May 13, 2020 3:11 pm

VISITA is a tech and education initiative supported by the Masungi Georeserve Foundation, that seeks to
use sustainable tourism as a catalyst for the conservation of nature. To help tourism stakeholders
recover from the effects of the pandemic, we will be publishing various content related to tourism

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, popular tourist destinations all over the world were struggling with
over tourism and its effects to the sustainability of destinations, prompting stakeholders all over the
world to re-examine their operations and explore the concept of sustainable tourism. In fact, all eyes
were on the Philippines last 2018 as a 6-month shut down was ordered for Boracay Island, one of the
most pristine beaches in the Philippines recording more than 2 million tourist visitors in 2019.


With the sudden corona virus outbreak, people are forced to stay home, travel restrictions have been
implemented, and tourism establishments have suspended operations indefinitely. According to the
World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism supports about 1 in 10 jobs globally, with around 75
million jobs now at risk of loss due to the pandemic.


The question now stands: What’s next for tourism? How do we keep the industry afloat without risking a
second outbreak? With the public’s reluctance to travel, tourism stakeholders must now adjust to the
“new normal” by re-examining current practices, and adapting new models for sustainable tourism.


1. The shift from Overtourism to Undertourism

Crowded beaches, congested airports and seaports, and bustling tourist spots will be a picture
of the past once the pandemic is over, as it will take some time before the public can ease back
into traveling, specially international travel which isn’t projected to recover until 2021. Once
the pandemic dissipates and travel restrictions have been lifted, the challenge for tourism
stakeholders would no longer be controlling overcrowding in tourism destinations, instead, it
will be gaining the public’s confidence that it is safe to travel again. In relation to this, Portugal
has recently launched “Clean & Safe” certification, a seal of approval that hotels, tourism
agencies, and other tourism stakeholders may apply for to showcase compliance to hygiene and
cleaning requirements for the prevention and control of COVID-19 and other possible infections.


2. Focus on Domestic Tourism

With international travel bans affecting over 90% of the world population, governments are now
focusing their recovery efforts on domestic tourism. According to Tourism Sec. Bernadette
Romulo-Puyat, travel will not revert to normal right away, even if the ECQ (Enhanced
Community Quarantine) is lifted. Hence, the Philippines’ Department of Tourism is focusing its
recovery efforts on tapping the domestic market, promoting destinations that are only a few
hours’ drive from where tourists reside, which is considered the low-hanging fruit with the
current situation. With this, tourism establishments could focus on targeting regional and
domestic market, and promoting activities such as ‘staycations’ with outdoor activities, which
are expected to be one of the rising trends in tourism, as the public has been cooped up in their
homes for months.


3. Promotion of Contact-free Service

The on-going quarantine has proved how big of a potential the e-commerce industry holds,
especially now that people are trying to avoid going out of the house as much as possible. In
fact, e-commerce and delivery services have been thriving since the onset of the lock down. To
prepare for tourism recovery, we must take inspiration from how these industries are utilizing
technology for their operations and see how we could integrate these innovations into the
tourism value chain. For instance, tourist attractions in the province of Hubei, China have
gradually re-opened, with tourists required to pre-book their visits online or over the phone.
This allows the attractions to reduce their capacity to 30% and implement social distancing
measures on top of stringent temperature checks at all entrances.


Overall, a lot of things are still uncertain when it comes to tourism recovery. However, one thing is for
sure and that is how the tourism industry has the potential to lead economies to recovery after the
pandemic dissipates.