The era of coronavirus: The scope of tourism "from zero"

Ilona Viter, director, Solar Wind travel company , more than 9 years experience in the tourism business



How strongly did quarantine measures affect your company?

The consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak affected not only by my travel company, but also the entire tourism business in the world, whose losses amount to tens of billions of dollars. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) says on its website that up to 50 million jobs are at risk of cuts due to a global pandemic in the travel and tourism sector!

Representatives of the tourism sector faced problems that had never before been so acute. For the first 2 weeks after quarantine was introduced, the entire tourism business, from small to great size, was in conditions of wild stress and uncertainty: there was no clear instruction for action in the current situation, but decisions had to be taken promptly!

We had to quickly return tourists from vacation spots, cancel tours for the entire quarantine period and reschedule them for later dates, negotiate with all participants in the tourism market And telling you the truth, this process is extremely difficult in the face of constantly changing circumstances and complete uncertainty developments!

We do not know how the situation will develop further, we cannot plan our activities in the near future, we can only observe and monitor the situation in the country and in the world as a whole.

What formats do you continue to work in? Are there new modes of operation appear?

We continue to work on-line, we are constantly in touch with our customers, we quickly monitor and transmit to them through messengers all the information we receive from our partners - tour operators, airlines, hoteliers - so that the tour of each client we transfer to more late time, could take place as comfortably as possible and with minimal losses.

How has your customer demand changed during quarantine?

Now, during quarantine, the demand for travel services has fallen to zero. This is understandable, because in this situation, the priority of everyone is taking care of their health and the health of their family members.

What will change in the work of your company after quarantine? What new trends in the behavior and preferences of your customers may appear?

The crisis affected almost everyone, and the solvency of the population fell down. The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) predicts that this year the number of international tourists will decrease by 20-30% compared with 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic. We understand this and forecast for recovery in demand for tourist packages, especially those abroad, not earlier than upcoming fall (this is our optimistic forecast).

However, we really hope that the summer season will nevertheless take place - maybe in a slightly different format, but it will take place! Tourists will not give up travel at all, but simply flexibly change their vacation destinations. We believe that this year outbound tourism will be more focused on domestic tourism - Ukrainian resorts will prevail in the demand structure, because there will be a need for rest anyway!

It should also be noted that the number of tourists booking travel at the very last moment is likely to increase - many will wait, observing the situation, and make a decision much later than usual on the very last moment.

What changes in the travel services market can occur during quarantine?

Speaking about the tourism market in general, we are considering, unfortunately, a pessimistic forecast. We understand that for representatives of the tourism sector, the crisis will not pass without a trace. Some travel agencies, unfortunately, will have to reduce their activities in the tourism market, and in the worst case, leave it. This issue will affect those travel companies that have a large staff and many rented premises. If the first month some companies still somehow survive on their financial reserves, then the situation for our business sector will become more complicated. One of the answers to the question “how to survive the crisis” is a temporary transition to online tourism - that is, refusal to rent offices and permanent work with clients remotely.

Do you plan to use quarantine time for training?

Of course, in conditions of self-isolation, we continue to improve our skills, preparing ourselves for the new season: tour operators organize daily for us, representatives of travel agencies, online webinars, training courses, online platforms with thematic quizzes, contests, tests have appeared, where we are in on-line mode we gain new knowledge and in a playful way we explore the tourist corners of the world in more detail!

What can you recommend to your colleagues - representatives of the tourism business in this situation?

For all representatives of the tourism sector, it is very important not only to “survive” this force majeure in order to continue their activities after quarantine, but also to reformat their activities to new, or rather changed, customer requests.

As a representative of the tourism business, I can say with confidence that current situation provided tremendous experience for all of us, although not the most positive. I want to wish my colleagues, companies in the tourism business sphere, to quickly accept the current situation and use it as productively as possible, because tourism will recover anyway! After any recession, growth always comes, and now you need to use all the opportunities to get ready for it as much as possible!