If there is one thing that we can say about COVID-19, it’s that it is going to have a major impact on our society. From the economic repercussions of people being limited to work from home to the social impact of physical distancing and, in some cases, mandatory quarantine. But, as one of the major aspects of coronavirus is the outright ban on travel, we are going to take a more in-depth look into the impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry.
How to consider the impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry?
Let’s first take into account the travel measures that various governments have instated in order to help battle the COVID-19 pandemic. As of now, international travel is still practically non-existent. The little international travel that is happening is for shipping medical supplies and for people returning home after living abroad. Intrastate travel is also brought down to a minimum. People can travel between cities, but they have a limited time window for doing so. Alongside that, most countries still advocate for social distancing and for staying at home. Overall travel, and the travel industry with it, has been brought down to a record low.
Since this scenario has been going on for a while, multimode countries are considering lifting certain travel bans. This is due to the slowing down of coronavirus, and due to a large number of people not being able to work for over a month. So, while these measures should boost the travel industry a bit, at least at the local level, we shouldn’t put to much hope into them. If we are not careful, COVID-19 can come back with a vengeance. And if this happens, all of the lockdown measures for travel will be reinstated.
Impact on tourism
The impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry is currently quite grim. Most of the summer vacation reservations have either been canceled or rescheduled for late summer or early fall. Empty beaches, vacant hotels, and barren tourist areas will be a trend in the summer of 2020. Therefore, during the months that are usually busiest, people working in tourism will see little to no income. Certain countries have some tourist allure during winter months, but most are reliant on summer tourism. This can be a big problem as certain countries depend on international tourism for a large part of their yearly income. Some of them are:
- The Maldives
- The Bahamas
These counties have a significant percentage of their GDP based on tourism. How this will hit their economy is hard to tell. After all, global pandemics are not a common occurrence, which is why their full effect is hard to predict. But, if there is one thing we can say for sure, it’s that these countries will feel the impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry for years to come.
Local tourism, on the other hand, is expected to pick up a bit. Even though we are able to practice exercise and similar activities at home, people are pretty much sick with staying indoors. Therefore, if countries continue to lower intrastate travel bans, local tourism should see a significant increase. Local tourism can provide an easy way for countries to keep their tourist agencies afloat, and to keep the risk of further spread of coronavirus to a minimum. Therefore, if there are no significant increases in the spread of COVID-19, local travel and tourism should pick up. In fact, considering that few people are going to travel abroad, local tourism may even yield some record numbers.
The key part of the travel industry is transportation services. Therefore, if we are going to have a clear idea of the impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry, we need to take these services into account. The first thing to note is that most airline companies are asking for government aid. The month of practically no airline travel has put even the best airline companies in quite a difficult situation. If the airline travel ban lasts, we should expect the need for government bailouts in order to keep airline companies operational.
Bus transport services have been hit hard, but apparently not as hard as airline companies. Most of the bus companies that provide tours and transportation for tourists are in trouble, to say the least. They might be able to bring in much-needed revenue if local tourism picks up, but even this is only a lifeline. And it is far from what these companies would normally make during this time of year.
A similar case is with taxi services. With COVID-19 going about, people have been using taxis at a record low rate. Add to that the fact that a large number of taxi drivers depend on driving tourists, and you will soon see how difficult the situation is. Again, if we start returning to a normal lifestyle, taxi services should come back. But, just like bus companies, they won’t earn nearly as much as they normally would.
All things considered, commercial transport has experienced the smallest impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry. Companies that provide both commercial transport and industrial shipping should be in a much better situation than companies that only provide commercial transport. The only limitation for shipping is that companies have to adhere to certain health standards. Apart from that, they are able to pretty much do their business as usual.
Medical relief shipping
The biggest change for transportation companies comes from the need for medical relief shipping. Countries are trying their best to keep their hospitals properly stocked for combating COVID-19. This often requires international shipping of medical supplies on a much larger scale. This is why a lot of shipping companies are providing their services for medical relief. Therefore, if the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t end soon, we should see a substantial number of companies turn towards the shipping of medical equipment.