How you can contribute in saving the tourism industry
By Kepha Olwal Otieno
| March 25th 2020
the travel and tourism industry provides a source of livelihood to millions,
both directly and indirectly, supporting and enabling for the achievement of
various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The industry is one of the
largest economic sectors, with an estimated revenue generation of $8.8 trillion
annually, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). It is, therefore, quite
vital for various economies to ensure there are sustainable crisis mitigation
strategies in the wake of pandemics as it is currently the case. These
strategies should seek to preserve the current benefit of the industry, such as
the 320 million jobs generated globally.
coronavirus poses the biggest challenge to the travel and tourism industry
since World War II, and this could see the industry take its biggest financial
hit since the 1939-1945 war period. The medical crisis poses a challenge to
both developed and developing economies. Currently, the impact of the
coronavirus is being felt, with most airlines grounding their fleets to help
curb the spread of the virus. This has been initiated by some destinations
locking down their borders as a precautionary action, a case in point being
Italy, which has been hit devastatingly with the crisis. According to the head
of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the virus could cost 50 million
jobs worldwide, and Kenya is not immune to these ugly statistics.
tourism industry has gone through several crisis phases, with the most recent
being the post-election violence of 2007/2008. It is from this crisis that the
industry was recovering and making a possible comeback to its glory days, with
last year's data indicating slight improvements in terms of revenue generated
and guest arrivals. Data from the International Air Transport Association
(IATA) reflect a 4.3% increase in revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) for
airlines operating in Africa in last year's trading period. The Kenya Tourism
Board (KTB) forecasted this data to play a critical role in tourism growth in
the year 2020 that would enable the industry to bounce back to its heydays. The
predictions were based on current political stability and heightened security
in the country.
It is at
this point that we, as travelers need to evaluate the impacts of the current
actions on the industry both locally and globally in the short and long term.
Despite all the current pandemic, there is a silver lining, experts at Tourism
Economics expect a full recovery by 2023 based on past slumps after the
situation has stabilized. The question at the moment is, how can we contribute
to helping the industry at this trying moment? Based on previous global crises,
after the recovery process, there is usually some significant increase in
travel and tourism activities. In as much as the coronavirus is continuing to
spread around the world at an alarming rate, the following actions may help the
tourism industry to avoid major slump than it is already facing.
to airline industry expert Robert Mann, 'the reaction of businesses to the
threat does not necessarily match reality, but the impact is still real.' That
the impact of governments' directories not to travel is relatively adverse to
various stakeholders in the industry. Mann adds that the medical crisis is more
of a behavioral economic problem where people throw probabilities out the
window, react irrationally. Socially oriented businesses are left to pay the
price. With the increase in victim numbers worrying is warranted, it is safe to
remember that your panic actions will have an impact on the destination both in
the short and long run.
informed to critical and credible news relating to both the crisis and its
impacts on the industry is crucial, the information you receive and circulate
are both held in high esteem, in an era where almost everyone is a marketer.
Checking in with a trusted source like the World Health Organization (WHO) or
the Centre for Disease and Control regularly enables one to be informed with
the latest updates. It is also essential to understand the available options
concerning your earlier planned vacation and travel. Call your travel
consultant to make changes to earlier bookings. Remembering that once the
crisis is over, travelling will go through the roof as people will be lusting
to travel and see the world.
traveling at a later date.
cancelling your travel plans, your organized event, or seminar, how about you
reschedule to a later date when things go back to how they were. It is vital to
be considerate of the sector that ranges from transportation, food, and
beverage, entertainment, among other connected industries, and the impact of a cancellation
on all these players. As the travel industry is trudging on these uncharted
territories, most of the industry stakeholders will surely reward those who
will have stood by them during their lowest moments. Businesses in the tourism
industry are witnessing evaporation in consumer demand, so cancelling at this
moment proves to be detrimental to the businesses involved.
virtual tours through live streaming, reading books, and articles on travel
destinations that you'd love to travel to soon or the ones that you had booked
earlier. Google maps and other navigation applications have made it easy for
one to travel virtually and half quench their thirst to visit a destination. In
this period, one should not lose their curiosity and desire to learn of other
countries and cultures; learning the destinations and the primary language is a
start if you are not conversant with it. Taking these activities ensures
minimal contact with strangers while at the same time enjoying the pleasure
that travels bring with it. Try the destination's typical recipes at your home,
of which you can go a step further by sharing the content online with your
to the UNWTO directive by some government to citizens not to travel, will not
stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The world governing agency on matters
travel and tourism encourage the industry to develop adequate measures that
prevent the spread of the virus and, at the same time, support the industry's
existence and sustenance. For example, one should consider a no-contact
drop-off delivery from local restaurants and businesses, engaging in low social
impact tourism activities such as meditation tourism and staying at a remote
forest cabin. Travel to faraway destinations while at the same time follow the
local government's directives relating to the crisis, such as self-quarantining
for the specified duration.
We love to
travel; we love to meet and interact with new faces that offer us that warm,
welcoming smile to that new destination we've never been to before or keep
going to over and over again. Well, given the nature of the current crisis,
those are quite some problematic moves at the moment. It is would only be
prudent to shelve those immediate travel plans that you had made this week and
the few weeks to follow. Staying at home will also help in keeping you and all
your loved ones safe from contracting the virus.
that there are people's lives and future at stake during this time is very
paramount and taking your part in helping fight the pandemic. During this time,
the Sustainable Development Goal number 17 will be significantly tested on how
the world can come together to solve a common problem through partnership and
collaboration. Throughout history, humans have been identified as social
beings; our strengths as humans is through our cooperation and coming together.
The coronavirus is testing the ability to come together and solve the common
problem. Remember to take care; keep safe. Wash your hands!
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