May'20 Message from the CEO

Daniela Otero

CEO Skål International

The keys to post-COVID-19 Tourism

The planet seemed to be spinning forever driven by Tourism and Globalisation. Until COVID-19 arrived and everything changed.

Skies without planes, closed borders, more than a third of the world's population confined, looking at the world through the window or the screen of their devices. Globalisation and Tourism, two concepts now linked to uncertainty. Now countries are announcing timid plans for easing restrictions, the return to a 'new normal', but what will happen to Tourism? What will it be like to travel after the pandemic? 

The Start of the Revival of the Tourism Sector

We all agree that the airline sector seems to be one of the keys to the great revival. However, one of the main points of urgent need is to activate a plan for the establishment of agreed homogeneous protocols and thus guarantee safe mobility, since it will be important to restore traveller confidence as soon as possible.

Specialists agree that people will continue to have a deep desire to travel, but now we will have tourists who are even more demanding in their choices. All sectors: airlines, cruises, hotels, restaurants, complementary services, etc., will have to adapt and guarantee compliance with these new protocols. 

We cannot be nostalgic about the past; we already know that nothing will be like before... But some think that the changes that are coming will be for the better! 

From now on, Tourism will be forced to take the path of sustainability in order to recover, because travellers, according to the latest surveys, will look for companies that practice sustainability, both in terms of the environment and within the community.

They predict a model of socio-ecological coexistence, based on mutual care between human communities and the environment. Ecotourism will continue to grow. Spas, wellness activities, yoga, meditation, etc., will be an integral part, or even the only motivation, for many upcoming pleasure trips. 

Therefore, not everything in the past was always better… Perhaps the future of Tourism will change and it will be for the better: greater traveller awareness, greater corporate responsibility and more balance.

New Normality, New Protocols

In the new normality, we will have to accept new rules. New standards to offer a safe and responsible path to recovery within the global travel and Tourism sector. 

We know that the recovery will be gradual, before a vaccine is widely available. Travel is likely to return first to domestic markets, then to the closest countries, before expanding through regions, and finally across continents.

A quick and effective restart of travel will only happen if governments around the world work together, and for this, public-private collaboration between companies and governments will be vital. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and other experts are also contributing, providing their expertise in various global medical crises.

To offer hygiene standards and to ensure guest safety, hotels are developing learning-based protocols to offer free rooms for healthcare purposes during the COVID-19 crisis.

There will be new protocols for check-in with digital technology, hand sanitiser dispensers in the most frequented areas, contactless payment instead of cash and the use of stairs more frequently than lifts to comply with the social distancing rule, among other measures.

Travellers at airports will undergo temperature checks before flying and upon arrival at the destination airport. Social distancing measures will be observed at the airport and during boarding, as well as the use of face masks on board. Planes will also be subject to intensive cleaning regimes. 

These measures will be combined with contact tracing, through the mobile app, which will allow flights to leave airports without a trace of COVID-19.

The protocols are being developed using the experience of China's initial recovery and the successful new standards used by retailers. 

They will be fully announced in the next two weeks and will be shared with governments globally, so that there is a coordinated approach to travel. International organisations and governments around the world should help translate these new protocols into public policies which are easily adopted by each country.

In the coming months, we will probably witness a 'reinvention of the Tourism sector', where Tourism marketing will not be left out of the evolution of business models.

We are also witnessing an era where a high degree of personalisation and unique experiences will be demanded. A change of scenery that will undoubtedly represent an opportunity for the sector. 

Of course, as the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation, Zurab Pololikashvili said, “Trust is the new currency of our ‘new normal’ and companies and destinations must earn that label”.

Daniela Otero,

CEO Skål International