Global Tourism Reopens – When? Where? How?
Four months on from COVID-19’s shut down of global travel, the travel & tourism industry is coming back into the sunlight like a blinking dormouse. Clarity and direction on when, where, and how to travel is sought by all.
There has certainly been a considerable upturn in client communications this week on how best to realistically forward plan trips. Early signs are positive; the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has released a set of decisive guidelines to help tourism emerge from the pandemic in a stronger and more sustainable state. In addition, destinations across the planet are beginning to announce ‘open for business’ advice.
Imminently – that is if the airlines, travel organisers and local tourism authorities (all desperate to open their services) can keep in step with the world’s politicians and health experts.
Recent announcements that tropical island destinations in the Indian Ocean (Mauritius, Seychelles, Maldives) and Caribbean (Barbados, St Lucia, Jamaica) are re-opening their doors, has further highlighted the need to address all stakeholders’ concerns.
Aside from safety & security issues, successful recovery and return will depend on the seamlessness of its reopening programme. For example, with the present evaluation of ‘air bridges’ and ‘safe corridors’, popular summer holiday destinations such as Portugal, Greece and Spain have announced their reopening. Equally, relatively short-haul destinations such as Jordan, Iceland and Costa Rica are dusting down the welcome mat.
Principally the traveller’s whole journey – from ‘search & book’ through to ‘departing home’ and ‘travel to destination’ must be as watertight as a safe destination’s health protocols & regulations. Transportation, border management, accommodation, attractions, activities, and hospitality services must be future proof.
Core to it all, as defined in the UNWTO’s ‘Guidelines Video’, is the belief that “Tourism has the widest economic value chain and the deepest social footprint” – a fact continually relevant to the global travel and tourism industry whose international tourist arrival numbers are still set to drop between 60% and 80%.
So, standby for now. With the holiday sunshine beginning to illuminate many destinations in Europe, as well as on the other side of the world, there will continue to be a very mixed bag of tourism-commencement announcements.