“Do not cancel, rather reschedule!”
Everywhere on the internet, you read this phrase. A crushing plea from the tourism industry after the merciless virus started to spread out at an unprecedented speed putting the entire world on pause.
On one side the health emergency and the increasing number of victims, on the other the foreseen unprecedented economic downfall.
Although many industries globally have been hit by this tragic situation, the sector that is mainly suffering is tourism.
One fact that you might not know (I didn’t before starting my research) is that “Travel & Tourism is one of the world’s largest economic sectors, supporting one in 10 jobs (330 million) worldwide, and generating 10.3% of global GDP.” (read source WTTC)
Ironically enough, we went from the fear of the negative impact of mass uncontrolled tourism on the fragile environment to a complete stop, zero tourism at all.
Airlines grounded, restaurants, and hotels empty and thousands of people and households without an income.
Of course, nature is thriving, and I am happy about that. I can’t deny it.
But I also believe we can achieve a balance between sustainable tourism and economic growth.
In the meantime, while we are all in lockdown to protect our health, this epidemic is putting around 50 million jobs in the global travel and tourism sector at risk, according to the World Economic forum.
Some of them are already lost, hopefully not forever.
Unfortunately, the economy of entire states revolves around tourism.
I am thinking about the Yucatan Peninsula and the Caribbean islands which have been my home for years, and they are now closed.
In Mexico, where I live, the government and private associations have started delivering basic supplies and food baskets to help face the situation, but for how long will this emergency plan be feasible?
We all hope it will end soon but when and how?
Will somebody eventually press the play button and the world will function again?
We say “oh let’s hope everything will get back to normal soon” as if we are not involved. We just sit back and wait for somebody to tell us what to do when to go out and when to get back to our lives.
Are we just spectators of this world waiting for it to open?
I don’t want to think so.
When they say we are all in this together, it’s not just rhetorical, we are literally all in this together.
We are responsible for our actions to behave wisely and for our thoughts to create a collective consciousness that shapes this world.
We might not be directly the cause of what’s happening, but we are responsible for the action we take to respond to that and we are responsible for our well being and the one of the society we live in.
So besides keeping a positive attitude and a proactive mind we can contribute with our behavior to come out of this disaster sooner.
And because tourism is my world I feel personally touched by the present situation and I feel compelled to share my thoughts.
So what can we do as individuals to help the tourism industry to recover soon so that millions of people can get back to work and we can all go back to travel?
I am speaking from multiple perspectives.
I am a traveler first of all and I can’t wait for this to end so that I can continue with my journey, because that’s my life.
I also happen to be part of the workforce that has been laid off. I am telling you, it really sucks, and not only for financial reasons. But that’s a topic for another post.
And I am a travel blogger and just as my blog was starting to generate an income my pageviews number plummeted, and so did my dreams.
So I have asked myself what we can do as individuals to preserve our mental health in this time of uncertainty and help our community to recover sooner than later, now and when the health emergency eases up.
Here is what I think we could do:
1. Don’t let fear take over
First and foremost, don’t panic, because it doesn’t help you or anyone else.
Let me tell you what happened to me.
After I was told I didn’t have a job anymore, my first state of mind was despair and panic.
I was feeling lost and resourceless, I felt like it was the end of the world, that I was not good enough and I would never find a job again, you know? All those possible negative feelings that you can think of.
Then, in a few hours, I started to come to my senses. I started to focus on the positive things I had: a lot of free time, wifi, and a comfortable home. I decided to use them wisely instead of wasting them with resentment and anguish.
It really felt much better and I’ve been as productive as ever.
Consider also that fear as much as any other negative emotion is a threat to your immune system.
The last thing we need right now.
2. Go out for dinner (virtually)
If we are not allowed to dine out, we can still enjoy some takeaway.
In La Paz, in Mexico, where I am right now, there is a Facebook group made by local businesses, vendors, and restaurants that offer delivery.
