The COVID-19 Crisis and Navigating it as a Tour Operator

coronavirus-tour-operators

The new Coronavirus (COVID-19) has sparked fears and concerns around the world. As the outbreak spreads, thousands of tour operators and travel companies are suffering the consequences such as cancellations and a reduction in overall bookings.

Since disinformation is causing chaos and confusion, we’ve collected some useful data to help you understand the bigger picture. Our article identifies useful ways to prepare and take the best course of action.

What We Know About Coronavirus

What is Coronavirus

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can result in a range of mild and severe diseases. COVID-19 is a new illness caused by a member of the coronavirus family that has never been encountered before. It can be easily spread from person to person. Learn more about COVID-19 in this 3D Medical Animation.

Recorded Coronavirus Cases – Worldometer

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Cases of Coronavirus COVID-19 are confirmed in 98 countries and territories. The global number of affected is increasing day by day around the world, with over 104,025 as of March 7th, 2020. 58,527 have successfully recovered and 41,974 cases are still infected. The countries with most cases are China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, and Germany. A cruise ship in Japan called Diamond Princess confirmed 705 cases.

The Impact on the Travel Industry

The rapidly increasing cases of Coronavirus led to massive chaos in the travel and tourism industries. It has started to disrupt many global chains and local businesses worldwide. Below are some of the major factors contributing to the relevant challenges:

  • Governments and local authorities are putting travel restrictions.
  • People are concerned and eventually cancel their bookings, flights and planned trips.
  • Flights are cut, borders are shut and popular attractions are closed.
  • Companies and hotels are required to close for an undefined period of time.

Due to the increasing number of outbreaks, citizens of some countries are urged to avoid (eventually prohibited) traveling abroad. Some governments have completely suspended tourism while others are only amending the entry requirements. Among the common precautionary measures are:

  • Enhanced monitoring at ports and airports.
  • Closed transport hubs (airports, railway and bus stations).
  • Closure of cruise and ocean terminals.

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Below is a list of the countries with various travel restrictions in place.

Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Australia, Brunei, Bahrain, China, Fiji, French Polynesia, Georgia, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, India, Iran, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Japan, Kuwait, Macao, Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar, New Zealand, North Korea, Omen, Pakistan, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Philippines, Palau, Qatar, Seychelles, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Soloman Islands, Switzerland, Taiwan, USA, Vanuatu, Vietnam.

Check out this website for more detailed data on the restrictions and bans currently in place around the world.

COVID-19’s Effect on the Tours and Activities Industry

The rapid spread affects the number of cancellations, bookings, and tickets sold for tours and events. This is already costing businesses and governments billions.

Due to the increasing outbreaks in Europe and Asia, tourist attractions are closed and major events are canceled.

Museums, theaters and popular places of interest have been completely or partially closed. Among them the Louvre, the Tokyo Skytree, Shanghai Disney, the imperial palace in Beijing and the Great Wall of China.

The International Tourism Fair (ITB) taking place in Berlin, named the World’s Leading Travel Show, has been canceled.

All sports events in Italy will take place behind closed doors until 3 April due to Coronavirus. Cycling and golf events in the UK are also canceled as Coronavirus continues to spread.

Many areas in Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Vietnam are suffering the even more severe consequences of the Coronavirus. They are canceling events and observing a massive decline in the number of tourists compared to previous years.

How Governments and Businesses Navigate the Crisis

Business owners, on the other side, are experiencing great difficulties to predict what will follow and plan their next moves. They observe a great decline in the advance holiday bookings compared to previous years.

The good news is that governments are making an effort to support the tourism sector and prevent it from collapsing by all means. In their attempt to support the citizens and industry, the Hong Kong government announced the intention to give all citizens 10,000 HKD as a gift. China, Singapore, and Thailand have announced tax relief and financial aid.

The United Nations have released a joint statement with the World Health Organisation to guide decision-making. They advised to prioritize people and their wellbeing and also emphasized that “no travel trade restriction is recommended based on the current information available”.

We know it is extremely hard to find something positive about the overall difficult and unpredictable situation. In spite of this, you can actually utilize the slow times by focusing on crucial areas of your business that don’t involve customer service and sales.

For example, plan your strategies and campaigns for the year ahead. Work on streamlining your internal processes. This might be the ideal time to reset and improve the foundations of your business. 

In addition, you can try to improve cash flow by selling gift vouchers that can be redeemed in the future. Here’s a quick guide on how to do this with Regiondo

Conclusion

Coronavirus led to a crisis rarely experienced by the travel and tourism industries worldwide. Considering the state of uncertainty and consequences for many businesses, it will take a while for them to recover.

If you are among the affected company owners, then take your time to think of ways for overcoming the financial losses. Stay calm and be creative when planning your moves ahead.

Evaluate your options and explore how others react to the challenges. This will get you close to choosing the best course of action that will get you back on track.

We ran a survey with 75 tour and activity operators about the effect of COVID-19 on their business. Below is an infographic summarizing the results: 

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