-Innovational Solutions Post COVID-19
Tourism, the industry that generated 10% of job in the world and hundreds of billions of dollars, is the pillar of many countries and regions’ economy is bleeding heavily now due to COVID-19 pandemic situation worldwide. But in some parts of the world the situation is under control so many places are reopening. When people can go out their home, does it mean that travel will resume? How soon will tourism industry will recover? And how?
Many international tourism organizations and researchers are studying the situation and searching the innovational solutions for the new world post COVID-19. Meanwhile, all the countries that already reopen, are doing their best to climbing back. But without vaccine for this virus, 96% of the world tourist destinations have post travel restrictions, and many countries still close their boarders to tourists, it is still very uncertain for international traveling. Air travel and Cruise travel dropped to the never-seen-low level, 2/3 of air fleet worldwide are parked away, which makes connections impossible. But after weeks, months, quarantine inside the house, people want to get out, they need to visit their family, people need to go home. Travel is not easy, but it is essential. In China, people stretched their legs in their first after-quarantine-5-day vacation in labor day holiday: the new regulations of online reservation is required to all the destinations or parks, health code is mandatary, limited capacity and flow control are a must in all indoor places, contact and tracing Apps works to help isolating potential massive spread. there were 1150 million travels and 47.5 billion RMB (about 6.9 billion dollars) generated. So, there are needs, there are opportunities. There are hopes for tourism industry passing this “frozen period”.
So, in my opinion, recovery will be in 2 phases. First one is after-reopening before-vaccine time, second one will be after-vaccine time. Obviously, in phase one, domestic travel will be favorable and probably the only practical way for most people. In United States, many national parks and cabin resorts, start to receive a lot of inquiries and reservations online. Beaches still a question if it is safe to spend longer period time with hard to control crowds. But the trend is clear, remote areas, natural environment are people’s vacation choices. Then, business will need to make those destinations more accessible, with more services to help people to avoid direct contact, like grocery shopping services, for example. Also, driving is a safe and affordable way to travel. It was a new trend for young families, no it will be more popular for most domestic travelers. RV (Recreation Vehicle) rental and sell are picking up. Many RV rental companies in China, during this year 1st of May Labor Day holiday, completely booked before the holiday started. So, destinations and business need to facilitating RV parking and supplies, to attract people to come. Luxury hotels are traveler’s new favorite during pandemic for the specious room and the conveniences with minimum human contact. Many of them are planning how to open to local communities to create more revenue when there are less international and business travelers.
And maybe visiting a well-known luxury hotel and having coffee or meal will be a new tour soon. Museums all over the world has been offering virtual tour to their visitors during lockdown, and it was not only keep connection with their fans, but also did give a chance for people to really “see” and know all the exhibited pieces, which create more interests and desires to visit the museum. This communication channel will be very effective to keep potential visitors about new exhibits and virtually involved people with museum activities even after reopening.
In phase 2, after we have a vaccine and the world has been vaccinated and protected from COVID-19, travel will be as safe as before. However, the post COVID-19 economy is traumatized, struggles to stay up or to sink less. The International Monetary Fund predicted that “As a result of the pandemic, the global economy is projected to contract sharply by –3 percent in 2020, much worse than during the 2008–09 financial crisis. In a baseline scenario–which assumes that the pandemic fades in the second half of 2020 and containment efforts can be gradually unwound…” sky high unemployment and changes of business models force more people to temporally stop working. “Hundreds of millions of people could be left without work due to the impact of COVID-19”, the UN’s work agency warns. Businesses are struggling and people too. Many families will not have money and time to have vacation. And meanwhile, less people travel, less flights available, then tickets will be more expensive. “Travel will become luxury for many people.”- Elena Papanicolaou, Founder of “Fly Me to the Moon Travel” predicted in her post on LinkedIn. So that, for those people who can travel internationally will expecting more from their trip. This will eliminate those massive cheap tours and demands tour companies and local government of tourism destinations to “upgrade” their “products”, customized travel plan will become common. Domestic travel will continue to be the leading force of the recovery of tourism industry for few years. Tourism Economics predicted that world tourism industry might be able recover till 2023. Train travel will be an option in countries where there is good rail system. Many people in Europe are already wondering if it is necessary to have those inner European flights when they can just take train to travel within Europe. Plus, travel by train will give people chances to explore those small towns, not so-well-known places, instead of just go to those popular tourism destinations, which will help local business and small business.
Recovery of tourism industry will need go hand-in-hand with economic recovery, business and leisure tourism business definitely need to focus on what people wants and what they can do, change quick to adopt this new world after COVID-19. Domestic tourism has many potentials, right now, for tourism pull your sight back home is the solution.
By Li Guo