The momentum of the travel industry has come to a halt as a result of the global pandemic. The tourism sector which was at its boom and was one of the fastest-growing economic sectors globally, decimated by the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Amid cancelled flights to the closed border, travel and tourism came to a virtual standstill. The industry suffered a hard economic blow and was one of the most affected sectors since the very beginning of the outbreak. From masked cabin crew to hand sanitisers and disinfectants in lobbies of the hotels, contact tracing apps to localised lockdowns, PPE kits on airports to negative test reports, the pandemic transformed the world of travel and tourism.
With the vaccine rolling out across the world and the countries actively battling the deadly virus, industries are looking forward to rebuilding and re-emerge from the crisis, even when the recovery process is sure to be complicated and lengthy. Even though event cancellations and travel bans are in the distant past the hospitality industry will have to resiliently climb back to make up for the economic loss.
However, the industry has also weathered many catastrophic events in the past and has still emerged stronger than ever. There is uncertainty as to when things would go back to normal, and there are also some significant challenges posing a threat to the global travel industry. Travel activities have also seen stabilization and recovery in the markets recently.
How has Covid-19 affected the travel and tourism industry?
Nations all over the world applied travel restrictions to limit the spread of Covid-19. There was a suspension of outgoing and incoming flights, complete closures of airports, countrywide lockdowns, etc. were some of the measures that countries had to implement in an attempt to contain the spread of the deadly virus. As an inevitable economic impact of the pandemic, many regional airlines, independent travel agencies, and small to medium-sized hotels faced financial difficulty and bankruptcy, which makes it evident that recovery of the sector is not going to be homogeneous.
The smaller operators are hit harder than large businesses as an increase in the number of small businesses being shut down under comic pressure. The small and independent guest houses and eateries are struggling to survive, whereas boutique hotel chains may bounce back faster than anticipated.
The global travel and hospitality industry had to develop an extensive range of protocols to work with the new normal. Protective gear like shields and masks, cleaning, sanitization, and screening tools like the thermal and infrared scanners, six feet distance between individuals in queues, and reduced touchpoints, have become the strongest tools, to combat the pandemic.
Will it be safe to travel after taking the vaccine?
Even if the vaccines are implemented tomorrow the changes in the travel industry, such as contactless check-in at hotels and airports will not disappear. There may be some relaxation, but most of the controls will remain in place so that people feel safe towards travel.
An important message that remains imperative even after individuals have been vaccinated against Covid-19 is that the vaccines are not 100% effective and may take weeks to build up the immunity. However, the ability to transmit the virus even after immunization is still in the grey.
If one is deciding to go on a vacation, to travel for business, or any other reason, they should check the current infection rate in that area. The definition of safe travel is also changing every day, especially while parts of the world bat down the surge of cases connected to holiday travel and the new variants of the virus.
How is the global travel and tourism industry recovering?
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), a council that represents private-sector travel and tourism, is awarding global safety and hygiene stamps to the countries that have demonstrated strong commitment to reopen their travel and tourism sector as they continue to recover from the virus outbreak. For the tourists to recognize companies and governments around the world that have adopted global health and hygiene protocols, Safe Travels stamp has also been created by WTTC, so the tourists can also rest assured that they are safe.
The border restrictions are no more applicable, and almost all the countries have reopened their gates for international travel. However, it is still extremely essential to take all the precautionary measures even after vaccination.
Health and wellness practices are no longer ‘good-to-have’ in the post-Covid world but have become a necessity. All travellers expect higher standards to ensure their safety and well-being. There is most definitely a surge in digital tools that enable and expand the existing ‘no-touch’ option.
Although the pandemic shook the very foundation of the flourishing and vibrant travel sector, the players are optimistic to recover and bounce back soon as tourism and hospitality are a very essential component of the global economy. The world is slowly reviving from the Covid-19 pandemic, and there is hope that with the use of technology, intelligence, and perseverance, the travel and tourism sector of the entire world will recuperate back to its vibrancy and bustle. The industry has largely stabilized with all the domestic and international flights starting to work again with precautionary measures. As for the travellers, it is important to take the health guidelines and precautions seriously to maintain safety during these testing times.