The World Tourism industry was already facing a significant challenge from growing awareness about the environmental crisis. And now it is one of the sectors worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
The World Tourism is in economic crisis due to travel restrictions and lockdown measures. These measures adopted to check the spread of the virus has effectively shut down the industry. For the first time in history, close to 90% of the world’s population now lives in countries with travel restrictions.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) predicts that the impact of this crisis on world tourism will be five times that of the global financial crisis. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has also recognized tourism as one of the most vulnerable sectors that is likely to see a severe fall in jobs as a result of the COVID-19.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in the first three months of the year, there was a decline of 22% in international tourist arrivals. They even predicted a fall of 60%-80% in international tourist arrivals for 2020, which would mean a loss of between $910 billion to $1.2 trillion in earnings from world tourism.
An estimated 25 million aviation jobs and 100 million travel and tourism jobs are at risk. Bloomberg has projected that this pandemic could cost the world $2.7 trillion, equivalent to the UK economy.
Economic impact of COVID-19 on tourism value chain
With the downfall of the world tourism industry, all the sectors relating to it are facing the chain reaction.
According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), there would be overall reduction of 2,247 to 2,997 million passengers in 2020 which would be a potential loss of $289 to $387 billion in the gross operating revenues of airlines.
ICAO also revealed that Airline loses $126 billion in passenger revenue from Jan to May 2020. And, the Airports lose approximately $97 billion from Jan to May 2020.
ICAO estimates that the crisis will result in a decline in international tourism receipts of between $910 to $1,170 billion in 2020, compared to the $1.5 trillion generated in 2019.
The global cruise industry supports over 1.17 million jobs, from the ground and air transportation to food and beverage, lodging, manufacturing, hotels, professional services, and a broad range of suppliers and service providers throughout the world. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 this vast community, is losing up to 2,500 jobs each day.
From mid-March, when the suspension of cruise operations began, through the end of September, the worldwide impact will be a loss of $50 billion in economic activity, 334,000 jobs and $15 billion in wages.
Experts projected 2020 as the worst year for the world hospitality industry. The industry has seen a decline of 50% in revenue and a loss of $124 billion this year.
According to Oxford Economics and Hotel Effectiveness, 70% of hotel employees have been laid off or furloughed, and nearly 3.9 million hotel-supported jobs have been lost.
Individual hotels and major operators are projecting occupancies below 20%. At an occupancy rate of 35% or lower, hotels may close their doors, putting 33,000 small businesses at immediate risk.
STR reported that in May, U.S. hotel operating profits fell by 105% compared to last year. All these facts point out that hoteliers have no revenue to pay their costs.
This pandemic is causing damage to the global restaurant industry as well. Due to social distancing, people are dining out very less.
According to the source, there is a decline of 44.2% seated diners in restaurants worldwide. Experts predict that the global restaurant business will lose nearly $600 billion in 2020.
Restaurants are closing due to the losses. For example- fast-food giant Pizza Hut announced it would shut 300 outlets in the US, following the bankruptcy of a key franchisee there.
This type of closures affects related industries as well, such as food production, liquor, wine, and beer production, food and beverage shipping, fishing, and farming.
Business, Exhibition, and Event travel
Due to the coronavirus, many companies around the globe have canceled or suspended business travel. The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry estimated that more than 500 trade shows were canceled, which amounts to a loss of EUR 23 billion.
Even the event planning industry of $325 billion is in danger. Many international events were postponed or canceled, including the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the Cannes Film Festival, or the Coachella festival.
The US-based event management company Eventbrite has to lay-off 45% of its employees and faced a loss of $146.5 million.
Steps towards the restart of the World Tourism industry during COVID-19
Restarting tourism is a more difficult task while ongoing pandemic than shutting it down. As the economic crisis evolves, the industry is now working with governments to facilitate recovery.
In Spain, authorities are now preparing a Tourist Recovery Plan, based on four pillars- Health, Support, Knowledge, and Promotion.
The Prime Minister of France, announced that the Government will allocate measures worth EUR 18 billion to support the tourism sector.
In Estonia, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications in co-operation with the Kredex Foundation and Enterprise Estonia has developed an aid package of EUR 25 million for supporting the tourism sector.
Finland introduced a campaign called “100 reasons to travel in Finland” to encourage domestic tourism.
The European Commission published a package on tourism and transport in 2020 and beyond. This package includes guidelines and instructions to assist EU countries gradually lift travel constraints, allow businesses to reopen, and restore traveler’s confidence.
The U.S. travel industry in collaboration with medical experts and a broad array of businesses and organizations developed, “Travel in the New Normal” guidance. This guidance describes the measures that the travel industry will follow to allow travel to resume safely.
In Hungary, the government provided assistance of HUF 750 billion to support tourism industry.
Also, UNWTO formed The Global Tourism Crisis Committee. This Committee endorses UNWTO’s global guidelines to restart tourism, an action plan focused on the priorities for tourism recovery.
In this way, governments all around the world are taking initiatives to help world tourism to recover from this economic crisis.
