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  • 작성자 사진Kim Si-eun

[COVID-19] Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Global Tourism

NO. 153 / Sep 6, 2021

Before COVID-19, travel and tourism had been one of the most important sectors in the world economy, and accounted for 10% of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and more than 320 million jobs worldwide. In a new era of interconnectedness, the global pandemic has put 100 million jobs in small-and-medium-sized enterprises at risk according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Tourism-dependent countries are likely to feel the negative impact of the crisis for much longer. Contact-intensive services in tourism and travel are disproportionately affected by the pandemic and will continue to struggle until people feel safe to travel again.

Governments around the world are struggling to find an effective way to restore some of the domestic cash flows associated with international tourism and travel, which, in turn, results in a travel bubble. A travel bubble is an exclusive partnership between two or more countries that have been successful in blocking and fighting the COVID-19 pandemic within their respective borders. These countries open their borders and allow people to travel freely without the need for self-isolation. South Korea and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have officially set up a travel bubble between them to revitalize tourism in the Pacific region, but it seems difficult to sustain. Fresh lockdowns and restrictions in Asia due to the rapidly spreading Delta variant are making travel bubbles a fruitless endeavor. Most travel bubbles have been suspended owing to the escalating coronavirus situation.

While real traveling has reached a near-standstill again, technology allows people to visit almost any place on the planet in the blink of an eye. According to Google Keyword Planner data, searches for the term “virtual tour” have exploded. As billions of people around the world stay at home, the number of virtual tourists continues to grow. Accordingly, the travel insurance site InsureMyTrip has created a list of virtual tours that saw the biggest increase in Google Search. The most searched virtual tour in the world is the Louvre Art Museum in Paris. The second most searched is the San Diego Zoo, which provides live streaming of its animals, allowing viewers to virtually meet furry animals at any time, followed by Disney World, which presents everything from 360-degree street panoramas to virtual theme park rides on its YouTube channel. The Great Wall of China, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and Google Arts Project are also on the list.

The extension of the pandemic lockdown bored people and caused them to crave new places. This demand has led to an unprecedented shift in the travel industry. In fact, online tours cannot provide consumers with the same level of satisfaction as the real experience. However, it can be a temporary expedient to relieve the accumulated desire for travel. Obviously, the travel bubble is far from an ideal solution. Even so, it is undoubtedly a step in the right direction once the pandemic situation stabilizes. The travel bubble is a clear sign that we can explore the world as before. Let us wait and hope that the day comes soon when we can travel across borders again.


By Kim Si-eun, AG Reporter

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