Coronavirus disease, also known as COVID-19, is one of the most dangerous recent diseases, and people should take multiple steps to manage its prevalence and adverse effects on different spheres of life. Global tourism and the hospitability industry have undergone significant changes because of the pandemic and the necessity to minimize international and domestic travel. At the same time, hotels, entertainment zones, and other related sectors have become obliged to create specific safety environments and reduce the number of clients to follow social isolation rules. Many industries have to cooperate and support each other not to allow the virus to spread across the globe.
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Still, not all individuals and organizations followed immediate changes and urgent restrictions, which provoked an increase in COVID-19-related deaths and new social borders. Healthcare organizations continue working on the creation of the most effective treatment plans while the pandemic challenges traveling agencies and other representatives of the tourism industry. This research project will analyze the effects of the deadly coronavirus on traveling and tourism decisions and preferences and assess the required health and safety issues for promoting a welcoming environment in the hospitability industry.
Problem Statement and Project Significance
The scope of the pandemic effect is great, and many countries had to re-evaluate their relationships and opportunities under the impact of this disease. According to the World Tourism Organization (2021), 2020 was one of the worst years in tourism history, with about 75% of arrivals dropping. However, it is wrong to admit that COVID-19 has affected the hospitability industry only. Xiang et al. (2021) found out that public services, healthcare representatives, retail food organizations, educational facilities, and transportation companies witnessed serious challenges and negative changes.
Thus, each sphere has its specific connection to the pandemic, and the outcomes are hard to report clearly because of sustained modifications and the unpredictable nature of events. The hospitality sector and traveling are chosen for this study because, in these spheres, the decisions of governments, policy-makers, healthcare providers, and ordinary citizens are as critical as those made by the representatives of tourism.
Today, many industries have already created recovery scenarios and returned to their routines, following general safety recommendations. Traveling is not easy to restore because a number of people are involved in the working process. For example, tourism is not about one person who decides to visit another country and uses the services of one company. There are many stages to be taken in order to achieve such a goal. Not all countries have opened their doors to tourists since the pandemic peak; not all companies want to work with people without a vaccination certificate; not all individuals follow safety restrictions and want to vaccinate. As a result, flights are canceled, and social chaos is hard to control (Josephs, 2021). Thus, the problem in hospitability and tourism because of COVID-19 has many explanations and outcomes to be examined from multiple perspectives, making it hard to find a single decision and improve a situation.
Research Questions and Hypothesis
The analysis of the hospitality industry and tourism through the pandemic crisis’s prism may cover various themes and outcomes. When people decide to travel, they investigate options, compare countries and places, and establish connections with several organizations to get to their final destination point. In this study, attention will be paid to the effect of COVID-19 from the point of view of general changes, current restrictions, and health issues. The following research questions will be answered:
- How has COVID-19 affected the tourism sector?
- What are the outcomes of the pandemic on the hospitability industry?
- What health and safety restrictions should people consider today?
- How did countries respond to the virus spreading?
Taking into consideration these questions, the scope of the problem, and the COVID background, there are two main hypotheses to elaborate on:
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- H0: there is no impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry and tourism.
- H1: there is the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry and tourism.
In one year, Coronavirus Disease has become a major health problem on a global level. Its rapid spread and overall impact on the respiratory system have challenged millions of people of different ages and races. In many resources, its current identification is associated with the outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 (Ouassou et al., 2020). However, the era of human coronavirus actually began in the United Kingdom about a half-century ago, in 1965 (Jaiswal & Saxena, 2020).
Its first characteristics emerged on the basis of electron microscopy: the virus particles of 80-150 mm had crown-like spikes and a large fringe with surface projections (Jaiswal & Saxena, 2020). The new virus could not grow in tissue culture until 1975, but it was transmitted by nasal secretion, promoting common cold symptoms. Thus, coronaviruses, as a group of ribonucleic acid viruses, were officially presented as the causes of respiratory tract infections several decades ago, but its dramatic pandemic scope was recognized in 2020.
