All over the world, travel and tourism industries have been greatly affected by the impact of COVID-19. Following the restrictions on movements, and travels, lockdowns and cancellations of major events. Prior to the pandemic, it was predicted that ‘tourist destinations were to hit 1.6 billion international arrivals globally in 2020’, providing 10% to global GDP as a major contributor to the economy.
Sadly, the impact of the pandemic has resulted to a major setback on the sector that is now shifting their focus to domestic tourism.
While the world is about to enter its recovery stage from coronavirus. As many countries are easing off their restrictions, and lockdown policies, allowing businesses to resume operations, some destination authorities are taking necessary actions to begin the recovery process of the travel and tourism industry in their region.
According to Global Data travel and tourism analyst, Amber Barnes, there is no better time to start this recovery process than now.
“It is critical for destinations, in particular, tourism-reliant destinations, to create strategic actions to be able to recover from COVID-19. These must be implemented now; otherwise it will be too late,” Barnes says.
Also to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic on the travel and tourism sector, Barnes also agrees to a closer focus on domestic and regional tourism
“Tourists will have doubts regarding travelling internationally, suggesting promotional activity should concentrate on domestic and regional tourism.”
Amid the hit of the pandemic, Thai tourism authorities and companies exerted a heavy presence in promotion and marketing. They released an international video to show a sense of community and how the country has become one during the pandemic.
“In 2019, Thailand saw 135 million domestic trips, and this is forecast to reach 160 million by 2023 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4%. Although there may be a decrease in 2020 due to the pandemic, domestic tourism has the potential to rise with the increased promotional activity, offering a possible economic boom,” Barnes adds.
A few weeks ago, in India, a memorandum was submitted to Sawant Sainath Krishna Dharwatkar, President of the Goa chapter of Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI). It stated that Goa should bank on domestic tourists by offering them value-for-money services to ride over the current dip faced by the tourism industry.
Goa is one of the top tourist destinations in India, experiencing the visitation of people travelling from far and wide to this small state for its diverse mix of beaches, adrenaline activities, parties, nature, and history. But the state has had to face a setback in tourism due to the pandemic.
In early March, Goa’s travel industry stakeholders told the Chief Minister, Pramod Sawant that the hospitality industry in Goa should not focus on foreign tourists but in promoting domestic tourism. Because while restrictions are being lifted, travellers are still going to be reluctant to travel to far places.
“Destinations in which lockdowns are being lifted should now be promoting domestic tourism. This is because international tourism is not currently possible, and tourists will want to travel close to home.”
Looking at domestic tourism is a good way for all tourism sectors to swing back into action.
The deed has been done, and there is no need to cry over spilt milk, rather with a clear cut agenda, and strategic thinking, all industries can return to its states before the pandemic, although the process might be slow.