Tourism: A key driver of so many economies
Tourism is one of the most important drivers of economic prosperity for much of the world. Earlier this year in 2020, everyone came to a standstill. It didn’t matter if you were a small Caribbean island like Aruba, completely dependent on tourism, or New York City, or anywhere in between. Both private businesses and governments saw a significant loss of jobs and revenue. The loss across the industry, be it hotels, restaurants, shops, travel, destinations, you name it, has impacted each and every single person who works directly or indirectly across these sectors. Today, nearly 6 months later, as countries start to open back up, we see the hospitality industry in the lead, alongside governments and health experts, developing recovery protocols with health and sanitation standards that ensure both travelers and those who work in the industries have a seamless, safe experience in this new normal.
SAFE TRAVELS: takes a whole new meaning
The impact of the Coronavirus on travel meant people were not safe leaving their homes. So as we come out of this into a new normal, SAFE TRAVELS really does take on a whole new meaning. In my perspective, it means that, collectively, we all need to do a better job adhering to basic common sense health and sanitation steps throughout our daily life, whether traveling or not. Washing hands works! Globally, there are standards being set by governments, hotel chains, travel providers, and restaurants that set out to safeguard the wellbeing of not only their patrons but their own employees. While they may not get it right the first time, I encourage anyone reading this, have patience. Nobody on planet earth was prepared to handle a pandemic of this magnitude, so we’re all learning as we go. Until a vaccine is readily available, there will be quite a bit of adapting to do. After everyone accepts and gets on board with these new normal protocols, eventually, with time, even after a vaccine is found, these safety measures will become normal, too.
TRAVEL will be DIFFERENT – a more intimate EXPERIENCE
After being self-quarantined, people are now slowly getting out and about, as restrictions are gradually lifted. Hotel, restaurants, cruise lines, tour operators, attractions, transportation, and airports have all reinvented themselves in preparation to greet guests once more. Everyone person and industry across the globe is elevating their health and hygiene protocols and implementing social distancing norms which, in turn, translate to smaller groups, shorter lines, and a more personalized, intimate experience. With destinations having not had visitors for months, those first travelers who dare to venture far to explore will get a more pristine experience. While it will take some time before we see large gatherings, concerts, and major events like sports in stadiums, it is nice that we are starting to see businesses reinvent their services to adapt. From offering home delivery, everything from groceries to gourmet meals, to the comeback of drive-in movie theaters. Restaurants have created outdoor seating from patio spaces, parking lots with tents, and sidewalks. For as drastically that this pandemic interrupted our lives, it’s resurfaced some very important “back to basics”, that will benefit the hospitality industry and offer a more intimate experience with brands.
TRUST IN TOURISM
It’s very important, and also reassuring, that the focus on post-pandemic recovery for the hospitality and tourism industry holistically has elevated and carefully assessed safeguarding health. The public and private partnerships are central in restoring confidence in travelers, and each destination is unique in its experience offerings and tourism development. However, the reality is that, until the virus is under control, there will be travelers who will be cautious. Airlines and hotels will continue to adjust their cancellation policies. Restaurants, shop owners, tour operators will adjust their practices and, eventually, we hope consumers will book travel with more confidence. In the meantime, together and as industry professionals, we must all do our part and due diligence to rebuild our industry sustainably and re-forge the trust in tourism from consumers. Maintaining trust in tourism will increase consumer demand, investments, and jobs, creating opportunities for all.