Now that the December holidays are past, and the parties have ended, just like almost everyone else, tourism professionals must return to a world of work and new challenges. From health issues to economic issues, from issues of social unrest to all too often substandard customer service, tourism officials face a host of problems. Some of these problems are within the tourism and travel industry’s control. Although others are not in the industry’s direct control their consequences directly or indirectly the industry and must be taken into account. Below is a summary of some of the issues with which tourism officials may have to deal during 2015.
– Health issues. Although it is still too early to note what the long range impact of Ebola will be on the tourism industry, tourism professionals would be wise to consider this disease not as a single event but rather as symbolic of any potential pandemic. There is a clear potential interrelationship between travel and the spread of a pandemic. The Ebola case should put the tourism industry on-notice as this is the first time in many decades when banning travel from one part of the world to another has been seriously discussed. Tourism officials must not only worry about the spread of disease but also a disease’s economic impact.
– Security Issues.The rise of ISIS and other radical terrorism groups possess a major threat to tourism. Not only is the tourism industry security sensitive, but major disruptions tend to have longer life spans than the news cycle at large. The coming year will present tourism security specialists with any number of challenges.
– Economic Issues. Although in some parts of the world, such as the United States, the economy appears to be improving or at least not getting worse, this trend is not true for other parts of the world. In 2015 Europe may well enter into another recession and this may mean that Europeans may have to vacation less, and stay closer to home. Another worry is the viability of Europe’s currency, the euro. A weaker euro or basket of currencies may make travel to Europe less expensive, but it also may mean that Europeans may have to cut our or shorten their vacation plans.
– Customer service. The traveling public is learning how to demand more and is seeking alternatives to those businesses that are providing poor customer service. The past year saw new lows in many areas of customer service within the travel industry. Although airlines still lead the way in poor customer service, other parts of the tourism industry need to reconsider the quality of the service that they provide. A major sore point with travelers is the fact that there is a charge for minimal service items. Hotels that charge for water or Internet service are not winning new friends. The consistent “we charge for everything” policy of many tourism service providers has created a sense among many that the hospitality industry is more hostile than hospitable.