The Covid-19 pandemic has placed the tourism industry under immense financial strain. What has unfolded around the world in the past couple of months is unprecedented. In this time of uncertainty, all industries are reeling but it is the tourism and hospitality sector that has been hit the most given all the border closures, travel restrictions and lockdowns. Airlines, cruise operators and hotels are seeing instant effects of the pandemic.
Within the industry, experts say that mutual collaboration, sharing of information and linking up efforts towards common goals, have perhaps never been as important as they are today. The only thing we can currently do is to stay united, remain safe and stand strong because we are all in this together. We need to channel our energy towards innovative ideas, attend webinars and enhance our knowledge and skills. Moreover, problems such as the current situation, do not have stop signs. They are guidelines that will teach us, prepare us and make us stronger. So we need to stay positive and be ready with new ideas to bounce back. But right now, our priority has to be safeguarding everyone against Covid-19 and to care for each other.
Many travel pundits think it may be too early to spot signs of what consumers will do and in what kind of time frame. It is a wait and watches scenario. Thankfully, many are adept at putting out domestic as well as international short-haul programmes. Because it is quite likely that people will want to do this kind of travel first, once the lockdown is over. Keeping ourselves active, attending webinars, collaborating with our industry peers and making sure that we look after our employees with whatever bare minimum we need in order to survive these difficult times.
The tourism sector is founded on good communication between people. They are keeping the interest in the destinations alive so that consumers have a desire to travel there once the restrictions are lifted. The current lockdown is giving the industry an opportunity to train a large number of travel agents about travel destinations. Since people are stuck at home and digital and social media usage has gone up significantly, this is the right time to get people's attention and get them to think about visiting destinations around the world. And people can be inspired to travel during the lockdown phase, and look at what destinations they would want to go to.
However, on the business front, everyone is making sure the travel team is prepared for business after about 4 months from now, by doing various specialist programmes on countries as well as by attending travel-related webinars. From travel to flying and hospitality, the industry will incur enormous damages globally as this was the first industry to get affected and it may well be the last to recover. Once the situation settles, we predict travel to resume initially with weekend staycations, road trips and domestic getaways.
However, if the government doesn't step up to help and revive the travel industry, a number of companies will shut down resulting in huge unemployment. Travel as we knew it, before the Covid-19 breakout, will take several months to bounce back, say experts. They will appreciate the destinations more, they will look at ways to connect with them, a bit deeper, and moreover, they think that they will also slow down their experiences in each place. There will be more demand for the offbeat crowded destinations and people might (thankfully) avoid the crowded, popular spots.
Hopefully, we will get over the over-tourism problem. There is a lot of uncertainty as to when things will get back to normal. Flight connectivity, enactment of budgets and customer confidence are all vital factors in deciding what the future looks like. Business travel will definitely reduce since people are getting comfortable and accustomed to doing business on video conferencing.
VFR and leisure travel will definitely pick up once travel is determined as safe because there will be a pent-up demand for holidaying and meeting their family. MICE business is likely to be impacted in the short term since due to the lockdown, performances of companies will be affected and they may not invest immediately in MICE trips. Coach Tours and cruise ship business is likely to be affected too since people will not want to travel in large groups.
Safety is one of the most important factors when one plans to travel. Indian travellers, we expect a very small movement to countries which are affected the most due to Covid-19 for the next six months. Post the lockdown, we expect only business travellers, VFR's, and student travel movements. We will also see leisure travellers int less affected countries. Initially, there will be longer waiting hours and extensive Covid-19 checks and body screenings at various international airports. This can be challenging especially for travellers who are unwell, elderly people and passengers travelling with small children.