Why does the tourism industry and the politicians struggle with allowing consumers to travel during Covid times?
I’ve seen many strange regulations over the past few months.
Quite a few restrictions made me frustrated, as I feel it can be possible to let people travel safely, as long as general infection numbers remain low.
There are solutions to keep the risk low.
For example, it’s relatively easy to sell paperless tickets online for sights and activities, which limits the total number of visitors each day. Then for enforcing social distancing rules, provide limited entry to specific times, by providing extra time slots.
And if a Zoo in Cologne is capable of achieving this, others should be able to do this too. 😉
So there shouldn’t be pictures emerging online with visitors in super long queues, as you would only be allowed to turn up, when it’s your time to socially distance and to enjoy the attraction.
On the other side I think it’s essential to be strict on enforcing restrictions, as long as they make sense. If the local health system is struggling and new infections numbers are high, action should take place.
So as long the infection numbers remain high, it’s tough to recommend consumers to travel.
But what if the infection rate remains low and high-risk groups have been vaccinated?
Then we should find ways to make it possible, as we can’t let the tourism industry suffer for much longer, as local economies and job security rely on it.
Not to forget the fact that consumers might have missed out on a much needed holiday in 2020 and can’t wait to travel again, which is seen in advanced booking number figures and increased website traffic.
It seems that it’s all about testing and several times.
Also, airlines and airports can work together with the government and health boards to provide quick test results to avoid the risk of spreading the virus.
Those tests might not provide the best reliable results, but they add to a bigger and safer situation. One piece more of reassurance.
It makes no sense on arrival to lock down tourists for 14 days in a hotel room. I doubt tourists would be eager to do this. It doesn’t sound like a dream holiday situation and I wouldn’t do it.
Instead, why not allow guests access to the whole resort or specific parts until the PCR tests come back negative.
Hotel arrivals could take place on specific days, to allow hotel staff to take part in large deep cleaning operations and to avoid past guests mixing with new arrivals.
Hotels could choose the arrival day they prefer. Limited packages could be sold to control manageable visitor numbers and they could include a minimum stay of several nights.
Believe it or not, many tourists spend their holiday time at the pool or relaxing on the beach.
Being upfront about the additional steps needed to make a trip happen, I feel many would still be interested in travelling abroad.
There could be 3-4 tests to be made by guests:
– one PCR test before arrival, usually 48 hours before departure
– one rapid test at the airport
– one PCR test on arrival
– and one PCR test after 4-5 days before being allowed to leave the resort
If all tests are negative, the risk becomes low and avoids the chances of Covid-19 spreading further.
There is still a small chance that it can spread, but we should not forget that life itself is not completely 100% risk-free.
Washing hands, wearing a face mask, keeping socially distanced, all still help to reduce the spread of covid, we shouldn’t forget that.
With such a situation, it would be possible to allow visitors outside of the hotel and explore a destination, after a few days. Also, here again, you can define specific restrictions, which should be in place already anyway.
Destinations like the Seychelles, Barbados and Sri Lanka are good examples of how it could be done.
It might be easier for islands to manage arrivals, but I don’t see why it’s not also possible for other destinations.
Very important is that everyone sticks to the rules.
The visitors and the businesses need to play along!
The moment someone breaks the rules and refuses to follow guidance, they should be fined as they put the whole operation at risk.
Make customers sign waivers, so they’re aware of the risk. If they break the rules, send them home, allow no refund, let them pay for all extra costs as well as a fine.
If a hotel, airline or tour operator doesn’t play along, then close down the operation and add a fine.
Nobody is forcing anyone to open for business or travel. And if destinations and their politicians make it possible to travel again, everyone should appreciate this and play along to provide a safe environment for everyone.
Vaccines are currently being administered as we speak in many countries. And we will still have to deal with Sars-CoV-2 in the future, especially when we talk about international travel.
Communication is key!
When we ran the restart tourism recovery campaign with the UNWTO and Lanzarote in Spain, we got a lot of positive and interested feedback from travelers.
There was a high demand for seeking information. (Get in touch with us, if you are interested to get the case study.)
Travellers wanted to find out about the different restrictions, not really in detail, but more if it’s safe to travel.
Don’t show a post-Covid situation, as it’s not in operation yet.
Show that it’s safe and fun to travel, even with additional rules and restrictions.
We should learn from the past and see what worked and adapt. Let’s remain sensible and respectful and most importantly keep safe.
Let’s also stay realistic and don’t create ridiculous rules, but be responsible for everyone.