Tens of thousands of flights have been cancelled, borders have been closed and at one point during the last three months over a fifth of the world’s population was confined to their homes.
So it is little surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the travel industry. Global losses for passenger air travel could be as much as €100 billion in 2020, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and tens of thousands of jobs worldwide remain at risk.
And it’s not just airlines. Hotels, tour guides and some of the world’s biggest travel companies have taken a beating over the past few months, and while lockdowns are easing across the world, it will likely be some time before the tourism industry is back to normal.
If, indeed, it ever is. Even if a vaccine for COVID-19 is found, it could take months for consumers to build up the confidence to hop on a plane or a train and take a holiday. Meanwhile, a second wave of the virus could hit, forcing a return to closed borders, grounded flights and confinement.
“It’s very clear some of the destinations in Europe especially… cannot do without international tourism. Parts of the Mediterranean cannot do without Americans,” said Alessandra Priante, Regional Director for Europe of the World Tourism Organization.
“Spain is a world leader in tourism,” said Belén González del Val Subirats. But she said the industry has had a spectacular hit from the pandemic.
She said in April 2019, seven million travellers visited Spain. But in April this year, there were zero international travellers.
As Spain and Europe reopens its borders to travellers, holidaymakers could still be feeling uncomfortable to go abroad.
“We are ready when you are ready,” said González del Val Subirats.
“There is a possibility something happens now… but we can react in a fast way,” she said.
So what will travel look like after the coronavirus? How can airlines and airports, hotels and guest houses, restauranteurs and tour guide, adjust to the new normal? When will people feel that the time is right to take a holiday – and what kind of holiday will they take?
Euronews spoke to a panel of experts to answer these questions and more. Rewatch the debate in the player above hosted by Euronews’ Damon Embling.
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Alessandra Priante, Regional Director for Europe of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
Mikko Turtiainen, Vice President, Market Management, Finnair
Belén González del Val Subirats, Department of Strategic Marketing Planning, National Tourist Board of SpainLoading…