Tourism industry must lead and inspire, says Ken Robinson
Leisure Opportunities
Job search
Job Search
see all jobs
Latest job opportunities
University of Leeds (Sport)
Competitive
Leeds, UK
star job
Xercise4Less
Competitive
Rugby, UK
Lambrook School
Competitive
Nr Ascot, Berkshire
Everyone Active
Unlimited earning potential
Camberwell Leisure Centre, London, UK
Ilkley Lawn Tennis and Squash Club
£45,000 per annum
Ilkley, UK

Tourism industry must lead and inspire, says Ken Robinson

Job opportunities
Lee Valley Regional Park Authority
£22,068 to £26,467
location: Myddelton House, Enfield, United Kingdom
Lambrook School
Competitive
location: Nr Ascot, Berkshire, United Kingdom
Ilkley Lawn Tennis and Squash Club
£45,000 per annum
location: Ilkley, UK
more jobs
We need to regularly remind ourselves that travel and Tourism is aspirational and that when people can travel they will

OPINION

TOURISM IN A POST-CORONAVIRUS WORLD

By Ken Robinson CBE, tourism expert.

Coronavirus is devastating for the tourism and leisure sectors globally.

For now, the focus is on business ‘discontinuity’, the impact of the pandemic on our employees and their families, whether and how companies will survive and when the viable resumption of activity will be possible.

In my view, we have every reason to be hopeful and confident for the future, because the inexorable growth of travel and tourism has shown that travel and tourism is aspirational – when people can travel they will.

Optimistic, braver and more farsighted individuals and organisations are already summoning up their bulldog spirit and looking to the future.

The media and politicians vie to predict how soon the lockdown will end and everyone is seeking to define our ‘exit strategy’.

But I sense that few appreciate how massively devastating the pandemic is likely to be, or how long it will be before recovery to post-pandemic levels is practical.

For us in the UK there is light at the end of the tunnel, but worldwide evidence shows lockdowns are effective in slowing infection rates, but they don’t lead to immunity beyond the minority who’ve been infected and recover. The lockdown shields the most vulnerable, but only as long as it lasts. The rules will be relaxed, a little and for a while, but have to be reintroduced if, as seems certain, infection rates climb again.

Time to rebuild

There is already a determination to rebuild, so what can be foreseen? Although international tourism will be decimated post-pandemic, there will be great economic and pressures to resume and for consumers who can afford to, there will be a strong pent-up demand for holidays at home and abroad.

But, the aspiration to travel has pre-requirements, the most relevant of which is that tourists only go to safe and healthy places. Until this can be assured – both en route and at the destination – tourism volumes will be minimal.

The developing worldWhile the pandemic is devastating communities and economic life in most developed countries and causing tragic loss to so many families, these impacts are as nothing compared to its likely effects on the populations and economies of countries in the developing world that in recent years have become some of the fastest-growing tourism destinations. Tourism revenues have become essential to the functioning and growth of their economies and social systems.

These destinations, with their densely populated cities and towns and sparsely populated rural areas, have very limited medical services – few doctors and resource-starved healthcare systems. Coronavirus, when it takes hold, is likely to kill an unimaginable number of people and remain infectious in the population for years.

Conditions for recovery

The key to the recovery of tourism will be immunity. If this is a reliable consequence of post-infection-recovery, and immunisation is available for all those who escape infection, I anticipate a requirement on individuals to prove their immunity before being allowed to travel – at least internationally.

Such proof will also be a requirement for everyone working in the travel and accommodation service chain – in other words at all stages of travel, and at all places and facilities visited.

This ‘proof’ could work like a visa, international driving license, or work permit. In the 1950s and 1960s immunisation had to be recorded in passports, and was required at many destinations. Fraudulent and forged certification will be a hazard, especially in less regulated economies.

Even once it’s officially permissible to travel, the most lucrative tourists – mature adults and seniors who have the most available time and can afford to travel – will be those at highest risk of infection and death and so will be slow to do so.

Limited ‘essential’ travel will be permitted, with social distancing and regulation, for an indeterminate period. However, freely-chosen leisure travel by the general public will be impeded for a very long time.

Airlines will be slow to resume frequent schedules, so there will be limited capacity. Levels of demand at resort-style destinations will be sparse and grow slowly, so businesses at formerly popular destinations will only be able to re-open when levels of demand reach their operational viability thresholds.

Domestic before internationalDomestic tourism will recover first, but slowly, with limitations and controls and at different rates for different types of activity. Conditions and rules may vary by location. The earliest resumption is likely where social distancing and family isolation is practical, such as self-catering accommodation.

Governments will more keenly appreciate the economic benefits and necessity of the tourism sector in supporting wellbeing and quality of life and will value and support the industry more.

Internationally, where adjacent countries have comparable rules and trust each other, limited land border travel will be possible.

Travel industry infrastructure

In the longer-term, assuming a state of healthy equilibrium can be assured, it will be necessary to repair and rebuild travel industry networks and contractual linkages.

For much of the industry, it will almost be like starting again and this will make communication and marketing, in a chaotically fragmented world, absolutely key.

Online dealings will have become more embedded, and physical transactions, materials, and content will be much less in use than in the past. However, tourism has always been a person to person business, and it will be in the future. Trusted, safe, close personal interaction is essential and will be greatly appreciated by people who have been isolated by the pandemic.

Plan to relaunchDuring this period of enforced closure, there is much the industry can do.

Tourism is an interconnected sector and although many businesses have evolved to be mutually competitive, links exist for communication and cooperation and there is great potential to make them more effective.

