Covid-19! The Travel Industry: What now?
- by Hama Chawanda
- March 27, 2020
It’s a no brainer that the Covid-19 pandemic has done detrimental damage to the Travel and Tourism industry. No one is travelling, resorts are closing, airports and airlines are all on lockdown. People are afraid to travel.
Businesses in the travel industry are now faced with a serious threat to their going concern. They are faced with a number of issues including how to handle prebookings, prepackaged holidays, and other operational activities among other things.
Depending on the level of spread the disease will reach, there will be a highly likely case of legacy effect. Legacy effect referring to the stigma associated with the destinations even after the virus has been contained (eg China, Italy).
Indeed the future looks gloomy for the industry. But, unlike the past pandemics, these have occurred at a time where dissemination of information isn’t as quick as today. This gives businesses a good fighting chance.
Positively, businesses have been given a perfect opportunity to realign strategies, review business processes, and give marketing more attention as to sales. Now more than ever, close cooperation within the industry players is very important.
The World Economic Forum projects the industry might require 10 months to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. This can only be true if the virus gets contained.
In as much as the private players have a responsibility to assist in the rejuvenation of demand for the destinations, it is important to note that the pandemic will eat heavily on the revenue of private companies leaving them vulnerable and of little help financially. Therefore, the governments should look at ways to rejuvenate demand for their destinations.
The World Travel and Tourism Council advice that governments should remove or simplify visas where possible, cut taxes and introduce incentives.
Before we even speak of the aftermath of Covid-19, massive Public Relations and Awareness campaigns must be launched to keep tourists updated on the developments of Covid-19 at the destination, and the efforts being made to prevent and contain the virus. Focus must be given as to why the destination should remain a top priority to any travellers so as to maintain the appeal of destination even after the pandemic.
A clear message must be sent out to dispel any false myths about Covid-19 which can be associated with the destinations. At an era where false information is easily spread, it’s important for destinations to have official channels to disseminate information specifically important to tourists.
The government must support the industry to deal with prebookings and package holiday players. Prebookings must be dealt with carefully so as to protect the consumers as well as the businesses. These present make it or break it scenario as failure to handle it precisely could earn a destination a bad reputation or lead to the failure of businesses.
Businesses must use their digital platforms to connect with their customers by sending out newsletters, updates, and posts on the state of Covid-19 at their resorts and destinations they operate at.
Covid-19 pandemic has put the world to a standstill. The travel industry will be hit the hardest as it relies on movement from point A to B and human interaction, all of which are the major causes of the rapid spread of the virus. The biggest tools now the industry can use to reduce the impacts are information and awareness. When used properly these tools can reduce the recovery period on the aftermath of the Coronavirus, Covid-19.