The Coronavirus pandemic has heavily impacted the global economy. However, there is only a few that are hit as hard and as fast as the travel and hospitality industry. The hospitality industry has expected to lose millions of jobs and billions in revenue. The entire world is struggling to put a halt on the COVID-19 virus.
With restrictions being gradually lifted from businesses and economic activities, the tourism and hospitality sector is gearing up to start operations with safety modules in place. Mr. Jurgen Bailom, President and CEO, Jalesh Cruises talks to MediaCatalyst about the current situation, reviving operations, industry trends, and other aspects of the industry.
Read the excerpts from the interaction with Mr. Bailom.
In the wake of the current pandemic, majority of businesses has still not been able to start operations. How are you looking at reviving operations of Karnika?
The travel and hospitality industry is one of the most affected by COVID-19 pandemic. Our industry is the first to stop operations but will not be the last to restart the business. The tourism and hospitality sector globally is putting together a module for safe travel, keeping in mind WHO norms, etc. Similarly, we at Jalesh Cruises are focusing on how Karnika can be a safe
travel option for Indians.
Jalesh has put together a Pandemic Preparedness Plan (PPP), this plan determines the adoption of several measures and initiatives that are in line with the general recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), Center for decease control (CDC) the USA, healthy gateways
(EU), and IMO. These measures are evaluated daily and reviewed thus ensuring a daily update on the situation, trying to tackle it better, and not leave a scope of doubt. We have an internal team that permanently monitors the evolution of the epidemic outbreak, which is constituted
in accordance with the Pandemic Preparedness Plan and with the rules of internal governance in matters of crisis management. We are looking at resuming our operations in November, 2020.
What are the trends in the industry you foresee?
The current pandemic has and will continue to change the dynamics of the tourism industry. Pre COVID times, people used to travel for leisure, to explore and learn about culture and heritage or primarily for business or education travel. In the coming post-COVID time, multiple factors will influence travellers’ travel decisions. Personal factors such as one’s
immunity and social factors such as social distancing, PPE precautions, how safe is the focus visit area? etc. will be parameters to travel decision making.
While tourism starting with all its might looks like a long shot, but we foresee domestic travel as the first to recover therefore tourism within the country will become popular. Hometown, and road trips will common going forward. Such trends will see a rise compared to leisure travel
overseas. However, some travellers might consider options overseas with places that are least visited and have fewer crowds.
The lockdown has helped nature recuperate, and therefore nature tourism might be the start of tourism again. Marine tourism is a big possibility during these times as the number of people you interact with are strictly restricted. Micro-holidays and local travel will be new travel trends. Most certainly, these tourism trends will be practiced with certain precautions such as; smaller groups, short trips, social distancing, and so forth. Considering the uncertainty of future travel, we have also introduced the concept of Future Pass, wherein travellers can book now, anytime until August 2021, and decide the sailing dates later. With the work from culture becoming the new normal, working-class is now much more adept with homegrown MICE (Meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) which has brought in a paradigm shift for MICE travel. We hope the COVID-19 situation subsides and travelling gets back to normal.
By when do you expect the industry to be back on its feet?
The industry has already started resuming operations. The fall is huge and therefore, revitalizing will take time. However, we believe that soon the tourism and hospitality industry will get back on its feet, given the advancements in dealing with the COVID-19 situation like the vaccine in Russia, PPE kits, and improved sanitation.
Karnika will resume travel by November 2020 to its domestic destinations.
The current pandemic has a huge impact on the pockets of the people. Also, the fear of going out in public has creeped in amongst masses. Will people have the capacity to splurge in near future as cruises are considered luxury?
The pandemic has had a huge impact on macro as well as the micro economy, people on an individual level are affected financially. However, some people have been working from home and have managed to save and build assets, given the reduction in expenses incurred when going out. People who have canceled summer vacation plans or the ones that just cannot stay back home will plan holidays and one of the best options is a cruise trip. A cruise vacation will not only ensure luxury and entertainment but also of utmost safety. We have also witnessed the response with our Future Pass. The fact remains that a cruise will be much safer, sanitized, and isolated than any other tourism option and this will be one of the reasons that the cruise industry will come out of this pandemic stronger than ever.