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According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), a staggering 121 million jobs will be, or have been, lost because of the 2020 Great Lockdown which was brought upon by COVID-19 - in a sector that employs roughly 330 million people globally. Despite these depressing figures SA's travel and tourism industry has limped through the peak of the crisis and will recover, according to the Broll Property Group's latest research report Navigating the New Normal: Travel and Tourism.
Broll Property Intel, the research division of Broll which produced the report, has taken into account the global impact of COVID-19 on the travel and tourism industry; said to be five times worse than the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. Unprecedented losses are projected, with an estimated global travel and tourism GDP contraction of -30% (US$2.7-trillion). Granted, no sector has come out of the COVID-19 crisis unscathed but when you consider that travel and tourism alone contributes 25% to global job creation, reviving this sector is critical to advancing the economic health of the country. More importantly it needs to advance, and quickly so, to ensure the wellbeing of countless South African tourism workers who have joined the ranks of the unemployed, a figure that now stands at over 30% and climbing.
The Broll Property Intel's Navigating the New Normal: Travel and Tourism report is revealing, and comprehensive. It considers the state of the entire sector before and during the pandemic, global and local. Its insights have accounted for changes that manifested as a result of international shutdowns, and what the future of South Africa's tourism and hospitality sector could look like once the COVID-19 dust has settled.
Other topics covered in the Broll report include the pandemic's impact on live events, conferences, and aligned tourist attractions, and how governments across the globe are launching initiatives to reignite their tourism industries.
The Report does not hold back on the negatives but balances those with some positives. Occupancy rates for example. Globally these are at an all-time low of between 20% and 30%, the lockdown restrictions having forced countless hotels and other hospitality establishments to retrench, furlough, or shut their doors entirely. The latter applied in South Africa with the temporary closing of three South African Marriott hotels, the Mount Grace, Edward Hotel & Protea Hotel Hazyview, and which have subsequently been commandeered by Tsogo Sun after Mariott's cessation of their contractual obligations relating to these properties.
This is one solution to the survival of some of SA's iconic accommodation facilities, but as the Broll report also shows and this is certainly the case in the international market, accommodation providers are using their experiences over the past months to develop better customer services offerings for the modern health-conscious tourist. SA is likely to pick up on this trend.
Yet more reveals come from the transport sector, which is a huge factor in tourism industry. The Broll Intel Report indicates that for the first time in history, there was a point when the world experienced a 100% global travel restrictions. This led to the almost complete suspension of international tourism, and presented a serious challenge for individuals who were trying to repatriate from their travels but unable to because of border closures and the grounding of flights.
Road, rail, and sea transportation was also seriously impacted, and continues to be. The 2020 cruise ship season was completely lost for months, and current international cruises are only at 50% to 70% capacity. It's a recovery though, and bodes well for the future.
Looking ahead, Broll Property Intel's report says that despite the opening of borders and global tourism set to advance, albeit with stringent sanitation and social distancing protocols, the sector won't see a full recovery for some time.
This is largely due to a number of nation's reintroduction of tourism-related restrictions as they experience a second wave of infections. Compounding this is that fewer people are unable to afford international travel and costly far-flung holidays in the devastating recession the pandemic has created.
Beyond this, suggests the report, the emphasis must shift from 'travel restrictions' to 'safe travel'. There also needs to be more emphasis on digitalisation and the use of technology in the industry. Innovative and novel ideas to attract tourists back to venues abound, proving that possibilities still exist for this vital contributor to GDP to flourish in the 'new normal.'
To download the report, go to https://www.broll.com/publications/