Covid-19: A plan for tourism to survive, revive, thrive!

Oct 8, 2020, 10:39 AM

Covid-19 is the biggest challenge that the global tourism sector has faced till date. The United Nations World Tourism Organization estimates a reduction of 58% to 78% in tourist traffic across the world.

This means that international tourist arrivals could drop by a billion. Typically, the tourism sector is among the first to be affected, and the last to recover during a health crisis.

For the tourism sector in globally, it is no longer going to be business-as-usual and we will need to redefine, refocus and change the game plan going forward. It is essential to measure the impact of Covid-19 and prepare a cogent strategy involving both the government and the industry stakeholders, which can be categorised into three phases: Survive (short-term), revive (medium-term) and thrive (long-term).

The twin challenges in the survive stage are to save businesses and save jobs. The Centre must provide businesses with institutional access to working capital and enable liquidity through a deferment of loan repayments. The Centre intends to help small businesses to access working capital by underwriting a part of the loan amount.

On the demand side, countries have to apply a robust domestic market which could soften the impact as compared with nations that rely largely on international tourists. For instance, India receives 11 million foreign tourists, which is small compared to its size and relative potential. Dubai receives well over 16 million tourists. At least 24 million Indian tourists travel abroad each year and spend an estimated $25 billion. We must incentivise domestic travel to retain these high- spending tourists, which should not be difficult given the international travel restrictions in place. Critical to the success of this would be to allay the anxieties of tourists by ensuring that robust protocols for safety and hygiene are in place.

In the revive phase, the slow easing of international travel restrictions will result in intense competition as all countries will target the same markets. This calls for a nimble and aggressive strategy for specific micro-markets focused on intense localised communication through social media.

A Guest Editorial