A Guide to Restarting Tourism and Preparing for Post Pandemic Travel
A Guide to Restarting Tourism: Is Your Destination Ready to Receive International Travellers this Summer?
With the world slowly starting to re-open, the discussion to restart tourism continues behind the scenes, with many stakeholders questioning the ‘readiness’ of the popular vacation destinations in the world. It seems like time is moving so slowly in these unprecedented times but one of the key things that this pandemic has taught us is to be resilient! Our ability to deal with unexpected challenges whilst maintaining a smile on our face speaks volume to all the great people in the service industry. We’ve also learned that the recovery of tourism needs all players to be involved, and it is as important to get everyone on board right from the start with a well thought out plan to resume tourism activities. Looking at the bigger picture of future travels, we all have a key role to play.From the international airlines, tourism boards, local and international governments, to the tour operators, we all have been working hard to ensure that our guests will continue to stay safe on their amazing adventures when they begin to travel again. This post aims at providing some ideas that could guide any destination toward the successful restarting of tourism activities with hopes to receive tourists sooner than later in our respective destinations, resorts, camps and lodges.
Broadcast our readiness to the source tourism markets
We have been impressed with the new standard operating procedures that several destinations have come up with and implemented at all stages of a client’s travel experience.
From the standard temperature check-up stations at the airports, hand sanitization kiosks, to physical distancing signage, most destinations are now equipped with all necessary health measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus amid rendering of services. Now what?
I think we need to delicately communicate our news with the world so as to have them remove any global travel restrictions that may prevent their citizens from travelling to Africa this summer and the remaining half of 2020. This involves not only us as operators but also our government representatives reaching out to foreign governments to share our message that African countries are open for business. After all, most African safari destinations have fewer COVID-19 cases than most of the western countries! The gate has to be open on both sides in order to allow free movement of people again!
Get all major airlines on board with our plans to restart tourism
While it’s exciting to see that several African destinations are working on health/safety initiatives to be the first countries to open the skies for airlines again, the last thing we want is to have a premature plan to reopen the skies and not have people coming to our destinations during this critical time of building a strong tourism comeback. Keeping that in mind, now is the time to think strategically and align the country with all major airlines to have them prioritize our destination over other competing safari and beach destinations within Africa. We also need to realize that most airlines have given vouchers for travellers who had to postpone their trips due to COVID-19, so once that wave of existing travellers is done, we need to have a plan in place beyond that to generate new bookings in our respective destinations, resorts, camps and lodges.
As you might know, many airlines are making necessary and expensive adjustments to comply with measures of social distancing inside the passenger cabin, these changes will certainly impact the cost of flight tickets in the short run.
If the airlines take the middle seat out (literally and practically) so as to allow at least one meter of space between passengers, then they will have to somehow distribute the cost for three seats amongst two people—naturally, this will make flight tickets more expensive. Many of us know how the laws of supply and demand works pertaining to pricing, if the major airlines have less flights to the country and the demand is high, then they might charge high prices per ticket to allow only the travellers who can afford the high prices to travel (works perfectly for airlines that need to create 1-2 meter space between passengers in the cabin).
While we cannot control the prices for flight tickets that airlines will charge to bring our guests to Africa, I think the governments need to factor in “the actual cost” for our future international travellers and find small ways to compromise and make our destinations more affordable and accessible.
Be ready to offer incentives to travellers and key tourism players
While many of us (Wito Africa Safaris and other international operators) have become more flexible and sensitive with our approach to bringing safari back to safari goers, I think the African governments also have to come up with a unique plan that will win the hearts of our future travellers for 2020 and beyond. As part of the post COVID-19 recovery plan, perhaps governments should think of having cheaper entrance fees, concession and other local taxes that allow guests to access the parks. Some countries are even thinking of removing the fees for the tourist entry visa! Surely, these African governments will gain that visa money quickly in the form of taxes when tourists spend their money locally and contribute to the country’s economy. We should remember that some of our competitors (other vacation destinations) have cheaper landing and airport fees than our African destinations therefore we might need to use items like airport taxes and landing fees in our incentive package to get major airlines onboard.
A short-sighted promotional video is not a strategy to restart tourism!
A promotional video or website dedicated to showcase our destinations is not a solid plan—it is merely a marketing tactic that needs to be backed up by a solid strategy, specifically designed to help our destinations and all stakeholders gain the confidence of travellers post COVID-19! How many of us think that the millennials that we mostly target with our “sparkling marketing video” can afford a flight ticket to Africa if the airlines charge $3-$5K per economy ticket? We need to think outside the box and really establish “the WHY” first with our plans to restart tourism before we prematurely open the country or create another short-sighted promotional video!
To sum things up, the work to restart tourism has just started and now is the best time to get all stakeholders involved in the process of bringing back travellers from across the world to our stunning destinations. Remember, we are all in this together!
About Smart Twiga Marketing:
Smart Twiga Marketing is a representation agency dedicated to offering sales and marketing services to the tourism industry, focusing on both the inbound and outbound markets. Smart Twiga aims at bridging the gap between local East African operators and the North American market. Smart Twiga Marketing is determined to facilitate and simplify business dealings for safari operators. Our services are specific to solving a unique marketing problem, whether it is to introduce a new property, build awareness or acquire new agents, we specialize in building relationships and finding solutions that will help our clients to achieve the best results.