Reliable and accurate information is one of our most valuable tools in these challenging times. In order to support our clients and industry colleagues, we’ve compiled the below list of important news, updates and insights regarding Covid-19 and the travel and tourism industry. Please read, share and consider. And don’t hesitate to reach out to Bannikin if you need anything. We’re here to help.
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As the pandemic has continued, we’ve admittedly struggled with the tone of our analysis, and the need to shed light on the realities we’re all facing without adding more negativity than is absolutely necessary. Moving forward, we’re going to take a new approach and forego our analysis of recent events in favour of a simpler format. Bannikin will continue to track Covid-19-related news daily, and compile it into a time-stamped round-up for easy access. In addition to sharing media editorials, recent studies and expert insights examining the pandemic’s impact on the industry, we’ve also begun two new sections: “Consumer Conversations” and “What Made Us Smile“.
After a season of border reopenings, optimistic marketing efforts and outdoor living made easier by warmer weather, recent reports would suggest the summer’s reprieve is giving way to earlier pandemic realities. This month, the global Coronavirus death toll hit one million, as countries which formerly managed to contain the virus in June-July began reporting higher infection rates than the U.S. in mid-September.
As summer comes to a close and the pandemic moves people indoors and back to school, past predictions regarding Covid-19’s impact on global tourism are being replaced with retrospective reports and findings only possible after five months of trial and error.
It’s been roughly 20 weeks since the WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic, and while a vaccine has now begun late-stage trials, the changes this crisis has brought upon the tourism industry—not to mention the world at large—continue to evolve each day. A number of destinations are continuing to turn their interests inward, offering incentives to residents to explore—and spend—at home in lieu of international vacations. A domestic approach may be for the best, at least in the short-term; epidemiologists and the CDC have decried international travel this month, stating “it’s just not wise right now. We don’t have enough information, and we don’t have the provisions in place to be able to do that safely.”
In the same week where the global death toll from Covid-19 surpassed half a million people, the worldwide travel industry is grappling with recovery in fits and starts. On June 30, the European Union finalized its list of “safe” nations permitted entry in an attempt to generate much-needed tourism revenue — but the U.S., Brazil and Russia were not included among the 15 approved countries.
We’ve continued to see relief money poured into the travel industry: Saudi Arabia is investing $4 billion into tourism development, Spain reopened its borders as it announced $5 billion in tourism support, and American Airlines is seeking $3.5 billion in new financing. Meanwhile, the questions remain around consumer demand: Turkish Airlines is resuming flights to the U.S.; KLM is increasing its flight operations; and JetBlue has even launched new flight paths. But another budget airline has filed for insolvency; Turkey is struggling to salvage a summer of tourism; Carnival Corp. has reduced its fleet as it cancels operations through the end of September; and Disneyland workers say the park’s proposed reopening date of July 17 is too early.
This week, the global movement against systemic racism and inequity called the travel industry to task, and various countries have continued to loosen their restrictions, ushering in a summer of travel that is anything but certain. Across the globe, travellers are being required to wear face masks and undergo temperature checks, though rules change at each border – with a new outbreak in Beijing and a revival of the virus in New Zealand re-igniting fears of a second wave.
The world has continued to focus on protests calling for police reform across the United States and around the world. At the same time, the Covid-19 pandemic raged on, as the global death toll surpassed 400,000 and the World Health Organization walked back its own assertion that asymptomatic transmission is “very rare”. Countries around the world continue to have varying responses to reopening to tourism: Turkey is opening up, South Africa is staying shut, New Zealand has declared itself COVID free and countries in the European Union are all over the map.
It feels hard to talk about travel after this past week, when the murder of George Floyd sparked protests across the United States – and around the world – against police brutality and racism faced by black people throughout North America.
During this time of unrest and uncertainty, here are some ways our industry can be actively anti-racist:
- Seek out black-owned travel companies: you can find lists here and here
- Follow, listen to and support black travel content creators who are speaking out, including Oneika Raymond and Annette Richmond (Wanderful has a great list here)
- Read, read, read: essays like Don’t Miss This Seminal Moment for Racial Justice, Travel Industry and For Our White Friends Desiring to Be Allies, and books from A Different Booklist for a deep dive into systemic racism and how we can all take action
In the meantime, below is the link to our weekly roundup of news, expert insights and food for thought about what has been happening in the travel industry this week. If you can’t access an article due to a pay wall, let us know and we may be able to send it through to you.
With summer around the corner – and, in some places, like Lake of the Ozarks, apparently in full swing – this past week saw the announcement of many reopenings for international tourism, from Greece (June 15) to Spain (July 1) to Italy (July 3). At the same time, organizations like TSA and IATA have released their plans for safe and secure reopenings in anticipation of a season of revived travel.
Over the past week, we’ve seen stark contrasts in what “reopening” looks like for tourism around the globe. Some countries are opening borders, while others are tightening restrictions. Select travel companies are reopening for business, though what that means for travellers – and ultimately, their bottom lines – has yet to be seen.
Eight weeks in, and after following developments from initial global closures to the first tentative reopenings, we’ve noticed a rising sense of urgency in the international tourism sector, with brands shifting from a “we’ll be here when you’re ready” position in favour of active, sales-motivated messaging.
The past week has given us a glimpse into a reality that we’ve been anticipating for months: what recovery looks like in different countries and regions. This week, New Zealand and Australia are talking about creating a “travel bubble”, which would benefit both destinations’ economies but still limit their exposure to the rest of the world.
In our ongoing efforts to look for trends in the media that may indicate a way forward it’s become clear that while the world is indeed learning new things about this virus and its impact every day, there’s not a lot to action on with respect to even basic communications.
Now, nearly six weeks after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, governments and organizations are beginning to map out possible recovery plans for a post-mitigation phase, giving us a glimpse of what the “new normal” for tourism could look like.
This week, amidst continued COVID-19 developments that included a world leader being hospitalized, another tough week for cruise lines and their passengers, and a bleak outlook for the 2021 Olympics, travel industry experts continued to grapple with the questions of the hour:
- when will the tourism industry begin its restart, and
- what will it look like when it does?
Over the last week, we’ve seen mainstream travel media explode with pieces about virtual travel experiences, while industry outlets have published think-pieces about how (and when) travel will recover. As the world continues to develop around COVID-19, insights on its impact on the travel industry are undergoing their own evolution—resulting in a divide between “false optimism” on imminent travel recovery, and realism.
In good times and in bad, our responsibility as travel & tourism consultants is to act as an extension of our clients’ teams, always providing services, support and direction with their best interests in mind.
This past week has seen COVID-19 continue to tighten its grip on the world, including in North America—particularly in parts of the U.S., the UK, India and Japan. Interestingly, China seems to be pushing recreation once again, while the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics seems to have paved the way for Japan to exercise tighter travel restrictions in an effort to contain the spread.
With so much changing so quickly in the news and within our industry, we at Bannikin want to do what we can to support you in communications and media relations. We’ve compiled a broad-strokes review of travel-related news from the last week below, so you can see how much has changed, get a sense of the travel media landscape, and access some expert insight into making your next steps.