While many of the largest name brand companies have dominated the news in the new Coronavirus Economy, one industry is suffering in silence: Tourism and Entertainment. The Lockdown Of The Tourism Industry has dealt severe challenges to entertainment-based businesses.
As the Coronavirus began its silent spread across the globe, panicked governments and industries began to immediately pull the plug on their operations indefinitely to prevent and mitigate the spread of the novel virus. The next morning, millions of individuals woke up and found themselves locked out of their jobs and facing an uncertain future. Businesses that once thrived on crowd interaction shut their doors and began the long, painful wait for any good news on reopening.
While major news sources run headlines about the hardest-hit industries across the market, there are those businesses and industries that are suffering in the shocked silence brought on by COVID-19 – tourism and entertainment. In states such as Florida, where the tourism industry has a financial impact of $67 billion on the state economy – also saw the source of their economy dry up in an instant. From beach-side resorts to arcades and amusement parks, closed doors means the loss of millions each day that the pandemic drags on.
The deadly impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has reached far beyond hospitals and medical offices. As the number of infections began to reach increasingly uncomfortable levels, US government officials made efforts to stem the spread by limiting travel and placing stay-at-home orders across various states. While the orders were implemented in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus and avoid overwhelming hospitals, they spelled doom for the tourism and hospitality industry.
The timing couldn’t have been worse, either. Many of the executive orders to close businesses hit just as many tourism industries began ramping up their advertising efforts to reach customers for the late-spring and summer months. The tourism industry is said to generate $2.6 trillion in economic output and supports 15.8 million jobs in the U.S. However, the moment that the lockdown orders hit, it is believed that an estimated 150,000 below-the-line entertainment industry jobs were wiped out, with little knowledge of when they might reopen. Out of fear that they won’t be able to pay their bills, many workers in these industries have fled for other opportunities or have signed up for unemployment benefits – leaving an uncertain future for those industries that do eventually reopen.
All of this leaves unanswerable questions for many businesses – such as amusement parks, resorts, hotels, restaurants, and more – who depend on crowds to continue to offer their services. Even if individuals wanted to come to spend their money, airlines are dropping routes and limiting schedules to make up for losses.
In an interview with National Geographic, Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, raised the scary sentiment that many are feeling: “The impact on travel is six or seven times greater than the 9/11 attacks…” Feelings such as this coming from top tourism CEOs has shown that the coronavirus’s economic stopping power has rattled even those at the top.
Regardless of how anyone feels about the virus, one thing is clear: it’s here to stay. As to how long the virus will linger and businesses remain closed, leading scientists and government leaders are working in tandem to try and find ways to reopen their economies while keeping individuals safe. Despite the doom and gloom of the headlines, there are still some bright spots for the tourism industry in the newly-dubbed “Coronaconomy”.
More companies are getting creative and moving popular services to the new online-only format. (Think zoos allowing viewers to watch as penguins walk from exhibit to exhibit.) Families under lockdown are getting itchy to escape, making future trip booking look all-too enticing.
Overseas there is hope on the horizon as well. In China, where the virus was first noted in late 2019 and faced the earliest (and most strict) lockdowns, the economy has begun to reopen as infections slow. According to reports from Bloomberg, bookings in China have increased by 40 percent the first week in March, while peak daily flights rose 230 percent from the previous month. This gives hope to the industry that the effects of COVID-19 will be short-lived and that industries will be able to recover to a “new normal”.
In our next article, we will take a look at the situation that has unfolded in Florida due to the coronavirus shutdowns, as well as Florida’s reopening strategy as the lockdowns begin to lift across the state.
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