Last week, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Philippines Chapter, which I head, hosted our third business assembly (General Membership Meeting) for the year and tackled this very important topic, vital to our once-booming-now-hibernating tourism industry.
Since the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has already allowed tourism enterprises to reopen, the industry’s stakeholders are now trying to prop up their businesses again, in an effort to recover what has been lost the past months.
When I asked the members what aspects of the recovery process they are most interested in, they clamored for—marketing tips, emotional wellness, and guidance on workforce issues; so I invited three leading personalities who were experts in these fields of endeavor.
Dr. Perry Hobson is an international tourism expert and is the pro-vice-chancellor at Sunway University in Malaysia, with a Master’s Degree from the University of Massachusetts and a PhD from Southern Cross University in Australia. He simplified his suggested recovery process into three steps: survive, adapt, and thrive.
To survive, he advised to cut down or temporarily stop operations in order to conserve cash. Since revenues from traditional business have stopped coming in, he recommended selling items that were part of the business’ operations but have now become redundant due to very limited or stoppage of operations.
Some travel agencies have resorted to selling their extra computers and printers. Qantas has sold many of its soft drink trays used in-flight. Thai Airways opened a restaurant serving all the food items they serve in-flight. Singapore Airlines has been making money on their “Flights to Nowhere,” where their planes take off, circle the airspace above the country, and serve premium meals, just to take care of the many jetsetters’ craving to fly.
To adapt and thrive, business enterprises must strengthen their online presence because the pandemic has pushed the world to embrace technology. Almost all transactions are now done online and survival is now dependent on how adept the business is at technology. Dr. Hobson also advised to make use of data from past clients. A travel agency in the US sold food items to former clients who traveled for culinary reasons.
Dr. Randy Dellosa is a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, life coach, and holistic healer. I’m sure you have seen him many times on television as the resident clinical psychologist of ABS-CBN talents. Doc Randy, as he is fondly called, said the various stages of quarantine brought about by this pandemic have given us emotional distress due to the feeling of being trapped, isolated, and bored.
Financial insecurities, uncertainty of the future, and the fear of the illness have aggravated our situation. Even the work-from-home scheme has added to our misery for reasons that it lacks structure, there are too many distractions, longer work hours, difficult to set boundaries, and we are disconnected from office colleagues, among many others.
To cope, he advised that we do fitness exercises and be physically active, establish a routine and stick to it, eat anti-depressant food like fish and seafood because they are high in Omega 3, cheese, nuts, turmeric, dark chocolates, and green tea.
He also wants us to do digital detoxification, meaning, limit screen time with our gadgets. In fact, we should stop using our gadgets one hour before bedtime because these have “blue light” which lingers in our brain and limits the production of melatonin that induces a restful sleep.
He also suggested that we engage in laughter and fun more often, get emotional support system from good friends, protect relationships we have at home, connect with colleagues, help others, and nurture our spiritual life.
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Assistant Secretary Dominique Rustia-Tutay is well-known in the tourism industry as she is always very generous with her time and is always available to help tourism stakeholders with whatever clarification we need in relation to our workforce. We already had her before in a previous webinar but, with the reopening of tourism enterprises, our members need her advice on workforce-related issues.
She opened her segment with the good news that 7,490 workers from tourism enterprises have already availed of the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP), the government’s financial assistance scheme for displaced or underutilized workers. She also announced that, as of end of October, unemployment has gone down from 10.2 percent in July to 8.7 percent.
DOLE’s National Employment Recovery Strategy has now been in place these past months. Its Strategic Framework involves stimulating the economy and employment, supporting jobs and income, protecting workers in the workplace, and engaging with private sectors, labor groups, and other interest groups. As expected, Asec. Nikki, as she is more popularly known, expertly tackled dozens of questions from the audience, and the session had to be cut short as it was already getting late.
A very interesting and enlightening afternoon it was, based on feedback from the audience. The valuable tips given by the speakers have emboldened our members to do what they can to give life to our tourism industry once again. We have always said that our tourism industry has just been taking a break. Now that recent circumstances have breathed life into it, watch it zoom up to the skies once again where it belongs!
YOUR WEEKEND CHUCKLE
If the masks work, why the six feet distance? If the distance works, why the masks? If both work, why the lockdown?
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