Encyclopedia Thursday, July 29, 2021 3319 hits

The Covid-19 pandemic and path to recovery and innovation

Mladen Mitrović, PhD student at Faculty of Tourism Studies - Turistica, University of Primorska
Mitrović, M. (2021). The Covid-19 pandemic and path to recovery and innovation. In AIRTH Encyclopedia of Innovation in Tourism and Hospitality. Retrieved: <insert-date>, from http://www.airth.global
In addition to endangering basic human rights, to live, the Covid-19 virus has dramatically affected many aspects of modern civilization. With numerous measures which have entered into force, such as travel bans, social distancing and isolation, tourism as an industry has suffered and continues to suffer enormous losses. The outbreak of this pandemic is a major shock to the industry. An increasing number of people are losing their jobs, and small and medium-sized enterprises, which make up the majority of the tourism industry, are most affected. States were in a hurry to prepare packages of measures that would enable the functioning of these companies. It is difficult to estimate when the situation will return to the previous one or at least some optimal in which tourism will function without obstacles. There is a growing opinion this is the end of mass tourism and that in the future there will be a focus on sustainable, specialized types of travel where all health and safety measures will be respected. Although the pandemic affected both international and domestic tourism, it is believed that the latter one will have a much faster recovery. The encouragement of domestic tourism is exactly what a large number of countries base the survival of their tourism sector on. The return of trust among tourists to embark on the adventure that the trip brings with it, as well as whether the attitudes of the local population about their arrival to be affirmative, appear as great challenges in the coming period. Urban locations, that until recently were under a real siege by tourists, will have to find a way to make future visits in optimal numbers and with respect to the aforementioned (health and safety) measures, in order to protect lives of tourists, workers and locals. 
A lot of experts from the tourism were trying to clarify the situation with providing some predictions about the sector recovery and getting back to the before pandemic level. For example, UNWTO (World Tourism Organization) conduct a global survey among the tourism experts about the period when they are expecting the international tourism recovery. Most of them expect to recovery begin in third quarter of 2021, while returning to the pre-pandemic should not be before 2023. The STR (Smith Travel Research), a worldwide recognized company for the benchmarking in hospitality industry and tourism sector analysis, have organized the research during the February 2021 through their official web page among the travelers around the world about their opinions on future of the hospitality industry and recovery of both international and domestic travels in the post-pandemic time. Based on the results, their desire to travel in a post-pandemic, both domestically and internationally, was at the same level or even higher than before the pandemic started. But, they are very careful to actually start to travel before the pandemic is over. Those two researches are in line speaking about possible recovery scenarios.  
As a main drivers of booking accommodation, participants in STR survey highlighted location and pricing/value for money which can be considered encouraging, given that they were important to tourists even before the pandemic. The cancellation policy came in third place, which is not surprising if we look at the current situation, when it is important for potential tourists to have flexibility in making decisions. Speaking specifically about hotel services, the question arose as to how important it is for tourists to reduce contact in consuming meals or minimal room cleaning, which has definitely undergone changes since the onset of the pandemic. However, the respondents did not show much enthusiasm for these changes and it can be said that the percentages of those who consider it important, who do not, and with no preference, are similar.
All this reveals that tourists are definitely eager to travel, that domestic tourism is what keeps the industry alive at the moment, but that it will take time for international tourist movements and business travel to recover, as well as returning of hotel occupancy to pre-pandemic level. Flexibility for tourists is important, and there is no uniform attitude on changing basic hotel services in order to reduce risk.
Also, the widespread use of technological innovations is very important in order to increase the confidence of tourists that their travel and stay in the accommodation facility is completely safe from the health aspect. They should be considered as important drivers in gaining tourist trust in these hard times. Some of them that have found application in the tourism industry are touchless check-in, robots, ultraviolet (UV) technology, antimicrobial fabric, air ionizer, sanitizing drones, ...


Photo by Cole Freeman on Unsplash


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