A travel picture showing the Taj Mahal as the main focus.

The Future of Tourism in a Post-Pandemic World – Part 1 with Jeff Thomson

Earlier this year we held a very special online information session called “The Future of Tourism in a Post-Pandemic World”. Hosted by Director of Admissions Michelle Bancroft, this session featured two of our experienced and passionate CTC instructors, Jeff Thomson (Travel & Tourism) and Alwyn du Plessis (Hospitality). In this two-part blog series we will revisit what each of them had to share on the the future of the hospitality and tourism industries in 2021 and beyond. We begin this series with travel and tourism instructor Jeff Thomson.

Travel and Tourism Instructor Jeff Thomson

Travel and Tourism instructor Jeff Thomson in front of a lighthouse.

Jeff has spent his entire career in the field of travel and tourism. From restaurant owner to tour guide, he has seen it all through the good times and bad. Here are some of the insights and experiences he had to share with us:

“After the events of 9/11, air travel dropped dramatically and many people were laid off. But what I remember specifically is that within a year, travel and tourism was back up to where it was prior to the attack. What surprised everybody across the board was that we were busier post-9/11 than previously. The travel and tourism sector; hotels, motor coaches, trains, ferries … everybody … was scrambling to find staff to handle this huge surge in volume that they didn’t expect.

Not long after this came SARS. Though not a global pandemic, it hit Canada pretty hard, and we did experience a dramatic drop in travel and a swift bounce back. Within 9 months we were above where we were prior to SARS. The industry had not learned their lesson and was again not well-prepared.

The global economic crisis in 2008 was again a devastating blow to the travel and tourism industry. It took a while to recover. But when travel came back—when people realized the sky wasn’t falling and we still had money and were tired of being stuck at home—they were like okay, lets travel! And they did, with a vengeance. And so we were in the same boat again. After laying people off across the industry—hotels, tour operators, everyone—they were now scrambling to find qualified people to handle this massive influx.

H1N1 also had a dramatic effect but it was relatively short-lived. Again, there was an explosion in travel and tourism. Every time, the industry would struggle to handle the massive amount of people who began travelling again all over the world. It was a remarkable thing. Some countries had to come up with innovative solutions. For example, Iceland had to relax it’s immigration policies just so they could have enough people to serve all the tourists.

My point is that in each case, we forgot that when the green light is given, people travel again and they do so with a furious vengeance. And every sector of travel and tourism is always caught unaware, but the thing is, it’s going to happen again. I know it because I’ve lived it.

This pandemic has had the most dramatic impact on travel and tourism that I have seen. But all is not lost. There is going to be a need—and this is the message I cannot stress enough—that people are going to need to fill the void across the board. Tour companies, ferries, ships, restaurants, clubs and motor coach companies will need to employ people all of a sudden and it’s guaranteed to happen. It’s going to seem like overnight when we get to the other side of COVID-19 and are absolutely scrambling to find qualified people to fill the void and meet the needs of the tourists. That’s why I believe that getting training now is the best thing you can do. We aren’t going to be in this forever, COVID will be over soon and in my experience, as deep as the impact was to the industry reflects how much it will bounce back, so this time it’s going to be off the charts. I’m sure you can feel it too, everyone is itching just to get out of the house! The industry needs to be prepared and I fear that it won’t be. So get some training, because it’s going to be busy busy busy!”

Check in again next week when we share what hospitality instructor Alwyn du Plessis had to say about the future of hospitality in post-pandemic world. 

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