The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the whole world by storm bringing it to a virtual standstill. One of the economic sectors most hard-hit is the travel and tourism industry. That is hardly surprising given that a record 1.5 billion tourists traveled internationally in 2019.
The outbreak of the disease and its rapid spread across the globe saw heightened uncertainty in the sector as travelers required up-to-date and reliable information before deciding on their next destinations and itineraries.
The various operators in the sector had no option but to cooperate closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), the lead UN agency for the management of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The novel Corona infection first attacked international travelers. The pandemic was caused by travel and thus has confronted mainly the affluent social class globally. Tourism is a reason for most of human mobility in the modern world.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) (2020), international tourism has recorded remarkable growth for the tenth consecutive year (UN News, 2017). The coronavirus outbreak started in Wuhan City of Hubei province in China in November, 2019 and spread all over the world like bush fire.
By March, 2020, the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, had earned the enviable position in world history as the most challenging tragedy since World War II. The major disruptions on the global economy from the transmission of the virus especially to the travel and tourism industry are immeasurable and more severe than earlier expected.
The travel and tourism industry throughout the world has been adversely affected by the pandemic in a number of ways. Airlines have been grounded, hotels have closed, and strict travel restrictions have been imposed by nearly all countries. According to the UNWTO estimates, the pandemic has dealt an unprecedented blow to the travel and tourism sector by drastically reducing international tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2020 to a mere fraction of what they were in the first quarter of 2019.