By ordering your meal or your grocery you are supporting their business helping them go through these difficult times until they will be able to open.
3. Don’t spread fear and misinformation
Do not believe everything you find on the Internet.
It is a depositary of fake news as much as a great source of information.
Do your research before sharing an article but also avoid sharing negative information if it’s unsolicited.
Some people are more sensitive than others and just don’t want to know, in order to protect their own mental health.
We need to respect that.
4. Do not cancel, reschedule
If you were supposed to go on a vacation and you can’t anymore, please do not cancel your trip, just reschedule for next year.
This is a huge help for the travel company involved as they will keep the funds and will have less risk of going under.
And you will be able to keep your dreams alive with an already paid vacation that is waiting for you for next year.
5. Take advantage of hot deals and flexible cancellation policies
Operators and hoteliers are striving to keep their business active and they are doing everything they can to make it easy for potential customers to book again despite the fear of the unknown. Cruises and hotels are coming out with great deals for next year, but most of all, they are offering unprecedented flexible cancellation policies so that if you need to cancel for any reason you can get a refund.
In making your travel plans and actually booking your trip, I assure you it’s a boost to your motivation and happiness.
Booking a trip to your favorite destination is one step towards the life we want back and it will help us build hope and a reason to move forward in these difficult times.
6. Visit those countries that have been majorly hit by the pandemic.
If you don’t have a specific must-visit destination or you have many and one of those countries is included, make it first on your list when it is safe to travel. They will need your help to recover. After all, Italy and the Caribbean are not such bad options to choose from.
7. Take tours with locals
Local businesses are the first to take the hit, as soon as you can travel, contact a local tour guide or book a family-owned hotel, eat out in local restaurants. Also if you cannot travel, also eating out or being a tourist in your own country or town will certainly help.
8. Keep reading blogs and watch youtube videos about travels
Keep your travel dreams alive, and so your curiosity about other cultures and places by reading travel blogs and watching youtube travel videos
Even if you cannot travel any time soon it’s good to learn about other countries and cultures. You can also experiment with a new cuisine or just have an armchair travel experience.
In doing so, besides enjoying some virtual traveling, you will support another part of the tourist sector, those who have made blogging their work and life purpose. Consider that we bloggers don’t only travel, but we spend endless hours at the computer studying and striving to create amazing content and transform our oh!-so -dear site it into our own little business, just to see it tumbling down overnight. It’s hard.
It takes very little to support bloggers. Just by reading our articles and sharing them on social media, you would help us survive while using your time enjoying beautiful pictures and exciting travel stories.
9. Purchase travel voucher
If you are still not sure where to go when social distancing is over, you can still purchase a voucher for future spending while browsing around the web and looking for the perfect post-pandemic vacation.
10. Leave an online review of the places you have been
If you are like me you never write your travel reviews even if you wanted to, because routine takes over and you are busy living your life.
Now that priorities have been revised and some of us have more time to spare, let’s sit down and write that review about that amazing hotel we have stayed or that knowledgeable guide we had on a tour. This way we can help their business get visibility. It’s a little gesture that can have a huge impact on somebody’s life.
11. Donate to organizations that you personally know and trust
I have heard so many bad stories about fake non-profit organizations that I became skeptical when it comes to donating. However, there are a few that I personally know and I am certain about their hard work and genuine purpose. If you haven’t been personally affected financially, it will certainly feel good to help others and you can take your time to do your research and find a good, maybe local, charity to support.
Help somebody in your area of expertise without expecting anything in return. You will be surprised how rewarding it is.
Many of us had to reduce our spending and cannot afford courses or books or specific services.
If you have some spare time reach out to anybody you know is struggling in something that you could help.
You might be able to turn their life around just with a simple action.
I assure you it really feels good and that’s the best reward.
I just had a similar experience in my little world. I didn’t save a life but made a stranger very happy just by sharing some blogging knowledge and I was over the moon too.
Do you have any other suggestions on what we can do to support tourism to get back on business again? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.