Travel and tourism sectors are facing an unprecedented amount of uncertainty due to COVID-19 outbreak. While the government implemented measures to ensure the safety of all citizens, so did the private sector and all the industries. Post-crisis brings with it hope for the industry, TRAVTALK shares the views of travel fraternity on the global pandemic.
Nasir Jamal Khan, Chief Executive Office, Al Naboodah Travel
The COVID-19 pandemic has had, and continues to have a devastating impact on businesses and people across the world. In particular, the pandemic has adversely impacted the travel and hospitality industry. Many countries have closed airspace for passenger traffic to reduce the spread of COVID-19. However, most of the cargo operations are still running to date. It’s clear that we all have a responsibility to control the spread of the virus. As we monitor COVID-19, the health and wellbeing of our colleagues, customers and trade partners remain our top priority. We have implemented several health and safety measures as a precaution. I believe that COVID-19 issue will get over soon and things will get better. Even after the darkest night, the sun will rise again, this is not just a feeling, this is what I believe.
Jamal Abdul Nazar, Chief Executive Officer, Cozmo Travel
Our industry has been the most affected however, we are confident that with this will follow a high surge of business in time. During this time, we are ensuring that the company and its employees survive hence every measure is being taken to ensure that risk level is minimalised and safety of employees is a priority for the continuity
of business. We work according to the government regulations and hope that this temporary situation will soon pass over and a new positive outcome is assured very soon. Communication is utmost important at this point of time and we have ensured that our customers know that we are there to help with their queries. We have also seen a surge in new inquiries at this point of time from those who have booked online or directly with a property; the need of the travel agent to ensure a smooth cancellation or rescheduling has brought in the value of the travel agents.
JVR Fernando, Commercial Director (West Africa, Europe Middle East, Asia) , Satguru Travel & Tourism (L.L.C)
With air travel coming to a near standstill and social distancing recommended as the need of the hour, we are taking all measures to keep our staff safe and maintain the positive spirit in order to ensure that our customers are provided with the best service and products at all times. Rather than pining over the slow down, we are utilising the time to reflect on our business practices and identify areas of improvement. We are also conducting professional development and crisis management sessions on a regular basis. The market trends are also closely monitored, and we are gearing up for the hopeful surge in traffic as soon as situations turn normal. In short, we are taking the current slump as an opportunity to emerge better with sharpened skills and a better outlook. Stay safe and positive!
V Jayaram, Managing, Director, Sharaf Travel
The COVID-19 crisis has been unprecedented in its scale and reach firstly as a crisis response we have put together three internal task forces to respond to immediate challenges, one focused on supporting its customers; another on its own employees; and a third concentrating on business stability and figuring out where to invest and where to pull back during unusual times. We have started cutting all variable costs, and focusing on the ‘Duty of care’ for all our clients and setting up a task force to handle all rebooking’s/rerouting at one contact point thereby maximising our customers faith in us. Post-crisis there will be an inherent desire to travel and we are working hard at the backend fine tuning all our product to ’handle this surge in demand by using this crisis as an opportunity to really build scalability and also re-training our team on different skill sets to improve efficiencies.
Manu Mehrotra, General Manager, Al Tayer Travel Agency
Remember the ‘ash cloud?’ Or ‘SARS!’ A few months from now, ‘remember COVID -19!’ I am sure many surely will – especially those who had access to their travel agents’ whose help they relied upon and benefitted from. The financial impact is huge for airlines, hotels and all associated with the industry, and therefore by default also of travel agents, as countries’ lockdown to prevent the further spread of the virus and travel is curtailed. But as a great poet once said ‘if winter comes, can spring be far behind?’, and so this unprecedented crisis too will pass and we hope and pray with the least casualties, and the preventive measures will succeed in containing and eliminating this outbreak. Encouraging signs are already there in the Far East and China and the rest of the world too will be soon free of this pandemic and we will be there to ensure travel will recover and bounce back, stronger and more resilient – and will stay a relevant and thriving industry.
Inputs by Shehara Rizly