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Perspectives from the WYSE Management Board and Sector Panel Chairs amid the COVID-19 outbreak

Mar 13, 2020

“I joined WYSE Travel Confederation to be part of its community. We include accommodations, cultural exchange, experiences, insurance and study abroad. Our unique reach is what makes WYSE so special and membership worthwhile.

We are hospitality and exchange. The world needs us, and that is why we will re-grow after COVID-19.

We are youth and student travel. And my hunch is that soon we will have an unexpected opportunity. A crisis like this can become fertile ground for xenophobia and isolationism. By reflecting our values in our public statements and individual actions, we can show the world a different path.

Tough times make us grateful for all we have. My thanks to everyone in the WYSE community. Onward, together!”

Russ Hedge, Management Board Chair

“I joined WYSE Travel Confederation to be part of its community.   We include accommodations, cultural exchange, experiences, insurance and study abroad.   Our unique reach is what makes WYSE so special and membership worthwhile. We are hospitality and exchange.  The world needs us, and that is why we will re-grow after COVID-19.

We are youth and student travel. And my hunch is that soon we will have an unexpected opportunity. A crisis like this can become fertile ground for xenophobia and isolationism. By reflecting our values in our public statements and individual actions, we can show the world a different path.
Tough times make us grateful for all we have. My thanks to everyone in the WYSE community. Onward, together!”

Russ Hedge, Management Board Chair

“The team at WYSE, the Management Board, and respective industry panels have been actively monitoring the development of COVID-19 (coronavirus) around the world. While the trajectory is unknown, I am confident that our industry will resume to normal before too long. The Cultural Exchange Panel and WYSE Travel Confederation are committed to supporting our members however we can through these challenging times.

This is a stressful time for many. Such anxieties can lead to social stigma against particular people or places. As ambassadors of cultural exchange, we appreciate our members’ help in raising awareness without increasing fear. For more information on this, please visit the Center for Disease Control page on Stigma and Resilience.

We thank you for your continued partnership in this effort. Please do not hesitate to reach out should you need our support as you navigate through this period of uncertainty.”

Carye Duffin, Cultural Exchange Panel Chair

“The team at WYSE, the Management Board, and respective industry panels have been actively monitoring the development of COVID-19 (coronavirus) around the world. While the trajectory is unknown, I am confident that our industry will resume to normal before too long. The Cultural Exchange Panel and WYSE Travel Confederation are committed to supporting our members however we can through these challenging times.

This is a stressful time for many. Such anxieties can lead to social stigma against particular people or places. As ambassadors of cultural exchange, we appreciate our members’ help in raising awareness without increasing fear. For more information on this, please visit the Center for Disease Control page on Stigma and Resilience.

We thank you for your continued partnership in this effort. Please do not hesitate to reach out should you need our support as you navigate through this period of uncertainty.”

Carye Duffin, Cultural Exchange Panel Chair

It appears that COVID-19 is already proving destructive and we can only imagine that it is going to get tougher. The industry must support each other, equally, not expecting a handout; seize the moment to become leaders in forging recovery and take the opportunity to re-shape what tourism looks like, for the benefit of the world.

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a unique challenge to the travel industry. Undoubtedly, we are all suffering. It is natural to ask “what about me?”; the self-preservation instinct is strong and we’re calling on our members to work together and offer help to our industry and our community.

But we must also remember that collectively we are responsible for 10% of global GDP, and 313 million jobs – that’s 1 in 10 of all jobs worldwide. Tourism has been responsible for pulling millions of people out of poverty. As leaders in the travel and tourism industry we have a responsibility, and to borrow from JFK, to ask “not what is the world doing for us, but what can we do for our industry and more importantly the world.

The pictures of deserted streets, piazzas and restaurants are shocking, and yet the absence of crowds reminds us what tourism has become and the vulnerability it has exposed. But perhaps this is also the silver lining; a time to reflect and think about what tourism could be if it is done differently. Building on our pillar of advocacy we have an opportunity to promote travel and tourism that is more sustainable, responsible and has a greater benefit to the local communities that host us. Sustainable travel is, by its nature, more resilient. ‘Think globally, act locally’ is an old conservation mantra. If we are to resist another health crisis like this, it is important that we take a leading role in the recovery from coronavirus.

Not only is this a picture of a world where travel is a recognised as a force for good, it represents the beliefs of our constituency – the youth of the world. They are demanding that tourism be responsible and sustainable. This is an opportunity for us to be their advocates.

This crisis will end, and we have to be prepared to seize (the right) moment to lead the world back into prosperity through travel and tourism. Not just for our members but for society generally. The greatest challenge will be recognising when that moment has arrived. There will be reluctance to travel born out of fear far beyond the reality of the situation. Bad reputations are won fast and slow to lose.

