An area of the Tourism industry that is badly hit by the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus is the Travel and Tour sector.
This is due to the fact that the Travel and Tour business thrives on the movement of people. With the restrictions in place to prevent the spread of the virus, tourists inflows from across the globe is completely shut.
Several Travel and Tour companies have had to suspend or completely cancel planned trips for clients, losing monies in the process.
It is estimated that the flight restrictions and border closure will cost the industry severely.
Estimated impact on tourism
In fact an analysis conducted by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), an agency of the United Nations, estimates that international tourist arrivals could decline by 20% to 30% in 2020.
This translate into a loss of $300 to $450 billion in international tourism receipts (exports), representing almost one third of the US$ 1.5 trillion generated globally in the worst-case scenario due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Again, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on its analysis of the revenue impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global air transport industry also estimates that passenger revenues could drop to $252 billion or 44% below 2019’s figure.
‘This is in a scenario in which severe travel restrictions last for up to three months, followed by a gradual economic recovery later this year’, IATA said to explain its projections.
IATA’s previous analysis of up to a $113 billion revenue loss was made on 5 March 2020, before countries around the world announced travel restrictions that largely eliminated the international air travel market.
All this put together, is an indication of how severely the impact of the pandemic has been on the tour operations in the world.
In 2019, Ghana raked $1.9 billion in revenue from the tourism during the Year of Return celebrations, representing a 5.5 percent contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
This revenue was mainly generated through the tourist visits and trips to some of the historic sites in the country and other areas.
But this figure will obviously drop this year. Tours along those historic sites in Ghana have ceased due to the travel restrictions which has prevented tourists from trouping into the country.
The Executive Director of the Touch Effect, an adventure tourism company, Delali Kotoka, tells Ghana Talks Business that the pandemic has had a “huge impact” on his business, saying all of his plans for the year has come to a standstill.
He says, based on the “beyond the return” initiative, which was born out of the success story of the “year of return” event held in 2019, players in the industry were anticipating further boom in trips to tourist destinations in the country in 2020, but this will only remain a guess for now.
Impact has been dire
He added that travel and tour is not an industry that allows people to work from home and so the impact has been dire, considering the volume of international tourism receipts that they may be losing.
“If you really want to enjoy tourism you must be present at the destination or where the activity is taking place and now the Covid-19 has locked us out or is preventing us from undertaking such activities”, he said.
He further added that “so the whole business has come to a standstill, because you market what you packaged, and put people in a bus and take them to a destination”.
Mr Kotoka, whose company organizes an average of 10 tours in a year, further says even if the restrictions on travels are lifted, the industry will still not be able to operate in full capacity due to the social distancing protocols.
“Even if the restriction on travels is lifted and we want to organize tours, we still have to heed to the social distancing protocols. This means that the capacity we mostly operate at. will be reduced and when this happens then it means that we will be increasing cost on the clients”.
Mr Kotoka says his capital has been greatly affected. He however expressed the hope that things will normalize soon. Adding that it will however take a while for their businesses to recover fully from the jolts of the pandemic.
When asked whether he needed any financial relief to cushion his company, Mr Kotoka says that although he has lost some money, he is not financially handicapped at the moment to go for such a help.
The only support that he probably needs, he said, is a “connect”, that is someone who could introduce or link them to the corporate world in order to organize trips for them.
By Salifu B.B. Moro