The past couple of weeks have seen the world basically turned upside down by an enemy that we cannot even see with our naked eyes! The Corona virus or as popularly known as covid-19. What is more scary is the fact that no-one can give a timeline as to when all this will end and when we can reboot the system and go back to normal. For tourism and travel businesses this is far beyond any nightmare that we could have imagined!
We have seen countries lockdown their airspaces, lockdown geographical territories, meaning no travel, be it for business or leisure. In Kenya and most parts of the world, this is one of tourism’s peak seasons, Easter. Sadly, we now have to witness hotels, airlines, excursion sites etc shut down.
UNWTO estimates that in 2020 global international tourist arrivals could decline between 1% to 3%, down from an estimated growth of 3% to 4% forecast in early January 2020.This could translate into a loss of US$ 30 to 50 billion in spending by international visitors (international tourism receipts). Having that Africa heavily depends of tourism as one of the main contributors to the economy; this means that we could be one of the hardest hit in terms of impact by covid-19. So this then leaves us asking, what can we do to keep tourism alive? What can we do to keep the dream of having a social-business that holds the potential to push for the realization of the global sustainable development goals?
Truth be told these are hard facts that we tourism soldiers must face and believe that there will be a better tomorrow and that there will be better days for the tourism industry. Here at Tierranjani Africa we narrowed down on 5 things that we believe tourism stakeholders can do to keep the fire burning for the tourism torch while on this time-out;
- Communicate positive tourism messages. Encourage our travelers to postpone the trip, not cancel the trip. Led by UNWTO, we the tourism fraternity are called to engage with our travelers and remind them that after Corona, our destinations will still remain, and on the brighter side, by staying at home, we will be giving our natural resources time to rejuvenate….and become even more breathtaking. You could even say, it is a chance to re-think overtourism and re-write the story of these destinations?
- Promoting people first thus re-designing your products to work within sustainable models which consider the 3 Ps of sustainability, people, planet AND profit. In this circumstance we suggest that you take the time out to re-design your products. Most of us have wanted to change how we run our business but have been caught up in operations. We recommend you take time to strategize and develop a new way of working one that has a positive impact. Focus on being innovative and channel creativity in developing better products.
- Even though we are already in a crisis and the ball is already rolling down the hill, this is a good time to develop a future crisis management strategy. This means utilize the time out on developing strategies that your business can fall on in times of madness like now! It is said that experience is the best teacher; we could all use our harsh business experiences now to develop very concrete and solid crisis strategies for future.
- Workforce development is another we would recommend during this period when tourism is so silent and most entities are reducing salaries or laying off staff. How about encouraging staff on taking the time to better themselves, for example you could encourage them to enroll on the free online MOOC’s or even engage with experts in development and strike a suitable online method that your staff could benefit from, this could later be followed up with stronger programs to strengthen your organizations capacity.
- Build on your market intelligence. When the world has contained covid-19, every other business or destination will be ready to strike. The market will be a jungle of innovation and creativity. We will see all the best advertisements and marketing campaigns ever created! All destinations and tourism businesses will be battling to have their product on every tourist’s mind out there. The big question will be…what will you do? How will you position your organization to stand out? What will make you unique? Why will travelers trust you?
All said and done covid-19 may have dealt us with a blow, tourism industry may be down and hurt, but covid-19 will one day be in the past. What we do now as tourism organizations will adversely impact how our businesses recover. As Tierranjani Africa we commit to working together with all travel/ tourism related organizations and governments in partnership to build a better and stronger tourism industry.