The Global Pandemic and it’s Global Victims
With the massive outbreak of the life-threatening Coronavirus, many industries have succumbed drastically. It only seems like yesterday that the travel and tourism industry was benefiting in heaps. The tourism industry is currently among the most affected sectors and to cater to it the World Tourism Organization has amended its 2020 forecast for international arrivals and receipts. However, it has emphasized that such predictions will most likely be amended further as the times move ahead in quest of curbing this massive virus. This has left the stock market also to come crashing down and for days have affected all major airlines, operators and hotels, such as the American, European and Asian
The authorities that are forecasting the impact of the COVID-19 have based it on the previous experiences with similar crises such as that of SARS or H1N1. As hotels, airlines, and cruise operators are just a few of the hardest-hit travel industries that have suffered the most it is being assumed that it will be a tough road ahead for recovery. The outbreak occurred during the Lunar New Year, which is considered as one of the busiest travel seasons in Asia. It has led to the cancellation of many trips, public events, temporary employment adjustments, and falls in income. In Spain, the Zurich insurer had to cancel all the trips of its 2,000 employees both inside and outside of Spain and obliges those who are on a journey to return.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, seventy million travel and tourism jobs are currently at risk across the globe out of which one in eight of them is in India.
No one can still forget the day when the first outbreak of Coronavirus was detected in Kerala. Days and a month around later the country has been held under lockdown for almost a month. The iconic wonder of the Taj Mahal that once used to drag millions of locals and foreign visitors from all parts of the world to witness an emperor’s love for his beloved is sadly closed. The current lockdown situation has led to the closure of pilgrimage sites and temples across states that have known to affect local businesses and employment that feed themselves due to its existence. The travel and tourism sector has mostly been dependent upon people visiting to witness its unique bundle of traditions and culture but right now it is staring at millions losing their jobs and looking at an uncertain future.
Due to this outbreak, many reports are suggesting that the Indian tourism and hospitality industry is looking at a potential job loss of approximately 38 million, that is around 70% of the total workforce. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council around nine million jobs (six times the population of Goa) are said to be at risk in India. As the COVID-19 crisis continues to progress, it will surely be a big setback for national employment. The sector accounts for 12.75% of employment in which 5.56% of it direct and 7.19% indirect. Over 87 million people were employed in the tourism industry in the previous year which will sadly face a sudden loss of employment. A series of cancel bookings from February of this year to the mid-month of March has led it to come to a standstill especially the airlines and railways. Authorities of the have stated that they are not sure if they will recover from this in the next forty-five days. Coronavirus has impacted the tourism industry in the worst manners that has further managed to impact all segments such as the inbound, outbound and domestic, and leisure, cruise, adventure, corporate meetings, conference, and exhibitions.
The currently imposed lockdown extends the restrictions that were imposed in Kashmir on August 2019. This drastically hit the livelihoods of approximately 144,500 Kashmiris employed in the tourism and handicrafts sector. Other states such as Kerala and Himachal Pradesh are hugely dependent on tourism income. Sadly this coming season for both the travel and airline industry. Many advanced bookings had already been made in the starting of the year for the time from February to May. From students travelling abroad, for leisure and vacation travel, for corporate travel, for religious and pilgrimage travel, and by elderly people visiting their children abroad, everything has been booked. Even people who work on a freelance basis especially in the tourism industry have been cancelled. Not just them, travel guides who have been running their livelihoods for years have also faced the impact of this pandemic. While every industry is facing the repercussions of the Coronavirus industries such as technology, banking, financial services and pharmaceuticals however are slightly out of the mayhem. Many medium and small enterprises dominating the tourism and hospitality sector are extremely likely to be impacted by the pandemic. Some businesses might gain respite during October, but it is not assured.
If the outbreak continues to spread more and leap onto months that the World Travel and Tourism Council, the trade group representing major global travel companies, projects a global loss of 7.5 crores jobs and 210000 crores in revenue.
Impact and respite for the hotel industry
The hotel industry employs around two million people. Many unorganised workers are employed across the state. In March occupancies across hotels in India dipped down drastically by more than 40% in many situations and cancellations were at a high like never before. However, the hotel and restaurant industry is seeking some relief measures from both the state and central governments such as interest-free loans from banks, waiver on all licence fees, the supply of subsidised food grains and a tax holiday for one year to maintain jobs and support the industry.
IMPACT ACROSS NATIONS
Several countries have managed to restrict movement within and across cities and borders for people. Both the United States and the United Kingdom together currently account for 24% of India’s foreign tourist arrivals in February. They are also two of the countries that have been affected the worst by COVID-19, reporting over 600,000 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
A revolution like a steer led to one billion trips to be organized all year round across the globe. But sadly the virus has left all things to come at a halt. Compiling the huge loss is nearly impossible as the loss is intensifying as much as the virus. Recently on the 2nd April, British Airways suspended 36,000 employees. The Airline industry collectively estimates a loss of at least 25000 crores. Among all the travel industries in the world, the United States of America has been hit the hardest. The U.S. Travel Association has estimated a collective loss of around 4.6 million jobs which in the further months has high possibilities of increasing. The US weekly had recently stated that just during the last week a huge number of 6.6 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week due to the coronavirus outbreak. The hardest-hit US states include Nevada where the once overcrowded LAs Vegas Casinos and hotels are empty.