Our task on the Travel Safety Panel is to facilitate our members getting the best, most accurate and unbiased information from which they can make their decisions. No one group or person holds all the information, we each have a piece of the puzzle and it is important that we as members are open and collaborative.”

Nick Pound, Travel Safety Panel Chair

It appears that COVID-19 is already proving destructive and we can only imagine that it is going to get tougher. The industry must support each other, equally, not expecting a handout; seize the moment to become leaders in forging recovery and take the opportunity to re-shape what tourism looks like, for the benefit of the world.

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a unique challenge to the travel industry. Undoubtedly, we are all suffering. It is natural to ask “what about me?”; the self-preservation instinct is strong and we’re calling on our members to work together and offer help to our industry and our community.

But we must also remember that collectively we are responsible for 10% of global GDP, and 313 million jobs – that’s 1 in 10 of all jobs worldwide. Tourism has been responsible for pulling millions of people out of poverty. As leaders in the travel and tourism industry we have a responsibility, and to borrow from JFK, to ask “not what is the world doing for us, but what can we do for our industry and more importantly the world.

The pictures of deserted streets, piazzas and restaurants are shocking, and yet the absence of crowds reminds us what tourism has become and the vulnerability it has exposed. But perhaps this is also the silver lining; a time to reflect and think about what tourism could be if it is done differently. Building on our pillar of advocacy we have an opportunity to promote travel and tourism that is more sustainable, responsible and has a greater benefit to the local communities that host us. Sustainable travel is, by its nature, more resilient. ‘Think globally, act locally’ is an old conservation mantra. If we are to resist another health crisis like this, it is important that we take a leading role in the recovery from coronavirus.

Not only is this a picture of a world where travel is a recognised as a force for good, it represents the beliefs of our constituency – the youth of the world. They are demanding that tourism be responsible and sustainable. This is an opportunity for us to be their advocates.

This crisis will end, and we have to be prepared to seize (the right) moment to lead the world back into prosperity through travel and tourism. Not just for our members but for society generally. The greatest challenge will be recognising when that moment has arrived. There will be reluctance to travel born out of fear far beyond the reality of the situation. Bad reputations are won fast and slow to lose.

Our task on the Travel Safety Panel is to facilitate our members getting the best, most accurate and unbiased information from which they can make their decisions. No one group or person holds all the information, we each have a piece of the puzzle and it is important that we as members are open and collaborative.”

Nick Pound, Travel Safety Panel Chair

“Like many of us, I have become obsessed with Coronavirus the last couple of weeks. The first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do in the evening is study the heatmaps online that describe how many cases there are and how this pandemic is moving. The situation is deeply tragic for all the families that are affected around the world, both from a health perspective and for those that will lose their jobs and savings during this crisis. We know that our industry will be deeply affected but it’s too early to measure exactly how and in what way. China and Italy are the two largest sending markets for most operators, and it is unwise to count on much business for the ordinary summer business from there. Even though we don’t know the full extent of this we will all be affected and need to act accordingly.

For what it is worth here are a few things I think business leaders need to consider right now:

  • Make sure that your employees feel valued and can focus on the customers. They need to understand your plan for this crisis and how your organisation will cope. Make it easy for people to deal with this and ensure that those who need or want to work from home can do so.
  • Help your customers trust your organisation. Communicate clearly and proactively to avoid cancellations and ensure trust in the brand going forward.
  • Keep suppliers close. Through healthy communication mutually benefit arrangements can be accomplished.

Many of us needs to save costs now and that is natural. Remember, however, that this is a short-term crisis and you should aim to take your organisation out of this stronger than before. Hence, we cannot afford to lose our best people or upset customers and business partners for short term gain. It is in times like these that our relationships are tested, and I sincerely hope that our industry will come together and emerge stronger.

I leave you with the hope that the number of cases on the heat map is decreasing soon.”

John Cedergårdh, Study Abroad Panel Chair

“Like many of us, I have become obsessed with Coronavirus the last couple of weeks. The first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do in the evening is study the heatmaps online that describe how may cases there are and how this pandemic is moving. The situation is deeply tragic for all the families that are affected around the world, both from a health perspective and for those that will lose their jobs and savings during this crisis. We know that our industry will be deeply affected but it’s too early to measure exactly how and in what way. China and Italy are the two largest sending markets for most operators, and it is unwise to count on much business for the ordinary summer business from there. Even though we don’t know the full extent of this we will all be affected and need to act accordingly.

