With flight bans and social distancing in action, the travel industry has suffered a great set back. The whole world has fallen into recession and The International Labor Organization (ILO) has predicted that 25 million jobs are at risk due to the Coronavirus.
Many people have already canceled their summer holiday plans and even their official trips because of the virus, due to which the travel and tourism sector is suffering globally. It seems like that the only surfing we’ll be doing this summer is on the internet and that too if you lucky enough to have a high-speed internet such as AT&T internet service
In order to understand the future of the travel business, we need to understand its importance for a country first.
WHY IS TOURISM INDUSTRY IMPORTANT?
Tourism is an indispensable part of any country, mainly because it adds to the GDP of the country. The travel and tourism sector also helps in creating potential jobs and hence eradicate unemployment.
When tourist flow in a country, it naturally works on improving infrastructure cleanliness, transport, and communication to satisfy tourists. Consequently, this leads to development in a country. When tourism increases people invest more in the hospitality sector such as hotels, restaurants, etc.
When an international tourist comes in your country, they want to know more about the history, culture, architecture, consequently, socio-culture integration gets a boost. This also helps cottage industries since these industries are closely linked to the culture.
Hence the current pandemic situation has not only stopped the inflow of foreign currency, which is as bad as breaking the backbone of developing countries with already weak economies but subsequently many other related sectors are suffering as well.
WHAT OTHER SECTORS ARE GETTING AFFECTED BY COVID-19?
Tourism is one of the important sectors because it goes hand in hand with the aviation industry, restaurants (Gastronomic), and the hospitality industry. All these industries are deeply rooted in each other. Let's have a look at how the coronavirus is affecting the two other sectors.
The pandemic has sparked immense fear in people. They are afraid to travel to an unknown land only to get trapped there in a lockdown. The fear of being stuck in an unknown country away from your loved ones and the ones you can count on is a scary experience. It did happen with most of the people, especially in China, when it closed its borders, initially, a lot of people weren’t allowed to leave the country.
The virus spread in the whole world mainly because people were traveling from one place to another. South Asian countries who, at first, seemed to be saved from the Pandemic eventually caught it because of people traveling from affected areas.
Even after the lockdown is lifted and lives start to get back to normal, countries would be reluctant to have tourists over and people would be reluctant to travel as well. People are more vulnerable in a plane because of closed spaces.
Moreover, you never know the place you are going, the people you are interacting with are completely cured, and hence there will always be a fear of such virus spreading, and literally no one would want a second wave of disaster. Traveling would only be made possible if strict rules are imposed and thorough screening is done along with an assessment of medical reports of people traveling. Such restrictions would only discourage people to travel at least for some time in the near future.
Like a domino, the hospitality industry will collapse with the fall of tourism. Worldwide all conventions, meetings, public events have either been canceled or postponed to an unknown date. No one knows how long this situation will continue, making the future seem quite grim for hotel owners.
Consequently, this industry is also being pushed into recession as well. Hotel owners are bound to face huge financial losses because at the moment even though there is no footfall still hotels need to pay their bills, salaries of their employees, and other utilities. If this goes on any longer, employees would be sacked off and hotels shut down.
Increased unemployment, increased liabilities, lack of security will discourage people from investing in hotel shares. Even after the crises is over, most hotels would have been shut down and those remaining will have no funds to keep up their hygiene and customer service standards. With no safe place to stay and lack of hygiene, tourists will be reluctant to travel; only a very small chunk who would find thrill in this wilderness.
The biggest selling point for any restaurant these days is “contactless delivery” and “Health and Hygiene insured.” Restaurants are using these promotional phrases now. But what guarantee there is that the person preparing the meal is following all health and safety standards. Hence, people are divided in their opinions about ordering food from restaurants.
Those who would hardly eat home food are now scared for their lives and are preparing their meals at home. The way everything has been abruptly shut down there is no one to make sure that that the kitchens are clean and products are fresh; there are a lot of trust issues involved now. These are just the city restaurants, if you talk about those between the mountains or, in areas where people are often not fairly equipped with sanitizers to maintain the level of cleanliness required at the moment are probably in worse conditions.
Restaurants are a big part of tourism, but now no visitor would want to take that risk of eating out for a few months even after the bans have been lifted and people continue with their lives as normal. No customers mean no funds to maintain the restaurant. A lot of small-scale businesses would be shut down because of the lack of budget.
WHICH FORMS OF TOURISM WILL BE LEAST AFFECTED AND WHY?
Niche Tourism: It focuses on a certain area of interest. There are various niches when it comes to tourism. For example, Wildlife. For someone who is interested particularly in wildlife can roam around in the jungle. While this may not work right away, but after some time once lockdowns have been eased, niche tourism would continue to flourish.
Sustainable Tourism: This kind of tourism is about improving the environment of the place you are visiting. NGOs and even private travelers or social workers would want other countries or places to get back on their feet as soon as possible. This type of tourism can be expected to increase more domestically than internationally.
Ecotourism: It is more about protecting the environment, where people try to be as eco-friendly and adopt an organic lifestyle in an attempt to protect the area they are visiting. This is usually done in a small restricted group of people, hence minimizing any virus threats.
Volunteer Tourism: It is when you travel, not for recreation, but to help the less fortunate in the community – domestically and internationally. Social workers will probably keep traveling to help the less fortunate.
Medical Tourism: People with medical emergencies and needs will have no choice in this matter. Whether they are traveling with in the country or internationally, they need to do that. This form of tourism would stay unaffected or least affected.
Summing It Up
We all miss traveling, but it looks like that this year, the only time we can explore a foreign country is by skipping through travel channels with our DirectTV remote.
Recession is swallowing up the whole world, and nobody knows will when will economies able to come back to the level they were before. The oil price fell below $1 per barrel, which is more than alarming. It is evident that the travel industry will be one of the most damaged industries due to this COVID 19 situation. Hypothetically, around 4-6 months are needed for it to function properly and generate revenue for the country.