COVID-19. Tourism alarm goes beyond tourism

It is not possible to reflect on the effects of the travel sector without mentioning the indirect and induced effects.

Versione italiana


Tourism industry experts know that phenomena such as Coronavirus fall under the definition of exogenous factors. These are external events, not directly dependent on the sector but capable of strongly influencing it, such as terrorist attacks and natural disasters. It is not difficult to imagine, therefore, the issues created by these sudden and unexpected phenomena. As a researcher in sociology of tourism, I often find myself examining these kinds of data. Previous experiences taught me that we will have to wait before having a complete and reliable overview of the situation. Just by reading Italian news, however, we understand that Italy is not experiencing an easy moment. Interviews with subjects such as hotel owners and museum directors show that, in a few days, the numbers related to tourism in Italy collapsed.

Aware of the impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) released a written statement in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) on February 26. UNWTO highlighted that WHO did not recommend any travel or trade restriction based on the current information available. The invitation is in the affected areas.

The tourism sector [explains UNWTO] is fully committed to putting people and their well-being first. International cooperation is vital for ensuring the sector can effectively contribute to the containment of COVID-19.

From these words, it is clear that UNWTO is not only collaborating with WHO, but also with other subjects, so that the countries involved can be assisted not only in terms of health aid, but also to

minimize unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade.

Collaboration therefore appears to be a key word in UNWTO’s statement. People working in the tourism sector often talk about the importance of creating systems. And it is not a coincidence that, now more than ever, institutions emphasize the importance of partnerships between stakeholders, be they private individuals or public institutions.

Tourism’s response [UNWTO points outˆneeds to be measured and consistent, proportionate to the public health threat and based on local risk assessment, involving every part of the tourism value chain – public bodies, private companies and tourists, in line with WHO’s overall guidance and recommendations.

The World Tourism Organization also underlines the willingness to collaborate with the communities and countries affected by this emergency, to create the conditions for a better future. On February 24, the European Travel Commission (ETC) published a press release that focuses on the partnership with China, describing that Chinese tourists should be welcomed and respected throughout Europe. ETC suggests following UNWTO’s guidelines, centering on the importance of not creating unnecessary alarms that could lead to negative impacts on different sectors.

Photo @elabmentale

A key concept that emerges from both UNWTO and ETC’s announcements is the sense of responsibility. It is in fact essential to remind those who make decisions that tourism currently represents 10% of world GDP and one out of every ten jobs in the world. It is interesting to notice that ETC did not speak of the repercussions on the “sector”, using the singular form, but on the sectors. We have to remember that tourism goes far beyond profits for hotels and museums. It is not possible, in fact, to reflect on the effects of the travel sector without mentioning the indirect and induced effects.

As a recent report by the Bank of Italy explains, in addition to the “direct” contribution provided to GDP and employment, it is important to estimate the overall impact of tourism, which also includes the “indirect” effects from the supply of goods and services activated by businesses in the tourism sectors – and the “induced” profits, which are instead generated by the consumption of tourism workers. Thinking about what is happening in these days, the only solution that seems possible at the moment is the one recommended by ETC. Restrictions that go beyond the guidelines of UNWTO and WHO should be avoided, in order to not have unnecessary limitations on international traffic, which may have negative repercussions on the travel market.

COVID-19. Tourism alarm goes beyond tourism ultima modifica: 2020-02-28T16:06:31+01:00 da MARTA SOLIGO
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