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COVID-19 impacts on tourism, hospitality sectors to be felt for years

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(© Natalia –

The travel and restaurant sectors will eventually recover from COVID-19, but the recovery could easily take two to three years, according to Mahmood Khan, the director of the Pamplin College of Business Master of Science in Business Administration/Hospitality and Tourism Management program at Virginia Tech.

First, with the travel industry, Khan said it’s “unreasonable to expect that a flood of tourists will emerge once vaccines are available, as travelers will be hesitant, and the psychological damage to consumer’s outlook will take time to recuperate.”

On top of that, “many tourism professionals may have found other work and will be unable or unwilling to return back to their jobs,” Khan said.

“All travel agencies, tour guides, maintenance staff, government bodies, and modes of transportation will need to rebuild from scratch,” Khan said.

Khan notes that business travelers have also changed their outlook, professional pursuits, and are now used to travel restrictions, hiring freezes, and remote ways of working.

Opportunities for development and investment in domestic ventures took priority, which will be a difficult or unprofitable to change.

“Conference and business meetings drastically suffered in 2020 to an extent that trickle-down chains and other affiliated businesses do not exist. This will indirectly affect the travel business,” Khan said. “Airlines have also gone through an unprecedented time with unimaginable losses. The recovery will be long and will need new innovative means and methods to rebuild.”

Then, to the restaurant industry, which has also suffered inconceivable damage that has changed the age-old method of classification.

“The most to benefit in the hierarchy of restaurants are the businesses that were able to survive by using delivery services. Fast food restaurants have a different nomenclature now with third party platforms infiltrating as major beneficiaries,” Khan said.

“Fine dining suffered the most damage, with many going out of business or facing bankruptcies. In essence, the entire traditional classification of fast, fast-casual, casual and fine dining will need a substantial revision,” Khan said.

These are the kinds of thing that should be expected with the once-in-a-hundred years event that we’re living through right now.

“For future generations, grandparents will talk about the coronavirus pandemic. Mask-wearing photos will become historical collective items just as we look back now at black and white photos of the past. History will not forget it, and diaries will witness the catastrophes,” Khan said.

augusta free press
augusta free press