Impact of Coronavirus on Travel Agencies

            One can boldly say that the impact of the coronavirus was felt by every industry in every country of the world. However, the impact on various industries varied depending on the peculiarities of the industry. For travel agencies and tour operators, the coronavirus dealt a big blow to the flow of operations.

            According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, the Travel & Tourism sector accounts for more than 10% of the global GDP. Also, the sector accounts for one in ten jobs in the world; as well as one in four new jobs created globally in the last five years. Considering the peculiarities of the sector, the Travel and Tours space was greatly exposed to the adverse effects of the coronavirus.

As soon as the world realized how serious the pandemic was, almost all countries shut their borders and restricted air travel to and from their ports. At the time, it became apparent that once issues became a matter of life or death, every other thing could wait. Hence, travels, vacations and tourist activities were immediately placed on hold.

As a means of adapting to the realities of the time, people had to acclimatize with what had come to be the new norm. Business meetings that would normally have involved hours of flight now occurred remotely via online platforms; vacations had to be postponed; tourist activities became bound by government policies; planned trips had to be cancelled or put on hold, and so on.

The initial pressure that hit travel agencies revolved around managing flight cancellations; paying out refunds to clients; rebooking flight tickets, and so on. All of these worries were compounded by the fact that the deadly virus didn’t seem like it would be completely eradicated anytime soon. Reports have it that in the third quarter of 2020, travel agencies across the globe experienced about 73% decrease in business volume. While forecasts point at things getting better over time, it is not expected that there would be any sudden improvements overnight. It is predicted that the drastic decrease in business volume would improve to about 60% in the fourth quarter of 2021.

The sudden shortfall of cash flow that occurred as a result of the pandemic caused many travel agencies to go bankrupt within a few months. In order to stay afloat during the hard times, travel agencies have had to create new products and adjust their business models. Travel agencies and tour operators still have an opportunity to stay relevant even in these trying times.

 The uncertainty and the recurrent waves of the virus have caused many people to become very fearful about travelling. Another major concern to travellers are the quarantine measures and other procedures, as they vary across countries.

Therefore, travel agents would remain relevant in terms of quelling travellers’ fears and giving them updates about the current realities of their proposed destinations. Now, more than ever before, travellers are looking to professional travel advisors to get information on what is safe and attainable before planning their journeys.

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