COVID-19 Current Status
Today, the COVID-19-related statistics are never stable because some people are able to recover or predict the development of consequences, while some individuals die or experience severe symptoms. Many local, national, and international organizations carefully follow the disease’s statistics. At this moment, the World Health Organization (2021) officially confirms more than 250,000,000 cases and about 5,000,000 deaths because of the coronavirus.
The major symptoms of the disease include fever, dry cough, joint pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue (Li et al., 2020). In addition, such clinical consequences as nasal congestion, skin rash, and sputum production may be observed, provoking smell and taste dysfunction (Lotfi et al., 2020). There are cases the virus remains asymptomatic, and a person is a carrier. No specific treatment has been proved, but healthcare providers continue investigating the field, introducing vaccines, and sharing recommendations on how to predict complications.
Travel and Hospitability During the Pandemic
The hospitality and tourism sector has experienced severe changes in its management. Social isolation and safety restrictions reduced the number of travels across the globe in a short period. Organizations needed to redesign their business models and reorganize their human resources due to the unexpected loss of the client database (Kaushal & Srivastava, 2021). The world’s economy was damaged because of multiple community lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, and travel restrictions (Kaushal & Srivastava, 2021; Lotfi et al., 2020). Many large and small hospitality businesses had to declare their temporary closure and cover employment costs without the possibility of earning money (Gursoy & Chi, 2020).
Each country experienced losses in different directions: cancelations in corporate and leisure segments in India, 33% of losses in European bars and hotels, and hotel occupancy decreased by about 70% in China (Dogra, 2020). International tourism could not be successfully promoted under the threat of COVID-19, and people need to understand how to restore the industry, create safe working places, and meet the needs of clients.
Health and Safety Issues
During the pandemic, society’s position was unclear because some people believed that the virus provoked health problems, while others refused to accept the facts and neglected most rules. The World Health Organization revealed that 46% of the people consider COVID-19 as a bioweapon, about 57% wear masks, and 40% wash their hands to predict the disease (as cited in Mahmood et al., 2020). These numbers prove that not all people understand the threat of the virus and its impact on human health.
In the tourism sector, there is a list of preventive measures that help avoid unnecessary contact but do not stop offering services. The presence of hand sanitizers, wearing masks and gloves, implementing social distancing, and limiting the number of clients served at once are the main rules (Gursoy & Chi, 2020). Some organizations use artificial intelligence and robotics to reduce people’s gathering (Kaushal & Srivastava, 2021). Improved information technology infrastructure and cloud computing improve the work of the healthcare experts and hospitality managers to track the situation and contact people distantly (Xiang et al., 2021). All these health and safety restrictions and recommendations are necessary to maintain the tourism business and resist the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this research project, a plan is divided into two main sections: to gather information from annual reports and communicate with hospitality managers online. A systematic report review is a commonly practiced research method in many spheres, including medicine and business (Snyder, 2019). This way aims at synthesizing research findings and expanding the framework of the study globally. It does not take much time to surf the web and access recent reports that some companies share online, which means no confidentiality or anonymity is required. The goal is to choose empirical evidence that fits the topic and helps answer the research question. Statistical and qualitative methods may be applied to integrate the results (Snyder, 2019). In this case, a systematic qualitative review will be applied to describe recent trends and changes in the hospitality sector by comparing information.
Real-life communication can be offered to improve the study, and an interview with hospitality managers online is the chosen method. Interviews introduce a meaningful part of research where an interchange of elicit information occurs between several people (Young et al., 2018). This methodological technique is used in many fields personally, via phone, or online. Regarding the impact of COVID-19 and a number of restrictions and obligations, an online interview is a reasonable approach to gather data and obtain credible information. It is planned to create several questions beforehand and explain to potential participants the research objectives and their contributions (Young et al., 2019).
Today, it is possible to use online messengers and ask questions directly to people without leaving a house. Communication with ten local or international managers who speak English will be developed, with all information stored on a computer. Brief informed consent forms will be sent to every participant to get approval for using their answers.
