Tourism Stakeholders Allay Fears Over Second Wave Of COVID-19

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John Olmpio                                                                                        

“When something bad happens there is no point in wishing it had not happened. The only option is to minimize the damage”.

The above quote by Lady Violet best describes the mindset of the different professionals in the tourism sector. Tourism that kick-started the year 2020 with so much gusto and forecast crumbled due to the outbreak of EndSARS and the COVID-19 pandemic.

From March 2020, tourism was brought to standstill globally, everything and all that is associated with hotel reservations, entertainment, hospitality, adventure and recreation, travels, foods and beverages among others experienced an unprecedented low in the history of the sector.

From February until the end of the year 2020, the different aspects of travels and tourism suffered. Many investors in the sector; hotels and restaurants are now insolvent, just as others with make-belief posture only exist on economic life-support.

Though the year 2020 will go down in history as the most challenging period in all sectors of tourism, stakeholders have raised optimism to surmount the challenges that could come with the second-wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Globally, Nigeria inclusive, the pandemic overnight brought global tourism to a complete standstill, a situation never experienced in the sector.

The year was a period the world came to a standstill, a period the world could not move, airlines were grounded, hotel rooms, irrespective of class, became empty, conference halls yawn for guests that never came, millions of air travel offices and services were grounded, while choice destinations were all deserted.

According to Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, (UNWTO): “In 2020, millions of people missed chances to explore different places and embrace the different cultures and customs. The world lost out on opportunities for tourism to create jobs, support businesses, and kick-start development.

“In the face of such a downturn, tourism ends the year more united and determined than ever,” he said.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in an Economic Impact Analysis tagged: Effects of Novel Coronavirus (COVID‐19) on Civil Aviation said air passenger traffic recorded an overall reduction (both international and domestic) ranging from 59% to 60% in 2020 compared to 2019 (by ICAO)

In another instance, the United Nations World Travel Organisation (UNWTO) said that the sector suffered a decline in international tourism receipts of between USD 910 to 1,170 billion in 2020, compared to the USD 1.5 trillion generated in 2019, with 100% of worldwide destinations having travel restrictions.

However, amidst the inability of the world to move, stakeholders in the tourism sector, struggling to survive the huge and unprecedented losses suffered during the year have expressed optimism not to be disillusioned in the New Year, 2021.

International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director-General, Alexandre de Juniac said: “From crippling financial losses and painfully diminished market values to shrunken networks and mounting debt piles, the industry has been put through the wringer. If there ever was an annus horribilis, this is it”.

Notwithstanding new and ongoing developments of the pandemic, the sector is geared towards accelerating the restart of tourism, always factoring in the most recent situation of global health.

BV.

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