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The first half of July 2020 has some good news coming from around the world: domestic and international borders have begun to reopen. Australia and New Zealand are planning a Trans-Tasman bubble, Europe is to continually update a list of countries who are permitted to enter, Italy has lifted their mandatory 14-day quarantine for British tourists heading there on holiday, and Austria has opened all land borders with no restrictions – the list goes on.
But we shouldn’t get cocky. The virus hasn’t disappeared and many countries continue to have a rise in daily cases while others are still in heavy lockdown. Given that the Northern Hemisphere is currently in the middle of summer, the time when the majority tend to escape on their holidays, countless countries are striving to salvage what they can after the pandemic grounded everything to a complete standstill.
The news of reopening hotels, restaurants, museums etc. is music to the ears of governments and business owners alike around the world but the threat of a second wave is very plausible. So let’s not confuse reopening with recovery.
While we all need to do what we can to survive economically, there needs to be a long-term plan that takes into account the realities of the current global situation. Companies will need to adjust their offerings to calm travel anxieties(opens in a new tab) and provide safe airline, hotel, and transportation options for hesitant travellers. There is still a high demand, it just doesn’t look the same as it did last summer so businesses need to take this into account in order to stay afloat.
UNWTO’s (The World Tourism Organization) Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili states(opens in a new tab): “It is only right that we remain cautious. This crisis is far from over… The human toll, economic cost, and social impact are still growing. This is no time for complacency….Tourism’s restart is a step towards ending many weeks of uncertainty and replace it with a renewed sense of confidence… But this will only work out if we act with responsibility – it’s better to be right than to be first.”
Tourism can’t simply go back to the economic juggernaut it was before COVID-19. Yes, it’s great to see things beginning to reopen and businesses are welcoming clients again but this initial excitement doesn’t mean the tourism industry’s issues are entirely resolved. Government aid is still heavily propping up the industry and millions have lost their jobs, and recovery is going to be a gradual and lengthy process with ongoing ups and downs. With this in mind, it’s essential that we all remain cautiously optimistic as well as vigilant as more and more things begin to reopen.
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