Building a Better Tour

The State of the Tours Industry in 2021: Tour & Activity Operators’ Responses

Post by
Samantha Hardcastle

November 29, 2021

The State of the Tours Industry in 2021: Tour & Activity Operators’ Responses

Last year around this time, tour and activity operators had a few big questions on their mind: Would business go back to normal in 2021? How was travel going to rebound after such a debilitating hit? Could we make it out of this?

There’s no question that travel & tourism was one of the hardest hit industries the last few years. Business owners were tested on multiple levels, needing to completely re-evaluate how they operated at every level: customer-facing interactions, staff, and operation protocols each brought their own unique set of challenges.

We surveyed tours and activity owners to find out where their business was at after a year of COVID restrictions. The responses you’ll see below are based on data from our customers during February-August 2021. 

Not surprisingly, there was a mixed bag of responses depending on where the business was located and the type of experience they offered. These responses are from over 275 tour operators from around the world that offer a variety of activities. Boat excursions, outdoor adventures, food & culture tours, and more! Below you will find the responses – does your experience so far in 2021 line up?

Tour & Activity Revenue Decreased

61% of those we surveyed saw a revenue decrease compared to pre-COVID revenue, while 24% saw an increase. 

Tour & Activity Domestic Bookings Increased

With the borders of many countries closed part of the time to international travelers, it’s no surprise to see that 35% saw an increase in domestic bookings. It is surprising though to see that an almost equal amount saw a decrease in domestic bookings – possibly due to the fact that less people were traveling overall and restrictions on travel in certain destinations. 

Tour & Activity International Bookings Suffered

While there were a fortunate few who saw international bookings increase (10%), the majority of businesses were able to survive off of domestic bookings alone. 

Tour & Activity Operations Remain Open

75% of businesses surveyed were able to keep their business afloat during the last 6 months, 14% closed for the time being, 9.5% are considering closing and thankfully only 1.5% closed for good.

Tour & Activity Vaccination Policies

65% of those surveyed do not ask their guests about their vaccination status, while 20% do ask and 9% require proof of vaccination.

Tour & Activity Booking Projections Optimistic

When we asked business owners to look ahead at the next 6 months and estimate where they would be, we were glad to see a sense of optimism return for many. Nearly half of those surveyed were projecting an increase in bookings, while nearly 40% weren’t sure what to expect. Only 7.5% expected a decrease, but this could be due to the seasonality of their business.  

Tour & Activity Operations Adaptations

Not surprisingly, nearly half of responders needed to make subtle changes to their operations to accommodate guests. 18% had to change their entire operation, and 13% didn’t require any changes. Nearly 12% were innovators and created one or some new/different tours to suit the protocols. 

Pandemic Present Challenges Across The Industry

When asked to choose just one of their biggest challenges faced during the pandemic, lockdowns and operating under local protocols was the biggest obstacle. 22% responded that getting a loan to survive COVID-19 was their biggest challenge, and 11.5% reported shifting to a totally different market caused most difficulties. Nearly 10% had some challenges around vaccine and COVID protocols with staff and guests. 

2021 Tour & Activity Industry Recap

While each business had its own unique obstacles to endure, we were excited to see a hopeful response for the remaining months of 2021 and into 2022. An increase in domestic and international travelers is a positive trend towards tourism’s eventual rebound.

If you’re looking to make the booking process as easy as possible on your guests in 2022, Junglebee is here to help. Our digital booking software for tours creates a smooth journey to booking, providing all the need-to-know information up front. It also makes accepting credit cards and online payments for tours and charters a breeze! 


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