There has been a lot of scrutiny about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on airlines and accommodation providers, often because they are considered a critical element of a trip.
But beyond the "how you get there" and "where you stay" elements of travel, those that provide what consumers actually do in a destination have also been decimated by a combination of a collapse in customer volumes and COVID-19-imposed restrictions on use.
A survey produced for the recent Arival 360 online event indicated just how much the tours, activities and attractions sector has been hit by the pandemic during 2020.
According to the study, one in four operators have remained closed since March this year. That said, a similar figure had stayed open throughout and 19% anticipate being able to resume operations by the end of this year or at some point during 2021.
Booking volumes across the sector have come in at 76% lower than the year to date in 2019, with operators in Europe taking the brunt at 79%. North America has been impacted the least but it still down some 67%.
Seven out of ten operators have applied for government aid to get through the closure period and 75% of attractions cut their marketing spend.
Other tactics used by operators to cut costs have included closing offices (34% for tours and activities; 44% for attractions), furloughing staff (around half for both product types) and cutting product lines or ticket types (42% for tours and activities; 56% for attractions).
Around one in three of all products types have "hibernated" their businesses during 2020.
Unsurprisingly, tours, activities and attractions have experienced a fairly substantial shift from international to domestic and local visitors through the pandemic period.
The survey found an increase of 37% in local and a 53% jump in domestic visitors in North America. Bookings in Europe saw a 20% climb in local and 37% in domestic consumers.
An important shift to note in behavior has been felt in online bookings, with attractions now selling over half their tickets from their own websites (compared to 43% in 2019) two out of five bookings for tours and activities being sold direct (36% in 2019).
Losing out are the online travel agencies, according to the survey, as both tours and activities (33% to 21%) and attractions (21% to 18%) seeing a decline in tickets sold via those channels.
The vast majority of respondents in the survey indicated that they have been proactive with updating their websites, customer communications and OTA partners with information about new safety protocols.
Encouragingly, many operators have put in play a number of changes to their businesses to cater for the upheaval imposed on them during 2020.
For example, three out of five have expanded their cancellation or refund policy and over half (53%) of tours and activities have created small group or private experiences for visitors (34% for attractions).
Still, such endeavors were only nominally successful, the survey found, with just one in four tour and activity operators admitting the changes were effective.
Despite what appeared to be a sudden rush to introduce virtual tours into the mix, allowing visitors to experience some form of a product from their own homes, just 16% of those in the survey and had done so. Only 14% later said the switch had been very effective.
Many have used the "down time" in operations to focus on a number of initiatives, the survey discovered.
Around seven out of ten have updated their websites; some 40% are working with new offline sales channels such as hotels and local operations; a similar figure are partnering with new OTAs; one in five are changing their booking systems; and almost a third are implementing digital training programs.