For what it is worth here are a few things I think business leaders need to consider right now:

  • Make sure that your employees feel valued and can focus on the customers. They need to understand your plan for this crisis and how your organisation will cope. Make it easy for people to deal with this and ensure that those who need or want to work from home can do so.
  • Help your customers trust your organisation. Communicate clearly and proactively to avoid cancellations and ensure trust in the brand going forward.
  • Keep suppliers close. Through healthy communication mutually benefit arrangements can be accomplished.

Many of us needs to save costs now and that is natural. Remember, however, that this is a short-term crisis and you should aim to take your organisation out of this stronger than before. Hence, we cannot afford to lose our best people or upset customers and business partners for short term gain. It is in times like these that our relationships are tested, and I sincerely hope that our industry will come together and emerge stronger.

I leave you with the hope that the number of cases on the heat map is decreasing soon.”

John Cedergårdh, Study Abroad Panel Chair

“The current spread of COVID-19 in the world has an immense impact on international travel and tourism. Whether you are a youth hostel, hotel, camping site or student residence, we will all feel the effect regardless of the size of the accommodation or its location in the world.

What the governments are doing at the moment to slow down the spread of the virus is understandable; they have to say “better safe than sorry”, but it’s slamming the economy and the hospitality industry in particular. To retain our staff and keep our companies running we need help from the government in our countries, for example with tax cuts and paid working time reduction. Let’s trust that that the world leaders will understand that banning is not the way to go long term and that we have to embrace the opportunities.

As members of WYSE and partners in the youth and travel industry, we have to support each other and work together to withstand the economic impact of this crisis and either maintain trust or restore confidence with travellers. We have to remain positive and at the same time look at how to navigate best the next few weeks and coming months.

And this is not only with regard to hygiene and safety; it’s also about how we build businesses and gain confidence with both guests and team members. It’s essential to understand nervousness regarding the virus, affecting how guests interact and the way they book. 

No matter how severe the situation is that you are in, our advice is to never stop promoting your accommodation, but to adapt your approach. Reassure your guests and employees by telling them clearly what you do and how to ensure safety, but moreover keep promoting your business and think of super-flexible conditions allowing guests to change arrival dates to gain trust and retain bookings.

Young travellers might still be actively thinking about a trip, but they don’t have the confidence to book right now. The travel industry is resilient and we are anticipating that once the situation improves demand will return. Many students and young travellers will be accumulating holidays when not travelling, which suggests that returning demand is an inevitability. And then we are ready to do what we do best: give young people an incredible, safe, and healthy experience when they travel the world.”

Pieter van der Zeeuw, Accommodation Panel Chair

The current spread of COVID-19 in the world has an immense impact on international travel and tourism. Whether you are a youth hostel, hotel, camping site or student residence, we will all feel the effect regardless of the size of the accommodation or its location in the world.

What the governments are doing at the moment to slow down the spread of the virus is understandable; they have to say “better safe than sorry”, but it’s slamming the economy and the hospitality industry in particular. To retain our staff and keep our companies running we need help from the government in our countries, for example with tax cuts and paid working time reduction. Let’s trust that that the world leaders will understand that banning is not the way to go long term and that we have to embrace the opportunities.

As members of WYSE and partners in the youth and travel industry, we have to support each other and work together to withstand the economic impact of this crisis and either maintain trust or restore confidence with travellers. We have to remain positive and at the same time look at how to navigate best the next few weeks and coming months.

And this is not only with regard to hygiene and safety; it’s also about how we build businesses and gain confidence with both guests and team members. It’s essential to understand nervousness regarding the virus, affecting how guests interact and the way they book. 

No matter how severe the situation is that you are in, our advice is to never stop promoting your accommodation, but to adapt your approach. Reassure your guests and employees by telling them clearly what you do and how to ensure safety, but moreover keep promoting your business and think of super-flexible conditions allowing guests to change arrival dates to gain trust and retain bookings.

Young travellers might still be actively thinking about a trip, but they don’t have the confidence to book right now. The travel industry is resilient and we are anticipating that once the situation improves demand will return. Many students and young travellers will be accumulating holidays when not travelling, which suggests that returning demand is an inevitability. And then we are ready to do what we do best: give young people an incredible, safe, and healthy experience when they travel the world.

Pieter van der Zeeuw, Accommodation Panel Chair

2 Comments

  1. James Bell

    thanks guys for your wise words!

  2. Jurgen Gross

    Good to read the positive and the cooperation as the main thoughts in your words! Thanks

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Multinational resources

WHO Travel Advice

On the World Health Organization website you can find information and guidance from WHO regarding the current outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that was first reported from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019. 

ECDC

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control is closely monitoring this outbreak and providing risk assessments to guide Member States and the EU Commission in their response activities