Figures projected regarding international Tourism paints a not-too-rosy picture of the future vis-à-vis the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a highly contagious disease, and it has led to thousands of deaths across the world. Experts advise people to avoid physical contact with others. This has created a new norm for safety, labeled as social distancing.

The basic concept is to avoid handshake, hugs, embracing with unknown persons. Another addition is to combat the disease by wearing masks to avoid transmitting the virus through the mouth. The net result is emptiness all around from movie halls, and stadiums, to aircraft.

Roads wear a deserted look, and the surroundings are free of pollution with clear skies and plenty of freshness in the air we breathe. In the bargain, we have lost the busy world of a few months back, and the world economy is on the brink of collapse.

The Guardian has singled out international tourism. It describes the collapse as the worst crisis since records began to be kept. A report of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) predicts a steep decline in international arrivals in 2020. The main reasons are largescale Travel restrictions coupled with the closure of airports and borders across the world. Improvement in the situation will depend on how soon the threat of coronavirus is neutralized, and normalcy can return.

Effect of COVID-19 on tourism-related issues

The fear of a disease like COVID-19 has disturbed lives, and no one knows when or where it would strike next. It has devastated the global tourism industry, and it threatens the livelihood of millions. They are associated with the industry in various capacities and are uncertain about their future.

Hotels are worried about occupancy, and tour operators are unable to organize or promote schedules.

The Guardian quotes Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO secretary-general, saying - “The world is facing unprecedented health and economic crisis. Tourism has been hit hard, with millions of jobs at risk in one of the most labor-intensive sectors of the economy.” The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) predicts a loss of millions of jobs in the travel and tourism sector.

The majority of these would be in G20 countries. However, recovery could be faster in Asia and the Pacific, with domestic tourism overtaking international travel. Already agencies like the UNWTO, the World Health Organization, European Travel Commission, and IATA are working on preparing a road map of return to normalcy, keeping in mind issues related to health. These include evolving global hygiene standards that could cover hotels, aircraft, and cruise ships.

COVID-19 is dictating the travel scene

According to Modern Diplomacy, COVID-19 is dictating the global travel scenario. Ever since the disease struck, the travel industry is floundering in deep waters. Aircraft that should be in the air continue to remain on the ground; cruise vessels are stranded in the waters, and road travel has come to a near standstill.

The UNWTO forecasts terrible times ahead for the industry. It would mean the loss of employment for many, and recovery would be a long-drawn-out process. This would depend on factors like the speed of containment of the disease, which will define the duration of travel restrictions and the shutdown of borders. Experts believe domestic demand will witness a faster recovery compared to international ones. Moreover, leisure travel, like visiting friends and relatives, will be faster than business travel.

Fast-paced society reduced to crawling due to COVID-19

The disease that has its origin in the tiny city of Wuhan in China has rewritten the norms of society. It has forced people to avoid physical contact with unknown persons for one’s own safety.

The travel industry has taken a severe beating as airlines see passenger numbers plummet to levels of the 1950s because of COVID-19. Aircraft have become showpieces, and unless the situation returns to normal, the inventory will continue to gather dust. COVID-19 has played havoc with travel and tourism sectors, and they are waiting for the revival.

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