Tourism After the Coronavirus Outbreak
Professor Lee Hoon makes predictions about the post COVID-19 tourism industry
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Everything has stopped due to the coronavirus outbreak. Nations across the world have imposed travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the disease. The tourism industry has been directly affected by these procedures, recording a 98.2 percent drop of inbound travelers in April compared to previous years. However, despite the hugely negative downturn, Professor Lee Hoon (Division of Tourism), one of the leading commentariats in the field, has a rather positive outlook on tourism.
“The tourism industry faces crises of some form every three to four years,” explained Lee. Nonetheless, the professor acknowledged the unprecedented nature of the current condition as traveling inbound and outbound were both shut down. This is expected to create a huge economic blow as the industry is in an interdependent relationship with the visitor economy. Lee estimates a 50 trillion to 70 trillion won loss in tourism revenue this year alone as long as the epidemic continues.
The government has recently provided a bailout package to maintain employment and to support the industry. Seoul paid an extra 5 million won to individual tourist agencies through stimulus checks. However, Lee pointed out the absence of holistic measures as there have only been stopgaps to prevent the industry's abrupt collapse. “The government measures disregard the blind spots of tourism, most of which are freelancers and small business owners,” criticized Lee. "They need to shape a crisis management system by viewing the tourism industry as an ecosystem."
However, Lee maintains a careful optimism about the future of K-tourism. He expects that excellence in the K-quarantine will give a positive impact on the tourism industry. “The quarantine authorities of Korea have secured trust through transparent information disclosure and active treatment of international tourists,” explained the professor. Lee added that it will provide a favorable condition for visitors when tourism is resumed at full-scale.
Lee predicted that once the tourism does resume, the form of travelling will change. “Travelers are expected to rely more on foreigner independent tours (FITs) than group tours,” said the professor. Also, there would be more provocative attempts in the convergence of tourism and informational technology, as well as advancements in the management of safety and hygiene. “As people are getting more sensitive about such issues, accommodation and food culture are those that are bound to undergo improvements.”
Lee asked for a shift of ideas, encouraging the introduction of innovations in tourism. “Travel needs will not disappear as long as people live their lives,” said the professor. “The coronavirus outbreak can be a blessing in disguise from the perspective of the tourism industry, which could eventually lead to a step-up in K-tourism.”
Considering the demands for overseas travel, Lee forecasted domestic travel to rapidly increase in return. The professor expected tourist attractions that provide beautiful natural scenery with fewer people will gain popularity. Lee recommended cities along Route 7 (i.e., Samcheok, Uljin, Yeongdeok, and Pohang) for this summer vacation. “Those cities offer feasible coastal drives as well as great trekking courses along the seashore,” said Lee.
Oh Kyu-jin firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Oh Kyu-jin
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