A new plague! It’s happened! CoronaVirus, or COVID-19, has appeared on the face of the planet! If you read all the facebook posts, those people who are religious believe that the virus is the sign that mashiach is coming or that it is the beginning of the second coming of Jesus. While many of us don’t stand by or believe in any of that, it’s not hard to see that the CoronaVirus is affecting us in many ways. One of the worst, is by preventing us from being able to travel
What Is It?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause a variety of illnesses ranging from the common cold to SARS-COV. While the other strains are known to scientists and have vaccines developed to protect against them, Covid-19 is a new one, therefore a cure has not been developed yet. While it may be tempting to think that Covid-19 is in any way related to the corona beer, rest easy in the knowledge that it derives its name from it’s crown shape, and not from the beer. No one is entirely sure where the Covid-19 virus came from, however the current hypothesis is that it travelled from bats to humans, much like the SARS virus did before it.
What Does It Do?
Covid-19 manifests itself as a respiratory disease. Common signs and symptoms include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. The reason the virus is so scary, is because in more extreme cases, the symptoms can manifest themselves into pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. According to the China Centre For Disease Control (CCDC), the current mortality rate for Covid-19 is 2.5%, with those aged between 60-80+ being the age group with the highest mortality rate.
How It Is Affecting The Tourism Industry
In the early stages of the pandemic, there were divided opinions as to how to deal with Covid-19. Many countries have taken the precaution of shutting their borders to those arriving from countries known to have the spread of the virus. Many airline companies cancelled flights to areas of high infection, including China, Singapore, Thailand and Italy.
Even Though the World Health Organisation has initially recommended against applying travel restrictions to any country affected by the virus, stating that “In general, evidence shows that restricting the movement of people and goods during public health emergencies is ineffective in most situations and may divert resources from other interventions.”, It later changed its policy.
At this moment, many countries have closed their borders completely and many airlines have temporarily stopped flying. That puts, in effect, an almost complete halt on all the tourism industry’s activity. Not many times in history that a billions of dollars industry has had to shut down its activity completely.
Some of the immediate effects are the closing, some temporarily and more and more permanently, of about 90% of the hotels worldwide. Add to that the critical blow to the airline companies and the rest of the professions in the industry and you have an international crisis.
Some businesses in the field are trying to adopt creative ways of coping with the situation, for example: hotels that offer their rooms for long term occupancy or museums that offer free online tours. In addition, some of the big players in the industry such as Booking.com, have already announced laying off of thousands of employees. Some will say that this is a logical step in minimizing losses, where others will say that in these extraordinary times, those companies should use their enormous fortune and support their employees.
How will the industry look when the crisis is over?
One thing is sure at the moment – uncertunty is bigger than anything. Let’s assume that a cure for the Covid-19 is only months away (in the good case), and we are talking about a large percentage of tourism businesses that will go bank robbed. Hotels will not be able to afford paying rents and bills, airlines would not be able to pay for maintenance of their fleets and smaller business owners will go look for work in other fields.
This will allow the tourism industry to return to its early modern roots. Once the pandemic will be over, we will see smaller initiatives in the hospitality sector. Big hotels will not be the main form of accommodations but smaller and more family like options.
The first people who will start traveling again will be more experienced travelers, braver if you like. That’s due to the fact that it will take a long time to clear the entire world from the virus, even after a cure or vaccine is found. In the later stage, we will see a form of luxury tourism, meant for those wealthy people that were not affected, or even benefited from the crisis. In the final stage, we will return to industrial scale tourism. Once people will start to heal financially, we could see a new wave of “popular” tourism, first domestic tourism and later international. Don’t be surprised if many “Coronavirus tours” will be available.
The Coronavirus crisis has created many challenges but also opportunities. This “reboot”of the tourism industry gives room for new players to enter the field. The stars of tomorrow will have to be creative, bold and with a real passion for hospitality.