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This is a rough time for many people. The COVID-19 pandemic would be awful enough if it were just taking thousands of lives around the world, but it’s also required us to change how we live, damaging (or outright destroying) many businesses in the process. Some companies suit remote working well enough, but others aren’t so lucky — and tourism is a prime example.

Requiring footfall, travel, and gathering crowds to function optimally, tourism destinations have been hit hard by the lockdown measures put into place to prevent the coronavirus from overwhelming hospitals. This is the zenith of booking slumps, with most tourism spots effectively shutting down with no clear idea of when normal service might resume.

Does that mean the end of business, then? The inevitable leaking of money? Well, not necessarily. It’s going to be tough for a tourism spot to break even at the moment, let alone stay profitable, but not impossible. It’s going to come down to hustle and adaptability. To give you a fighting chance, let’s run through five suggestions for staying in the black.

Cut your spending

With everything closed down, there’s zero sense in continuing to put money towards the bulk of your regular expenses. Anything vital aside (rent, payroll, etc.), cancel payments and cease campaigns. Running paid advertising and investing heavily in SEO(opens in a new tab) will be an absolute waste of money when no one is looking and you’re not even open for business.

If you have an office and you can possibly stop renting it (which is to say that you’re not locked into a long-term deal), then do so. Don’t underestimate how long this pandemic is going to last. It could be a year or more before the tourism industry is in a position to reopen, and keeping an office open for that time will be throwing money down the drain.

Take up eCommerce

Online retail is one of the industries that hasn’t been massively affected by this pandemic: at least, not negatively. Many merchants have seen significant upticks in interest driven by shoppers who are bored at home and unable to get to most brick-and-mortar stores (not only because they’re now closed). Even better, they’re still able to operate almost as effectively as usual.

Tourism spots generally have solid branding and offer merchandise through their on-site stores, so why not take that retail to the internet? It’s not particularly complicated: just build a simple online store using a template and hook it up to whatever system you normally use to source your merchandise. If you don’t have any merchandise yet, you can get some easily enough. For example, if you build your store using Shopify’s store designer(opens in a new tab), you can choose from various print-on-demand apps(opens in a new tab) designed to work with that system, and get merchandise designed in hours.

Offer virtual tours

What if people could still experience your tourism hotspot without leaving their homes? Well, they can to some extent, through virtual touring. The idea is simple enough, you create a virtual reality experience of your location using a 3D-capable camera (not as expensive as you might think at this point) and make it available for a small fee.

At its simplest, it can be someone walking around recording from their POV, providing a GoPro-style experience. You can step it up a level by recording 360-degree footage(opens in a new tab) from various points and letting the viewer move between them. You can even add some interactive elements like pop-up tags providing information about certain things. Anything more complex is likely to be expensive, but it might be worth the investment if you have enough money in the bank to cover the cost.

Monetize a blog

Since we’re mostly all stuck at home, we’re turning to online content more than ever before, with a lot of time going towards reading blogs. It’s comforting to hear about how other people are coping during this time because it makes us feel less alone. Whatever you have to say about this pandemic will be just as worthwhile as anyone else’s content (perhaps more so because of how the tourism industry is suffering).

Set up a blog to talk about everything from how your business normally operates, and how you got started in the tourism world, to what you plan to achieve in the future, and what steps you’re taking to get through this difficult time. Then monetize it using ads, affiliate links(opens in a new tab), and pushes to buy whatever you’re offering (whether it’s merchandise, virtual tours, or even digital guides).

Ask for donations

There’s one form of monetization I left out of that list because it doesn’t quite fit in, and that’s accepting donations. It’s something that not all businesses are willing to do, feeling that it’s a mark of weakness or an admission of failure, but it really isn’t — not during normal times, and certainly not in the midst of a pandemic.

The truth is that people care about tourism spots. They might get cynical about them and decry how they’re used to making money, but they don’t really want them to fail and fall into disrepair. So, if you don’t think you can cover your costs through the other means we’ve looked at here, ask for financial support. Allow people to donate through your website, and simply ask them to spare whatever they can, even if it’s not much. It’ll all add up.

It’s clear to us all that the tourism industry is currently in a worse spot than it’s been in for a long, long time, but that’s no reason to abandon all hope. Rise to the challenge, do everything you can to stay afloat (or even profitable) during this time, and look to the future. There’s still a good chance you can get through this.

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