The travel and tourism industry is one of the largest economic sectors, reaping $8.8 trillion per year, according to The World Economic Forum (WEF), a non-profit organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. WEF reported that in 2019, 10 countries earned the leading spots on the Top Competitive Countries in Travel and Tourism list: Spain, France, Germany, Japan, United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Canada, and Switzerland. These countries have been popular not only for their dynamic cultural offerings, but also, for their natural resources, infrastructure, and ability to welcome relatively high numbers of tourists.
The travel and tourism industry has been a large contributor for many global economies, however, managing the influx of tourists for the benefit of travelers and residents can be tricky. The global concern for many countries, in a pre-coronavirus environment, is that excessive numbers of tourists might not be sustainable. It just takes one blockbuster movie to come out, and then suddenly a destination is overwhelmed by the number of visitors wanting to fulfill their Hollywood dreams. Our interconnectedness and our ability to learn about different countries through viral videos or various forms of media has, in the past, created an inflow of tourism. Increased real-estate prices, damage to natural landscapes, crowds of people—these were all points of contention for many locals.
International travel has since taken a plunge, amid the Coronavirus pandemic. Flights have been grounded. Borders have been closed. The spread of COVID-19 has dramatically derailed businesses, communities, and livelihoods across the globe. Now the questions seems to be: What will travel and tourism look like, and how will it influence the global economy, once the dust settles and being mobile is safe again?
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) reports that up to 50 million travel and tourism jobs are at risk around the world due to the current pandemic. Not only does this impact people who want to travel, but also, it effects people who have jobs in the travel industry. Travel and tourism, according to WTTC, supports one in 10 occupations worldwide, generating 320 million jobs. We are, no doubt, in uncharted territory.
CNBC reported, with data produced by Tourism Economics, that the travel and tourism industry in America could take a $24 billion loss in foreign spending due to the rapidly spreading virus.
There is a bright side, however, as the experts at Tourism Economics expect a full recovery by 2023, based on how the travel industry recuperated from past slumps, once the situation has stabilized.
Here’s How You Can Help Right Now
· Be mindful of the sectors within the tourism industry that rely on patronage for success: Transportation, Accommodation, Food and Beverage, Entertainment, and Connected Industries (travel agents, tour operators, etc.).
· Consider a no-contact drop-off delivery from local restaurants and businesses and don’t forget to tip well.
· Purchase gift vouchers or gift cards for future hospitality visits when social distancing isn’t the modus operandi.
· Don’t lose your curiosity and desire to learn about other countries and cultures, even if you have to explore from your armchair currently. Experience the world through virtual tours, webcams, and live streams; read books and articles on travel destinations that you’d like to visit in the future; try recipes from local chefs in your community for cooking at home; take an online course in wine and put your knowledge to use on a future vacation; and seek out ways to stay connected to communities across the globe (like a travel-themed subscription box).
· Try not to panic.
· Stay informed, as the news changes on a regular basis, by checking in with a trusted source like the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.