The COVID-19 pandemic has persisted far longer than anyone could have imaged. People around the world are dealing with the impact on their livelihoods, health, and travel. The hospitality and tourism industry has experienced considerable changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many businesses, hospitality and tourism companies have seen decreases in revenue and employment. However, unlike other industries, the hospitality and tourism sectors are well equipped to recover.
Since the start of the pandemic in 2019, hospitality and tourism has dealt with decreased international tourism, decreased demand in accommodations, and a reduction in employees. These are a direct result of restrictions in travel and mandates for quarantine. According to the United Nations World Travel Organization (2021) rates are improving.
The United Nations World Travel Organization highlights that tourism is one of the “world’s most important economic sectors” (UNWTO, 2021). Tourism can support not only the economy but the culture and environment. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development reports that the pandemic could cause a “loss of $4 trillion to the global GDP” (UNCTAD, 2021).
This may all sound like hospitality and tourism is at risk of going to ruin. On the contrary, tourism has the opportunity to re-evaluate during the pandemic and come back incorporating more sustainability and resilience then ever before. To focus more on local travel and hospitality experiences. To celebrate the culture of those within the local community.
Future hospitality and tourism leaders will need to be skilled in disaster preparedness, traveler health, sustainability, and inclusivity in order to revitalize tourism. These changes will occur in local tourism venues and venues all over the world.
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By: Karina Christopher, PhD, RD, LD, associate professor, EKU Department of Applied Human Sciences