Data Collection and Analysis
The proposed research project was undertaken using the chosen methods and analyzing information from several resources. First, two reports about the state of the hospitality industry in the United States and Europe were chosen. The American Hotel & Lodgin Association (2021) shared its observations in the hotel industry in 2020, focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on traveling. Hotrec Hospitality Europe (2021) is another organization that investigates European hospitality under current travel restrictions and the pandemic challenges. The findings were systematically reviewed and analyzed to choose appropriate statistics and prove the impact of the deadly virus. In these reports, the response to the COVID-19 outbreak was formulated and applied to creating recommendations for future projects.
During the second part, the researcher succeeded in finding five managers for interviews who agreed to answer the questions and met the criteria of working experience (more than four years) and language knowledge (English). First, it was necessary to choose several traveling agencies and initiate communication online. Second, the intentions of the researcher were properly introduced, and the study was described. Finally, if a person agreed to continue, four questions were offered, and if a person refused to participate, the conversation was over. The same qualitative systematic review of answers was conducted to identify the major impacts of the coronavirus on the industry, current outcomes, and health or safety restrictions to follow.
The tourism and hospitality industry suffered a lot in 2020 from newly imposed restrictions and recommendations. Communication with managers from different traveling agencies proved that the number of people who wanted to visit other countries or even follow their preferred destinations regularly was considerably reduced. Some people canceled their traveling as soon as COVID-19 was officially reported in China, but many individuals neglected the news until the adverse statistics touched upon their communities. Between 2019 and April 2021, business travels were down 85%, but travel for leisure remained roughly the same (American Hotel & Lodgin Association, 2021).
In Europe, the hospitality sector’s turnover dropped by 62% in 2019 and 50% in 2020 (Hotrec Hospitality Europe, 2021). It means that the chosen sector faced serious challenges in its employment and client databases. Compared to domestic travel that was restored fast, international destinations were under question for a longer period (Hotrec Hospitality Europe, 2021). Some traveling agencies plan to hire new employees, but some specific conditions become more evident: a young age is preferred, and a vaccination certificate is required.
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People began selecting hotels and services with enhanced cleaning practices where hygiene and safety issues were properly addressed. In addition, such steps as wearing face masks, offering free masks to guests, availability of sanitizing gels or wipes, and social distancing advertisement were highly appreciated (Hotrec Hospitality Europe, 2021). New and normal hospitality establishments pay close attention to health and safety issues (American Hotel & Lodgin Association, 2021).
Thus, many firms are interested in organizing coalitions to solve current problems together and exchange credible information quickly. The virus affected tourism from different sides: employment was decreased and demographically challenged, client databases were reduced, and safety expectations were enlarged. Most employees admitted that the pandemic was not the period for experiments or innovations but the necessity to adjust to new rules, with personal opinions being ignored.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The impact of COVID-19 on the tourism and hospitality industry and related human activities is one of the most commonly discussed topics today. Despite the existing controversies and different attitudes toward the pandemic and health problems, many organizations face serious challenges in managing their affairs and supporting their people. The literature review, communication with travel agents, and the analysis of annual reports prove the hypothesis of this study that there is an impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry and tourism.
As soon as it emerged in China in 2019 and spread globally in less than a half-year, the sphere of tourism experienced severe losses in human resources and clients. Health and safety restrictions made employers encourage remote work, but few people were ready for these conditions either emotionally or organizationally. American, European, and Asian tourism sectors reported negative changes, but most of them followed governmental and healthcare providers’ recommendations and became able to restore their businesses.
One of the main contributions of this research project is the possibility of understanding that despite its severity and unpredictability, COVID-19 can be managed in some way. The deadly virus made millions of people change their lifestyles, and some families lost their members in hospitals. However, this pandemic proved that even the most challenged industries like tourism and hospitality could be restored and reorganized if all impacts and outcomes were properly recognized and analyzed. This study has a limited sample size, and future projects could use more new participants from different countries because COVID-19 has a global impact.
Regarding the purpose of the work, to analyze the effect of the virus on the hospitality industry, not much attention was paid to the steps that firms took to reorganize their activities. Thus, the evaluation of recent steps in improving traveling interests and demands should be promoted. The coronavirus pandemic is a problem for many people worldwide, and the tourism and hospitality industry unites nations, making itself vulnerable to this deadly disease.
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