Impact of domestic tourism as a strategy to the recovery of tourism activities from COVID-19

Written by Daniel Christopher Mkilanya – Art in Tanzania internship

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic there isn’t one industry unaffected, and tourism is no exception. From canceled weddings and festivals to less dining out, the world has taken a hit from the large decline in tourism. The U.S. alone has seen more than $297 billion in losses from the decrease in travel since the beginning of March 2020.

However, as the summer months push on and people look for any excuse to leave their houses, tourism is making a comeback – for better or worse. The tourism industry is undoubtedly changing, but people still want to travel. And tourism research is seeing that wanderlust desire. We need to remain mindful of the millions of people who work in the tourism industry and understand that changes in the industry directly affect individuals who depend on tourism.” For us to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism industry first we have to know what the coronavirus is and how is it spreads from one person to another

Flu coronavirus pandemic virus infection, travel and health concept. Medical stethoscope and travel documents on wood background. 3d illustration

1. What is a corona virus?

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered type of coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illnesses. The best way to prevent andslow down transmission is to be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes,and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol-based rub frequently and not touching your face.

The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).

2. How coronavirus has affected the tourism industry

Failure of tourism business

It is often that tourism companies suffer in times of hardship, The independent travel agent in Arusha, the street seller in Zanzibar, the taxi driver in our airports. If there are no tourists, there is no business.

I have met many local workers on my travels during the Coronavirus outbreak. The effect of Coronavirus on tourism is most certainly evident in Tanzania. Many tourists have paid half the usual price for hotels and also many tourist attractions are without the crowds.

Whilst this has been good for tourists, it has been desperation for the local business people; the man who wants to sell ice cream, the lady who offers a ride home and the family-run restaurant business. Coronavirus has gone far by affecting large tourism business as a well. We have recently seen collapse of airline companies as a result of the reduction in tourism.

Restriction in traveling

Due to the increase in the number of victims, different countries have decided to impose traveling restriction as one of the ways of preventing further spread off coronavirus but also the general public is scared that they may transmit the virus to their elderly or immune- compromised friends and relatives.

As a result, many people are choosing not to travel. It’s a effective way to prevent further spread of coronavirus but for the traveling business it’s a great loss.

2. How the Domestic tourism will recover?

UN World Tourism Organization UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “UNWTO expects domestic tourism to return faster and stronger than international travel. Given the size of domestic tourism, this will help many destinations recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic, while at the same time safeguarding jobs, protecting livelihoods and allowing the social benefits tourism offers to also return.”

The briefing note also shows that, in most destinations, domestic tourism generates higher revenues than international tourism. In OECD nations, domestic tourism accounts for 75%of total tourism expenditure, while in the European Union, domestic tourism expenditure is 1.8 times higher than inbound tourism expenditure. Globally, the largest domestic tourism markets in terms of expenditure is the United States with nearly US$ 1 trillion, Germany with US$ 249 billion, Japan US$ 201 billion, the United Kingdom with US$ 154 billion, and Mexico with US$ 139 billion (UNWTO, 2020).

Initiatives to boost domestic tourism

Given the value of domestic tourism and current trends, increasing numbers of countries are taking steps to grow their markets, UNWTO reports. This new Briefing Note provides case studies of initiatives designed to stimulate domestic demand. These include initiativesfocused on marketing and promotion as well as financial incentives (UNWTO, 2020).Examples of countries taking targeted steps to boost domestic tourist numbers include:

In Italy, the Bonus Vacanze initiative offers families with incomes of up to EUR 40,000 contributions of up to EUR 500 to spend on domestic tourism accommodation.

Malaysia allocated US$113 million worth of travel discount vouchers as well as personal tax relief of up to US$227 for expenditure related to domestic tourism.

Costa Rica moved all holidays of 2020 and 2021 to Mondays for Costa Ricans to enjoy longweekends to travel domestically and to extend their stays.

France launched the campaign #CetÉtéJeVisiteLaFrance (‘This Summer, I visit France’) highlighting the diversity of destinations across the country.

Argentina announced the creation of an Observatory for Domestic Tourism to provide a betterprofile of Argentine tourists.

Thailand will subsidise 5 million nights of hotel accommodation at 40% of normal room rates for up to five nights.

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