• Mags Rafael-Salvador

How the Travel Industry is Coping with COVID-19 Outbreak

Uncertainty, that’s what comes to mind this past few weeks or months. We are all affected by coronavirus, no exceptions. Diverse industries are suffering and I believe that no industry is likely to be more affected than travel. The Coronavirus pandemic presents the travel sector with a major and evolving challenge since late 2019 up until now. Travel is usually the first to feel the impacts of any global crisis.

Challenged with difficult circumstance, the travel and tourism industry is now faced with an unprecedented level of disruption as more countries declared lockdown and maximum travel restrictions. Most if not all airlines, hotels, and travel agencies around the world have sent urgent calls for government intervention. The Coronavirus pandemic is the reason why UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization) has revised its 2020 forecast for international arrivals and receipts and they are working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) to jointly put guidelines and recommendations for this evolving challenge we are facing.

In the Philippines, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution of the tourism industry to the economy was estimated at 12.7 % in 2018 and forecasted to at least grow higher by 10 to 14% each year. We in the travel industry is doing the most that we can, given the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak that is being felt across the whole tourism value chain. Currently, small and medium-sized travel-related enterprises make up around 80% of the tourism sector, and we hope that we all are doing our share on preparing for recovery so that when the right time comes we can all bounce back strongly.

Increasing restrictions and hesitation around travel plans.

It’s understandable that all travels would have to be postponed or completely cancelled since the outbreak started. Travel sector including airline, hotels, travel agencies, OTAs (Online Travel Agents) and other travel-related establishments have already sought to provide more flexibility for new and existing bookings. We are here to assist, give support and provide a recommendation to alleviate the travellers frustration while in this outbreak situation. With the Coronavirus pandemic, travellers altogether stopped booking for vacations and now started looking at travel insurance coverage. Yes, the situation generated more awareness and interest around travel insurance. I believe the travellers will now likely to consider having one before travelling, this can be an initiative of frontline travel marketing moving forward.

Travel Sector putting people first

In times of crisis, we need to live up to our responsibility to become a part of a wider society putting people and their wellbeing as a priority. Our support will be crucial in stopping the spread of the virus and limiting its impact on people and communities. We do not recommend travelling these days, any promo or campaign that we do for travel would be insensitive and be seen as a hard sell to the customers. They will definitely remember how we manage travels during the CoVid-19 situation and as such, aggressive selling and marketing of travel products will surely be a point against us.

Staying informed is key

It’s best that should we want to assist get the information out we have to put in place a content strategy to send valuable information to our travellers for them to understand how serious the situation is. The World Health Organization (WHO) is the authority we look up to for information on public health and pandemic concerns, we use them as a reference in creating content such as Infographics, blogs, emails and social media posts. Most travel brands help disseminate information on different digital platforms where we have a wider reach.

Travel providers as Consultants

We pride ourselves of being a consultant throughout our daily ops life, now during this trying times the more we need to be doing that for our travellers. Giving them travel guidance and advise keeps us busy these days. They might not be booking their vacation or business travels, but that’s not to say they aren’t thinking about travel soonest that this COVID-19 is over. Even if people can’t travel, it doesn’t mean they can’t engage with travel brands at this time. So, it’s for a fact that staying connected to travellers, keeping the line open is extremely important for the duration of this global crisis.

We all need to be mindful of the role we’re playing for the travellers at this point. With so many potential travellers saving, travel brands wanting to interest these consumers back we will have to keep them engaged so that they don’t become too reserved from planning to travel at all when the time is right.

On a more serious note, as expected travel and tourism is vulnerable to the effects of any global crisis and public health emergencies. Yes, we are already being affected by this outbreak. However, it is too early to fully estimate the impacts this outbreak will have and it’s dreadful to anticipate how the rest of 2020 will turn out. And though the travel industry is greatly affected, we’re definitely resilient and will, without doubt, be an integral part of sustainable development for each country. Tourism will always play a major role in the future recovery effort, and we are one in hoping that the outbreak of Coronavirus COVID-19 will soon end.

#StayAtHome #SaveTourism #DontCancelTravelChangeDate #TravelTomorrow

*Article originally published at LinkedIn.

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