Tourism, by far, has been the major contributor to the economies the world over. A lull in this industry bodes ill for those countries that thrive on tourism. European, and the Asian countries being the ones having suffered the most, owing to this pandemic.
Impact On Tourism
Among the various estimates, being drawn up, around the potential impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic on the global and the national economies, the world over, paints a very grim picture of the future, in relation to the Tourism Industry.
The only point in the agreement, amongst the various debatable points is that it is going to be very bad. The disagreement is largely on the fact as to how long this pandemic is going to last and the resultant social distancing that is entailed, restrictions on businesses, and the effectiveness of the various governmental stimulus packages, more so on the India centric tour packages.
With nearly 120 economies having imposed travel restrictions owing to this pandemic - from an outright blanket ban on all travels - to certain selective travel restrictions, the immediate and gross impact would be on travel and tourism sectors, and the related India tour packages.
It can be safely assumed that, post the pandemic, as the world inches towards a semblance of normalcy, a strong likely hood of international travel restrictions will linger on, in order to avoid recurrence, or import of new COVID-19 cases, especially among those countries which have not been affected by this pandemic.
While on the other hand, the impacted economies will most likely and purposefully restrict foreign travel and give an impetus to local tourism as a substitute, encouraging soft loans to its locals for indulging in domestic travel and tourism, to tide away the initial post-pandemic period, thus serving as an alternative to foreign tourism demand, this would have a major impact on the local, India specific tour packages.
Opening Up Of The Travel Services
At a later stage, with the urgency in the need for foreign currency, there is expected to be a gradual change in the tourism sector that will call for permitting foreign travelers, but with a slow easing of travel restrictions and the pandemic associated restrictions within the host country.
As a start the countries that open up, may require COVID-19 free certification off the travelers, However, the impending second wave of the pandemic may loom large at this point of time, thus, requiring the setting up of internationally recognized tests and accredited laboratories.
It would also go without saying that the host countries, themselves, will also be required to show that they are safe for tourists. This would imply that, other than having low infection numbers, they will be required to having credible systems in place to ensure tourists do not fall sick. Such a provision would entail a government guarantee for private treatment of those affected, if at all, which will further the impact on Indian travel packages.
The New Normal
While it is most uncertain as to by when a complete recovery from the pandemic can be expected, the impact of this will eventually pass. Once the all-clear is signaled, people all over the world will indulge in extensive travel all over again, although hesitantly.
The new normal, post the pandemic, will now entail everything from the minutest of sanitation practices to a broader spectrum covering the health of a nation, its regions, ports of call, the role of the travel insurance, and the issues as related to the modes of travel, like social distancing, etc.
Another aspect would be the price-sensitive traveler who will definitely be looking forward to some trade down on the products and the amenities that would be provided, this will also see shorter booking windows, and a possibility of more number of shorter trips, and a lower spend per trip and shorter itineraries.
Emptier Planes Would Be Preferable
On having being inculcated with the practice of social distancing, it is very likely that the flier would now look forward to flying in an emptier plane, as he is likely to feel safer in an aircraft that is less crowded. Various airlines, it is being seen, have started blocking off half of its middle seats, so much so that some of them have even decided to keep their middle seats vacant even once the travel restrictions are lifted, this fact would further impact the Indian tour packages.
Cleanliness To Be A Major Factor
Over and above the emptier planes syndrome, cleanliness will be the next bigger factor to be taken care of. The flier would prefer a completely hygienic environment, both, while flying and on the ground.
In view of the flier’s apprehensions, with regards to touching surfaces and concerns of contamination etc., the airlines will be required to address these concerns by making visible changes in their beverages and food servicing mannerisms. A similar challenge will be faced by hotels and restaurants, catering to tourists.
Certain hygiene criteria too will be required to be laid down, to be strictly adhered to, by the hotel industry governing bodies, if they want to attract tourists. It would entail the need for an audit initiative aimed at certifying hotels and other related tourist attractions with a quality stamp based on the criteria set.
The most significant impact will be in the manner in which food is served in the hospitality industry. The hitherto most popular concept of Buffet is definitely set to change for good, a sea change in the drinking and eating habit of the tourists is envisaged, the implementation of alternatives will call for a major over hall of India specific tour packages.
Choice Of Destinations
Although the ardent globetrotters, out of habit, will be very keenly looking forward to an adieu to the pandemic, as they being habitual travelers will find it difficult to not doing it, but post the pandemic there is expected to be a noticeable change in the ways people travel. It is envisaged that post the pandemic, the average traveler will be rather choosy about the destinations to be visited. He will prefer to visit less crowded places like hills, beaches and country sides.
Trips Abroad Will Be A Taboo
Travel abroad will require a rethink for anyone wanting to undertake such a trip. The traveler would be vary of visiting certain countries like China, Italy, Spain, and countries which have been severely impacted by the pandemic.
Impact On Cost Of Vacations – Post COVID-19
In a very general sense of speaking the cost of vacations could go either way. It could be on the higher side considering the impact the pandemic has had on tourism businesses, both the travel and hospitality industry, worldwide. It is anticipated that the tour packages (India Specific) could be higher considering the recovery of the losses endured during the pandemic, or on the other hand could be lower in order to attract a larger number of tourists, or the habitual globetrotters, as mentioned earlier. The opinion is divided between these two factors and remains to be seen in due course of time.
As per a recent study, as conducted by the University of South Florida it is estimated that 63.8% of travelers will reduce their travel plans in the next 12 months and that more than 50% of respondents surveyed by the US university had canceled their business travel due to this pandemic.
It is anticipated that future tourism will become more expensive and more expensive tour packages will be in vogue, signaling that traveling will soon be more of luxury all over again.
“The coronavirus will probably make traveling more expensive and thus also more climate-friendly. Cheap flights at cut-rate prices will soon be the thing of the past. The future of tourism encompasses substantial changes,” Eagan wrote. It has been further predicted, by Eagan that the tourism industry will shrink by 50% resulting in significant loss of jobs and revenue.
As a result, it is expected that there will be a rise in the cost of flight tickets and also, that, hotels, in turn, will be forced to escalate their prices as well, ultimately resulting in an escalation in the cost of traveling once the travel restrictions are lifted.
“The risk of infection with the coronavirus is reducing the available space: keeping a distance between people is expensive. Thus traveling becomes a luxury again,” Eagan explained.
According to Mr. Mandeep S Lamba, President (South Asia), HVS Anarock, the world is still coming to terms with the COVID-19 outbreak and there is no doubt that the pandemic will change the world as we know it. With the globalized world going into partial or complete shutdown, the overall impact on human life, economic growth, and businesses are immeasurable, both in the short term and long term due to the uncertainty as things evolve.
To analyze the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry, HVS published a detailed report on how to tackle the situation and be on the safe side after the virus is contained. While most Economists and Analysts currently expect the global economy to rebound, by some measure in the latter part of 2020, the exact timeline cannot be determined until the virus is contained across the globe.
Hence it can be safely inferred, that future of tourism can be expected to be a more expensive proposition and that people without money will be left behind in the world of tourism.