New Norms being adopted for travel during COVID-19
Here are the new norms which are being adopted all around the world for traveling during this pandemic:
Face mask, the new necessity
We all know that wearing face masks in public places is compulsory, and it comes as no surprise that the International Air Transport Association has made face coverings mandatory for both passengers and crew members throughout the journey.
The anxiety of closeness between people and the need to avoid packed places will play an important role. Museums, festivals, shows, bars, and nightclubs will be affected the most by this new reality.
Nowadays, in airplanes, buses, and trains, the seat next to the passenger is kept empty for maintaining social distance.
The author Ross Dawson predicts that a new kind of plane class will come in the future that he jokingly refers to as an “isolation class,” which will be small cabins with dividers to form a small room, as we have seen in some airlines’ first-class cabins.
Many hospitality businesses are setting up screens to separate some areas from customers. Even in taxis, you’ll see screens to separate the driver’s area from the passenger’s.
Temperature checks at everyplace will become a new norm. Whether you travel by – plane, bus, train, ship or you visit – different travel destinations, hotels, malls, or anywhere, you will have to follow this norm.
The most immediate change will be a shift to touchless travel from airport curbside to hotel check-in. The entire sector will be automated.
More touchless alternatives will come into action, including contactless fingerprint, iris, and face recognition. Moreover, technology for touchless data-entry such as gesture control, touchless document scanning, and voice commands are under the trial phase.
PPE vending machines
There is always something we forget to pack for a trip. As the whole world is going through behavioral change and learning new habits, it is normal that someone forgets to carry the new necessities.
So to resolve that problem, you might see vending machines at different locations such as airports, bus stands, railway stations, and tourist places, etc.
Digital initiatives to verify passenger health and assuring cleanliness
Efforts to develop health protocols and standards using digital technology for the tourism industry are still in their initial stages. With the passenger’s consent, travel companies and airlines could use personal data such as their age, underlying health conditions, and travel history to compile an individual risk profile.
The use of thermal cameras at airports is becoming more widespread, and several symptom-tracking and contact-tracing apps now exist in many countries.
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), authorities have deployed Intelligent Sterilization Robots equipped with ultraviolet light sterilizers that roam the airport, disinfecting passenger facilities.
Nevotek, a global provider of cloud-based hospitality tech solutions, recently released NevoTouchless, a groundbreaking product that allows guests to access hotel services via their own mobile devices.
KT Corporation released its second-generation GiGA Genie hotel robot, named N Bot, which delivers water bottles, fresh towels, and other amenities to guests at Seoul’s Novotel Ambassador Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences.
Full-body disinfection booths
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), have set-up a full-body disinfection facility called CleanTech.
In it, passengers and airport staff undergo temperature checks before entering an enclosed channel for a 40-second sanitizing procedure.
Passengers would undergo a health screening, and potentially even a blood test or nasal swab ahead of a flight or upon arrival.
Emirates began COVID-19 blood tests of passengers departing from its hub in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The tests gave results within 10 minutes.
Hong Kong introduced COVID-19 testing for all arrivals, making it the first place to do so.
Some countries are not taking the chance of testing. They have straight away refused the entrance of passengers who don’t have a certificate of immunity stating they have recovered from an infection or a health certificate confirming that they are not corona positive.
There might be people appointed in trains or aboard flights dedicated to keeping high-touch areas clean.
SimpliFlying brings up the possibility of in-flight janitors whose job will be to clean the high-touch areas during flights.
Visitor Limits and pre-reservation on Tourist Attractions
To maintain social distancing norms, museums, landmarks, and other famous attractions around the world could limit the visitor’s capacity.
They could even start requiring visitors to pre-book tickets and time slots on their website, well in advance of a visit.
Some countries are thinking of a new concept for traveling named travel bubbles. These bubbles will be traveling groups – individuals who know each other and feel safe traveling with each other.
These groups will share the same accommodation and cabin space in aircraft, thereby minimizing contact with strangers.
This concept will encourage people to travel.
Now even bags would be disinfected when entering the X-ray machine, using UV-ray techniques. Bags will be then sanitagged before being loaded onto planes.
Flight attendants and Passenger wearing PPE kits
To provide greater reassurance to customers, you might see flight attendants wearing full-body protective gear over their uniforms.
Even to make passengers feel safe, airlines will provide complete PPE (personal protective equipment) to them, including masks, gloves, and small-size disposable sanitation and cleaning products for use on surfaces and items.
No hot meals
In-flight and train food services have been cut off to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Now passengers get a water bottle at the beginning of every flight.
SimpliFlying proposes that passengers might start purchasing their meals at touchless vending machines preflight.
Virtual reality (VR)
Virtual reality is one immersive technology that could boost the world tourism industry’s comeback. This technology can help in easing out consumer uncertainty related to travel.
VR facilitates consumers to experience a trial before they schedule their vacations. This concept may become increasingly important within the booking process due to the impact created by the coronavirus.
Coronavirus has affected us all. It has permanently changed our belief of what it means to lead a normal life. These thoughts have drained into how we will approach travel as well.
It might take a lot of time for the world tourism industry to recover from this economic crisis. However, wider technology adoption, traveling and investing in communities, and being flexible will help the industry.
If you have any opinions on the future of travel, let us know in the comments section below.