We know there is no tourism during a lockdown. The effect of COVID 19 didn’t affect tourism at once; it was gradual. And it will cont even after this pandemic goes away. As at February, heavy investments were made into the tourism industry, hoping it would become a major sector contributing to the Nation’s GDP. Despite being one of the sectors worst hit by the invasion of Corona virus, all hope is not lost yet.
Read more about Covid- 19
Below are the specific ways COVID 19 can cause an improvement in the Nigerian tourism industry:
1. Transportation Industry
When President Muhammadu Buhari gave the lockdown order for Lagos, Ogun, and Abuja, it did not include interstate transportation, by proxy road transportation. States like Edo, Rivers and Delta imposed their own partial lockdown that included interstate travel restrictions. Though the President’s broadcast on the 13th of April extended the lockdown for two more weeks, these States may not lift their interstate travel ban. These restrictions have already put a strain on transport companies that are already expected to carry less than their usual number of passengers due to physical distancing. For states not affected by interstate travel bans, transport companies with private vehicles for rent may see a surge in rental this season as it is a safer way to travel than being in a bus cramped full of people. This might become a more convenient way to travel after the pandemic, making car rental for road transport a travel essential.
2. Hospitality Industry
What’s the point of running a hotel or a resort when the influx of tourists is zero? It is better to err on the side of caution than to keep running the business and incurring costs with no income to offset them. That’s why Hotel chains like the Hilton, that service international travellers, have shutdown. While hotels catering to domestic needs have reduced patronage during this pandemic. The plus side of all this is the elevation in the standard of hotel hygiene and education on proper conduct/protocols of hotel staff because of a need to curb the spread of COVID 19.
3. Foreign Exchange
Tourism is a source of currency exchange when foreigners visit Nigeria. With this pandemic, that inflow has ceased. And even when the pandemic is over, there might be a slow return of international tourists. Small time money changers would feel the burn of little or no business because of COVID 19. On the bright side, the naira was adjusted by 15% because of the forex shortage. We hope FIRS and SIRS would delay tax collection for the worse-hit sectors including tourism, the airline industry, and hoteliers just to enable them to recover from the steep decline in demand.
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Restaurants are now mandated to not allow people to eat there; they are to only come in to get takeaway meals in a bid to curb the spread of the virus. Though this might patronage, it keeps food tourism alive. Just be careful not to touch door handles, surfaces, railings and stand at least two to four feet away from people. Restaurants now have to pay more attention to wiping surfaces, providing sanitisers for customers and giving their staff necessary protection gear. It is standard practice for staffs to at least have gloves. Also, businesses with home delivery option and online presence, can help sustain food tourism for people in need of something new to eat.
5. Tour operators
Thanks to the Pandemic, most tour operators have had to refund cash paid for tours. Others have had to postpone tours indefinitely pending when this crisis will end. In the silence of time gone by, many tour operators may lose the momentum gained from last year. To come out on top, these tour operators have to keep selling dreams and desires for travel. They can choose to be the bright spot in an otherwise dreary COVID-news filled world. By showing pictures of successful tours and attractions of future tours online, tour operators can keep their business in the minds of potential customers who would patronise them. Staying visible online during this period will help them bounce back stronger after this pandemic.
6. Aviation Industry
With less than 10% of the population being serviced by the aviation industry, the border closures and restrictions on air travel, affected 33 foreign airlines operating in Nigeria. The reduced influx of international travellers affected our domestic flights. But it didn’t stop all domestic flights, especially the use of private planes and helicopter rides within the country. Hopefully, when this is over, we would have better screening procedures at our airports. While some services like helicopter rides may become a tourism attraction.
When this pandemic is over, people will tire of being stuck up indoors. So there will be a pick up in the number of hotel and travel bookings – both domestic and international. There might be a sharp increase in demand for tourism when the fears are all dealt with and countries/states finally remove the travel restrictions.
If you are investing in the tourism industry (in infrastructure, assets, etc.) don’t stop because of the pandemic. The tourism business is a long term industry that has survived similar situations like Ebola and Zika virus outbreak. So fear not, the tourism industry will certainly bounce back better than ever when this is all over.
Featured Image Source: Airport Technology
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