional vehicles, such as increased investments in battery manufacturing. The countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s EV subsidies are often designed to be connected to performance and innovation metrics such as mileage per single charge or battery energy density. In Latin America, policies like incentives for consumers to buy EVs and initiatives to reduce urban pollution by electrifying public transit systems are also propelling the region toward a more sustainable transportation system. The Copper Alliance Urges Continued Momentum on EVs. The Copper Alliance embraces its dual responsibility to support EV policy measures that properly address climate change and recovery from COVID-19 while providing the metal that is a major component in the vehicles, charging infrastructure, and energy storage devices needed to sustain EVs. The progress many governments are making needs to be accelerated as the share of emissions coming from transport remains significant and people search for jobs as the pandemic continues to impact the global economy. Society needs governments to continue supporting the development of regulatory frameworks and incentives to make the transition to lower-emission transport as soon as possible while getting people back to work. ***** About the authors: Zolaikha Strong serves as the North American Energy Advisor representing the Copper Development Association for the global Copper Alliance. Diego Garcia Carvajal is the Manager of Clean Energy Transition at the European Copper Institute (ECI), the regional office of the global Copper Alliance.
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MICROMOBILITY IS NOT AN OPPORTUNITY ANYMORE, IT IS A NECESSITY BY ADRIEN MOUCHET
60 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
n the span of five years, micromobility has evolved from a gadget to a credible alternative to private car ownership throughout the world. Cities as diverse as Chicago, Paris, Tel Aviv and Seoul have embraced new mobility solutions such as bikes, e-bikes, e-scooters, or even mopeds for daily trips. These solutions are not only greener and lower speed, they are also less cumbersome than owning a car, particularly if they are shared. However, although the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of micromobility in urban areas, it has also highlighted the need of political and regulatory support to leverage this trend for the greater good. From Car Culture to Mobility Culture Since the end of the 19th century, car culture has spread across the globe. The car has not only been a tremendous driver of economic development and emancipation, but has shaped how billions of people live. For many, mobility is both an aspiration and an important part of life. However, private car use is not without consequences such as urban congestion, greenhouse gas and polluting emissions, and noise pollution. More than half of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s population today lives in urban areas, a figure that could climb to two-thirds by 2050. In this context, the movement of people in cities is a continuous challenge. The development of urban public transport has been essential in accommodating urbanization, but has been only partially successful in tackling the problems associated with car culture. As these problems continue, micromobility has rapidly expanded in recent years. In 2017, Bird launched the first shared e-scooters in Santa Monica, California, with the ambitious goal of becoming a major player in urban sustainable mobility. One year later, Birdâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s success had sparked a rapid expansion of micromobility solutions across Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Over the last few years, service-sharing operators have not only seen their shared bike and scooter fleets grow, but also expanded their services by introducing other two-wheeled vehicles such as mopeds. Between 2018 and 2019, the number of shared micromobility trips in the United States increased from 84 million to 136 million, with scooters accounting for the vast majority of this growth. In addition, the total number of companies dedicated to micromobility across the globe exploded from around 140 in October 2019 to 424 in September 2020.
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Rebound Effect or Structural Change. Facing a hostile environment dominated by car culture, micromobility operators have been obliged to constantly adapt since their inception. Innovation has been particularly critical. A study showed for instance in 2019 that shared e-scooters would generate 130 grams of CO2 per person and per kilometer, a lower impact than a car. In the meantime, Bird claims that its new scooters model’s emissions are almost 75% less than personal cars, due to an improved life cycle. These environmental improvements were clearly mentioned when new regulations allowing the trials of rental scooters came into force in the United Kingdom in July 2020. However, operators were unprepared to face the COVID-19 crisis. To curb the spread of coronavirus, national and local authorities around the world implemented lockdown and shelter-at-home measures that caused an unprecedented restriction of freedom of movement. Most micromobility service providers removed their fleets in nearly every country to prevent unnecessary travel, leading to devastating declines in ridership and revenue. But as COVID-19 lockdowns begin to ease around the world, micromobility is observing early signs of what could prove to be a global surge in ridership. In Seoul, for instance, the number of e-scooters doubled from 16,500 to 35,800 between May and August. Similarly, in Paris, the Vélib’ public bicycle sharing platform registered 400,000 subscribers, an increase of 150,000 from the previous year. With the increased anxieties over using public transport due to the pandemic, micromobility is increasingly seen as an alternative mode of transport that allows for easier social distancing. An Opportunity for Policy Makers. Micromobility is likely to be much more than just a temporary alternative to cars and public transportation. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that micromobility could become a credible solution to the challenges faced by car culture in urban settings. The crisis has demonstrated the performance of remote work, allowing for shortened commute times in most people’s lives. Individuals in urban areas seem more favorable to shorter commutes and closer neighborhood living. With shorter commutes, micromobility becomes increasingly possible. In the long term, none of this is possible without the support of national and local authorities. This momentum resulting from 62 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
the crisis represents a unique opportunity for governments to address major climatic issues and the social need for mobility in urban areas. Car use still represents a major part of the transport sector, which accounts for 14% of total greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Governments should take major steps toward the ecological transition in transportation by providing greater space for micromobility within the package of mobility solutions. Many cities have developed temporary cycle lanes along major commuting routes to prevent a rush back to cars by workers scared of taking public transport. Governments should convert these temporary infrastructures into permanent routes to promote micromobility. This can be done while diversifying and increasing mobility capacities in urban areas by limiting the use of private cars in city centers through the implementation of lowemission zones. Additionally, it is critical that governments encourage the deployment of bike and scooter fleets at local level. In order to avoid the uncontrolled expansion of micromobility solutions in the public space, regulations on controlling fleets sizes, for instance through a permit system or tenders, have demonstrated effectiveness. France could provide useful inspiration for other countries. Charters of good practices and supportive policies on limiting usage to discrete areas are also huge drivers for the sustainable development of the new transportation modes. Operators and authorities must learn to collaborate to improve their relationships. Then and only then will it be possible to develop more sustainable and affordable urban mobility. ***** About the author: Adrien Mouchet is a consultant at APCO Worldwideâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Paris office, with a deep expertise in both transport and mobility sectors.
