Air corridors will help revive tourism industry | Sunday Observer
“Testing regime needs to be launched soon”

Air corridors will help revive tourism industry

29 November, 2020

Air corridors between key business and leisure destinations will help the tourism industry to recover and provide an economic boost, but testing is the key, World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Managing Director Virginia Messina told the Sunday Observer yesterday. She said more losses would be incurred in the tourism industry if travel barriers such as quarantine remain. Messina said the delay in opening borders to tourists would delay the recovery of the industry.

“A comprehensive, globally coordinated testing regime is necessary to get travel back on its feet. In 2019, travel and tourism was responsible for 10.3 percent of the total economy in Sri Lanka and 11 percent of all jobs, which shows the importance of the sector in powering the economy post Covid-19,” she said. She said a testing regime needs to be launched soon, even when a vaccine is rolled out.

“The WTTC believes that the only solution to restart international travel is a globally standardised, fast turnaround and cost-effective testing regime on departure,” she added.

According to WTTC research, in 2020 so far, the pandemic has impacted over 87 million travel and tourism jobs.

The Council projects that if nothing changes, 106.7 million jobs could be lost. “Additionally, travel and tourism GDP losses in 2020 have already amounted to US$1,475 billion in the Asian region and could grow to US$1,801 billion if barriers to travel, such as quarantine remain,” the official said.

The recovery time of tourism was 19.4 months on an average during the previous diseases. According to the WTTC Crisis Report, travel and tourism is becoming more resilient and could recover faster and specific recommendations such as public-private cooperation are essential.

The WTTC hopes that there will be a new normal in the post-pandemic world. Messina said the Council has identified four emerging trends for the future of the sector, such as, demand evolution, health and hygiene, innovation and digitisation and sustainability.

“Demand Evolution: Traveller preferences and behaviour have shifted towards the familiar, predictable, and trusted. Domestic vacations, extensive planning, and the outdoors will reign in the short-term, with tourism businesses and destinations already adapting.

“Health and Hygiene: Health, safety and trust are paramount in this new era. Personal experiences, fear of being stuck in another country and concerns for distancing will guide consumer behaviour in the short- to mid-term. Businesses need to collaborate more closely with their extended value chains to ensure readiness. “Innovation and Digitisation: Covid-19 is proving to be an unexpected catalyst in the travel and tourism sector’s quest for innovation and integration of new technologies. Amid the stay-at-home orders, digital adoption and consumption are on the rise, with consumers now expecting contactless technologies, among others, as a basic prerequisite for a safe and seamless travel experience.

“Sustainability: From widespread unemployment and anti-racism movements to the restoration of natural habitats, the world has been reinvigorated to tackle social, environmental, and institutional sustainability, particularly, heightened public awareness of wildlife markets and poaching has boosted advocacy for wildlife protection.”