What COVID-19 vaccines mean for recovery of travel MSMEs

With the recent rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to shine for the tourism industry. However, the process of approval, production, and distribution will still take plenty of time – possibly till the end of 2021. For tourism to restart, businesses must be patient, take the precautionary measures, understand traveller behaviour, concerns, and needs, and adapt to a new normal.

Although select vaccines have been approved, with a number of front-line workers already vaccinated across developed countries, the rest of the world and specifically developing countries will have to wait. Although the economies of many of these countries are highly dependent on tourism recovery, the distribution process  will prioritise the elderly and those with weak and compromised immune systems before it reaches the general public. As a result, micro and small to medium enterprises (MSMEs) working in the travel industry must carefully plan their restart as the process could take considerable time that cannot be spared by the hard-hit sector.

To take matters into their own hands, tourism MSMEs may take the necessary precautionary measures until vaccines are readily available everywhere. From their part, MSMEs must ensure adequate cleanliness and COVID-related awareness and impose strict rules for visitors, including mandatory masks, social distancing, and pre-departure and arrival testing. Associations of the sector could also step in to standardise safety and sanitation measures throughout the national travel supply chain. One idea is the “Safe Travels” stamp once businesses have complied with health and hygiene protocols.

Such protocols are essential not only to ensure safety but also to remain in line with traveller emerging needs. Tourists are now more wary of health, cleanliness, and sanitisation, so MSMEs should pay considerable effort to this even after people get vaccinated as such concerns will not automatically disappear thereafter.

Along with health and safety, the pandemic has also prompted much reflection on our relationship with the planet, underlining the importance of sustainable and responsible tourism. MSMEs must therefore be more innovative and committed to reducing their carbon footprint and adhering to green, environmentally-friendly practices.

In light of the above, vaccines might accelerate recovery, but they are certainly not a quick fix. Consequently, Leaders International (LI) through the support of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Jordan, helps the tourism industry in restarting and adapting according to post-COVID developments. LI will work directly with MSMEs to ensure recovery and build back better for a more sustainable, responsible and resilient future; one that speaks to the needs of the local and international traveller and offers innovative and diversified touristic products across Jordan. Learn more about the project