Photo credit: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/tourist-at-jantar-mantar-jaipur-india-michael-weiser.html (photograph by Michael Weiser which was uploaded on April 8th, 2020)
The Onslaught of Covid-19
The recent months have been particularly tough and painful for people associated with the Tourism industry. With the invasion of Covid-19 on the world, travel & tourism has come to a virtual standstill. Borders are sealed, airports & railway stations remain abandoned and bookings stand cancelled. Beaches, mountains & forests remain desolate.
Many jobs have already been lost and hundreds of crores in revenue have vanished. Specifically in India, the sector employs a whopping 87 million (almost 9 crores) people (directly and indirectly), as on 2018-19. That’s almost 12 to 13% of the entire workforce! The Annual Report on Tourism by the Ministry of Tourism also claims that the industry constitutes more than 5% of the GDP. Initial & ballpark estimates from the industry suggest half of this workforce may lose their income and the industry may suffer losses of INR 5 lakh crore. The figures represent formal and tangible loss only. If we can to compute the losses incurred by smaller informal establishments, homestays, contractual or casual workers, the figures will turn much grimmer. All this pain is compounded by the uncertainty of what the future holds. Nobody knows.
YET, the sector is not alone in its suffering. Almost all sectors of the economy have witnessed unprecedented losses and shocks. The entire world is in this together. The entire human race is standing at a crossroad. Beyond the gloom, there is hope and faith. The indomitable human spirit is dreaming of brighter times in the future. Like the indomitable traveler who refuses to pause or stop, the tourism industry will overcome this phase and emerge stronger and better.
Will Travel & Tourism change forever?
Like almost all other sectors of the economy, changes to the Travel, Tourism and Hospitality sector is inevitable in the post-corona world. How the sector adapts in this altered world will determine whether it will thrive, survive or perish! Travel has to be re-imagined in a world which may not remain as connected and intertwined as before. Some of the changes we anticipate:
• Travel Health Insurance may witness an overwhelming surge. It may even become mandatory even for domestic travels! Currently, the travel insurance sector is nascent and not very prevalent in the Indian market.
• Sustainable Tourism has only been given lip-service up until now. Respecting the natural resources as well as regulating tourist arrivals and footfalls will become widespread & unavoidable in the future.
• In the near future, masks, face shields, gloves and other protective gears will become part and parcel of our travel attires.
• Virtual tourism/ Online Tourism is likely to see an unprecedented surge if lockdowns continue. Already, virtual tours of museums, pyramids and monuments across the world has become a popular pastime for travel-enthusiasts locked up at homes or quarantine centers.
• Future passports and travel documents may contain all health-related information of the traveler. Many governments are actively considering issuing “immunity passports” or “risk-free certificates” to travelers who can prove that they do not contain the Covid-19 virus and have the requisite antibodies to prevent the infection.
• The illegal trade of bushmeat and exotic animals, especially by tourists should stop. Well, let us hope that irresponsible tourism as such will end for good.
• Screening time will almost certainly increase at stations and airports. Longer queues, temperature screenings are already happening as some countries attempt to ease the lockdown and allow essential travel.
Organizations which can envisage accurately and adapt accordingly will be better placed to successfully revive the industry. With these and many other such transformations, tourism will bounce back to life!
Message from explorArchi
In what ways do you think tourism will change in the future? How will tourists like to travel? What will airlines, trains and hotels do to make their guests, passengers & travelers feel less vulnerable? What will be the role of the Government to revive this sector? Do share your thoughts with us. Let us engage and find better solutions for the future. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As explorArchi, we stand united with our brothers & sisters in the Tourism sector. We urge fellow travelers to honor the lockdowns imposed by our Governments and efforts by our societies to fight this deadly virus. We applaud our healthcare and essential workers for their unrelenting dedication to keep us safe. While our services remain suspended, we promise to be back! Back with new trips, new adventures and new explorations! But only when the time is right.
References and Further Read
05 Aug, 2019
25 Jul, 2019
12 Aug, 2015