The travel industry was looking ahead for the mid-time of the year. As it usually is a time when kids get to jump into their summer vacations and people head out for a month-long holiday to a beautiful part of the globe. The tourism industry earns most of its revenues during this time of the year. This humongous impact has led the industries failing to cope up big time.
Loss they have Incurred
According to the International Air Transport Association on an average the international carriers such as Delta and United Airlines, had less than two months of cash on hand to cover expenses before the global pandemic changed everything as opposed to companies like Apple who can serve for six long years at ease. With airlines being parked and have nowhere to fly, an estimated loss of more than $250 billion can be expected. That’s around twice the estimated amount of $113 billion the IATI(International Aid Transparency Initiative) predicted three weeks ago before countries started shutting down borders. The A4A (Airlines for America), the trade group that represents the American and JetBlue among others, as well as the UPS and FedEx, has issued a formal statement stating that its member companies are estimated to lose around $87 billion in revenue this year. It is known that they already started applying for loans to help them recover their losses.
The way airlines can seek some relief is through the Federal Reserve for distressed industries, loans, direct grants or the government taking a stake in the company. Though a large part of the money can’t be used by corporations to buy back stock. This practice has led many companies to struggle in their finance department.
Respite for the Americans?
A 100 million dollar bill was passed weeks ago by the Congress party of America that has led to some relief for the citizens. The bill led to a significant increase to the unemployment insurance has led to paid sick leave, extended food assistance, and also free testing for the virus. This relief aid has been acknowledged by many. People believe that this was rather required and important to push the recovery speed ahead. As the travel industry majority consists of small scale enterprises, this respite is largely going to benefit them in keeping themselves survive in this drastically crushing economy. It is said that emergency small business loans will be available from June onwards and it would be forgiven if companies want to continue keeping their employees on the payroll.
Hotel Industry of the United States
Thankfully not all US hotels have been affected by the pandemic. Though large upscale hotels, that are known to hold significant conventions are severely hit. Hotels in many big cities and resorts have also seen a massive drop. The lodging sector has also suffered a loss that is around the same as the transport. Big popular companies such as Marriott hotels have lost almost seventy-five per cent in revenue. On a lighter note, the Marriott Hotels and Resorts have been shining window lights at night with messages of hope for local communities and the entire world.
Hotels and restaurants can, however, benefit from the $350 billion lending program for small businesses and from a small adjustment to a federal tax law that could save them as much as $15 billion.
Need of the Hour
The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) have been successful in identifying over sixty-five hundred hotel properties across the United States of America that are near health care facilities and have been made available to house health care workers such as doctors, nurses, police officers and other first responders.
The tourism industry of China also comes under the most affected due to coronavirus. During recent years, the tourism industry of China has managed to represent around 11% of its GDP that had been growing at a steady rate of 7%. But the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Health Organization (WHO)collective statement for the tourism sector regarding the outbreak of the Corona Virus have asked measured, consistent and proportionate measures to be taken. However, closing borders, prohibiting travel in general and more extreme government policies will not stop the spread of the CoronaVirus, strict measures need to be taken for the country to bounce back. It will take some time to recover and bounce back to its natural held position. The huge amount of losses that the Tourism industry is facing is bundling into high numbers every second and hour of the day.
Some Hard Hitting Estimates
- The World Travel and Tourism Council has warned the COVID-19 pandemic could cut 50 million jobs worldwide in the travel and tourism industry.
- Asia is expected to be the worst affected.
- Once the outbreak is over, it could take up to 10 months for the industry to recover.
- The tourism industry currently accounts for 10% of global GDP.
If cases deteriorate during the coming day’s experts have indicated the need and potential to tap on domestic tourism and through the power of social media.
World Tourism Organization
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO ) has called upon the sector and travellers across to discuss this challenge with the utmost sound judgement and possible measure that will help in recovering from it. After several travel restrictions were introduced, the World Tourism Organization underscores the importance of international communication and cooperation. It emphasizes the COVID-19 challenge that represents an opportunity to show how solidarity can be spread within and across borders. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has been guiding the tourism sector’s response on several levels. The utmost important is cooperating closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), the lead UN agency for the management of this outbreak. At this point, travel companies should abide by the World Health Organization that are communicating health measures that need to be implemented in ways that in return lessen the unnecessary impact on international travel and trade. They have urged everyone to stand in solidarity with the affected countries, and be ready to support recovery.