The travel and tourism industry worldwide is facing an unprecedented tragedy with the outbreak of COVID19. How are travel businesses reacting? In this series, hear it all from the people that matter. Gauri Jayaram, Active Holidays shares her story. 

We operate in a very specific way with tours consisting of walking, cycling and marathon holidays. We serve a very niche market and it has taken a long time for us to establish our brand. 2019 was the first year of profitability and started off very strong in 2020 with a good number of bookings and people showing interest in this segment. We were very excited and optimistic as people were finally understanding what this style of tourism is all about.

Suddenly, we got to know about the Coronavirus and my first reaction was that we have seen this in the industry before and it will go away in a few weeks. Things moved very fast to the state we can all see now. Forget about the recovery, I feel the impact of the spread has just started and it will take a good nine months for us to just start the recovery part. It seems very bleak for us as we have had cancellations, deferrals and no operations. We have been sandwiched between suppliers and the clients.

I think in this situation, everyone is going to lose- suppliers are going empty, employees are going to lose their jobs, large and small companies are going to shut down because they will not be able to survive unless there is money coming in. This is a time for a big shakeout in the industry. But the good thing is that suppliers are being very flexible and clients are being very understanding. As the London Marathon was postponed to October, the prices were much higher, increasing the price clients had to bear and they were understanding of that.

Everybody is trying to cut their losses and it is not an easy situation for anyone.
We have not sent out any communication to the employees as they know what is happening.
What we are doing is since our clients are used to an active lifestyle and being outdoors, so we are arranging webinars with well known coaches in the business to help them cope with the practical aspect of being locked down.

With the government and tourism authorities, even before the coronavirus situation, there were additional taxes coming up. Taxation will become a part of the conversation as we need favourable working conditions. This is where tourism boards, community and associations can come together and help with that.

Everybody is in the same dire situation. We are not replacing people, but for higher positions, we are requesting pay cuts and spending time on improvements. Usually, we don’t have the time to focus on growth and replanning. Since the situation is so unique, a lot of innovation will happen. For small companies like us, it is an opportunity to look at what we can do better and improve processes.