COVID-19

Around the world, tourism boards are vying for your post-pandemic travel dollars

Marielle Segarra May 29, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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Tourists visit Edinburgh Castle in Scotland in January. In some countries, tourism can account for 20% or even 30% of GDP. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
COVID-19

Around the world, tourism boards are vying for your post-pandemic travel dollars

Marielle Segarra May 29, 2020
Tourists visit Edinburgh Castle in Scotland in January. In some countries, tourism can account for 20% or even 30% of GDP. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
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I was sitting on the couch the other day, watching TV, when I saw this ad for Scotland:

It starts with a gorgeous coastline view and then runs through Scotland’s greatest hits. Castles. Lochs. Historic ruins. Even a Shetland Pony with a big puff of hair on its head.

And then there’s the tagline: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

The ad comes from the country’s tourism board, Visit Scotland, which was trying reach the people who are stuck at home right now.

“We know that Scotland has a fond place in many people’s hearts. And then there’s other people that have always spoken about going to Scotland and they’ve never actually managed to make the trip,” said Gwen Raez, senior marketing manager for North America at Visit Scotland. “And what we wanted to say to them with this video is you really need to think about getting Scotland on your list.”

Ads like this one are everywhere. Indonesia’s tourism board is sharing photos of the country’s national parks with the hashtag TravelTomorrow.

It has competition from Germany, South Africa, Mexico, and Switzerland — which has its own tagline: “Dream now — travel later.”

“We wanted to be in contact with our guests,” said Claudio Zemp, director for the Americas at Switzerland Tourism. “We wanted to be talking to them, making sure that we are thinking of them, that they’re knowing that we are waiting for them.”

And while they’re waiting, Zemp and his colleagues are not above tempting you with some dreamy visuals of a train ride through the Swiss Alps.

Switzerland, like a lot of countries, relies on tourism dollars. The tourism industry is about 3% of its GDP, and it’s also a big source of jobs in small towns.

And “in some countries, tourism can account or 20% or even 30% of their GDP,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel analyst at Atmosphere Research Group.

Harteveldt says if it seems a little early to be luring tourists — considering the pandemic — keep in mind that “international travel has a longer lead time and there may be more logistics to consider,” he said. “They need to start doing this now.”

Even though, he says, some places might not see overseas travelers until next year. 

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the latest on the extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

As of now, those $600-a-week payments will stop at the end of July. For many, unemployment payments have been a lifeline, but one that is about to end, if nothing changes. The debate over whether or not to extend these benefits continues among lawmakers.

With a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, are restaurants and bars shutting back down?

The latest jobs report shows that 4.8 million Americans went back to work in June. More than 30% of those job gains were from bars and restaurants. But those industries are in trouble again. For example, because of the steep rise in COVID-19 cases in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, increased restrictions on restaurant capacities and closed bars. It’s created a logistical nightmare.

Which businesses got Paycheck Protection Program loans?

The numbers are in — well, at least in part. The federal government has released the names of companies that received loans of $150,000 or more through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Some of the companies people are surprised got loans include Kanye West’s fashion line, Yeezy, TGI Fridays and P.F. Chang’s. The companies you might not recognize, particularly some smaller businesses, were able to hire back staff or partially reopen thanks to the loans.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

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