Published on : Tuesday, October 27, 2020
While speaking to a global audience in the Future Hospitality Conference in Saudi Arabia, Marriott International Chief Executive Arne Sorenson recently stated that with the desire to travel gradually reasserting itself the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global travel and tourism sector would be eventually contained.
He mentioned that he is optimistic about the fact that the virus will get behind human beings and the forces that have propelled growth in travel and hospitality for decades will come back once it goes away. However, he also mentioned that no one can be exactly sure as to when such a time will arrive or when will the industry go back to 2019 levels although he is confident that travel will come back.
Sorenson also talked about business travel, and shared that he had no concerns about the long-term health of the sector. He said that he is not worried about the future of business travel and mentioned that previously it was said that business travel would never return post 9/11 and the Great Recession but that did not happen.
He also mentioned that initially it was believed that working from home was as good as working from the office, but further into the crisis, the situation got harder. He even pointed to the role of technology as one of the positive elements to come out of the current COVID-19 slowdown in travel.
He said that the use of digital tools for connecting with customers, including checking in and opening room doors, has accelerated dramatically. He mentioned that even though technology was available before the pandemic, but its use has only been accelerated after the virus outbreak.
He added that overwhelmingly, people from all around the globe, they want to get out of their house and want see friends and family. He said that it is the same urge that will drive folks back out to collect the experiences one can only get through travel. He concluded that the forces that were drying the increase in leisure business in the pre-COVID-19 era will return and it will drive the industry forward.
The UNWTO recorded some 1.6 billion international trips in 2019, with industry experts differing on when the hospitality sector might reach such heights again. World Travel & Tourism Council Chief Executive Gloria Guevara previously argued that if global authorities are able to coordinate their actions, recovery could arrive as soon as 2022. However, the International Air Transport Association warned that recovery may take as long as four years.