Travel industry leader says sector’s recovery depends on vaccine

Booking Holdings CEO said the travel industry could take years before it recovers, citing vaccine as a solution.

The travel industry has been in free fall—if not a bumpy roller coaster ride—since the coronavirus pandemic scattered around the globe. And for some leaders in the sector, the situation might not change anytime soon.

CEO Glenn Fogel of Booking Holdings, for instance, said that businesses under the travel and tourism industry could only go back to normal if a vaccine is available already.

Recovery might “take years not quarters”

“We continue to believe that to recover to pre-COVID levels, we will need to have a vaccine or effective treatment,” are just some of the few words Fogel said during Booking Holdings earnings call as told by Business Insider.

Given the situation, Booking Holdings CEO believes it would “take years and not quarters” before the travel market rally to pre-pandemic levels. Fogel’s concern was raised in the U.K. as well by several personalities in the industry, arguing that a 14-day quarantine protocol “kills the travel market.”

Booking Holdings is a travel and leisure corporation that operates various brands, including Rentalcars.com, Bookings.com, Kayak, and Agoda. In its earnings call last week, the company announced its second-quarter revenue dived by 84% from last year’s percentage in the same period, while its travel reservations fell by 91%.

Travel industry leader says sector's recovery depends on vaccine

The company is planning to lay off some of its workers, too, as the health crisis continues to dampen the sector’s chance for recovery. As per the report, Fogel intends to slash about 22% of its workforce across Kayak, Agoda, and OpenTable, while Booking.com’s will have to cut 25% of its employees this year.

Sector introduces “travel bubbles”

As more countries adopt travel restrictions, the industry looks into the implementation of “travel bubbles” as a solution to help businesses tide through the pandemic. It is already in place in some countries.

Travel bubbles is a type of agreement between different nations wherein it allows incoming passengers from neighboring regions to enter the country without going through a 14-day quarantine. But the idea appears to be viable only if there is an effective contact tracing platform.

And as of this writing, the discussion for the said contact tracing system is reportedly not progressing. Some issues concerning privacy and data sharing were also raised, making the talks more challenging to push through.

The idea seems to spark hope for businesses under the industry, but it still posed a significant risk, especially with the climbing number of new coronavirus infections.

Images courtesy of Rob Wilson/Shutterstock, Anna Shvets/Pexels

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