Although it seems as if coronavirus is rising again, and threatening to ruin the summer of 2021, it looks like the world is beginning to live alongside COVID-19.
At different rates, most countries are in the process of exiting the reality of the closures, with forecasts talking about a (partial) return of the tourism market to activity during the summer, under some restrictions, created to maintain low Infection rates as possible.
There is no doubt that coronavirus has changed our lives, and as is well known it is the tourism industry that has been hit perhaps more than any other commercial sector. More than a year since the onset of the epidemic, the numbers are staggering tourism destinations have dropped by about a billion international arrivals in 2020 compared to 2019. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), tourism traffic has fallen by 74% in 2020 compared to 2019. This decline in international travel has led to a loss of about $ 1.3 trillion in export revenue, more than 11 times the loss during the last economic crisis in 2009.
Therefore, after millions of workers around the world have lost their jobs, there is no doubt that the goal of all players in the tourism and hospitality field, is to return to full activity and try to cover as much as possible on the many losses incurred.
The international community must take significant action to ensure that 2021 will be better for tourism. Millions of jobs and businesses around the world depend on it.
In this sense, the vaccines are like the light at the end of the tunnel, giving the hope of returning to normal life, while accepting the likely possibility that COVID-19 will continue to be a part of our lives to some extent.
But the question arises as to what the world of tourism in general and the world of hotels will look like in 2021 and future years, now that we understand coronavirus isn't going anywhere? We will try to answer this question in this article:
The challenges facing the tourism industry
Upon completion of the closures, many hotels and guesthouses rushed to adopt stricter health and cleaning regulations, to satisfy guests and persuade people to book and stay in hotels. There is hardly a tourism business today that does not present COVID-19. guidelines, with the aim of calming public apprehension. But are these measures enough to make tourists return en masse to hotels or will we see different kind of tourism in the coming years?
First, it should be borne in mind that not in all countries are vaccination efforts gaining momentum and that there are still those who refuse to be vaccinated. This means that if many countries adopt the "green passport" approach and restrict or ban unvaccinated entry, this will of course affect the tourism world and reduce the number of tourists, and may even affect domestic tourism, to countries that enforce green passport policies internally as well.
Second, coronavirus has also had a severe economic impact, and many have lost their businesses or livelihoods, which will also be a factor that will prevent many from travel and take vacations or at least make them look for more economically viable forms of tourism.
According to The Conversation, these challenges will shape our decisions when it comes to booking a holiday. They believe people booking holidays by destination or attractions. Instead, industry and tourists alike will be much more concerned with the traveller's personal needs.
People are likely to make more informed choices when it comes to trips and holidays. There will be less willingness to compromise. Expectations from service providers will be higher and more demanding compared to the period before COVID-19, certainly when it comes to health and safety issues. Hotels and resorts will have to regularly meet high standards of hygiene, which already requires increased preparation and more complex operation and maintenance, and they must be prepared for this to be the new routine and the health and safety procedures now adopted are not temporary or transient.
The most notable change, which we in Israel are already noticing, is the rise of domestic tourism. When there are restrictions on flights and in any case many countries still do not allow foreign tourists, a domestic holiday that does not require a flight is an available and simpler option.
In Costa Rica, for example, national holidays have been temporarily moved to Mondays to support domestic tourism by extending weekends.
There are governments that have provided financial support, whether directly or through soft loans and guarantees to industry. Thailand, for example, has allocated $ 700 million to domestic tourism, while Vanuatu has offered grants to small and medium-sized enterprises. Many countries have also helped companies adapt their business models and train their employees. In Jamaica, the government has provided free online certification classes to 10,000 tourism workers to help improve their skills.
Technology can also play an important role. With social alienation protocols and health and hygiene protocols likely to remain in place in the foreseeable future, the provision of non-contact services and investments in digital technology may be a bridge to recovery.
In addition, if travel cuts continue longer, some tourism-dependent countries may have to embark on a long and difficult journey to diversify their economies. Investing in non-tourism sectors is a long-term goal, but it is also possible to strengthen the links between the tourism industry and industries such as agriculture, manufacturing and entertainment. In Jamaica, for example, an online platform has been launched that allows buyers in the hotel industry to purchase goods directly from local farmers. Exports can also be expanded, including services, using regional agreements to address the constraints posed by size economies.
In conclusion, the coronavirus has changed our lives and we will probably going to have to learn how to live beside it, as its effects will remain with us. We are witnessing a perceptual change in the field of tourism in the form of the work of airports, airlines, hotels, resorts, etc. Respectively, our behavior as tourists has also changed. This is not to say that the change will be for the worse, perhaps even the opposite. New avenues have opened for us that can be exploited to create a different tourism industry. More sustainable. More considerate and of greater significance. This is a challenge facing industry people, to take this lemon and turn it into a wonderful lemonade.