Coronavirus has shaken up the world in many ways, and the tourism industry is no exception. Prior to the pandemic, global tourism was experiencing steady growth, with more than 1.5 billion international tourists in 2019. However, the industry has taken a severe hit due to travel restrictions, lockdowns, and a reluctance to travel during this period of uncertainty.
Governments around the world enforced strict regulations to control the spread of the virus. This led to many countries closing their borders, including popular tourist destinations such as Bali, Thailand and New Zealand. These travel restrictions have significantly decreased the number of tourists throughout the world. International tourism decreased by 74% in 2020, with an estimation of 1 billion fewer tourists. Many countries lost billions of dollars of revenue due to this.
The pandemic has changed the priorities of tourists when it comes to travelling. Many people are now prioritizing safety over adventure and experience. Instead of trying out new things or exotic locations, people are opting to visit countryside areas, avoid large crowds, social distancing, and practising proper health safety measures. Tourists are likely to focus on cleanliness and hygiene when it comes to choosing their accommodation, and lay more importance on the presence of masks, sanitizers, etc.
Health and Safety Measures:
Tourist destinations are implementing various measures such as curbing capacities, frequent sanitization of public areas, mandatory use of masks and undertaking temperature checks at the entrance of hotels, airports and other places that attract a large number of tourists. In addition, The World Travel & Tourism Council has launched the ‘Safe Travels’ – a global safety and hygiene certification program that provides assurance to tourists that a destination follows safety measures in regards to their health.
The pandemic has given rise to domestic tourism. With many countries imposing restrictions on foreign travel, people started exploring their own country. It has proved to be a boon for economies, as travellers who engage in domestic tourism spend money, boosting the economy. Countries like Thailand, whose citizens form a large percentage of tourists, have been adversely affected due to the lack of foreign tourists. However, in countries with high domestic tourism potential, the impact of decreased international tourism has been lessened.
The pandemic has had a great impact on the tourism industry, but we can expect it to bounce back as vaccinations roll out globally. In addition, with health safety concerns taking centre stage, the industry can be expected to adopt improved hygiene and safety measures going forward. Tourists are likely to focus on travel experiences that focus more on their health and safety. We can hope for more responsible and sustainable tourism in the future, along with greater emphasis on personal safety and integration with public health requirements.