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UN report details impact of COVID-19 on travel and tourism, predicts the new normal

With close to a hundred percent of global destinations, airline companies and borders under lock and key, tourism and travels are unarguably one of the major sectors worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

A research conducted by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, (UNWTO) revealed that 83 percent of European destinations have completely closed borders to international travels and tourism. Same applies to the Americas with 80 percent on lockdown, 70 percent in Asia and the Pacific, 62 percent in the Middle East and 57 percent in Africa.

For most developed countries like the United States who benefit close to $1.8 trillion from international travels every year, freezing the sector has practically pressured the economy to an enormous degree and although, the race to unwind the three months of lock down is on, White House economic adviser, Larry Kudlow says opening of borders for international voyages will be a “long process”.

By “long process”, Kudlow was describing the criteria for an eventual re-opening tying it to the level of health and safety protocols implemented by each country.

Hopes for re-opening must come with travellers anticipating a new face to the international travels sector as well as bracing up for new travel behaviours.

World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) is introducing a new global protocol called ‘Safe Travels’ focused on the health and hygiene of travellers and workers in line with guidelines stipulated by the World Health Organization and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Hotels would now focus on the use of high frequency “touch-points” in place of room key cards, offer ‘no-contact’ room service delivery, ensure social distancing and the essential use of nose masks.

At the retail front, restaurants, cafes and food outlets would make digital menus available, minimize touch points by introducing virtual personal shopping, digital maps, roving concierges and engage in regular cleaning sprees.

Major travel and tourism companies have endorsed these protocols, urging their colleagues to embrace it as they work hand-in-hand to restore the confidence of their customers in air travels and tours.

READ ALSO: Rwanda’s most-wanted genocide suspect arrested in France

For most tourism boards, the drive to ensure their “assets” still command the confidence of their visitors is far more than the quest to get back into business.

However, while modalities are gradually being put in place to adjust, companies are now harnessing the online space for clients to engage in Live virtual vacation on social media platforms and Zoom until it is safe again to visit.

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