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The opinions expressed by collaborators are personal.
Tourism in Mexico is one of the most important activities. The numbers do not lie: it represents 8.7% of direct GDP and 17.2% indirect. And not only that, in this industry SMEs represent 96% of the sector .
But faced with the confinement and cessation of activities to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many of these micro, small and medium-sized companies are in danger of extinction. “We must do the impossible to save them”, alerts Lourdes Berho , president of the Communication Commission of the Council of Tourist Diplomacy , in an interview.
He refers to the hundreds of travel agencies, hotels, intermediaries, providers and service providers that work in tourism and with respect to which he says, “It is time that they are thinking about their transformation and reinvention.”
Berho says that despite the fact that the pandemic is experienced at a different level – depending on the role that each of the actors play – what is a fact is that both travel agencies, destination marketing agencies, hotels, airlines, Service providers and providers are already training to survive and reinvent themselves.
“Right now you don't have to be on hiatus. The pandemic stops us to accelerate. ”
Lourdes served in the past as general director of the Tourism Promotion Council of Mexico and since 2018 she is regional director of Brand USA in Mexico to lead the brand's marketing and travel trade efforts in our country. His experience is essential to implement strategies to revive tourism at all levels. Some of its recommendations are the following:
Willingness to learn. Several destination marketing agencies have been open to hearing the benefits of not-so-popular destinations, have become certified, and already have the ability to sell new products.
Local traveling. While airlines have had to halt activities and cut international travel, he suggests turning to look inside. The first thing to promote are local trips or the closest destination. “People are going to be reluctant to travel long distance, they will want to do short-term trips and land transportation,” he says.
Return to nature. According to Google Travel trends, the preferences of travelers is nature and spaces that allow you to be safe and have no proximity to people. An opportunity is small cities that present the cultural experience, that do not generate the distrust of being very close to others.
Small groups. The tourism that will start first is pleasure tourism and will be carried out by small groups. The suggestion is to offer packages for this segment, which will be the first to resume activities.
The specialist believes that in renegotiating the workforce of many companies, health insurance will be reduced. “Businesses will not think to boost business tourism immediately … Germany, China and Canada are going to wait until they send their companies and collaborators to travel soon,” he says. You have to promote nearby tourism and emphasize leisure tourism against business tourism.
Security. Travelers will seek to feel safe, so it offers activities in larger places that respect the new protocols for distance and maximums for people gathered.
Communicate to the fullest. Many companies already had security protocols. If your business has them, communicate them, focus on those that build trust such as safety standards, hygiene, sanitation protocols, among others. For example, he says, Aeromexico has long sanitized its planes, but now it is reinforcing its communication in this regard and people have received it in a good way.
Understand the new mindset. The traveler has a new mindset. Now they are more aware of the impact to the planet and are not so interested in luxuries or a playful experience, but rather they want to have a more sustainable experience. The suggestion is to offer a combination of a hotel in a small destination that offers cultural experiences. It shows that there is a contribution both to where the hotel is located and to the community.
In this sense, Magical Towns would have enormous potential, offering themselves as unique experiences close to large cities and with sustainable management.
The new luxury. A more conscientious traveler is expected in every way and when we talk about sustainability we are not only referring to the environment, but to the cultural legacy. “The new luxury will be not spending in a five-star hotel, but in an experience that allows you to have this contribution,” explains Lourdes.
# Travel Tomorrow. Agencies and hotels must be empathetic. It invites travelers not to cancel, but to postpone. The specialist says that you have time to create packages to drive hard sales. For these to be successful, they must have the following characteristics: be able to be used within a period of six months, after the activities are reestablished, which are eligible to be purchased from now on and paid for up to two years
Photo: Lourdes Berho. Courtesy Alchemia
It could be thought that the COVID-19 pandemic did not bring anything positive, but “it forced us as a society to be more aware,” says Lourdes. In this sense, “the agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) towards 2030 is accelerating” and it should be noted that tourism affects 11 of these goals.
“Tourism is the best catalyst for achieving the SDGs as it is the best ally in the transformation towards sustainability,” says Tere Solis, an expert in the tourism and regional development industry at Deloitte S-Latam.
During the Special Tourism webinar, organized by Nexxtt on the occasion of International Earth Day 2020 , which is celebrated this Wednesday, April 22, the Deloitte executive pointed out that there is a new trend: Awellness, in which the tourist seeks well-being own, but also that of humanity.
How is it that tourism can influence a greater circular economy and achieve these SDGs? Bringing together the social environment, the organizational environment, the environmental environment and the environment of the visitor, whose components are detailed in the following graph.
Source: Special Tourism Webinar. Neextt Taks
The future of tourism
For his part, Luis Barrios, President and CEO of Hoteles City Express , agreed that consumers today have changed their tastes and preferences and stated, “Now they value environmental qualities more.”
Questioned about how to deal with a crisis, Luis Barrios was categorical when he pointed out that the first thing is to think about people . He explained that in the case of the brand that he has headed since 2009, the first thing was to communicate to his council, collaborators, clients and suppliers the situation and how the problem was going to be attacked. “We established standards to protect health,” he explained.
To think about returning to the levels we had in 2019, before the pandemic, we would have to speak for at least 18 months.
“We had tourists trapped, staff working and providing accommodation, so we established sanitation and healthy distance guidelines to operate with essential activities, we had to recommend clients and guests to stay at home and we made suggestions on how those who had to travel should travel”, remember.
What is the future like? For founder of City Express, the first thing will be to protect the traveler and asks companies in the sector to prepare for recovery now. Luis Barrios envisions the following scenarios for recovery.
- Travelers are going to change into temporary and permanent habits. “We have to be prepared to restart operations in an environment that we do not know.
- The trips will be more local, regional, highway and in search of sustainable experiences close to nature and origins.
- The way to get to destinations will be more technological, reservations will be more digital.
- Travel in small groups or individual travelers with growth by region and industry. Family pleasure first. The international traveler will not return until December.
Barrios is concrete when he affirms that, “ the future is not black ”, however he warns: “We will continue to appear in the economic scenario of 4Q, with no high growth. To think about returning to the levels we had in 2019, before the pandemic, we would have to talk about at least 18 months, that is, think about a gradual, slow and hasty period of recovery until December 2021. ”