In the beginning of the week, HandelsConsulting interviewed the head of Centre for Tourism and researcher at the School of Business, Economics and Law at Gothenburg University John Armbrecht. The interview was conducted to get a perspective on how the COVID-19 pandemic has come to affect the tourism industry and to understand how it might recover.
When speaking to John Armbrecht he mentioned that depending on how we define tourism it has been affected differently. International tourism has of course seen the largest decrease, but how will regional and national tourism be affected? Will it mean that more people will travel within the country?
According to John Armbrecht, regional and national tourism will decrease as well. Instead John Armbrecht pointed to the idea that economies will see an increase in the consumption of other products and services. Media usage is an area that has seen an increase as reported by GlobalWebIndex “Coronavirus Research – Release 3”. The study shows that worldwide there has been a 50% increase in watching news coverage and almost a 40% increase in the usage of streaming services. John Ambrecht also pointed out that due to traveling not being an option, people are more likely to find new hobbies and new interests that might even become more important once the pandemic curve has been flattened.
Historically, the tourism industry has recovered quickly after crises but forecasting a recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic proves difficult since a crisis such as this one is unprecedented. John Armbrecht believes that the recovery process from this crisis will be longer than previous crises and that the tourism industry will have to adapt. Staycations as well as day trips are thought to become more popular and new ways of more sustainable traveling options are forecasted to increase. According to John Armbrecht it is not the two-week vacations that are affecting the environment the most, it is rather the two-day and long weekend trips along with the long-distance travels. John Armbrecht does see that these types of trips might decrease but points out it is hard to say at this time since recovery within the tourism industry has yet to begin.
Politically, discussions have begun to find ways to support the tourism industry. According to CNN Travel, Travel Bubbles are one of the options being discussed. When reviewing these options with John Armbrecht he did not believe Travel Bubbles will be viable until 2021 since it does entail that countries must have contained the spread of the virus. It also means that the countries or regions creating a bubble must agree and have aligned COVID-19 strategies. When speaking to John Armbrecht, he forecasted that due to Sweden’s differentiated approach to handling COVID-19 it will lead to difficulties for Swedish citizens to travel both within Europe and to other parts of the world.