How you can help the tourism industry survive
We all love to travel and I just assume we all want to get back to it as soon as possible. That requires that the tourism industry survive the corona crisis. As so many others employed in the tourism industry I worry about the long term effects this pandemic will have on leisure travel in this world. I was still traveling in Italy during the very beginning of corona times in Europe. When I still thought this would be over soon. How things have changed since then.
The tourism industry in times of a pandemic
To say the numbers are concerning would be an understatement. National Geographic estimates a loss of 75 million tourism jobs worldwide. Especially in countries where tourism is a major contributor to the economy and provider of employment, the shutdown and world wide travel ban is ruining the lives of so many families. Imagine if you lived on a beautiful island but the only legal way to earn an income is tourism and now there are no tourists. How do you provide for your family?
Last year I wrote about the Squamish and Lil’wat Cultural Center in Whistler, Canada and how they provide professional training for their youth in a business built around sharing their culture with visitors from around the world. They are just one of countless examples of businesses that depend on tourists.
The goods of tourism are perishable, meaning if not sold today, they cannot be sold tomorrow. So unlike other industries that will see a boom in revenue as soon as people are allowed to go back to their lives as they were, tourism has no way to make up for rooms not sold, food not eaten, tours not taken and airplane seats left empty. But there are things you can do to be a force for good in these troubling times.
Travel credits instead of refunds
Whenever possible see if you can rebook, get travel credit or vouchers instead of asking for your money back for trips/activities you had to cancel due to social distancing or lockdown. This helps travel companies keep some of the cash inhouse to pay their people. By helping the tourism industry survive you also help them and their families.
Get a gift certificate for somebody you care about from a hotel or a restaurant or any fun activity. It’s mother’s day soon. Give you mom some quality time with you, when this is over. Pay for it now to make sure the business is still running later.
Governments are soon going to ask you to spend your next vacation in your own country to revive the domestic travel industry. So, get a gift card for something in your home town or area that usually only tourists do. Get to know the sights in your own backyard. Many people know more of the world than they know about their state. Time to change that.
Get food delivered
Home cooking is great for so many reasons. And then so is going out. Many restaurants now had to close and are only allowed to serve food as take out or deliver it. If you want to make sure your favorite neighborhood restaurant still opens its doors in a few months (maybe weeks for some), and you can afford to, have food delivered from them or pick it up if you are still allowed in your area.
Redecorate with local arts and crafts
What better time is there to redecorate than when you’re locked in your home anyway? Choose a room and redo it in a local theme. There are a ton of gift guides out on what souvenirs to buy to actually help locals. Find out what local arts and crafts shops are struggeling due to lack of tourists buying there and help out that neighbor.
If you want to go all out, pick another room next week and redo it in a theme related to a place you love and have the local products shipped to you. Just make sure you are actually supporting a local business. Small businesses are hit hardest by crises like this.
Now it’s time to get out all the business cards from vendors at markets you’ve been collecting all these years. If what you saw on that market looked quirky, smelled good or would have looked great on the end table – try to see if they’ll ship it to you. If you didn’t collect cards, you can find local galleries on Google maps. Maybe you’ll recognize one you saw when you visited.
Some may have (recently opened) online stores. One example is Paulette in Barcelona – I must have walked past her store dozens of times while I lived in Barcelona, now she had to close and is offering discounts for stayhome shopping.
Donate to help people and the tourism industry survive
If you still have an income and can spare a few coins, no matter how small, you may want to consider donating to an organization that supports local tourism related businesses in the places it’s needed the most. My go-to is Planeterra, a non for profit that turns travel into impact. Now there is no travel, the businesses it usually supports need help more than ever. You may save somebody’s existence.