Philip Gebu’s thoughts ….The future of tourism post COVID-19 – (1)

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Staying at home and not living one’s normal life is not an easy situation to bear. Covid-19 has brought about a new term known as “The New Normal”. This means many things are no more normal and we have to live them.

This term was coined by El-Erian the now ubiquitous phrase to describe the prolonged slow growth recovery. It also depict the current prevailing situation, when it has emerged recently, differs dramatically from the previous one and is expected to remain.

No matter how long “The New Normal” last, we are in for a change and that change will mean certain things may never be the same. When it comes to travel and tourism, it is clear that many things are changing at our airports and other tourism related places. Following the reintroduction of domestic flights, various safety protocols to guide the operations of airlines have been introduced at our airports. Some of these protocols include;

1.All passengers must be subjected to thermal screening at check-in. Any passenger with body temperature detected above 37.3C will be referred to health authorities for further examination.

2.Wearing of nose covering for all passengers will be required during the flight. All passengers, crew and staff will be required to undergo hand sanitization at the point of boarding the aircraft.

3.All staff that interact with passengers will be required to wear surgical masks and gloves. The gloves must further be sanitized regularly when handling passenger documents.

4.No food or beverage service will be conducted onboard the aircraft to minimize contact between passengers and crew.

5.The interior of an aircraft will also be sanitized before each flight.

  1. Passengers will be assigned seats aimed at preventing them being from seating immediately adjacent to one another except children under 12 travelling with an adult.

This is great news as this is in line with measures being implemented at all airports globally. One challenge some may see is the suspension of food onboard the flight which may affect the airline’s business in some way including their suppliers. However, with regards to a domestic flight, since the journey is normally limited to one hour at most for now, it can be handled as such. The challenge may be with long haul flights. There are proposals to allow passengers to remove their face mask whiles onboard before a meal or a drink. Only time will tell if these proposals will be sustainable since passengers cannot be left without meals or drinks for very long hours.

There are also talks of airlines placing orders for newly designed aircrafts with social distancing as a major urgency. The biggest hurdle to overcome here will be the removing of the fear factor from the minds of passengers. Once that is achieved then they may feel safe to travel.  With regards to international travel, the future may include compulsory vaccination against the coronavirus if any vaccine is found at all.

The question being asked here is! does anyone need vaccine to fight a cough, fever or a cold which are some symptoms associated with the coronavirus? We in Africa and Ghana have been used to these ailments and have treated them the natural way. However, no matter how one’s perception of the coronavirus especially that many infected persons are still recovering, once a vaccine is found and accepted as the part of protocol measures put in place at the airports, we may have to prepare and comply.

If one is not ready to comply, then travelling may be a thing of the past and the more people refuse to travel, the more the tourism industry may suffer prolonging a quick recovery. We must not forget that the economic crises associated with these pandemics will affect the discretionary income of many international tourists just as it did happen before. The staycation took off in the US during the financial crisis of 2007-2009. Feeling the pinch, Americans cut back on foreign travel, saving their last discretionary dollar.

Many people may have their own perception against vaccines, however as the yellow fever among other vaccines became compulsory prior to traveling to certain countries, that may also apply with our current pandemic if and when it becomes necessary.

Beyond the airports and airlines protocols, other things may change post COVID-19. DW reports that Italians enjoyed their first meal out for two months early this week, as the country eased its lockdown restrictions, with bars, restaurants and cafes back in business and St Peter’s basilica in the Vatican opened for visitors.

After a grueling lockdown period during the coronavirus pandemic, Italians were once again able to sip cappuccino and cold beers – albeit at a physical distance from other customers. Many restaurants, shops, churches, and museums cautiously reopened across Italy. However, strict hygiene and physical distancing measures remain in place and Italians are still not allowed to leave the region they live in.

After announcing the lockdown in mid-March, the government allowed some restaurants to reopen for takeaway service two weeks ago. Now, table service is permitted again — with the caveat that all groups of customers are kept at least one meter away from each other and that staff observe the new hygiene regulations. Some restaurants said they were considering installing plexiglass between tables in order to better separate customers. Besides commercial activity, Italy has also reopened its beaches. It is planning to allow citizens to move between regions, as well as restart unlimited international travel on June 3. However, for many cafe operators, particularly in smaller spaces, the new rules seem impossible to follow. Italian retailers’ association Confcommercio estimated that about 30 percent of restaurants and cafes would have to remain shut.

While some museums and monuments, like St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, have reopened their doors, the Roman Colosseum has chosen to remain shut for the time being as it plans how to deal with possible crowds. In 2019, the Colosseum was the most popular tourist attraction in the world, and saw some 7.4 million visitors

. For those who have never heard of the Colosseum or ever been there, According to Wikipedia, the Colosseum or Coliseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre (Latin: Amphitheatrum Flavium; Italian: Anfiteatro Flavio or Colosseo, is an oval amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy. Built of travertine limestone, tuff (volcanic rock), and brick-faced concrete, it was the largest amphitheatre ever built at the time and held 50,000 to 80,000 spectators.

The Colosseum is situated just east of the Roman Forum. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in AD 72 and was completed in AD 80 under his successor and heir, Titus. Further modifications were made during the reign of Domitian (81–96). These three emperors are known as the Flavian dynasty, and the amphitheatre was named in Latin for its association with their family name (Flavius. The Colosseum could hold an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 spectators at various points of its history over the centuries, having an average audience of some 65,000; it was used for gladiatorialcontests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles (for only a short time as the hypogeum was soon filled in with mechanisms to support the other activities), animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology.

The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine. Although substantially ruined because of earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Colosseum is still an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome and is listed as one of the New7Wonders of the World. It is one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions and also has links to the Roman Catholic Church, as each Good Friday the Pope leads a torchlit “Way of the Cross” procession that starts in the area around the Colosseum. The gradual re-opening of the tourism industry in Europe led by Italy as highlighted earlier on may be a blueprint to our reopening as well which has become very 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 [email protected] / [email protected]. 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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