Tourism is an important contributor to the world economy. The tourism industry not only generates revenues for a country, but it is also one of the most important engines for economic growth and development. This sector simultaneously offers the opportunity for economies to grow and people to earn income, while tourism spending is associated with improvements in well-being for consumers of tourism services. As a labour-intensive sector, tourism generates employment, while fostering skills development and local entrepreneurship. Its connectivity and mobility features play a key role in regional integration and economic inclusion.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020, declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a global pandemic.3 Tourism was one of the first sectors to be deeply impacted by the pandemic, as measures introduced to contain the virus led to a near-complete cessation of tourism activities around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the tourism economy hard with unprecedented effects on jobs and businesses. Destinations that rely heavily on international, business, and events tourism are struggling.
During such challenging times, domestic tourism is providing a much-needed boost to help sustain many tourism destinations and businesses and will continue to be a key driver of recovery in the short to medium term. Domestic Tourism helps in the process of nation-building and connects the citizens to their history, culture, environment, and at the same time develop a sense of patriotism. Governments have been using domestic tourism as a tool to eliminate local poverty, generate employment and economic growth, upgrade infrastructure and alleviate pressure from overcrowding of destinations. Domestic travel helps address seasonality within regions while also dispersing tourists to the less-visited rural areas. Domestic Tourism is considerably less receptive to crises, whether economic, natural, health, or political. It is, therefore, an excellent shock absorber, especially in the case of economic crises. Due to its income redistribution effect (from tourists to local populations) and its various multiplier effects throughout the value chain, it is an excellent tool for territorial development, easing social tensions and as a Launchpad for new destinations.
In the present COVID 19 scenario when international travel has come to a standstill, Domestic Tourism is the answer to the crisis-ridden tourism industry to survive and sustaining jobs at the local level. Domestic Tourism can be the perfect driver in achieving an effective recovery by focusing on the new normal which includes reviewed standards and operating models, meets the new traveller’s needs and requirements, and ensures the sector ‘s business continuity and sustainable growth.
Profound changes in the structure of travel and tourism demand and supply are expected to reshape the sector in the aftermath of COVID-19. The uncertainty regarding the evolution of the virus, its health effects, and the repercussions in the economy render imperative alternative approaches to business as usual by individuals, businesses, governments, and international organizations. Learning from past major structural transformations should motivate stakeholders to embrace a strategic approach, based on current evidence and careful scenario analysis. In practice, it means that governments need to consider more than one scenario and work on multiple fronts simultaneously.