What does health have to do with tourism? Everything!
Hygiene has always been a factor in the travel and tourism sector. Who has left home feeling perfectly well only to arrive at a long-haul flight destination feeling sick? The confluence of global citizens and travellers at airports has always posed a health risk for communicable illnesses such as the common cold and flu. COVID-19 has elevated this risk, devastating tourism and travel.
After a watershed 2020 and smashed hopes for a better 2021, the world is still hesitant to travel, especially internationally where many borders remain closed. Travel is about connection and experiences and as the health pandemic third wave reverberates in South Africa, vaccination is the only viable remedy to a crisis that continues to morph daily.
On the South African front, the recent National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (CRAM) wave 4 study found that over 71% of South Africans would like to take the COVID-19 vaccine. While this is positive and indicates that local vaccine acceptance is higher than recent estimates from the United States of America and France, it is lower than China, Brazil and the United Kingdom.
A return to travel and tourism requires extensive vaccination. But this is a way off in South Africa. So, what is the lifeline that the tourism sector needs as we wait for high levels of vaccination compliance?
Besides continuing to observe all health protocols, remaining vigilant and getting vaccinated when there is availability, this time of transition brings the opportunity to invest time, resources, and creative energy to finding innovative solutions.
Technology brings innovation but the two are not mutually exclusive. The COVID-19 pandemic has, for example, brought innovative ways of handwashing and cleansing to communities in need. Tourism must step up to the challenge to find unique ways to give travellers awe-inspiring experiences while remaining safe and healthy.
If your travel and tourism business has innovative ideas and is looking for potential partners or investors, or if you are an investor looking for viable opportunities in the sector, visit TIA360’s Tourism Marketplace for more information.
First published on 18 May 2021 here.