How could the coronavirus impact the economy?
Tourism industry as one of the most critical issues and the central part of the revenue in many countries' economy is going through the hardest time by far on these days due to global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While pandemic affects deeply negative almost all sections of the economy, of course. However, the tourism industry faces the most severe losses and difficulties because of international borders closures and people forced to stay at home all over the world. Coronavirus infection has a longer incubation period and leaves about 85% of the infected without any (or with just mild) symptoms which makes it more difficult to track and to contain. Due to this reason, it is not easy to believe in statistics and make predictions about the recovery period in any sphere based on these statistics. However, we can undoubtedly agree that countries and governments would apply convenient strategies and policies to revive the tourism industry after the negative side effect of the coronavirus going to decline.
Impacts of Coronavirus on World Tourism
Europe has been the centre of world tourism, where it includes the main touristic destinations for recent years, even centuries. Perhaps also because of this reason, Europe is the most negatively affected continent by the pandemic nowadays. Of course, this situation in Europe influenced the whole tourism industry in the world. According to some preliminary estimates, global airlines have lost around $113 billion in sales in total. This number is expected to increase by $250 billion until the end of the year. Tourism organisations (private, public, and NGO) worldwide are suffering and will continue to suffer. Sharing coronavirus economy in tourism will also suffer a great deal. Companies like Airbnb and Uber are already reporting the decline in their activities. Three countries that have been placed on the list of “Top 5 visited countries” last year - Italy, France, Spain are among most affected countries by the pandemic now. Other two countries on this list - USA and China also live the same terrible situation. Italy alone has lost over 22 billion euro just in the tourism industry. In general, all European countries closed their borders for transport, and so all the tourist activities ceased. Besides Europe, other world regions also applied the same or similar rules and restrictions.
Will Tourism Recover Soon? Current Situation Worldwide
All of us have similar questions during our stay at home: how long are we going to stay at home? When we will fly and travel again? Until that moment comes, we will probably never know the exact answer to those questions. The explanation for this result is that not every country has the same incidence and spread of the virus. For example, while Italy is one of the most negatively affected countries, another European country like the Czech Republic is among less suffered countries by a coronavirus. According to scientists, a vaccine will be found to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, but the virus will still be among us before then, and we won't be able to get rid of it completely.
However, European countries will be advised to open borders to countries with similar coronavirus risk profiles under a plan to support the tourist industry being discussed in Brussels.
The European Commission will recommend a phased approach to reopening borders that means EU countries with "similar overall risk profiles" on the pandemic will open to tourists from each other's countries, according to a leaked draft paper seen by the Guardian.
The EU executive has previously voiced plan about “tourism corridors”, whereby member states make bilateral deals to open to each other’s tourists, but now appears ready to accept such arrangements in practice.
Because the EU includes some of the countries worst hit by the pandemic – notably Spain and Italy – along with others such as Greece and the Czech Republic that have so far limited impact, this kind of solution is seen convenient for them.
Among the European countries nowadays Italy reopened its borders to Schengen and European Union countries at the beginning of June. Sweden is keeping its borders closed to all countries except EU members, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, the United Kingdom, Switzerland. Foreign travellers from outside the Schengen area are prohibited from entering Austria until further notice. EU citizens and foreigners who are entitled to enter are obliged to do a 14-day self-monitored home quarantine immediately after entering the country by air. Passengers arriving from a non-Schengen Member State are not allowed to enter France and Germany. This does not apply to nationals of EEA Member States, Switzerland, passengers with a British passport, and those with residence permits issued by France. In general, most European countries have decided to facilitate, reopen its borders or remove border controls between neighbour countries until the end of June, which they did. But there is no any certain declaration or news about reopening borders to non-EU and non-Schengen third party countries in the long run.
Possible Solutions to the Problem
One of the expected solutions is that countries and border officials will demand medical test results and statements from all the citizens while crossing its borders. Developed insurance policies which include coronavirus issues and compensations would be another important tool during this period. Of course, technology will also help to humanity in this difficult situation. Smart quarantine and tracing are already used in many countries to contain the spread of COVID-19. For example, Hong Kong’s quarantine tracking bracelet that is being administered to all new arriving travellers. Paired with a smartphone app, it monitors the quarantined person’s whereabouts and reports the violations to authorities. In China, the tracing technology was inserted into the popular payment apps Alipay and WeChat Pay. Colour coding is used in the Alipay app to determine a person’s health status. The code can be either green (meaning that the person is risk-free), yellow (meaning that there might be a danger of mild exposure and risk sometimes requiring a one-week self-quarantine), or red (manifesting immediate exposure and leading to the immediate two-week quarantine). All in all, smart quarantine tools might be used to mark healthy and risk-free travellers. These technological solutions would help to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus COVID-19 before the effective vaccine is discovered without compromising international tourism and travel.
The world will recover from the COVID-19 pandemic like it always did after every major disaster. This is the first time we see the global pandemic of such unprecedented scale broadcasted in real-time. The numbers of the infected and deceased are reported to us every minute, making us endangered and vulnerable. However, one should not forget that the COVID-19 is not the Black Death Plague. Most people would never contract the coronavirus at all and of those who would, the majority would feel fine and recover from it quickly. These people would become the first virus-free travellers that would help to breathe the new life into the tourism and service industries once that the dust settles. Borders closures and lockdowns do not represent the viable solution of fighting the pandemic in the long run. The economic downfall might be much worse than all adverse effects of the coronavirus infection. Globalisation and technological revolution provided us with many tools that should now be effectively used to pave the road to post-viral tourism.