Trillions in revenue lost. A third of the global workforce unemployed. Thousands of companies mothballed or bankrupt. There’s no doubt about it, 2020 has been an absolute nightmare for the tourism industry, as COVID-19 has seen international travel grind to a halt, with catastrophic effects not just for airlines, hotels and travel businesses, but also businesses that depend on tourism such as restaurants, shops, taxis and many many more. It’s been absolutely unprecedented in both its global reach and its duration, and we have all been affected.
But there is some good news. Firstly, 2020 will be over in three weeks time. And whilst an arbitrary, human-created line in the sand is going to have zero effect on the virus itself, seeing the back of this awful year will give us all a bit of a lift, a psychological boost, as we move into 2021, the year in which things will, if not return to normal, at least start moving in a positive direction. And there are other reasons to be cheerful as we move out of 2020…
Domestic Tourism is Booming
International travel may be non-existent, but all over the world people are scratching their travel itch by taking local trips or doing staycations, taking advantage of an absence of foreign tourists and some absolute bargain hotel and domestic flight deals. According to a recent McKinsey report, domestic travel is likely to recover way before international travel does, and is already way outperforming the airline and hotel sectors:
So whilst people may not be getting on planes any time soon – at least not international ones – pent-up travel demand and a sudden lack of foreign tourists means many people are rediscovering their own countries, and this is a great opportunity for savvy travel companies to survive and even thrive during this most difficult of times. For more advice on this, check out our upcoming webinar on domestic tourism on 12 January 2021!
The Vaccines Have Arrived
For the last few months, most industry people I’ve spoken to have been of the belief that tourism won’t really start to recover until there is a working vaccine. Thankfully in the last month several new vaccines have been released and are already being rolled out in several countries. The news has led to increased optimism in the industry and beyond with travel-related stock prices rising and companies starting to awaken from their 2020 slumber and begin planning for recovery. Obviously global vaccine coverage will not happen overnight and is likely to take months, but it is an actual concrete piece of evidence that we are getting on top of the virus and will soon be able to cross borders again.
Stock Prices are Rising
There are few more reliable indicators of returning industry confidence than people starting to buy travel stocks and companies starting to invest again, and that’s what we’re starting to see in travel. Let’s take a look at share prices for the world’s biggest travel company TUI. In the last few weeks they’ve gone from a low of 265 to a high of 546, and are currently hovering around the 450 mark – another sign that we are seeing the green shoots of recovery in our industry.
In other positive financial news, Chinese travel giant Trip.com posted its first quarterly profit since the COVID outbreak in Q3 of 2020, as China’s domestic tourism industry booms and optimism about international travel begins to return.
Countries are Reopening
In recent weeks we’ve also seen the tentative reopening of several countries to foreign visitors. Japan has announced that it is reopening to business travellers, Thailand saw its first foreign tour group since the virus arrive in November, and Singapore & Hong Kong announced a travel bubble. Whilst the latter never actually opened due to an outbreak in HK, Singapore continues to seek new bubble partners in an indication that it is ready to reopen, and industry leaders here in Thailand are pressuring our government to do the same in order to help the country’s suffering travel industry.
So, baby steps for sure, but compared to six months ago the mood in the industry is starting to look a little more positive. Here at eRoam we’ve signed up several new clients in the last few weeks as savvy companies realise that technology is going to be one of the biggest factors in making a quick and effective recovery from the depths of 2020, and we have several big partnerships to announce in the coming weeks. To find out how our travel technology solution can help your business recover, please contact us. And of course we wish all our followers, partners and customers a very happy, successful and MUCH more prosperous 2021!