Tourism has contributed to the growth of economies in different parts of the world. According to the World Tourism Organization, tourism is the third-largest exporting sector that accounted for 7 percent of the global trade in 2019.
Before Covid-19, tourist areas in most countries contributed positively to the GDP, which is not the case currently. In the attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus, almost all countries had to restrict movements as most borders were closed to foreigners. The pandemic has left severe effects on most branches of the tourism industry. The covid-19 restriction measures had very adverse effects on tourist areas around the world, which include:
1. Drastic fall of the revenue
Loss of revenue of income-generating activities is a big blow to the world’s tourist areas because all parts of the industry’s value chain are badly affected by the Coronavirus outbreak. The severe economic fall in the tourist areas was inevitable because of the pandemic restrictions of movements, closure of borders, isolation requirements, and social distancing. This led to substantial uncertainty in the tourism industry due to fear of more infections and death.
Tourism areas thrived in business because of foreign tourists other than the local ones because of the exotic accommodations and catering establishments and the traveling services they offered to clients at high rates. With the Covid-19 disease, the hotels and lodging places had to be closed or had very few visitors, which indicated meager income as most foreigners left for their home countries. The low or no revenue generated in the tourist places affected the export revenues as global tourism is expected to decline by more than $910 billion in 2020.
2. Employee reduction and loss of livelihoods
The moment cases of Coronavirus were reported in a country; most governments were prompt to place temporary closures on hotels, private and public institutions, convention centers, restricted movements, and even set curfews to reduce the risk of further infections.
These measures severely affected tourist areas as there were no more customers to serve, thus laying off employees. Given that most sectors were advised to work from home to limit movements and stop further infections, the same cannot be applied to tourist areas working directly with customers implying there were no or few tourists, reduced work hence no more wages incomes for the workers.
Tourist areas also accommodate weddings and other social events, which have been banned due to the pandemic or the number of people attending the events limited to give room for social distancing to prevent the risks of spreading the virus. The number of people who work in the tourist areas at risk of losing their jobs due to the highly infectious disease is estimated to be between 100 to 120 million globally by the WTO.
3. Banning of international flights
Since most tourists come from foreign countries to visit remote or other tourist attraction areas and wildlife, the ban on international flights and cruise ships was a big hit to the tourism sector.
Tourist areas targeting foreign visitors had to close down indefinitely because no visitors expected to fly in from other countries to tour the attractive tourist sites. The spread of Covid-19 made most countries ban international traveling to foreign countries as most countries evacuated their residents to go back to their home countries, which has led to catastrophic effects on the tourism sector, leaving most thriving tourist businesses vulnerable.
4. Increased crime in the tourism industry
Wildlife is the primary sector that makes the tourism sector thrive, mostly in Africa. People travel from all over the world to visit wildlife areas for entertainment, leisure, or learning. Poaching is the biggest challenge to wildlife, and the reduced number of staff in the tourism industry increases the risk of more poaching, looting, and hunting of animals for meat.
To wrap it up
The pandemic has left the tourism sector on its knees as most branches such as international travel of the industry have been completely paralyzed. The loss of income and livelihoods and revenue has made the tourist areas empty without tourists. On the brighter side, the tourism sector has a proven capacity to bounce back compared to other sectors of economies. However, tourism’s recovery will depend not only on lifting COVID-19-imposed travel bans but also on the safety of the communities where people live to become safe for tourists.