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How COVID-19 is impacting the tourism industry

As Europe is slowly opening up for holiday seekers, countries in Asia similarly are looking to welcome (a larger amount of) tourists. Still, this is looking like an unprecedented silent summer due to the aftermath of COVID-19.

A recent study by Statista shows over 75 million jobs worldwide will be lost during 2020 in the tourism industry alone. Questions remain moving forward; how and how many of us will travel again?

A solution to overtourism?

Speaking to Foreign Policy magazine, American tourism expert Elizabeth Becker foresees a lasting impact on tourism as a result of the pandemic. Cities that were already showing signs of overtourism will likely want to keep some form of restriction on visitor numbers. For example, by implementing strict and permanent health protocols, certain crowded European cities could indeed even become more livable for their own residents post COVID-19.

empty streets of Amsterdam

What about investing to attract mass tourism?

On the contrary, other countries are expected to invest heavily in subsidies to offer large discounts on hotel stays and flight expenses, in order to lure mass tourism again. “Smart travelers will travel less, but will stay longer,” Becker predicts.

Will travel ever be what it was?

We will not see tourism and free travel as we were used to before the global pandemic until next year, 2021.

This is the belief of James Crabtree, professor at the University of Singapore. Countries that have done a relatively good job of controlling the pandemic and those that have reliable control systems in place to keep COVID-19 at bay, will get back to normal tourism quicker than others. Certain countries have already opened up their borders to visitors from nations with a similarly reliable control system in place. For example, holiday traffic between Germany and Greece, as well as Croatia, is already picking up pace. Taiwan, renown around the world for its rapid response to the coronavirus, is set to become a new popular travel destination, Crabtree predicts.

Travelling locally – part of the new normal?

The trend of going on holiday within one’s own country -and region- will continue to grow. This is due not only because of borders simply being closed for international visitors, but also due to a higher demand for safe trips to destinations where travellers are less dependent on rules for airlines and hotels. As a result, private and tailor-made tours are becoming more popular, avoiding crowded areas and large groups.

empty airplane

The end of business travel?

Another expectation moving forward is a sharp decline in the number of business trips. Companies have experienced how much time and money has been saved with meetings on digital platforms such as Zoom and Skype. Vivek Wadha, a professor at Harvard University believes this a new development which is likely to stay.