Fighting the pandemic tourism bubble in economies that rely on tourism may just be the beginning.
Tourist destinations from Thailand to Iceland have been hoping that the Covid-19 vaccine will enable countries to reopen their borders and promote the much-needed recovery in 2021. Now, with delays in launching vaccines in some places and the emergence of new strains of the virus, it seems more likely that international travel may be stagnant for many years.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization announced that 2020 will be the worst year in the history of the tourism industry, with 1 billion fewer international tourists, and then said that the prospects for a rebound in 2021 have deteriorated. In October, 79% of the experts surveyed by the agency believed that there might be a rebound in 2021
James Sowane, who owns a transportation company that caters to tourists in Fiji, held a staff meeting earlier this month and asked employees to start looking for other jobs. He recently took advantage of a government assistance program and brought back some laid-off workers. He is optimistic that the vaccine will trigger a travel rebound as early as April.
But now Mr. Suwanee thinks that the tourists will not return until next year. He and his wife cannot afford to continue to pay their wages in their company Pacific Destinations Fiji. He borrowed money from the bank to retain some core employees.