How is the Travel Industry Recovering from the Pandemic?
The Coronavirus pandemic may be on the retreat, but for the previous two years, its effect has been profound on a global basis. Many have personal stories surrounding the pandemic, and the livelihoods of many were indelibly altered as a result of lockdowns, furloughs, and business downturns. No industry felt this more keenly than the travel industry – but what are its prospects in the aftermath of the virus’ peak?
Travel agencies were perhaps the first to feel the immediate economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, as national lockdowns and new restrictions on international flights in a number of countries brought international travel to its knees. Package holidays were canceled en masse, and no new business was created for months. The inevitable redundancies and downsizing that travel agencies put many in a difficult position for the recession of the disease, lacking the infrastructure to manage the influx of new customs. That said, the return to normal holiday patterns has been slowed by hesitance in the wake of the pandemic and renewed interest in domestic travel.
Of course, commercial airlines are the driving force behind the operation of third-party travel agencies, and also the very first to be affected by legal measures as countries scrambled to control the outbreak. Within months of the first reported case, dozens of airlines had become bankrupt, including UK airline Flybe. Though international flight channels are once again open, for many airlines the damage has been done. The market for commercial travel abroad has reduced significantly since the pandemic, leaving smaller market shares for each remaining airline.
The same cannot be said for the private travel industry though, which saw an unexpected boom. Vital business travel was blocked by the unavailability of commercial routes, inspiring an uptick in chartered flights to allow for continued international business trips and meetings. Thomas Flohr is the founder and chairman of Vista Global, a private jet company that saw business increase during the pandemic; he had the following to say about Vista’s own improved performance during the pandemic: “The surge in demand demonstrates how private aviation is the critical mobility solution, as sudden local restrictions continue to cause uncertainty for commercial fliers.” Private aviation may expect a small downturn in business following the re-opening of commercial travel but otherwise requires very little by way of post-pandemic preparation.
Tourism and Hospitality
While travel companies were directly affected by the effective ban on international travel and subsequent travel hesitancy, another industry entirely suffered knock-on effects from grounded flights: hospitality. With venues and accommodation in tourist resorts representing a majority of income for their area, the downturn in tourism even after the worst of the pandemic saw entire tourism economies collapse. Many bars and hotels subject to localized lockdown measures were forced to close entirely – but evidence of a bounce-back has already been made clear in countries for whom tourism represents a significant portion of GDP. For example, some areas of the Caribbean are out-performing pre-pandemic figures regarding international arrivals.
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