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MOBILITY DATA IS FUEL FOR RECOVERY BY WALLERAND BOULNOIS
64 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
he COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant upheaval in the world of mobility with the widespread uptick of working from home, fears over the potential spread of the coronavirus on public transport, and a sharp decrease in traffic volumes. These experiences are reshaping how we look at our long-term mobility needs. In the pre-pandemic world, consumers expect mobility services to become more effective, greener, and cheaper. The COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated this demand along with calls for enhanced cleanliness. Adapting to the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;new normalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; will require us to think differently about mobility. The real fuel for the future of mobility is data and, as with any high-value fuel, the critical question is: how can it be reliably accessed? In many ways this future is already a reality. While many consumers may not be aware of it, almost all vehicles generate data on a daily basis. This unique resource has enormous potential: from tailoring mobility services to specific user needs to improving the management of a fleet by optimising its fuel consumption or locating vehicles where most needed, and from rewarding good drivers with cheaper insurance premiums to pre-emptively diagnosing repairs on your car. However, this is only the first step. With the deployment of 5G networks and self-driving vehicles, data will make mobility easier and more affordable. One muchdiscussed example of data impacting mobility is the reduced need for vehicle ownership as consumers are able to share cars seamlessly, depending on their specific needs. A shared selfdriving car could pick you up at home, take you to your office, and then move on to pick up someone else. These are concrete business cases which have the potential to transform the value chain in the automotive industry. In a 2016 report, McKinsey estimates that car-generated data could become a $450 -750 billion market by 2030. This is substantial change and the market is unsurprisingly already attracting new players and from neighboring markets to take advantage of these new data-driven mobility opportunities. While car manufacturers together with tier-1 suppliers are at the forefront of this (r)evolution, this market involves a wide range of stakeholders including insurance companies, fleet managers, car rental operators, the automotive aftermarket as a whole, and many others. They want to provide more innovative, tailored services to their customers. But what about consumers? A recent study indicates that 90% of survey respondents in Europe believe that vehicle data belongs to the vehicle owner or driver. This is critical as much DIPLOMATIC COURIER | 65
like recent discussions regarding the wealth of data on social media, consumers want control of who can access and use their data. Given these concerns, companies will develop technical options that take this critical aspect into account, whether it is to comply with existing legislation such as Europeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or simply to address consumersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; concerns regarding their privacy and ability to choose their preferred service provider. So, what should be done in practice? Several industry stakeholders, including some car manufacturers, have put forward technical concepts that enable them to control access and monetize vehicle generated data. However, vehicle owners, including individual consumers and large fleet operators, as well as key third-party service providers are reluctant to let any interested party assume the role of gatekeeper. They want to independently access the data and offer competitive services to their customers, while guaranteeing the highest levels of privacy and cybersecurity. A legislative approach is underway in Europe regarding access to vehicle-generated data. The goal is to guarantee transparent and fair access by enabling vehicle owners to select third-party service providers of their choosing. The U.S. Congress is also initiating discussions on this topic. We can expect many other regions to follow a similar path in the coming years in order to ensure a competitive and fair data ecosystem for all market players, while ensuring consumer confidence that their data is safe and secure. In order to seize the full potential of innovative services fueled by vehicle-generated data and make our daily mobility more resilient and innovative in a post-pandemic world, there is a need to accelerate this discussion across all regions and mobility stakeholders. ***** About the author: Wallerand Boulnois is a director in APCO Worldwideâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Brussels office where he leads the EU transportation practice.
66 | AFTER THE PANDEMIC
A Bookazine Edition by
CHRONICLING COVID-19 What the COVID-19 pandemic has done— as most crises do—is magnify socio-economic inequities. It’s no news that we live in an age of paradoxes: we produce enough food to feed the entire world, but people still go to bed hungry. Healthcare innovators are extending our lifespan, but people still die from preventable diseases. Online education has never been more robust and abundant, but it remains inaccessible to those without a device or data plan. At all levels, this pandemic is testing what kind of a society we want to be. “Life After the Pandemic” is an anthology of essays that chronicle our society’s response to the challenges exposed so that we don’t just go “back to normal” but back to better. In this fifth and final volume from the series we focused on the industries most disrupted by COVID-19: travel, transportation, and hospitality. This edition, in partnership with APCO Worldwide’s experts from around the world, measures the pulse of how the industry is weathering the disruptions and innovating for a more resilient future. www.diplomaticourier.com