Tourism continues to be one of the sectors most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, tourism was an activity that generated more than 10% of world GDP, a percentage that was even higher in the case of countries dependent on this activity.
Some governments have provided financial assistance to the sector, directly or through soft loans and guarantees. Thailand, for example, allocated USD 700 million to boost domestic tourism, while Vanuatu offered subsidies and tax breaks to small and medium-sized businesses related to this activity. In Costa Rica, national holidays have been temporarily moved to Mondays in order to promote national tourism by extending the weekends. Finally, Chile is on the verge of promulgating a law that seeks to strengthen the institutional framework of the tourism industry. This project recognizes tourist activity as one of the main industries of the Chilean economy and relieves it within the structure of the State.
Technology can also play an important role in the recovery of Tourism, as social distancing and health and hygiene protocols are likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future, hence the provision of contactless services and investments in technology digital could provide a fundamental bridge to recovery.
The specific solutions will differ in each country, and the pace and scope of recovery will naturally depend on international developments. Beyond the immediate priority of mitigating the effects of the pandemic, countries must create a new trend for the tourism sector. Diversification, the progressive adoption of more sustainable tourism models and investment in new technologies could help shape the recovery of this activity.
Javier Molina, Auren Chile