Natural calamities and infectious spreads have always been notorious for killing the masses. Nature has always been overpowering in this regard. History thoroughly manifests the disastrous effects of the pandemics; for instance, Justinian in the 6th century wiped out half of the population across the globe. Viral pandemics like the Spanish flu expensed the world with the loss of 100 million precious lives. Now in the contemporary century, COVID-19 has paralyzed the economies around the globe. Though the effects of COVID-19 are widespread, almost every industry has been hit hard by it. The paper discusses the effect of COVID on the hospitality and tourism industry.
COVID-19 spillover on the hospitality and tourism industry:
It will not be wrong to say that COVID-19 was the only pandemic in history that caused the instantaneous shutdown of all industries over a night. The only possible way to stop the widespread infection was to segregate the localities and highly condemn the inter-locality movement. The strategy has been followed by almost every country, resulting in complete or partial lockdowns. This helped in controlling the mass spread, but it has affected the tourism industry heavily. Almost all the restaurants were allowed to restrict their operations to take-outs only. The hospitality industry ought to make profound changes in its operations to ensure the safety of its customers.
The businesses and education setups have been successful in shifting themselves online. However, the tourism industry could not do so; the hospitality industry was heavily afflicted in the starting but gradually revamped itself by adapting COVID standard operating procedures.
COVID-19 and changing customer behaviors:
The breakeven point of the tourism and hospitality industry is high enough that bearing the operating cost in the era of a pandemic is almost impossible; this has led to the permanent closure of many hotels. The survival of these industries is only dependent upon the customers.
According to a recent survey, about 50% of individuals are still not ready to dine back in restaurants. The same is the case with staying in hotels and booking resorts on a destination. So, for now, nearly all the hotels have been able to get a quarter of their customers back for dine-in (Gursoy et al.,2020).
Effects of COVID-19 on air travel:
Many countries around the globe have been practicing their quarantine with severe air travel restrictions. The airplane industry is on the verge of bankruptcy. Air travel has long been ruling intercountry transport. After COVID-19, the airlines are facing heavy cost cuts. The business travels used to contribute much to the airplane industry, and the shifting of the meetings from conference rooms to online platforms has led to disrupted cash flow. This has also led to a drastic decrease in the demand for jet fuels. During the timespan of January t April 2020, the demand for jet fuel dwindled to approximately 58% (Youssef. A.B.). it is anticipated that the majority of the airlines will now only allow flights with regional destinations to make up for the loss.
How can the hospitality industry manage this recession?
Ozil, P.K.; presented the possible managerial policies which can be adapted to cope with this recession; the monetary measures might include lowering the interest rate to help the industry revamp. The fiscal measures can be the government-level welfare programs for the most hard-hit industries (Ozil, P.K.; 2020)
How can the tourism industry manage this recession?
Initially, there were no hopes left in tourism in the era of COVID-19. However, the field researchers suggest that the inculcation of virtual reality can gain tourists back. For the past few years, virtual reality tourism was making efforts to get its roots in the industry. However, the present circumstances are apt for its flourishing.
Changing in the educational practices within the tourism and hospitality industry:
Hospitality education also took considerable change. Many longitudinal studies have been published recently predicting the fact that bringing the customers back to the restaurant will take time, even after reopening the hotels and weaving off the travel restrictions (Gursoy et al., 2020).
Along with the other changes, the pandemic has redirected the research inclination of scholars in the hospitality industry. They are now more motivated to fabricate agendas for the hospitality industry to make it able to thrive in the span of crisis. The teaching strategies have also been subjected to a considerable change; now, hospitality students should learn about the operative techniques which can bring the customers back, ensuring their comfortability and safety. Moreover, now the institutions should be more focused on teaching the student customer psychology along with operation and management skills, as the customer is the heart of this business.
COVID-19 spillover on the educational sector:
When COVID-19 was declared a global health emergency, this was followed by the immediate closure of the educational setups. The impact was worldwide; the school closure was experienced across 4 continents in approximately 44 countries (Ozil, P.K.; 2020). To cope with the outbreak, educational institutions were compelled to shift from physical learning to distant learning. According to a report presented by UNESCO, 290.5 million students were affected by this shift in educational practices. Countries like the UK, US, and Canada, which used to be the educational hubs for foreign students combined, suffered the loss of billions of dollars as the closure of the institutions compelled the foreign students to return to their homelands.
In a nutshell, the pandemic has taught us that the hospitality and tourism industry is in severe need of adopting a proactive approach. While the educational setups reflected their ability to confront challenges and adapt to new strategies swiftly. Future organizational designs and strategies should be made, keeping in view their efficacy in times of calamities. Both industries need to plan and respond swiftly to the changes too. As it is a common saying: “Change is the only thing that is constant.”
Bending along with the changes and mending the strategies can only help the industries to resist unforeseen disasters. The economical loss caused by COVID-19 will need its time to recover; however, the downtime should be used to train the employees and devise strategies to look for new opportunities in the ashes.
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UNWTO. (2020). UNWTO world t Ozili, P.K.; Arun, T. Spillover of COVID-19: Impact on the Global Economy. 2020. Ssrn.3562570. SSRN. Available online: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?Abstract_id=3562570 (accessed on 30 March 2020).tourism barometer (Vol. 18, Issu e 2, May 2020).