Travel industry leaders speaking at Hong Kong Tourism Board’s (HKTB)
global online forum, Beyond COVID-19: Global Tourism’s New Normal,
earlier this week have made a collective plea for governments to end
quarantine measures and adopt a more collaborative approach to reopen
borders and manage the risks of Covid-19.
World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) President and CEO Gloria
Guevara, stressed the urgency of prioritising coordinated approach to
opening borders and removing travel quarantines, while establishing
protocols that are consistent worldwide.
An integrated approach to recovery is key to mitigate the devastating
impacts the Covid-19 crisis have had on the global tourism industry,
urged Ms Guevara. “Our recent research shows that more than 197 million
jobs are at risk, which would cause a loss of more than US$5.5 trillion
to travel and tourism GDP worldwide,” she stated.
Quarantine measures currently present an "enormous issue" to the
global travel sector, said Alexandre de Juniac, director general and
CEO, International Air Transport Association (IATA).
“When governments decide to implement them, they stop travel," he
said. "There is no recovery for tourism and business travel if there are
quarantines. We advocate in favour of serious and strong procedures to
avoid quarantines and restart the industry."
Peter Borer, COO at the Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels, echoed
industry sentiments for governments to open borders and lift
restrictions. "We agree with IATA and WTTC that quarantines are
detrimental to our industry and if they continue millions of jobs will
be lost. We urge the government to establish global testing and contact
Steve Saxon, partner at McKinsey & Company, pointed out that it
is a combination of healthcare systems, government policies, wide-scale
testing and stimulation packages that will get people travelling again.
Following the revival of domestic travel in many countries, Mr De
Juniac expects the continental market to start reopening in Q3, while Q4
could possibly see the reopening of the intercontinental market. “The
slow opening of borders means recovery will also be slow and financially
painful” he cautioned.
Collaboration is key
Against a background of myriad responses among governments in
tackling the global health crisis, HKTB chairman Dr YK Pang called for
travel stakeholders to share their intelligence and resources together
and work towards a seamless future experience for travellers and
“Our cooperation must cross geographical and business boundaries, we
must pool our knowledge and our expertise, and to draw on our collective
ingenuity to navigate these uncertain months that lie ahead of us," he
said during the forum's opening speech.
During the Wednesday event, he also announced the collaboration
between the Hong Kong government and trade partners to create Open House
Hong Kong, a platform of travel offers and experiences.
Speaking from mainland China, Trip.com
Group CEO Jane Sun said the company is keen to assist the revival of
the tourism industry, and has rolled out a RMB 2 billion (US$141
million) disaster relief fund for customers and a RMB 1 billion
partnership fund for industry partners.
Ms Sun revealed that Trip.com's
recent International Recovery Plan sold over 5,000 high-end products
worth RMB7 million in one hour, while its Classy Travel Live Presale,
offering deep discounts and free cancellations, was met with
overwhelmingly positive response.
The surge in interest for risk-free travel bookings, pre-sale offers
with flexible timings and deep discounts, and travel insurance coverage,
is an indication of high pent-up demand from the mainland Chinese
market, she remarked.
Preparing for the new norm
Dr Pang emphasised that safety will naturally be at the heart of
travellers’ demands post Covid. “In this new normal travellers must be
sure destinations care for their concerns and that every touch point of
their journey is clean and safe,” he said, adding that travellers will
initially target closer destinations and wellness itineraries, and will
be willing to pay more for more space on planes and better quality,
Such trends have already surfaced among search data in the wake of
the coronavirus pandemic, according to Hermione Joye, sector lead,
travel & vertical search APAC for Google. She added that top
concerns among consumers in Asia Pacific and around the globe are
exposure to Covid while travelling, financing their trips, travel
logistics, and the fear of restrictions, quarantines and consequences.
Asia Pacific travellers are generally more optimistic about
international travel than those from the rest of the world, added Ms
Joye, with India and Indonesia markets keen to travel internationally,
and Japan and Australia leaning towards domestic trips.
Family getaways and couples trips are top priorities, with beach and
nature destinations to higher star, hygiene minded hotels with flexible
booking policies and competitive offers, she said.