Coronavirus affecting tourism (1)

  •  50 million jobs could be lost and
  • Travel sector could shrink by up to 25% in 2020

I wanted to write on Ghana month this week following March having been declared Ghana month. The Wear Ghana Project which is a campaign that seeks to encourage Ghanaians to wear made in Ghana clothes and use other fashion accessories that are locally produced.

The campaign runs throughout the year but reaches its peak in March with a series of activities such as seminars, symposiums, exhibitions, fashion shows, production of a fashion magazine and an awards night to honour fashion industry players, Ghanaians and institutions whose activities have promoted the fashion industry in Ghana.

The first edition of the program indicated that, the Month of March has been designated as Wear Ghana Month. During the launch, Dr Mustapha Hamid, Minister for Zongo Development emphasized the need for the Wear Ghana Month (March) to be promoted both locally and international to make Ghana a tourism destination through fashion. Instead of celebrating Ghana months and promoting tours around the country, here we are faced with some restrictions due to coronavirus. I have no choice than to write on coronavirus. However, let us use this moment to promote made in Ghana products most especially hand sanitizers.

Following the recent recorded cases of coronavirus in Ghana, Government has announced a travel advisory which discourages all travels to the country until further notice. This comes following a successful 2019 ‘Year of Return’. We were all expecting a successful ‘beyond the return’ agenda, however coronavirus decided to put a halt to our plans. Unfortunately, success also comes with its own disadvantages. Kotoka International Airport has been trying to position itself as the number one connecting hub in West Africa after it was declared the best airport in West Africa. Obviously, the increase travelers to Ghana and those connecting will mean there will be a lot of pressure on KIA and obviously international travel having increased will have led to a threat.

The seven cases are really bad news for the country when others have just one or two cases. CNN reports that as at today, the number of infected persons is more than 182400 and killed 7100 worldwide according to Johns Hopkins University. Millions are under lockdown in Europe as some Asian countries close schools just as it’s happening in Ghana. Travels have also been curb. The travel ban announced in Ghana by Mr Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah, the Minister of Information said commencing Tuesday, March 17, 2020, any traveller who, within the last 14 days, has been to a country that has recorded at least 200 cases of persons infected of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease, would not be permitted into the Ghanaian jurisdiction, except for Ghanaian citizens and persons with a Ghana residence permit.

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The Government has also instructed airlines not to allow such persons to embark; and also urged border posts not permit such travellers into their jurisdiction. He said per the advisory, there would be a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for persons who are allowed to enter the Ghanaian jurisdiction.

“Guidelines for self-quarantine will be available at the various Ghanaian ports of entry. Enforcement protocols are being deployed in collaboration with state security and health authorities,” However, persons who are found not to be unable to satisfactorily self-isolate would be quarantined by the State, he said. Mr Oppong Nkrumah said that any admissible traveller, who exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 would be quarantined and tested upon reaching Ghana.
We are really in bad times for the travel and tourism industry. The global coronavirus outbreak means millions of travel and tourism jobs are at risk, says a leading industry body. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) says up to 50 million jobs could be lost because of the pandemic. Its chief executive, Gloria Guevara, said the outbreak “presents a significant threat to the industry”.

The news comes after thousands of international flights were cancelled and some insurance firms suspended travel coverfor new customers. New figures from the WTTC suggest that the travel sector could shrink by up to 25% in 2020. Cruise ship firm Princess Cruises is suspending all operations for 60 days. One of its cruises was kept off the cost of San Francisco for five days after 21 passengers tested positive for the virus.

British Airways, EasyJet and Norwegian Air have all also cut flights in response to the outbreak. Korean Air even warned that the coronavirus could threaten its survival. Australia’s Qantas is reducing international flights by nearly 25% in response to the outbreak and said the virus could wipe $100 million off of pre-tax profit from the second half of the company’s fiscal year. Chinese airline passenger numbers dropped by 84.5% last month, highlighting the huge economic impact on the country where the virus originated. Its aviation regulator said on Thursday that the drop had caused a 21bn-yuan (£2.35bn) fall in revenue.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that global air transport revenues will be reduced by 5% this year. Air France-KLM (AFLYY) warned that its earnings could fall by as much as $216 million between February and April because of the outbreak. The coronavirus could result in 90 million fewer domestic trips and $115 billion in lost spending, according to the most severe scenario laid out by Tourism Economics.

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Ghana will not be the only country to be seriously affected. China’s tourism industry will be most affected due to the virus since tourism represents 11% of their GDP in recent years, growing in a steady rate of 7%. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) through a joint statement have asked the tourism sector that their response to the outbreak of the Corona Virus be “measured, consistent and proportionate” to the threat posed for public health. Closing borders, prohibiting travel in general and more extreme government policies will not stop the spread of the Corona Virus, said the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). So far, Trip.com’s Sun said “millions of orders have been canceled,” referring to both domestic and international trips. But she said the company is already seeing signs of pent-up demand.

The sad aspect for Ghana and the world as a whole is that, The World Tourism and Travel Council analyzed previous major viral epidemics, and found that the average recovery time for visitor numbers to a destination was 19 months. As at this stage we are not yet talking of a decrease in numbers to beginning planning for recovery. It is  sad but Ghanaians must prepare for some rough times ahead especially those within the tourism industry. These are not good and happy times for us all.

 

I have started feeling the heat and I know all those associated with tourism and travel are feeling same. The best thing do now is to focus on how to remain healthy and I think government interventions must be ad head by all as we prevent further spread and importation of the virus. This can only be achieved when we all co-operate. This is not politics matter an assisting government is necessary.

Philip Gebu is a Tourism Lecturer. He is the C.E.O of FoReal Destinations Ltd, a Tourism Destinations Management and Marketing Company based in Ghana and with partners in many other countries. Please contact Philip with your comments and suggestions. Write to forealdestinations@gmail.com / info@forealdestinations.com. Visit our website at www.forealdestinations.com or call or WhatsApp +233(0)244295901/0264295901.Visit our social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: FoReal Destinations

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