At one of the most significant sessions in lieu of the current global scenario, attendees at the TiE Global Summit got to learn about the future of the Travel & Tourism Sector post-Covid-19, from the hospitality sector’s brightest minds.
With incomes steadily increasing and a growing white-collared workforce, travel and tourism was one of the fastest growing sectors in the world before the pandemic marred all the momentum. COVID-19 has cost the global travel industry dearly, and in more ways than one.
The TiE Global Summit session titled as “The Road to Recovery of the Travel & Tourism Sector post Covid-19” saw industry-leading names like OYO’s Ritesh Agarwal and World Travel and Tourism Council’s Gloria Guevara among others, discuss at length the issues currently plaguing the industry along with the aspects that need to be considered for the betterment of the ecosystem to face up to such unforeseen challenges.
Moderated by Mr. Kamal Vardhan Rao, Chairman, Indian Tourism Development Corporation, the session saw prominent delegates from the global Travel and Tourism sector shared insights with the 20,000+ peers in attendance over an hour-long discussion. The panellists included Shobha Mohan, Founder, RARE India; Gloria Guevara, CEO, World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC); Suman Billa, Director, United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO); and Ritesh Agarwal, Founder and CEO, OYO Rooms.
The Future of Travel and Tourism post COVID-19
The session began with Gloria Guevara, who presented various figures related to the world travel and tourism sector through her PowerPoint presentation. According to her reports, from 2001 to 2018, natural disasters and terrorism had the lead. Then she went on to show the impact of the pandemic on the travel and tourism sector on a global scale. The job loss figure in 2020 stands at 142.6 million and is projected to be at 174.4 million if things don’t improve. The GDP loss stands at $3815 billion USD (43%) which can increase to $4711 billion USD (53%). This followed with her mentioning the various principles, protocols and plans by the World Travel and Tourism Council for the future. These include:
Saying, “The experience has to be the same,” Ms Guevara ended her talk by mentioning 4 pillars that support the future of travel and tourism:
- Evolution (Adapting to traveller behaviour)
- Health and Hygiene
Next up, Suman Billa of UNWTO spoke about what the government and businesses should be doing to tackle the issue. As for governments, he mentioned 6 things that need to be done:
For the businesses, Mr. Billa mentioned 4 things:
- We need plans that bring in more cash flow
- Draw consumers out of their comfort zone i.e. their homes
- Earning their trust (“Trust is the new currency”)
- Protect consumer interest
Mr. Billa ended his talk by saying, “For the travel and Tourism sector, it is always about how to give the consumer the maximum experience at the lowest level of risk, and this is exactly what the consumers also think.”
When will Travel and Tourism get back to Normal?
The world’s second youngest billionaire, OYO’s Ritesh Agarwal spoke about the accommodation ecosystem, which is an integral part of global travel and tourism. Talking about how severe government restrictions impacted consumer interests. He provided insight into how much the owners of hotels and home-stays wanted to have the “Lifebuoy OYO” tag instead of just the OYO tag. Mr. Agarwal opined, “This only shows how much assurance the consumers need in order to opt for an accommodation while travelling. Care has become more important than cash and cost. Holiday home has been, of late, the first choice for customers due to their more isolated character which is being more preferred due to social distancing norms.”
The Hotel magnate mentioned 3 things that need to be kept in mind to uplift the accommodation ecosystem:
According to him, “the future of travel depended on Data Science and AI. These will play a critical role. Brands will also play a more important role and a critical one too.” Effusing optimism like a true entrepreneur, Mr. Agarwal ended on a positive note, “Travel will come back with a bang. Humans are, after all, social animals.”
RARE India’s Shobha Mohan, at the very beginning of her talk, put forward a clear statement, “If there is no destination, there is no tourism.” She stressed on technology, sustainability, the millennial mindset and the younger generation as being the crucial aspects for the travel and tourism sector with better opportunities. She ended by stating how only a worthy destination can resume travel and tourism, stating 4 points for the upliftment of destinations:
The session gave the hospitality entrepreneurs in attendance a lot of food for thought. But above all else, the TiE Global Summit’s knowledge session on the recovery of the Travel and Tourism Sector gave hope and much-needed optimism to an industry in utter disarray.