Out Of Sight?
As the global tourism sector gets set to restart - and at home we still look longingly for some sign that our darkness is getting lighter, the urgency to do anything about the COVID-19 virus appears to be waning. Somehow, there are those that believe that once government reopens the economy, the Virus will simply fade and become just another unnecessary scare.
And there are those that don't believe the virus is anything more than a particularly bad flu - something that will fade in our memories as we get back to making money and getting our lives back together again. But if there is one thing that we need to understand and appreciate, its that travel and hospitality - even basic service delivery, will never be the same again. The Virus has changed all of that with the single biggest change being that of how we value and regard our personal safety and health.
In countries that have been touched by civil war or unrest, the first casualty has always been tourism, and it takes a long-time to convince visitors to return to normal travel practices. So too will the image of COVID-19 change the way we travel, and we eagerly watch to see how Italy and Western Europe recover - and the measures that they implement which will become the new norm. Long-after the noise has subsided, travelers are going to become far more careful about things like personal hygiene, health risks and the practices and safety offered by their travel partners. Hotels will no longer be simply selected on location and price, but on how they manage, contain and minimise the transmission of disease and virus's. Restaurants will be judged on the measures they have taken to minimise contamination; and transport services will be selected on the degree to which they address their passenger fears and concerns.
Social distancing is not going to leave us for a long time, and international travel - when it does resume, will need to take this into account when planning everything from itineraries to product selection. Gone are the days when price alone sets the agenda. Now, travelers will be putting their health at the very top of their travel lists and as an industry, travel and tourism needs to hear this loud-a-clear.
So for those that are still planning to reopen - and those that may already be open, how much do you believe you need to do to attract future business? Is it good enough to implement measures and hope for the best, or do you see value in being recognised as Covid-wise on a global stage?
If you found COVID-19 stressful and you were concerned about your safety, consider the lasting fears and concerns your guests will harbour for a long time still. It's not over until then, and we need to acknowledge and understand this fact.