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Tourism Growth For a Sustainable Tomorrow

Updated: May 12, 2020




There is no return to “normalcy” in the world of travel and tourism. As experts all over the world struggle with predictions following the thumping impact of the Covid-19 pandemic- we are already in a new world.


Every nation and all communities are struggling with  socio-economic upheavals, never previously experienced in a global or localised sense, which will have lasting effects on everyone and especially on travel . This will have an even greater impact on emerging economies and their communities who are reliant on tourism volume as an economic driver. Conflicting messages, data and arguments persist from the UN and other global institutions, causing unnecessary confusion for policy makers and stakeholders in these fragile economies and environments. The UNWTO latest impact assessment, as of May 5 advises a likely drop of between 20% and 30% of global Tourism Receipts for the year 2020- while it is more likely to be +-75% for emerging economies.



Where we are right now from a Macro global tourism perspective;


  • Unlikely a vaccine will be developed in 2020 even though there are some promising tests being carried out across the globe

  • If we are lucky enough they find one it will take a year to produce sufficient volume to cover the globe and to eradicate the virus with all its mutations

  • Emerging nations will likely receive available vaccines last, so in reality at the end of 2021 at the earliest

  • Until there is a vaccine- all communities and nations need to work on a common approach to combat the pandemic- this is not happening now and unlikely to change

  • Even if nation states decide to politically "just get on with it" regardless of the pandemic- the travelling public won’t- so a vaccine is the only key

  • All tourism Source Markets are in such serious socio-economic upheaval there will be precious little disposable income across majority of households for years to come

  • Over 95% of all air travel is grounded with massive unemployment and all Airlines facing financial ruin with collapse of the travel and related industries 

  • Nations will have to prioritize bail-outs and increasing debt burdens across their societies which is likely to grow exponentially

  • When air travel does reappear it will likely be at fewer numbers and at a higher cost- even if they find a way to guarantee Safe Travel

  • Affordable travel or cheap mass tourism has disappeared and will not reemerge for the foreseeable future

  • Airlines also face the conundrum of Guaranteed Safe Travel- even when a vaccine is found people will be looking over their shoulder for fear of what else may pop up

  • Decision making criteria of the future traveller has changed irrevocably- clean, safe, hygienic, healthy, disease free environments is the starting point= Risk free and Green

  • Domestic Tourism will be the first to rebound followed by short-haul, once a vaccine is in place

  • Long-haul Tourism will take a while longer- 6 to 12 months after the virus is eradicated

  • Higher income earnings or families with high disposable funds will be the 1st to travel long-haul around special interest motives

  • Long-haul emerging nations will realistically not see international Arrivals until beginning 2022

  • These nations must find a New Tourism Growth model that can only be based on High Yield > Low Impact positioning- they need to recalibrate, refresh and regenerate



This disruptive change should be embraced as peoples expectations have altered- old habits are already dead. Accessibility to cheap travel and mass tourism will no longer be seen in the next decade and yet people are more connected than ever before- even in isolation.

This change to our daily life has forced many of us to be more conscious of our immediate environment, to reconnect with family and friends, to communicate more, to learn new skills, to work from home, to cook and bake, to create stories, to read and take stock- even with the horrors that surround us every day.

We as a world community have taken a step back in time, are having to take a breath, while the environment around us does the same. Never before have the brakes been so sharply applied including an unprecedented global loss of jobs, which will bring great hardships to so many and bring many companies and nations to the brink of collapse.

Globalized funding from international donor agencies will be recalibrated, effecting emerging economies who have become over-reliant on grants and soft loan debt to fund their national development activities.

Such nations need to accept this and look to a more sustainable tourism model around what they can achieve locally, that will be good for their citizens, the environment and future employment prospects. 

Most emerging economies have used Tourism Volume as the defining measurement for their national success- this was a broken model even before the pandemic. Combined with high population growth this increasing tourism volume has threatened the environment and natural resources have been under serious attack and in many destinations on the verge of collapse.


It is no longer a choice- these emerging economies are at ground zero and must look to a tourism model that is more inclusive for its citizens and the environment, working in collaboration with communities and in partnership with public and private sector.

We no longer have to dream of what the perfect balance of tourism, environment and communities could be - we have a choice- so let us Build New Growth for a brighter tomorrow that is more inclusive, respectful, sensitive and resilient to shock and change.


by Graham Leslie - CEO - Zamani Development Network

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