Risk & Crisis Management – Recovery from Crisis

By Peter Mac Nulty, Thursday, 2nd April 2020 | 0 comments

Against the backdrop of the COVID 19 pandemic, there has never been a better time for collaboration across the tourism sector; public-public; public-private; and private-private.

As is already clearly evident, the pandemic has already had a devastating impact on tourism with a suspension in tourist arrivals accross Europe and other regions. If there is a silver lining in these dark times, the impact of COVID 19 on tourism and travel demonstrates the economic importance of a sector which is now responsible for one in eleven jobs globally.The heightened awareness of tourism’s economic importance is likely to see governments giving greater recognition to tourism and prioritizing the sector in their development planning and budgeting.

The current crisis offers an opportunity to take stock and re-appraise our approach to tourism.

While low cost carriers such as Ryanair have contributed to a significant growth in discretionary travel, there is a greater awareness of air travel on the environment with an increasing number of individuals opting to change their travel plans in order to reduce their carbon footprint .We have already seen the negative impact which unregulated airbnb activity has had on housing availability and rents in certain cities..

Tourism will recover from this unprecedented crisis. However, the evidence from previous crises is that it can take years for tourism members to return to normal levels. The World Tourism & Travel Council research indicates that the average recovery time for pandemics is 21 months. Research undertaken by TDI on behalf of COMCEC indicates that the recovery time for individual businesses could be significantly longer. It is not unrealistic to expect that the tourism sector in some destinations could experience a similar shock to that of New York Hotels, which took 34 months to recover following the 9/11 attacks.

In preparing Risk & Crisis Management in the Tourism Sector: Recovery from Crisis on behalf of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation for the Organisation of Islamic cooperation [COMCEC], Tourism Development International examined eight countries which had experienced crises over the past two decades. The principal successful responses can be grouped under four headings.

Firstly, the impacts of crises can be mitigated through Pre-risk and Crises Management Measures. Such measures include tourism-specific crisis management measures which have been fully integrated with national -level disaster preparedness planning, the establishment of good relations with media and travel trade, and effective communications and relations between stakeholders.

Market-orientated responses have an important role to play in recovery from crisis. Case study countries implemented a range of marketing strategies and actions including an increase in marketing budgets, the establishment on one -stop-shop communication centre/hotline to answer enquires and provide consistent and accurate updates, organization of familiarisation trips, destination image building through ‘good news stories’, and market diversification with a particular focus on less sensitive markets [ie regional, domestic].

As we have seen with the current COVID 19 pandemic, Destination Responses have already been introduced by countries. Such measures include supports for tourism businesses, wage subsidy schemes, and tax holidays.

Other destination measures that have proven to be effective in recovery from crisis include product diversification, capacity building and training, stakeholder collaboration and communications between the tourism industry and local community to ensure support for tourism.

Finally, in the case studies examined, there are recurring Critical Success Factors that have helped reduce the recovery time from crises. Such factors include the existence of a strong underlying USP and brand recognition, customer loyalty [i.e. high levels of repeat business], strong leadership and government support for tourism, deregulation of over-bureaucratic procedures, incentives to encourage investment, and training to build human resource capacity across the tourism sector.

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