The tourism sector is in the third month of complete lock-down. The travel restrictions, border closures, city lock-down, suspension of flights, and closed hotels and restaurants have resulted in unprecedented challenges in the tourism industry. The tourism sector is facing a long-term crisis from Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) since early 2020. The global pandemic has grounded airplanes, shut down hotels and restaurants, and affects the tourism industry in many ways.
The travel and tourism industry is the hardest-hit sector from COVID-19, although, travel and tourism have also enabled the virus to become a global issue, and reflection on the role of tourism in modern societies is needed. The COVID-19 Pandemic has had a significant impact on the tourism industry due to the travel restrictions by many countries. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimated that global international tourists might decrease by 20-30% throughout the year 2020. Many tourist attractions around the world such as museums, heritage sites, temples and monasteries, amusement parks, and sports venues are closed.
For some time, we should promote Local Tourism because the prohibition of international travel and the feeling of insecurity traveling with flights and airports will lead to tourism trends towards the domestic market. Therefore, this is the time to promote the local unknown/unexplored destinations which may increase the exposure to more people. People will prefer to travel less frequently visited places to avoid large crowds. People will start to maintain social distancing due to the fear of proximity between people and the need to avoid crowded places will play a vital role. People now will look for travel privacy, avoid crowds and they will opt for destinations in nature. So, nature-based tourism can be focused, and also people may focus on micro-holidays, private road trips, and nature tourism.
Some countries begin to ease lockdown measures in order to reopen their economy; all eyes are on how the international borders will re-open, thereby enabling business and tourism to resume. However, reopening of business and tourism does not look easy as we will need to focus on proper safety measures and assure the traveler that we are safe in every aspect, we should avoid crowds and maintain social distancing. Needless to say, in order to bounce back tourism, the country itself needs to show they are safe to tourists and adopt proper safety measures. Additionally, the government needs to support the travel and tourism sectors more directly through several ways to assure every challenge coming into this industry will be seriously taken care of.
After the lockdown is eased and travel restrictions are softening, tour companies should make tremendous changes (Post-COVID-19 Travel Strategies) in order to have a smooth operation in the tourism industry. It is highly recommended to enforce the guidelines launched by the UNWTO. The UNWTO has released a set of guidelines to help the tourism sector emerge stronger and more sustainably from COVID-19. The guidelines highlight the need to strengthen its partnership with Google, to embrace innovation and the digital transformation of global tourism. Check the global guidelines to restart tourism launched by UNTWO.