Tourism is one of the main sectors in Switzerland which is threatened by the coronavirus. It is true that the lockdown and confinement have forced most of the sector’s businesses to close their doors, and despite the government’s measure to help them survive, it is still unsure on when and how the tourism can start hoping for a normal situation.
First, even if touristic businesses could reopen, it is unknown if and how people in Switzerland will spend their money regarding leisure. Will they, as suggested by the Swiss government, spend their Hollidays or weekends in Swiss facilities instead of traveling to other countries? will they decide to support their country’s tourism or will they opt for not going away and saving their money for a better year? Will people have enough money to go on vacation?
Secondly, even if people going on vacation opt for staying in Switzerland, it is not guaranteed that hotels or other touristic facilities would have enough money to prepare for the welcoming of their clients. Depending on how long the crisis will last, how much money the facility would receive from the government and how much savings it had before the crisis, it might be the case that wages or investments necessary to open the touristic place will not be sufficient. So how can touristic facilities best prepare, now during the time of the crisis, for a smooth and efficient re-opening of their business?
Of course, these questions will be difficult to answer. No-one really knows how individuals are planning on spending their money for leisure once the crisis is over. However, touristic businesses could have some opportunity to profit from the crisis and to reorganize tourism in Switzerland, maybe even for the better.
Touristic businesses could make themselves known by a vast public in their country by putting incentives to people who have not left their homes in months and urgently need a change. Quiet times for parents in hotels where employees would take care of their children a couple of hours a day, or low-cost parties for those who finally want to go out with their friends. Anything would be a good opportunity for touristic businesses to put incentives to be well-known, create a stronger client-base and maybe even to make the buzz on internet.
Speaking of internet, social media is a good tool for these businesses to ensure that cash flows get positive again. Often at a free or small price, advertising can easily be made and relevant groups targeted so that people spend their money in their country’s touristic places.
The virus is a good opportunity for tourism in Switzerland to show individuals that it is also nice to spend their vacations not too far from home, and hence avoiding travelling pollution costs. Also, if people would consider their own country before a foreign one on where to spend their free time, not only would their profit increase but also attract even more tourists from other parts of the world, hence it could be even more developed and make Switzerland a well-considered destination for vacation.
But now, thinking about people not traveling abroad once the confinement is over, suggest a new problem. How will businesses which allow individuals to travel react and survive if the population does not go to foreign countries anymore? Thinking about the Geneva Airport and hence the Canton of Geneva which are expecting their income from travelers, this new way of spending free time would be catastrophic for them. Now that they are already in trouble because of the travel ban, what will happen if people continue not taking the plane after the crisis? In other words, if most people were to change their behavior when it comes to vacation and staying closer to home than before, the problem would just shift from one place to another! So, how can individuals help the Swiss tourism recover without hurting another sector? This is a question which can be applicable to many other sectors than tourism and transport, and unfortunately, many do not have any answer to how it will be done.
Does that mean that we are heading to not only new way of doing business, but also other ways of spending time and leisure? The future will tell us… but for now, I think it is important that everyone is aware of these consequences and that everyone can help one or more sectors by their actions and behaviors. So, dear reader, how will you spend your free time after the crisis and which sector are you most willing to help recover?