WTM Virtual: Catching Up with the World

Three Days of Virtual Meetings with Tourism People Everywhere

I’ve spent the past few days interviewing people in tourism from around the world at World Travel Market Virtual meeting.  I learned much about how they’re dealing with the pandemic and honestly, it feels like they’re having a harder time than we are.

The first virtual meeting example I heard was from a woman in central Spain. She said it’s been brutal because they cannot travel and the Spanish people are so exuberant and so emotional and love kissing and hugging and drinking so much. The only change the government has put in place is to close bars and restaurants at midnight and mask requirements, which are stricter than in the U.S. They require masks for anyone in a car driving, and anyone walking, anywhere. Instant 100 euro fine.

While staying open until midnight seems kind of lax, to the Spaniards having to say goodbye at midnight is heresy. My friend thought that they should be much stricter and that if they did a lockdown earlier it would be saving lives but again cultural norms prevail.

She also had a suggestion that I am going to try to share with as many people as possible.

World Travel Market virtual 2020

“They should film inside the COVID hospitals, a live feed, to show people what it’s like to be on a ventilator or be in the ICU, if enough people saw this, they would wear their masks more diligently and social distance better.  People need to see the worst so they can avoid it.  Maybe they could have it on TV, run it with warnings.

“It’s really bad here, really bad, and all over Europe, the cases are exploding. Not good at all,” she said.

Then I spoke to a man in Cordoba Argentina. There it was even bleaker because he hasn’t been able to leave the region at all for eight months. There’s nowhere to go. “Our money doesn’t go far,” he explained.

Argentina Inflation rate
compared to the previous year

My Argentina contact also talked about how difficult it’s been because the government of Argentina is not really trusted around the world. They are famous for having stiffed the world bank in the ’80s and ’90s, and many other lenders, so when they try to get international loans or they try to get breaks it’s tough.

The financial world is not kind to people who stiffed them. Like me, he was very pleased to hear about the demise of Donald Trump.  Just like the Spaniard they can’t say enough about how happy they are that he’s now gone.  In fact, every single tourism board official I talked with around the world, over the past two days, have been quick to say how happy they were that we have a new incoming president.

The world, like us, is sick of Donald Trump.

So what do you talk about in these virtual meetings when tourism is pretty much dead In the water and all you can do is think about six months to a year from now?   We talked about what it’s like there, Pandemic style. I asked about how things are going and tried to be sympathetic and just plant some seeds for future campaigns. That’s all we all can do right now

A man I spoke to this morning in Tunisia said that the border between his country and Algeria is closed due to Covid. Still, they had 9 million tourists come to Tunisia in 2019, which was pretty good for a small country in North Africa.  They have had four presidents in about eight years, and the political situation is finally calming down.