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A new start for post-pandemic tourism

Digital format, 04/05/2020, National Roundtable

The pandemic crisis now under way is only the latest chronologically since 9/11, the Arab Spring, the 2008 financial downturn and Brexit; not to mention climate change, which acts as a sort of umbrella for all recent emergencies.

Covid-19 arrived at an emotional low-point marked by a sense of insecurity that it has only helped aggravate. The health emergency is accelerating effects that had already emerged with previous crises; at the same time, it is triggering major changes, such as the evolution in services jobs, and provoking a negative social backlash that has led to a steep downturn in some important sectors such as tourism. This is not the first crisis for that sector but it does differ considerably from previous ones in as much as the drop in demand risks becoming structural, with obvious repercussions also on supply and ramifications extending to major cities and small towns alike. The key to transformation could lie in enhancing supply in such a way that, with the help of public/private synergies, recovery could be achieved.

Hopes for ending this crisis are long-ranged: it is going to take at least ten years to achieve that enhancement, and it will be at the cost of lower numbers and increased governance. A joint effort is going to have to involve the EU, the central government, regional administrations and businesses; yet, based on past experiences that managed to resolve themselves positively, reconstruction can indeed be viewed with optimism despite the long road ahead.

Phase 2 ushered in a paradigm shift whose key words are security, coordination and innovation. Fostering a return to travel is going to involve reconsideration of the concepts of connection and mobility and the importance of social distancing. It is fundamental to restore trust in public transportation for both citizens and visitors, and to reinforce the image of Italy as a desirable destination, despite its having initially been labeled the epicenter of the European pandemic.

Our nation is an exporter of the “made in Italy” brand and an importer of travelers and tourists. One way to re-establish our reputation as a safe travel destination, and promote the economy in general, could be to consider forms of disruptive innovation involving innovative financial instruments and professional investors.

The crisis of the air travel sector, another victim of the pandemic, remains critical. Recovery is going to be complicated and necessarily gradual, with much lower flows than pre-Covid-19. If the tourism glut of recent years generated the possibility for everyone to travel, it is probable that that trend will be revised to a model tailored more to environmental sustainability. It is also going to be essential to establish task forces to work on more effectively ensuring mobility at least with neighboring countries.

The tourism industry generally accounts for major employment levels for women and young people, categories that are sure to take a major hit from the current crisis. Thus, in order to avoid companies losing everything invested thus far, it was suggested that a new form of unemployment benefit be created centered on training personnel for a new and different market.

In conclusion, post-Covid-19 tourism will probably reflect a revised economic model more heavily focused on the development and cultivation of Italy as a resource, and that places the emphasis on quality tourism.The pandemic crisis now under way is only the latest chronologically since 9/11, the Arab Spring, the 2008 financial downturn and Brexit; not to mention climate change, which acts as a sort of umbrella for all recent emergencies.

Covid-19 arrived at an emotional low-point marked by a sense of insecurity that it has only helped aggravate. The health emergency is accelerating effects that had already emerged with previous crises; at the same time, it is triggering major changes, such as the evolution in services jobs, and provoking a negative social backlash that has led to a steep downturn in some important sectors such as tourism. This is not the first crisis for that sector but it does differ considerably from previous ones in as much as the drop in demand risks becoming structural, with obvious repercussions also on supply and ramifications extending to major cities and small towns alike. The key to transformation could lie in enhancing supply in such a way that, with the help of public/private synergies, recovery could be achieved.

Hopes for ending this crisis are long-ranged: it is going to take at least ten years to achieve that enhancement, and it will be at the cost of lower numbers and increased governance. A joint effort is going to have to involve the EU, the central government, regional administrations and businesses; yet, based on past experiences that managed to resolve themselves positively, reconstruction can indeed be viewed with optimism despite the long road ahead.

Phase 2 ushered in a paradigm shift whose key words are security, coordination and innovation. Fostering a return to travel is going to involve reconsideration of the concepts of connection and mobility and the importance of social distancing. It is fundamental to restore trust in public transportation for both citizens and visitors, and to reinforce the image of Italy as a desirable destination, despite its having initially been labeled the epicenter of the European pandemic.

Our nation is an exporter of the “made in Italy” brand and an importer of travelers and tourists. One way to re-establish our reputation as a safe travel destination, and promote the economy in general, could be to consider forms of disruptive innovation involving innovative financial instruments and professional investors.

The crisis of the air travel sector, another victim of the pandemic, remains critical. Recovery is going to be complicated and necessarily gradual, with much lower flows than pre-Covid-19. If the tourism glut of recent years generated the possibility for everyone to travel, it is probable that that trend will be revised to a model tailored more to environmental sustainability. It is also going to be essential to establish task forces to work on more effectively ensuring mobility at least with neighboring countries.

The tourism industry generally accounts for major employment levels for women and young people, categories that are sure to take a major hit from the current crisis. Thus, in order to avoid companies losing everything invested thus far, it was suggested that a new form of unemployment benefit be created centered on training personnel for a new and different market.

In conclusion, post-Covid-19 tourism will probably reflect a revised economic model more heavily focused on the development and cultivation of Italy as a resource, and that places the emphasis on quality tourism.