Future outlook: Post Covid19 travel picks up in Asia [Construction Report]
Restrictions in various countries around Asia ease and travel is slowly picking up. (Photo from Unsplash by Zhang Kaiyv)
With hotels reopening in China and around Asia, questions about the future of travel and tourism arise.
The COVID-19 outbreak brought the global tourism industry to its knees. The UN World Tourism Organisation estimates that global tourism could decline by up to 80% in 2020 and that at least 100 million jobs may be at risk in the wake of the pandemic.
We find out what countries around Asia are doing to slowly revive travel all while avoiding a second wave.
Development in China gives hope
With China getting a firm handle on the COVID-19 outbreak and reporting barely any new cases, lockdowns and travel restrictions have eased around the country. This has led to steadily growing demand in both the leisure and business travel segments over the past weeks, peaking during the recent 5-day Labour Daybreak in early May.
This development has led global hotel chains and individual properties to reopen all over China. Qian Jin, President of Greater China and Mongolia at Hilton recently announced that the group’s 255 hotels in mainland China were back in business.
“As we welcome guests with our Hilton hospitality once again, the safety and wellbeing of our guests and teams will continue to remain our highest priority. The soon-to-be-launched Hilton CleanStay and other programs will help provide our guests with the assurance of an even cleaner, safer place to stay from check-in to check-out,” Qian Jin said about the reopenings.
As reported on the TOPHOTELNEWS Live Blog, Kempinski has also announced that all its hotels are welcoming guests again. The group is launching a new health and safety protocol to ensure guests are safe and comfortable while they travel.
“These are unprecedented times for the hospitality and catering industry. Travel is not a question of price, but a security issue. Kempinski is focusing on visible hygiene, and we have launched the “Kempinski White Glove Service” recently. Hotels must meticulously follow a 70-page guide that affects all departments. The rules apply to procedures for the arrival of guests, the furnishing of public areas, food and drink, and housekeeping,” said Michael Henssler, Chief Operating Officer Asia and member of the management board for Kempinski Hotels.
Staying closer to home
While demand may be increasing domestically in countries where lockdowns are easing, there’s still a long way to go before international travel can reach pre-pandemic levels.
Many countries are reluctant to fully open their borders, especially to nations that report a lot of new cases or those whose reporting is deemed unreliable. This has led to the idea of creating travel bubbles. Australia and New Zealand have already looked into this and plan to allow their residents to travel freely between the two countries.
Thailand is considering creating quarantine zones on its islands. This would allow international travellers to visit the country’s tropical islands which would attract the much-needed tourism dollars and keep any potential outbreak from spreading to the mainland.
Uncertainty mixed with hope
Even with the situation slowly improving and people starting to travel again, there are still a lot of unknowns.
Experts predict that travel will not go back to pre-pandemic levels before there is a vaccine. This means that especially hard-hit markets may still face low visitor numbers for a long time to come.
While this could post a large economic and financial challenge, it could also be a chance to rethink how tourism is handled in some of the busiest destinations. It could be a chance for a reset and an opportunity to put measures in place that would limit overtourism and its destructive impact on local communities and the environment.
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