August'20 Message from the CEO

Daniela Otero

CEO Skål International

The first balance sheets

            The tremendous blow inflicted by COVID-19 on international Tourism is evident in data from the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), which shows that the cost up to May was already three times higher than that of the 2009 global economic crisis. While the situation continues to evolve, the specialist agency of the United Nations has provided the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of the pandemic, both in terms of the number of tourists and the loss of income worldwide.

            The latest edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer (July 2020) shows that the almost total confinement imposed in response to the pandemic reduced the number of international tourists by 98% in May compared to 2019. The Barometer also shows a year-on-year decrease of 56% in tourist arrivals between January and May. That means 300 million fewer tourists and US$ 320 billion lost in international Tourism revenue: more than triple the international Tourism revenue lost in the global economic crisis of 2009.

            This latest data makes clear the importance of restarting Tourism as soon as it is safe to do so. The drastic drop in international Tourism puts the livelihoods of millions of people at risk. Governments in all regions of the world have a dual responsibility: to prioritise public health while protecting jobs and businesses.

            Tourism reactivates

            40% of destinations have already relaxed travel restrictions.

            The responsible reactivation of Tourism is beginning around the world as the number of destinations that relax travel restrictions and adapt to the new reality grows. According to the latest UNWTO analysis, 40% of the world's destinations have already relaxed the restrictions they imposed on international Tourism in response to the pandemic.

            The United Nations specialist agency for Tourism has been monitoring responses to the pandemic globally since the start of the crisis. The latest figures, recorded at the end of July, are rising, compared to those of June, when only 22% of destinations had relaxed restrictions, or May, when only 3% had done so, and confirm the trend toward a slow but continuous adaptation and a responsible restart of international Tourism.

            At the same time, however, of the 87 destinations that have relaxed travel restrictions so far, only four have completely lifted all restrictions, while 83 have eased them, but maintaining some measures, such as the partial closure of existing borders. 

            You can find useful information on this website with daily updates.

            In the midst of the global reopening, the WHO itself has already recognised that international travel bans cannot be maintained indefinitely and that countries need to do more locally to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus within their borders.

            It is imperative that all airports serving international travel implement globally recognised testing standards for inbound and outbound passengers. This will provide peace of mind to all travellers and will maintain "air corridors" between countries with similar health situations.

            ISO standards - Standardised international protocols

            We must also speak seriously about the application of standardised international protocols. As we have advanced, progress is already being made on the special ISO standards for the Tourism sector and an initiative that will boost the confidence of the traveller at a global level upon completion. 

            The main challenge facing companies in almost all countries has been the lack of a coherent approach, even at the national level. It is important to underscore the role that ISO standards play in providing clarity and establishing sufficient confidence. 

            The ISO's technical committee on Tourism and Services is in search of tools to support the industry and to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. 

            With these new specifications, there is hope in countries where Tourism is one of their main sources of income, regardless of their size, that they will be able to benefit from unequivocal guidance on how they should protect both their employees and their customers.

            The system will be a check list so that companies can verify whether they have all the procedures, documents and safety measures that must be implemented within their organisation, especially with a view to reopening their establishments to the public.

            Managing all of these new and changing measures, informing all staff and sending them the procedures, will be a process that will take too long if it is not done through a technological tool. That is why it will be important to get advice on incorporating this technology into companies within the sector.

            As of today, we know that we will have to live with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future, so we must do all we can to protect health, while restoring consumer confidence and driving the recovery.

            Within professional forums, there is already talk of the gradual recovery of international Tourism in the second half of 2020, followed by those countries that expect a later rebound in the first part of 2021. But the recovery will come!

            That is why we continue to echo the UNWTO campaign, #ViajaMañana, or #TravelTomorrow.

            Stay safe and strong so we can all travel soon. 

            Daniela Otero,

            CEO Skål International