Updated: Aug 7, 2020
If you are about to predict, believe or think of your future and the tomorrow of anything you like, you should deeply think and know about the past. In my previous post I discussed the past of the travel industry; here are my thoughts on its future.
When I am writing this short article, I cannot stop thinking about the future and cannot stop studying the past. Are the numbers from the 1,5 billion international arrivals of which 50% is a European international arrival going to drop and if yes where? Are we going to have an eerie feeling as if we time traveled back to the 80s or 70s or 60s having empty rooms in the Louvre? Can we study the Mona Lisa without being surrounded by the hundreds? Well, nobody knows for sure, but you can always compare and study. Compare what and study what? It is obvious that none of the recent – post WWII – tragedies (terrorist attacks, financial crisis, or disasters) hit this sector so much that the recent pandemic with the full stop of tourism in Europe, in North America and elsewhere.
As a devoted historian who tries to gain data and sometimes analyze that data as well, I can for almost certain state what our past proves anyhow that tourism simply is a survivor. As a matter of fact, I believe that just like after any worldwide crisis like this pandemic, will flourish as it started blooming – although slowly – after 9/11.
Some of my friends suggest I am crazy to say things like that since tourism and travel stopped functioning and the industry (providing jobs for over 10% of workers worldwide) is in ruins. Well, not so much, it was not destroyed as the bridges of Budapest were, almost all the buildings of Warsaw or majority of the livestock in many countries during WWII among many other things. We do not have to rebuild hotels because we have them, we do not have to produce buses to carry passengers and we do not have to train tour guides because they are right now sitting at their homes studying and getting more and more knowledgeable. Yes, there are travel restrictions or better and safer to say travel bans right now but not because of serious hostilities. People like my friends or different organizations predict percentages and losses etc. We will see that data in the near future. What I am saying is that history showed us that from 9/11 to SARS through the swine flu, tourism has not just simply survived these crises globally, but was able to grow and produce even bigger numbers in every sense than before a given crisis. I do not think we – as a globalized supermarket – can afford losing the 10 trillion USD that tourism contributes to the global economy and the well over 300 million plus jobs created in and by the sector, not to mention, and this is the point when you go back in time, our desire to sail the oceans no matter how stormy that damn ocean is.
The travel and tourism sector cannot be more global than it is today (yesterday, sorry) with its more than vital contribution to the world’s economy. Considering the importance of it we will as we always did learn and emerge stronger and better. Until today in terms of immediate impact on tourism the 9/11 terrorist attack in the US has been the most serious one. The airline industry was brought to its knees and there was considerable drop in travel volume compared to the previous years and it took almost half a decade to reach the pre attack numbers for international arrivals in the U.S. Other events like the SARS, the economic crisis more than a decade ago or the swine flu hit us hard and it took time to recover as well just like after 9/11.
Today we have reports and data available for everyone and from those we can clarify that the so-called (tourism) industry’s average recovery time is getting shorter and shorter after these terrible events. While the recovery time was a bit over two years after 9/11 it is today less than 20 months even in a case of a disease.
How fast this recovery is going to be we cannot know but we can predict. Perhaps it will be the slowest recovery of any post WWII disasters but in the end, tourism will endure and thrive anyhow. Some say that after the panic will subside, the travel industry will recover faster than after any of the previous events. Those who think that is the case base their statement on China’s recovery, where travel related bookings are on the rise again. But let us forget about the numbers and figures and focus on you as an individual yet responsible member of your society who is keen on living their life as it was before. As an American, will you not visit the old continent anymore where your ancestors from? Where your parents and grandparents fought in two world wars sacrificing their lives for our freedom and well-being ignoring the bullets spraying all over their heads? Will you not taste the wine of the Douro valley or the champagne around Reims or trek in the most beautiful mountain range in the world, the Alps. Will you stop tasting delicious European dishes? I doubt that and that motive keeps tourism blooming I believe.
Stay tuned and healthy and feel free to comment 😊 to be continued with some ideas and methods the industry might have to imply.