In the UK, we no longer have the structure of national and regional tourist boards and public-private partnerships between local authorities and industry. Prior to 2000 these two were contractually linked and organised around national policies and strategies. There’s no such functioning network now, just an underfunded VisitBritain and it's residual Visit England with loose communication links to the disparate plethora of so-called ‘Destination Management Organisations’.

We need a much more effective, mutually-cooperative network for recovery and to optimise the future economic, social and cultural benefits of tourism.

Given the weakness of the present arrangements between our national boards and industry, there’s surely the opportunity to speedily strengthen the links and create a trusted central hub for information, foresight, liaison, inspiration and in all ways position ourselves to be in the best possible condition to develop in the new world.

Until then, the biggest opportunities for tourist boards and destination organisations are around maintaining their networks of members and partners and preparing the most enjoyable, evocative, experiential materials possible for use online and via ‘push’ distribution.

Connecting with consumers

We need to keep our relationships and brands alive among audiences who have been starved of the joy and life-enhancing experiences that tourism brought to their lives.

We must also be inventive and use our assets and our networks of contacts with existing and potential customers to evolve new experiences with creative ideas such as quizzes, virtual treasure hunts, discovery series or compiling online photo books from contributions by visitors and tourists. The list of possibilities is endless.

Tourism businesses in collaborative partnerships should take a leadership role to inform and inspire this work – both as a service and to keep those relationships alive. Keeping up public awareness of destinations can also help strengthen and build national, regional and local pride and morale – not least within hard-hit tourism and travel businesses and among the professionals who work within them.

Future marketing will be very different, although how is currently unclear. Consumers are likely to have a different, more cautious approach to belief in the accuracy of information, the trustworthiness of travel providers, the safety of their payments, and provisions for reimbursement and compensation.

In summary, we need to regularly remind ourselves that travel and tourism is aspirational and that when people can travel they will. They need the available time, money and permission to travel, but even then most will only choose safe and healthy places.

There will be recovery – when, and at what pace, nobody knows. Meanwhile, we need to be realistic and accept unchangeable realities.

The whole world is in the same situation – our challenge is to be ready when the new opportunities emerge, to be ahead of the game, and be an inspiration to others.

We must all work for a future where the economic, social and cultural benefits of tourism are available to all.

Ken Robinson CBE 14 April [email protected]

Ken Robinson is an Adviser and Consultant on tourism; strategic planning, development and optimising the economic and social benefits of tourism. His specialism is the analysis, development planning, management and marketing of visitor attractions and related tourism facilities

Sign up for FREE ezines & magazines
Coronavirus is devastating for the tourism and leisure sectors globally. For now, the focus is on business ‘discontinuity’, the impact of the pandemic on our employees and their families, whether and how companies will survive and when the viable resumption of activity will be possible.
TOU,TVL,VAT,AAC,PHR
2020/THUMB345281_825700_758105.jpg

More News

1 - 15 of 43,034
04 Dec 2020
Gym and health club members in England have flocked back to fitness facilities in droves since the reopening of the sector on 2 December. Now, ... More
03 Dec 2020
PureGym will take its budget fitness concept to Saudi Arabia, after securing a franchise partnership with Ektimal – a company specialising in fitness investments in ... More
02 Dec 2020
Gyms, health clubs, leisure centres and fitness studios in England are back in business today as the one-month lockdown ends. Many gyms opened their doors ... More
01 Dec 2020
The UK government has published its impact report for the three-tier COVID-19 alert system, which will be introduced in England tomorrow (2 December), when the ... More
30 Nov 2020
Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, has said exercise and physical activity should play a key role in the UK's recovery from ... More
28 Nov 2020
International architecture practice 10 Design has revealed its design concepts for an ambitious redevelopment of Edinburgh’s city centre. The project will transform the former Royal ... More
Miha Bodytec GmbH
Miha Bodytec GmbH
26 Nov 2020
Playfinder has launched Bookteq, a booking system aimed at increasing revenue for operators of independent physical activity venues. CEO, Jamie Foale, said, “Some of the ... More
26 Nov 2020
Nick Whitcombe, the independent gym owner who refused to shut his gym during the October tier 3 restrictions, is becoming a fitness industry campaigner of ... More
26 Nov 2020
Montage has selected Carrie Sotebeer to lead the spa team at Montage Healdsburg resort in Sonoma County, California, opening 12 December 2020. The launch of ... More
26 Nov 2020
This year's UK government Spending Review, announced in Parliament by chancellor Rishi Sunak on 25 November, offers the physical activity sector opportunities to "transform communities", ... More
25 Nov 2020
Up to 100k people will benefit from the free gym and physical activity sessions, thanks to a partnership between ukactive, NHS England and Improvement (NHSE/I), ... More
24 Nov 2020
To the relief of the sector, the UK government confirmed yesterday (23 November) that gyms, health clubs and leisure centres will be allowed to open ... More
STA
STA
23 Nov 2020
Closing gyms and leisure facilities during any possible future lockdown would be "unthinkable", according to Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle upon Tyne North. McKinnell – ... More
23 Nov 2020
Gyms, health clubs and leisure centres will be able to open their doors when the current lockdown measures in England come to an end on ... More
23 Nov 2020
The University of Stirling has opened its new £20m sports and fitness centre. The building, designed by architects FaulknerBrowns, will feature three key areas; a ... More
TVS Sport Surfaces
TVS Sport Surfaces
1 - 15 of 43,034
ResortSuite
ResortSuite