The wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, from flight suspensions to border closures, has been a massive shutdown which has cost countries billions. Airlines and other players in the travel supply chain are running out of money, millions have lost or stand to lose their jobs. The tourism industry is one of the largest casualties of the coronavirus outbreak and its recovery process will be complicated and lengthy.
Based on the latest outlook provided by the Minister of Tourism, regional and international travel will only resume early in 2021 at risk adjusted level 1. This prolonged delay in opening borders for outbound travel will unfortunately result in many players within this space becoming collateral damage in government’s war against COVID-19.
We have witnessed the medical crisis brought about by COVID-19, and whilst we applaud government’s relentless efforts and measures to save lives, with the easing of lockdown, we are now living through the real economic ravages of this pandemic.
The uncertainty around the timelines of when tourism will start is what makes a bad situation almost unbearable – businesses are taking it day by day. It is very difficult to plan for an uncertain future and, with all participants in the supply chain being heavily reliant on human capital, livelihoods of individuals will invariably be negatively impacted.
While waiting for the announcement of borders reopening, players within the travel supply chain have been prepping their businesses to deal with the ‘new normal’. I certainly believe that once an announcement is made on dates when borders will reopen, clients will seize the opportunity to escape the containment/isolation of the lockdown and will eagerly look for places to travel to with their loved ones, where the mind, body and soul can be free.
One major deciding factor in destination choice will be a health and safety stamp of approval, and people will prefer a COVID-free destination. Mauritius has been given the global safety and hygiene go-ahead from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), and has received the WTTC’s Safe Travels stamp.
Hotels and airlines care deeply for each client’s comfort and safety. To welcome them back in a safe environment, they have adapted their health and safety procedures to the requirements brought with COVID-19 and enhanced their disinfection protocols. They have taken standards of hygiene and cleanliness very seriously and are taking steps to not only ensure the safety of clients but also that of staff.
This unprecedented situation has forced players within this space to adapt and evolve in order to ensure that they are best position to handle the ‘new normal’
We march on forward with optimism and hope that the universe conspires with us to deliver a brighter future for outbound tourism and the tourism industry at large.
Ramesh Jeenarain is Mauritian-born. He joined World Leisure Holidays in 2011 as finance director, and was appointed md in 2016 and has been responsible for driving the strategic decisions for the business. He is guided by core principles, including strategic alignment, leadership, innovation, and customers. He has a background in finance as a chartered accountant and he holds an MBA from GIBS. His extensive knowledge of the travel industry has equipped him well to navigate this highly competitive field.