Coronavirus. Probably a household name by now. Coronavirus has wrecked so many lives, and it’s hard to keep count anymore. For the first time, it feels like us, all of us, are in the same boat. It doesn’t matter which country you are from, what your nationality is. Coronavirus remains a threat that everybody shall remember even in the times to come.
Today, however, we aren’t going to speak about all the sectors affected by the pandemic. We are going to talk about the one hit the hardest – the Tourism Industry. An industry banking on travel and chronicling the culture and heritage of various lands, several countries depend on tourism for their growth. The halt of travel and the possible scepticism to follow has put quite a damper on the industry itself.
What Has Happened?
The first indication of the disease spreading outside of Wuhan, China, started in Italy. Chinese transfer students and Chinese trading industries have majorly settled in the nation. Scientists suspect that before anybody realized the potential devastation coronavirus would leave in its wake, people were travelling in crowds to and from China to Italy. In the past ten years, the population of Chinese in Italy has multiplied. With more than 330,000 people living in Italy, the nation has the largest community of Chinese citizens in the world after New York City. The Chinese new year for the year 2020 was on the 25th of January. Can you see where I am going with this?
With the majority of the Chinese populace going home for the New Year, we suspect that many of them caught the virus in China and brought it to Italy. The poorly enforced restrictions, coupled with the cavalier approach to the severity of the pandemic, leading to the death toll that the nation has today.
I’m sure some of you are saying, where is the question of tourism here? Well, this lesson in Corona history was to emphasise on one key factor of Tourism: Travel. Without travel, nobody is going anywhere. And without getting anywhere, there is no revenue going to the tourism industry anymore. We have also compiled a list of all the factors of the tourism industry which have been affected acutely by the pandemic.
1. Travel Industry – specifically airlines.
While trains are more of a necessary commodity, with most of them still working for essential transit and the transport of citizens of the same country, the airline industry specialises in long-distance travel. And it is these exact kind of trips that we must avoid.
With all flights, visas, international visas standing cancelled right now, the airline industry has to deal with a severe blow, going to a loss in millions. There is speculation that the global airline industry shall be losing almost 252 billion dollars to the pandemic. And what is the coup de grace, you ask? Well, as the epidemic goes away, there shall be recovery. But the amount of travel is going to come down multifold, and there is no doubt that this money lost will never be gained back.
2. Heritage Industry.
A lot of countries like the Philippines, Maldives, all of Indonesia depend on tourism for their gross domestic product. With an upwards of 7 million visitors visiting these tourism industries each year, there is no revenue for these countries this year. There had been reportedly a rising percentage of travel cancellations since November of last year.
This number subsequently reached a record 81% cancellations in February, culminating in a complete ban on international travel for the months leading up to June. The money coming from tourism used to maintain world heritage sites, essential relics is now lost. With no money, there is a possibility that many heritage sites could go into ruin, forgotten to the coronavirus.
3. Small vendors/businesses.
If you have ever gone touring, you would always see small vendors around a monument or a tour site. In Europe, if you ever do take a chance to ever go there, you shall see marvelous performers showing off their talents on the streets.
With travel and tourism closed, and lockdowns imposed, these vendors, performers have no steady source of income anymore. Vendors, street artists, small businesses live purchase to purchase. With no purchase, they have no money anymore. No savings, no money, this quarantine is near to impossible for them to survive.
4. VISA and passport industry.
While this is a more temporary hit, it is a loss nonetheless. In countries like India, all travel, domestic and international, inbound or outbound has been completely shut down, with seemingly no respite till May 3rd. And the worst part is that even this date is more tentative than anything. Coronavirus has wrecked almost every part of this industry.
If things continue going the way they are right, travel might even remain restricted after May 3rd. Regardless, you won’t see anyone applying for a passport or a VISA right now. They follow a strict policy of having to come to an office with an appointment to apply for either. Suffice to say, with the lockdown imposed, there is no one going to these offices.
Will the Industry Recover?
Well yes, but no. These trying times have forced the general population to stay inside their homes, cooped up in four walls. It is quite obvious, that after this ordeal, they shall look for their share of fresh air. People will get out, and get going. If there is one thing about human beings that seems to be most unique, it is their ability to bounce back.
People will go back to touring the world, learning new destinations and exploring new lands. It will take time, what with the rampage the virus has gone on and the economic drop that is soon to follow. But it will all get back to normal somehow. However, it is true, that things won’t be exactly the same as they have been. The tourism industry may get back its people and revenue, but there is speculation that it won’t be the same as it has been.
People will be more sceptical of travelling, with the high risk of either catching a disease or being trapped in a country that is not theirs, as many have now. The loss in these months coupled with the stark decline in annual revenue after that shall deliver what could be fatal blows to the industry. But as the saying goes, the show must go on. And so it shall.
You can watch more on the impact of coronavirus on the tourism industry at the link below.