How Badly Hit is the Tourism Industry During COVID-19?
Amongst the many sectors which have been impacted due to the whole COVID-19 pandemic, global tourism is surely one of the most hit ones. Before the tourism industry matches the pre-COVID-19 recovery levels, there will be a cumulative drop between $3 to $8 trillion. The recovery of the tourism industry during COVID-19 and post-it will surely be slow. The countries’ dependency will majorly drive the recovery on both nonaid and domestic travel.
By the end of 2020, international tourism had fallen by almost 80%. The destinations that were relying on international and business events were the ones that were struggling at most. Many regional, coastal, and rural areas were doing much better than the cities, which saw a huge drop in tourism.
Although with the news of the vaccine spreading, there is a new hope received in the tourism sector, and one can expect that things will get back to normal in the tourism sector within a year or two. Although, it will still take a couple of years for the industry to revive back in full swing and start making profits.
Factors Which Affect the Recovery of the Tourism Industry During COVID-19
As stated above, the tourism industry’s recovery will depend on the economy’s strength of reviving back. Still, there are other factors as well, which will impact the recovery of the tourism industry, and managing these factors could act as a turnaround game for the tourism industry:
Attractive Quotient of the Domestic Country
To sustain the overall domestic travel and substitute the international trips, the attractiveness of the domestic country will play a huge role in deciding the revival of the tourism industry during COVID-19 in that particular country.
How dependent tourism is on air travel will have a key focus to play. Due to health concerns and safety measures, people are avoiding travel by air. Hence, if a tourist destination can be reached without travelling via air, it is likely to perform better.
Factors Related to Health and Hygiene
Regardless of a domestic or international country, the health standards will surely play a huge role in influencing the traveller’s decision.
Importance of Business Travel
The urgency of business travel is more pronounced than leisure travelling. Hence, this depends a lot on how the businesses from different sectors will be seen performing.
The impact of the environment will have a huge role in affecting the travellers’ decisions.
Expectations – Slow Recovery of the Tourism Industry
A very optimistic recovery standard would be to combine the rebounding economies and the virus containment. This will see a recovery of almost 85% of the 2019 volumes by the end of 2021. A full recovery can be expected by the end of 2023. However, in terms of a pessimistic outlook, the recovery in 2021 compared to 2019 could be as low as 60%. The recovery rate depends on multiple factors combined.
Domestic Tourism to Recover at a Faster Rate:
Domestic tourism will start coming back to normal next year, and international tourism will take an extra 1-2 years to revive back to 80% of the normal. Although multiple factors drive this, such as:
- Restrictions of travel should be fewer within the country.
- There should be more substitutions to non-based air travelling such as trains, bikes, and cars.
- There should be more business travel.
In addition to this, domestic travel is also expected to recover at a much faster speed than the hotel industry. As a result, people will prefer staying in vacation rentals or at friends’ or families’ places.
Since people have been locked up at their homes for months now due to the first and second wave of COVID-19, they have been craving to step out and get some change. For this reason, travelling will surely begin, but only in the domestic markets. Nevertheless, people will still be apprehensive enough to move and roam around internationally. That fear will surely be there for quite some time now and will be worn off only gradually.
Recovery Speed Depends on the Markets
The recovery impact is likely to vary across different countries. A faster recovery will be supported by the country’s tourism department and overall connectivity, especially land transport. This has to be a total combined effort of the government and various other stakeholders involved. Land connectivity and domestic transport have to go hand-in-hand to provide travellers with different mediums to travel with ease.
Drawing From the Initial Lessons and Charting Ways Forward for the Tourism Policy
COVID-19 has surely given a huge shock to the tourism industry. As the pandemic continues to evolve slowly, returning to the business just like usual is a little unlikely. Policymakers will need to learn from the past crisis to build a resilient and stronger tourism economy for the future days.
The crisis has acted as a call of action for all the governments at every level to respond in a very coordinated way. The crisis has also highlighted the importance of having an integrated tourism policy for a speedy recovery.
Delivering speedy resources and accessible support throughout is very vulnerable to the tourism industry. To reactivate tourism, countries will have to work together, as the actions taken by each government will have direct and indirect implications for the businesses and travellers across the different countries and will also impact the global tourism industry as a whole.
The overall outlook of the tourism industry does remain uncertain. It will take leaps and bounds of effort and time for the industry to revive, but it surely will take the right measures. There has to be a ‘Unified & Combined’ effort by everyone.
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