One of the first things that happened when COVID-19 rocked the world early last year was many countries closed their borders almost immediately. This meant that people couldn’t go in and out of the country. At some point, we couldn’t even leave our counties leave alone our houses. Essentially, travel restrictions were put in place to control the spread of the virus and have been in place in some areas to date. Though the world is slowly opening up to outside visitors, the tourism industry is yet to recover as people are still cautious about traveling.
Last year, it was projected that tourism would be one of the hardest-hit industries. Indeed, the tourism industry suffered a huge blow. Once the majority of the world closed its borders, most airlines grounded their flights with exception of essential travel and the industry was brought to a virtual standstill. In March 2020, international arrivals were down by 57% compared to the previous year. These numbers went down further as the coronavirus continued to spread all over the world. With few resources to fight the virus, the government took the decision to shut down international travel and restricted local travel soon after the first coronavirus case was announced in the country.
Loss of income
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) estimates that the tourism sector is responsible for creating over 300 million jobs globally which is 10.3 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). For a country that’s heavily reliant on tourism, massive job loss was one of the effects of borders closing. Many entertainment joints could hardly keep up with the tough economic times and in turn, they had to close down and lay off their employees.
Other popular tourist destinations such as France and Italy, reported a significant drop in international travel. This forced many employees in the tourism sector to either take a pay cut while others lost their income altogether. Apart from restaurants and other entertainment joints, airline workers were also sent home as ticket sales plummeted. It was reported that over 400,000 airline workers had lost their jobs.
Just like other major stakeholders in the tourism sector, airlines experienced significant losses following the COVID-19 outbreak. The UN Agency estimated that the pandemic could cost airlines and upwards of 5 billion USD. By June 2020, Kenya Airways CEO Allan Kilavuka estimated that the airline had lost over 100 million USD since January of the same year. This is one of the biggest losses ever reported in the history of the airline.
Airlines around the world suffered similar losses. However, towards the end of the year, some airlines reported growth in demand for international flights. More countries continue to open their borders, providing a glimmer of hope for the industry.
New Travel Requirements
Now that the borders have been opened in most countries, those who wish to travel abroad must adhere to new, government-implemented, mandatory travel requirements. These measures have been put in place in order to ensure the safety and health of other travelers. For starters, everyone leaving the country is supposed to submit lab results of their coronavirus examination. To ensure that the process is smooth, travelers can submit the documents online accompanied by a form. The form requires you to fill out your airline name, seat, flight, and passport number.
Previously, international travelers were required to quarantine for 14 days after arrival. However, you don’t have to do so under the new requirements. Nonetheless, it’s advisable to quarantine when you travel. This ensures that you have not contracted the virus and may spread it to others. As the Center for Disease Control And Prevention Director states, “despite the implementation of testing requirements for international travel, it does not eliminate all risk.”
In as much as tourism hasn’t fully recovered, it is our hope that with the introduction of the Covid-19 vaccines this once robust industry can be able to get back on its feet.