By Romaisa Hussain – Art in Tanzania internship
Coronavirus (COVID-19), identified in 2019 as a deadly respiratory illness which spreads through droplets in the environment through an infected person’s breathing has caused a global pandemic. It has collectively affected the entire world and amongst many other sectors, tourism and travelling remain one of the most affected zones.
Due to pandemic, traveling is restricted to contain the spread of disease. Because of the travel ban, the tourism sector has a long way to go in order to recover back to its original state. This means that the tourism economy along with travel restrictions has led to global recession.
However, it is hoped that tourism will soon continue as significant measures such as air corridors gradually opening and thorough COVID-19 testing is being held in place in order to make it safer to travel again. Due to the pandemic, we are well familiar with the quarantine and COVID-19 tests which were made mandatory in order to travel. This highly affected tourism in 2020 which followed into 2021.
Statistics showed an 85% decrease in tourism in the beginning of 2021 in Europe. For the past year or two, people have been in the process of quarantine in their homes in accordance with the safety protocols. This is why it can be said that as soon as the restrictions lift, they will be more eager to go out on trips and adventures as a means of ‘escape’. As reported by Euro News, global research showed that 70% of the people in 2021 had made arrangements to travel on trips or take a break.
If people were encouraged to plan a road trip in 2020, 2021 was going to be the year they traveled overseas. But of course, there are still certain apprehensions regarding restrictions. With the vaccination criteria and road blocks still intact and the rise in the number of infected in populated areas like Europe, these can play a huge role in difficulty of crossing the borders.
Therefore, it cannot be said for sure whether tourism will restart any time soon and recover to how it once was back in 2019 as only 46% of the total amount in 2019 is set to travel in 2021. In accordance with the Swiss Economic Institute, it is assumed that the complete recovery will not be possible until at least 2024. However, there is still hope.
Europe is making attempts towards controlling the pandemic and accelerating vaccination programs which might enable people to travel in the summer of 2021. The European Tourism Trends and Prospects reported by the European Tourism Commission (ETC) highlighted that although there were some hindrances related to the vaccination, these programmes were still essential to continue traveling. The ETC calculated that 56% of the European population was willing to travel from August 2021.
Policies regarding tourism and travelling
In order to restart travelling and tourism in 2021, the European Union’s Digital Green Certificate is set to take effect before summer.
This program will work towards safer travelling procedures between citizens comprising the data whether the person has been vaccinated and holds a negative test or if he or she has recovered from COVID-19. Eduardo Santander, Executive of ETC, stated that despite the distressing 12 months prior to the vaccines, it can be optimistically said that although the vaccination programme went through a bit of ups and downs, it is functioning with much more stability now and it has been proved to be effective. He continues that it gives people hope for the summer of 2021.
Moreover, he also discussed how the EU Digital Green Certificate will restart the traveling of EU citizens and international travelers sooner than expected depending on better communication between people implementing the travelling rules as well as the fast distribution of travelling certificates.
European Destinations see major decline in 2021
Based on the latest statistics, a major decline of tourism in Europe was witnessed in the 1st quarter of 2021 estimating up to 90%. One of the deeply affected countries was Austria which experienced 99% decline with strict traveling restrictions placed for those who planned to enter. Iceland experienced -97% where only vaccinated individuals were allowed to travel. In addition, Cyprus, Slovenia and Finland were affected with an average of 93% decline.
The only placed that didn’t go below 50% was Monaco. Most of the areas that were increasingly affected by the lockdowns and traveling restrictions were Southern and Mediterranean parts of Europe which were highly dependent on international travelers, whereas, the Central and Eastern parts got by with domestic travelers.
Prospects for Travelling
Despite all the complications caused by COVID-19, there are still prospects set in place to restore travelling. The British Government arranged to lift traveling restrictions on the 17th of May 2021 which immediately caused an increase in travelling as people started to plan their trips to European destinations such as Cyprus, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Turkey etc. As more American citizens are getting vaccinated, (though gradually, but increasing nonetheless) it gives hope to the European tourism economy.
As travelers will look towards minimum contact with the population, the Government also plans to work towards alternative accommodations to minimize public contact.
These alternatives replace bigger hotels in populated destinations such as in Italy and Croatia with agriturismos which are farm houses that are aimed to facilitate travelers and guests.
Other alternatives include sleeping on boats or yachts during a sailing trip to avoid contact in populated areas. In 2021, it is also anticipated that travelers may aim towards staying on holidays for longer periods of time to enjoy maximum experience of their choice of destination.
Moreover, hotel prices are expected to fall and mountain railways’ fares could increase depending on the number of people. Statistics also proved that 9 out of 10 Europeans chose to travel inside Europe in the summer of 2020 and this continues in 2021 as the most booked places remain inside Europe by 60%.
Abiding by the rules
Understandably so, travelers nowadays are more cautious to travel and they usually expect assurance from the governments before setting out to travel in the current year.
People rely highly on the reviews and experiences of other people who have traveled as a means of research to establish whether their destinations are safe before traveling. Restaurants that take restrictive measures will automatically be more approached by people and as for the traveling sector, measures are being taken at the airports. COVID testing and quarantining for 2 weeks before entering the premises will enable a sense of safety assurance amongst people which will hopefully boost tourism back up in the current year.
Due to the restrictions and limited travelling destinations, it can be established that the rate of tourism will not sky rocket back to its original state as it once used to be. However, it is understood by the majority that there is no need to hurry as the mandatory requirement right now appears to be the health and safety of the people. Moreover, people who do travel nowadays aim to stay in a place for longer periods of time as they can easily work digitally due to the pandemic and enjoy their holidays simultaneously.
COVID-19 has had a great impact on the global economy but it does not mean that the current population will cease to travel. People will still continue to plan holidays, only this time, with more safety precautions. As of now, most of the European destinations include tourist spots that are either safe to travel to or have recovered from COVID-19. We may also witness a change in the trend of longer vacations being replaced with shorter trips but nonetheless travelling will always remain a norm.
Euronews Travel Trend Report. (2020). travel after 2020 what will tourism look like in our new reality? Retrieved from https://static.euronews.com/website/pdf/euronews-trend-report-travel-after-Oct-2020.pdf?utm_source=euronews%26utm_medium=organic%26utm_campaign=whitepaper
European Travel Commission. (2021, May 6). MIXED PROSPECTS FOR SUMMER 2021 AS EUROPE WORKS TO OVERCOME VACCINE HURDLES. Retrieved from https://etc-corporate.org/news/mixed-prospects-for-summer-2021-as-europe-works-to-overcome-vaccine-hurdles/
Lauren M. Sauer, M. (2021, May 21). What Is Coronavirus? Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus
OECD Better Policies For Better Lives. (2020, December 14). Rebuilding tourism for the future: COVID-19 policy responses and recovery. Retrieved from https://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/rebuilding-tourism-for-the-future-covid-19-policy-responses-and-recovery-bced9859/
Southan, J. (2021, May 14). Travel industry experts weigh-in on post-COVID trends. Retrieved from euro news travel: https://www.euronews.com/travel/2021/05/14/what-will-travel-look-like-in-a-post-covid-world
The New York Times. (2021, April 16). Gauging the Prospects for International Travel. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/16/travel/international-summer-travel-coronavirus.html