By Afshin Majlesi

Travel startups and efforts to survive coronavirus

November 15, 2020 - 23:48

We are all aware of the impact of the novel coronavirus on tourism yet we know that the sector has proven giant, successful tracks of resilience before.

It has already overcome vast challenges, the ones like SARS in 2003 and the financial crisis of 2009, after which the tourism industry saw a full decade of continuous growth.

Startup founders, shoulder to shoulder with hoteliers, tour operates and guides, craftspeople, museum owners, transport businesses, agents, and ordinary travel insiders, are still facing many challenges in the mid-pandemic.

Weighing tourism losses is not easy to gauge as the data changes rapidly and the virus behavior is less-known. However, one thing is evident; if the pandemic continues for the months to come, it will lead to the loss of tens of millions of jobs and billions of dollars in revenues in the global scene.

What’s going on now in the coronavirus era is very different than tourism insiders expected before as a resilient sector in the face of various disruptions and crises. Some say the current challenges resemble past encounters faced by the sector but exponentially accelerated.

With 1.5 billion tourists, the tourism and hospitality sectors are amongst the most immense industries globally with their footprints being traced in the creation of many jobs, with women, young people, SMEs, and microenterprises playing key roles.

Startups are considered a streamline enabling society to benefit from new advances in a shorter time, and their flow of knowledge and investments is a novel paradigm for introducing state-of-the-art technologies to have tourism recovered. Entrepreneurship and digital transformation are two sides of the same coin facing the challenges of the coronavirus crisis.

Here we explore how entrepreneurs could be adapting to survive problems like changing business plans, markets, workplaces, and finding news investment:

The world we know is becoming more and more digital so entrepreneurs should make sure their services, products fit the markets, especially as the market shifts in the wake of changes in consumer behavior and restrictions of travel.

It’s time to embrace new technologies to solve problems. Recent experiences have shown us many things that can go online. And it’s also the time to be well prepared to demonstrate clear paths to try bright ideas.

Consider that many aspects of the travel industry are already dominated by giant high-spending companies so that the ground is fertile to hit niche pockets of the industry as the best places to find new opportunities.

Online travel experience is a vast opportunity now, rather than just a showcase for new technology. Here is a gold opportunity: ground transportation, due to the virus limitations, is still largely ignored by the established players of the industry.

Hygiene-based products will be more significant in the future, even beyond a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, with brands very sensible for healthy travels.

In case of Iran, optimistic forecasts, expect the country would achieve a tourism boom after coronavirus contained, believing its impact would be temporary and short-lived for a country that ranked the third fastest-growing tourism destination in 2019.

AFM/MG

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