Let’s talk about the industry that suffered a massive whipping by the pandemic COVID-19; the industry that employs 1 in every 10 people on the planet; the industry that accounts for 10.3 % of the global GDP; the industry that solely accounted for close to 330 million jobs around the world in 2019; it’s the same industry that I can talk about perpetually. The TOURISM INDUSTRY!
The tourism sector has enjoyed the confidence of the masses, most of the time, in fact, all the time. But right now it’s struggling to survive across the globe. 2020 didn’t start well for the travel industry, though it didn’t do well for other sectors too, courtesy the pandemic, but let’s accept it, tourism has been the worst hit in this whole madness! With everything coming to a sudden halt, starting from flight to hotels, to resorts, to other modes of commuting, and accommodation, and tourist attraction. Social distancing, has now, become the new normal, and this scepticism to travel or even getting in close proximity to a stranger is going to hurt tourism bad for at least a year, maybe more.
But a lot is happening around! Those countries that are massively or solely dependent on tourism have already started making necessary changes in their restrictions, and allow some breather for tourism in the process. For example, a few countries in the EU, Australia-New Zealand, and even domestic tourism in a lot of nations have started gaining momentum. Which is justified to much extent, because they await summer holidays year-round! People seek sun and beach, and the local population, gosh they long for tourists & the much-awaited summer break.
Balkan (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Greece) and Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) are already in the process of opening their borders among themselves since these countries rely on tourism big time.
Talking about Greece – with less than 2900 cases and 173 deaths, Greece has handled the Coronavirus situation quite well. They shut down the entire country at the right time hence resulting in the miraculously less number of Coronavirus infected cases. But, do you have any idea how bad it’s going to dent the touristic infrastructure of this nation? Tourism accounts for 25% of the national GDP of Greece. 1 in 5 people is dependent on the tourism sector for the job, directly or indirectly. It has been estimated that the GDP of Greece will plunge by 10% this year, which is going to hurt the country profoundly.
Image Courtesy: Travelbook.de
Greece is one of the few places on earth that lures every vacationer. Offering top summer holiday destinations like Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete, Greece is jam-packed with tourist during the season. There are fewer spots on the beach for you to sneak in with your resting chair. Right now, that whitewashed backdrop of Santorini town with all-gleaming blue waters in front is dead silent, with nobody but locals strolling the deserted streets, longing to see tourists soon the lockdown is removed.
The World Tourism Council mentions that the Athens International Airport recorded 2 million footfall in April 2019, while in April 2020 it came down to 2000, a sharp 99% decline in arrivals! While this is just an example of Greece, if you remember, I talked about Galapagos Island a few days back. There are hundreds of destinations around the world that have met, more or less, the same fate.
But does that mean tourism is finished with no prospect in coming years whatsoever? I don’t think so! Travel is one of the verticles that enables the world to move, every day, every moment. World tourism will and must go on!
People will take time their own time to get back to the routine. Some will fret over it, while the others will just go travelling more vigorously. With proper care and adequate precaution, we must learn to co-exist with COVID-19 until a reliable vaccine reaches the market. Destinations like Greece that have only tourism to look forward to and authorities are doing everything to bring things back on track. But, while travelling, it is we who need to be sincerer, more confident, and smarter than ever before. Welcome to the new world of travel!
What are your thoughts on this?