Geneva (Switzerland) – March 30, 2020 /travelindex.com/ by Bernard Metzger, Founder, Travelindex – Aggressive containment measures by governments around the world had an immediate severe economic impact but are helping to contain the virus spread, leading to lesser long-term negative economic implications. Previous disease outbreaks recovered to pre-outbreak levels in six to ten months after the peak of the outbreak but for some destinations the visitor numbers recovered only after 19 months.
For tourism to bounce back, we need to see a normalization and all restrictions to be lifted as well as a rebound in consumer confidence.
Gradual recovery – How fast?
Is the covid-19 going to disappear completely in the near future or are we going to get into a period of cyclical virus-waves? Or are we going to end up with low-level endemic disease that we have to deal with in the long term?
The answers to these questions will also determine how governments will modify the current travel limitations or uplift restrictions therefore how tourism will recover.
In an ideal scenario, on September 1st, 2020 (hypothetically) the world will be declared corona virus free and all travel restrictions will be lifted, people start traveling again, airlines resume all their routes and hotel are re-opening.
The World Economic Forum forecasts that once the outbreak is over, it could take up to 10 months for the industry to recover. Tourism Economics expect a full recovery by 2023, based on how the travel industry recuperated from past slumps, once the situation has stabilized.
Several factors will have a direct impact on the speed of recovery (a) official travel restrictions, (b) events reinstatement, (c) travelers risk aversion or fear factor, (d) consumers disposable personal income.
People travel for distinct reasons: business and work, leisure and holidays, events and MICE, family and friends visits but most people don’t have to travel, they choose to. Each category will recover at a different pace, in line with national and international travel restrictions and on their free own choice.
States will modulate their restrictions according to the travel intend of each individual travelers. For economic reasons the “business traveler”, defined as a person contributing essential services to the community or to an enterprise, will be granted “travel privileges” before the leisure traveler. Initially, governments will weight benefits of lifting travel restrictions against traveler’s contribution to the national economy and well-being of its people.
Governments from around the world have to recognize the key role tourism can play in response and recovery of the covid-19 crisis.
Many countries have already enacted multi-billion-dollar fiscal stimulus measures to offset the massive, coronavirus-induced hits to their respective economies, including the tourism sector. In a number of countries, the state will control tourism assets (airlines) which will have a direct bearing on their decisions on travel restrictions and on the reopening of routes, which ones and how soon.
Destination marketing organizations are facing difficult times and 80 percent of destination organizations surveyed in North America have reduced or postponed sales and marketing spending. However, destinations have every reason to launch inventive and genuinely uplifting campaigns, now. Estonia launched a campaign “visit estonia…later…stayhome” in line with the hashtag #TravelTomorrow launched by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), trending on Twitter and emphasizing that we will travel tomorrow for the right reasons, creating opportunities for all, making positive change and building a better future for people and planet.
The tourism sector is resilient but economic, financial, psychological and even privacy concerns will make travel decision more difficult. The future of global tourism will be determined by us and our behavior, our governments as much as the virus.