According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, travel and tourism are responsible for 330 million jobs around the world, out of which nearly 75 millions jobs are at risk because of COVID-19.
There are also those who have already lost their businesses and are struggling to earn a daily living. “Small and medium-sized enterprises make up around 80% of the tourism sector and are particularly exposed with millions of livelihoods across the world, including within vulnerable communities, relying on tourism”, said Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO
Three regional airlines (Flybe - UK, Trans States and Compass Airline - US) have already collapsed and filed for bankruptcy in the United States and the United Kingdom. What kind of future can we expect for the new startups, small and medium-sized enterprises?
Numerous cancellations due to corona virus caused bankruptcy for a Cruise Operator in Kobe, Japan. Luminous Cruising operates the 2,000-passenger Luminous Kobe 2, one of Japan's largest dinner cruise vessels.
COVID-19 isn’t just killing people or making them sick, it has taken away the world peace and pose a big threat to sustainability. We are all suffering and praying for a better tomorrow. This is the time of unity. We are surviving this together and once this is over we would need this unity more than ever to fight back for the recovery. It doesn’t take a genius mind knowing that recession is awaiting for us next. So, we can anticipate that recovery period won’t be quick. Fast, coherent, and united actions will take us out of this crisis.
In many countries governments are providing financial aid for certain sectors including tourism. This would definitely help for a short time but we would need a wider recovery solution too.
Looking from the traveler’s (the spender) point of you, here are my recommendations to the tourism authorities and governments:
ENTRY PERMIT / VISA
While planning a holiday or business travel, the first & foremost hustle for a traveler is the visa/entry permit for the destination. Visa authorities can ease the processing of visa applications and reduce the visa fees. For instance, UK Embassy ask for a sufficient balance in bank account of the traveler to take that as a guarantee of their financial stability. There is a large community of back-packers as well who manage to stay in hostels and inexpensive Airbnb apartments, they are certainly not eligible to travel to UK as per their current visa prerequisites.
To what extent this is possible would only be estimated by the officials, but I would consider removing VAT from hotel bookings, airfares, and tour operators business which would make the prices cheaper for travelers luring them to travel.
Reduce taxes on the airfares and hotel bookings, this would help the aviation and hotel industry to recover faster. In the past years, the taxes and surcharges on airfares have gone too high that they can add up to as much as the base fare of the air ticket. Typically, airline fares include the following taxes with a variance in percentage which depends on the country, destination and varies other factors: Government taxes, Airport tax, Segment fee, Security tax, Inspection tax, Foreign tax, and additional taxes, all these add up to the base fare, resulting in the total price of the ticket.
FREE SIM CARDS
Since July 2019, UAE government initiated offering free prepaid SIM cards (loaded with 3 minute talk-time local or international and 20 MB mobile data with validity of 30 days) to all tourists. A SIM card is given to a tourist by passport control officer, after immigration clearance. This is a nice strategy to make some feel welcomed, save their money and hustle. Adding more talk-time and mobile data at least up-to 1 GB would be more generous and suffice.
TOURIST DISCOUNT CARDS
Tbilisi, Georgia was rated as one of the most popular destinations in 2018 -2019. To welcome the tourist and ease their travel experience, Georgia initiated a completely free-of-charge travel application (GUIDE-U). A tourist get a Guide-U kit (including GUIDE-U Discount Card) by passport control officer, after the immigration clearance. Guide-U App offers comprehensive information about sights of Georgia through an online & offline audio-guide in 4 different languages, advice sightseeing places, maps, list of cafe-bars, hotels and restaurants, etc.
The GUIDE-U Discount Card is linked with your GUIDE-U App. Discount Card gives you a chance to get 5% to 40% discounts in up to 1,000 different locations (hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, nightclubs, attractions, stores and others) that saves a lot of money for tourists and creates a happy experience for them. This is a great strategy to boast tourism, if marketed properly.
Transportation plays a vital rule in tourism. Many countries in EU have in place travel pass for public transports (commonly known Swiss Pass in Switzerland). The inner city travel passes usually have limited validity (24, 48, 72 hours or more) with unlimited travel across the transport networks (Underground Tubes, Trams, Trains, and Busses). During the recovery period from COVID-19, governments can offer free travel pass (with 48 hours validity) to tourists to boast the tourism, because sickness wouldn’t be the only hindrance for travel. A lot of people around the world in different trades are undergoing pay-cuts due to loss in business, so the buying power would also be reduced in the following months.
It’s my humble request to people to stay home today and travel tomorrow for sustainability and solidarity.