“COVID-19 lockdown offers us an opportunity to correct our mistakes… Making the rich elephant balance again.”
So yes, a lot of what I am writing about lately seems to link back to COVID-19 in one way or the other. This won’t be an exception.
Fortunately, the travel and tourism industry remains a constant topic as well despite how adversely affected it has been by the whole COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus) pandemic
I had shared these thoughts below on my Facebook this afternoon, but I thought I would share them here as well.
Over the past couple of days, I have been listening to webinars by different tourism destinations in Africa and around the world conversing about tourism post-lockdown. I say post-lockdown because I have learned that until a vaccine is found, it may be unrealistic to say post-COVID.
I would like to single out Two specific comments.
A call to data-backed decisions
The first one is by Dr. Betty Radier (CEO Kenya Tourism Board) which I not only find interesting but realistic too. She says that destinations ought to think about a 28-day extension that will be added onto any international trip that will happen post-lockdown; which makes international travel an even tougher subject for destinations around the world until a vaccine is found; until people are a bit more comfortable traveling again.
14 days quarantine upon arrival at the destination
14 days quarantine when they return home
Global aviation figures reveal that it may take up to 2 years for air travel numbers to go back to what we had last year, or before COVID-19.
Kenya forecasts international tourism to begin slowly recovering in 2021. They are, therefore, reaching deep into their bag of data collected and studied over the years to focus on the domestic market for the mid-term. And this reawakens the discussion around the value of data in one, informing a twist in direction; two, informing specific key actions to substantiate that change in direction. The value of Data Data Data in informing strategy!
If we give up or wait; we risk dying
Thought number Two came out of an earlier webinar by South Africa Tourism highlighting the mistake that Governments may make in “abandoning” (in inverted commas) the tourism industry, with the notion that “we must wait when the industry recovers when things get back to normal because it is currently unimportant”.
The CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), Tshifhiwa Tshivhenga advised that like never before, as we discuss a shift in strategy towards the domestic traveler, the State (Government) must interest itself in helping businesses survive this period, because by November 2020 if these are left to drown, there will be no industry left after COVID-19.
Investors in the tourism business have to receive financial and non-financial aid. Actually, the private sector must be helped, because if this does not happen, tourism businesses will have to try to find work in another industry and maybe start all over again in 6 or 9 months’ time.
We as tourism destinations and Governments make a mistake in sitting out and simply waiting for when the international gates will reopen. This blind waiting risks us being stripped of any achievements attained over the years.
Wrapping this up, sitting out won’t help. We have to find a way to operate within the crisis to ensure that we do not lose tour operators, safari planners, tour guides, hoteliers, travel agents, community-based organizations, curio shops, etc. and the State with its agencies has a big role to play in slowly replacing the “rock-hard pillow with a soft one”.
Solutions and ways to achieve this must be thought with the global picture in mind. Viruses don’t respect borders and that should be clear for the whole planet by now.
Knowing that this is a global challenge, in order to put these and more thoughts in proper context, you may want to CLICK to read my thoughts on how tourism may be able to recover.