How the coronavirus can shape the future of tourism

JUAN MARTINEZ

March 29, 2020

How the coronavirus can shape the future of tourism

With tourism completely shut down and millions of jobs at risk, the coronavirus will change the way we travel

It is very difficult to know when tourism will go back to normal. According to The Guardian, approximately 20% of the world is living right now in lockdown conditions and it seems like each day it is just getting worst and worst. The whole planet is basically on standby and as days pass by, there are no visible signs when traveling for leisure will carry on.

From large airlines to family run lodges, the coronavirus is causing an immense fear about the upcoming future and so far, we have no idea how to handle it.

When will be a good time to travel?

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) stated that up to 50 million jobs worldwide could be lost because of this pandemic and once the outbreak is over, it could take up to 10 months for the industry to recover. Everyone should stay at their homes for the next weeks and expressions like “flatten the curve” or “#stayhome” became part of our daily vocabulary. Until the spread of the coronavirus gets controlled, traveling is simply unthinkable.

With many thinking ahead and planning their holidays when all of this is over. a big question still pops out: when should I schedule my holidays?

Some optimists think Summer 2020 could be a good time for scheduling their next trips, while others see nothing happening before 2021. Everyone has a different opinion and depending in which source you look at, it is very difficult to differentiate between who base their information on facts, overreacts or misinforms. Yet, at the end of the line, the truth is that nobody knows exactly when.

Local bars had to close in Berlin until at least 20th April
Bars in Berlin are closed at least until 20th April

As a professional travel photographer and journalist, my scheduled travel plans for 2020 included visiting 25 different countries in 5 different continents. However, after the first destinations cancelled my expeditions for April, May and June, I don’t see the possibility of leaving Europe at least until September or October.

I was prepared for this kind of situation, and if I have to stay at home for the next six months in order to stop the spread of the virus, so let it be. However, other industries in hospitality are extremely dependent on the constant movement of travelers and a longer wait for tourists to come could mean difficult financial decisions.

In this fight against an invisible enemy, small tour operators and family run businesses are in the frontline. Without clients for months to come, some are already struggling and need tourism to start again as soon as possible.

“My biggest concern are the effects of the coronavirus on the world’s economy” said Yulia Kulik from JC Travel, a family run tour operator based in Ukraine.  “After everything gets back to normal, people simply might not have money or savings for traveling “ stated Yulia, after I asked about the future of tourism.

Going local instead of global

Tourism won’t carry on from one day to another once the pandemic is over. With most mayor cities in completely lockdown, governments will first ease regulations for bars, restaurants and other sectors of the local economy. It could be weeks or even months until air traffic go back to normal and international tourism would not be the same for at least the first year.

Even though planning an island-hopping trip in Thailand or backpacking South America sound like the best way to kick off after the coronavirus, this won’t be possible right away. Still, there are other better ways how you can help tourism to recover.

The full support of local tourism for the first weeks will be essential for the industry. Drinking coffee in a local bakery instead of Starbucks or eating at a family run restaurant will help local businesses to recover. These small changes won’t cost you much and you can still enjoy the pleasures of experiencing something different.

Once nationwide lockdowns finish, exploring our own cities, national parks, museums and villages could be the perfect getaway before thinking leaving the country. It will be a time to enjoy our homes, as if we were on holiday.

Read more: The setbacks of an obnoxious millennial traveler during the coronavirus

Rothenburg ob the Tauber old town
The charming old town of Rothenburg ob the Tauber

My first trips after the pandemic will be to the National Parks of Germany and do local tours in Berlin. I will explore many places I didn’t visit before because of my desire to go “somewhere far”, and even though I won’t be able to see the sunset from a cliff in the Costa Brava, sunsets at home are as pretty as anywhere else in the world.

The effects of the coronavirus are terrible for all of us. However, they could be a lesson for help us appreciate more our local businesses and apply a more ethical tourism in our upcoming trips.

Read more: How to be a traveler at home

Swiss Saxony in Eastern Germany
Views of Swiss Saxony in Eastern Germany are as scenic as in New Zealand or Patagonia

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