In the past few weeks, we have seen the slow movement of countries opening up for tourism in Asia, whilst Europe has been open since June and the hospitality industry has had some chance to recover from the various lockdowns.
Recent announcements that airlines will start increasing flights internationally has also been encouraging and news from the major European tour operators is that the Indian Ocean Islands and United Arab Emirates are the hot tickets to escape the fast-approaching European winter.
But, where does that leave Southeast Asia (Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and so on)?
Some of these countries have changed their opening date and entry requirements so many times that it is even confusing for the seasoned traveller. Will they be missing out on their main tourist season for another year?
Interestingly, the Caribbean appears to be recovering nicely with demand from US tourists and now European tour operators are putting their efforts into the Caribbean Islands as well. Other hot spots opening up are Greece, Turkey and Egypt, with Sharm Al Sheik leading the way. There may be some big winners, and it looks like any destination that offers sun and some warm weather will get the nod.
Reading the daily travel news, hospitality newsletters and other periodicals that arrive in the inbox, you have to be a little concerned for hoteliers in Southeast Asia. Are they opening or are they not? Do they prepare for the influx or stay put? While staffing is already a problem in many regions, including Europe, planning ahead to hire the local workforce, as well as expats, is becoming a lottery.
The other important issue is of course, when will employees, that have been hanging on to their jobs throughout the pandemic on heavily reduced salaries and benefits, get back to their pre-pandemic salary levels? Will owners or hotel management company set a date and what conditions come with it? Will owners try to recoup losses first or put their staff first? Sadly, in many cases, I think we know the answer to that…
Most importantly, is the Covid-19 nightmare almost over or does this story have a few more twists and turns? What impact will national vaccination requirements have on the hotel industry and staff hiring, in particular in those countries with large populations where the vaccination rate is very low? Furthermore, who will control and enforce this?
Can we learn to live with Covid-19 and travel? Are vaccinations the answer and if yes, how quickly can we implement an internationally recognised and foolproof vaccination passport like the old days when we needed proof of Cholera and Yellow Fever vaccination to travel?
There are still many questions that need to be answered and while tourism will get back on its feet at some point, it will be interesting to see who will be the winners in the winter 2021/2022 season. Those that open and damn the consequences or those cautious nations hoping for a more sustainable recovery?
About the Author
Karl Faux is a veteran Hotelier and Managing Partner with Elite Search – a leading hospitality recruitment firm.