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Murmurs of plans to reopen the tourism industry
Just a few months ago, the tourism industry was facing a record year for travel. Now, there’s global uncertainty as to whether it can return sooner rather than later.
The pandemic has disrupted countless economies and tourism has arguably been hit the hardest. When tourists do finally return, the way we travel will need to change. The lingering fears from COVID-19 will be rife and measures like social distancing and others will need to be enforced.
For example, some airlines have begun to adapt and change seating arrangements on aeroplanes. Changing the layout of the seats within the plane is one measure they are taking to alleviate travellers’ anxieties, and some hotel chains have also begun to take preventative actions. Airbnb, Marriot, and Hilton have all introduced enhanced cleaning measures, to help ease travellers minds.
But what is beginning to open?
Companies like the airline EasyJet have begun to advertise winter 2020 promotions, with some flights to Portugal, for example, as early as late October. On the Tour Operators United Facebook page (a Facebook page dedicated to tour operators throughout the world), some tour business owners have been reporting bookings for tours as early as August and September 2020. The bookers are based in the USA, taking tours in the USA. So it’s clear that some travellers are beginning to emerge from underneath the quarantine rock.
But things opening doesn’t necessarily make it ‘safe’.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Tourism has shown its commitment to putting people first. Our sector can also lead the way in driving recovery. This research on global travel restrictions will help support the timely and responsible implementation of exit strategies, allowing destinations to ease or lift travel restrictions when it is safe to do so. This way, the social and economic benefits that tourism offers can return, providing a path to sustainable recovery for both individuals and whole countries.”
Across social media, it’s clear to say that it’s not for lack of people wanting to travel. Countless travellers are eager to get back on the road and take tours once again. The uncertainty, unfortunately, is when it will be safe to travel while minimising the risk of being infected, or infecting others.
In the meantime, our advice to tour operators would be to offer a flexible refund policy and offer discounts on tours for this year and next. Advertise that you and your company have implemented enhanced cleaning steps and state that your business will be obliging everyone to adhere to the social distancing measurements.
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