Living With The Coronavirus
Humans have a natural wanderlust; a desire to travel around, and “see the world”. Perhaps, one of the major advances of our time is the conversion of this wanderlust into a billion-dollar industry. Every year, millions of people around the world spend billions of dollars on flight tickets, hotel reservations, and various other costs just for the experience of travelling.
These experiences involve visiting game reserves and historical monuments, taking memorable pictures, and immersing in a totally different culture by either trying out their dishes, language or taking souvenirs back home.
The Pandemic Sets In
Unfortunately, the tourism industry has been crippled by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. With countries on lockdown, most people cannot even leave their homes let alone travel to other countries for tourism. Popular sites like the Eiffel Tower in France, the sinking city of Venice and many others are deserted and uncharacteristically empty at times when they would have been teeming with visitors.
How exactly has the Coronavirus affected the global tourism industry and what are the possible ways in which the face of tourism will change after this? We examine these below:
This is the most obvious effects of the pandemic. Nearly all sectors of the world economy (perhaps excluding internet companies and tech generally) have felt the adverse effects of the pandemic. Tourism is not left out of this. With no travellers to buy plane tickets, no hotel reservations being booked, no entrance fees being paid, revenues are at an all-time low.
A good number of travelling and tourist agencies are likely to fold up; since zero income means the inability to pay staff and keep their businesses running. Beyond private organizations, the inability to issue tourist visas also means a drop in revenue for governments of countries with investments in tourism.
The future of the tourism industry depends on how the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
The first scenario, which we all hope is true, is that a vaccine or cure shows up soon. If that happens, then the outlook for the tourism industry is very positive. Lots of people will gladly book trips to destinations they had planned to visit before the outbreak, and the industry will see revenue numbers shooting right back up.
Unfortunately, it is not very likely to play out this way real soon. Vaccines typically take years before they can be cleared for mass usage. What is likely to happen is that this becomes the new normal, and we all learn to abide by social distancing rules. In that case, recovery for the tourism industry will be quite slow as there will be a limit on how many people can be granted access to tourist sites at once.
Perhaps it is time for the tourism industry to adopt technology in doing business in a post-COVID world. Virtual Reality tours that can give tourist immersive experience of various tourist destinations without leaving their homes, might become strong alternatives even though they’re not the same as an actual trip.
Whichever the case, we are all curious to see how this plays out.