In an era of such interconnectedness, the coronavirus pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on travel and tourism. While the industry was brought to a standstill, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars fell victim to the virus. Now, as the world grapples with the new normal, Haipeng has shifted his research focus to reflect that of the changing conditions.
After completing his studies at JCU in 2019, Haipeng returned to China where he planned to continue his research on Chinese tourist shopping in Australia.
“I want to learn more about these processes and motivations behind them, but unfortunately COVID-19 has caused challenges for tourism in Australia and the rest of the world. Now, my research will look at domestic tourist shopping here in China,” he says.
Despite the coronavirus outbreak first identified in the country, China’s response to and management of the virus has been world-leading. “At the moment COVID-19 has settled down in China, there are no domestic cases and we can travel anywhere within the country, which means I can continue my research.”
As travel bubbles between countries begin to emerge, Haipeng believes China is still a big potential market for Australia.
“Putting aside the current situation, in the long haul Australia has a lot of well-known resources to attract travellers, and as China’s economy grows more and more, people here have more money to spend,” he says.
“But after coronavirus, international tourists may have different priorities, which is why more studies and more research is required once international travel resumes. We need updated knowledge about what these travellers want in order to provide that service.”
As Haipeng points out, travel in the post-pandemic era will not be the same as it once was. Not only will country-specific bans and restrictions shape industry processes, but the behaviour and preferences of tourists are expected to shift radically. Perhaps tourism will not be brought back, but instead, the tourism of tomorrow will emerge.