How to Support Your Local Tourism Industry

Jade-Ceres Violet D. Munoz

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Tourism industries all over the world are in dire straits. According to a new policy brief from the United Nations, Covid-19’s impact on the tourism industry is estimated at $1 trillion and threatens more than 100 million jobs worldwide.

With borders closing and airlines reducing international flights, they now rely heavily on the domestic market to survive this pandemic. There is no certainty when things will go back to normal, which means a lot of tourism businesses are on the verge of closing shop.

As consumers, each of us can help alleviate the situation. Here’s how:

1. Book Direct - Having worked in the travel industry for over a decade, I have a firm understanding of how online travel agencies work and how much commission they take from accommodation providers. The average commission is about 15% but some of them take as much as 20%. For small boutique hotels that are already having a hard time keeping their head above water, 20% on your nightly rate makes a big difference.

Accommodation providers such as hotels, motels, bed and breakfast, and even holiday parks continue to get listed in online travel agencies because they bring in the volume. It is not necessarily good for their business. If more people book direct, they get more profit per transaction because they pay less for the booking acquisition.

It is also important to remember that the online travel agency you are booking with may not be based in your own country -- meaning they don’t pay taxes to your government or support your local economy.

2. Buy Vouchers and Gift Certificates for Future Travel - Ask your favorite tourism business directly if they offer these. If not, there are several new websites popping up that work with small businesses to offer future-dated vouchers. They can help keep the cash flowing into the business even at times of lockdown or stay-at-home order by the government. You can redeem the voucher once the business becomes operational again.

3. Don’t cancel, rebook instead - When it was announced that Auckland was going to go through another round of lockdown, I panicked. I’ve already made my family’s snow day plans that coming week. I’ve booked hotels and activities 2 months in advance (some without the foresight of getting the re-bookable options). I was tempted to cancel the trip entirely but called the hotel instead. They were happy to amend our existing booking for a future date within the year. I was so thankful for how considerate they were that I booked a higher-priced room for the peak period instead.

4. Leave a review - If you’re unable to make bookings right now, don’t fret! You can still support your local tourism business by leaving a public review. There are many places where you can do this. TripAdvisor is the most popular website for travel reviews. You can also search for them on Google and leave a review on their profile. You can also leave in a review in Yelp. Social proof drives purchases. A 2019 survey by Bright Local showed that positive reviews make 91% of consumers more likely to use a business, while 82% will be put off by negative reviews.

5. Spread the word - If you have a blog, you can create a post about the local tourism businesses that you love. You can also use the power of social media to spread the word about the businesses you support. Post photos of them on Instagram and tag the business. Recommend them on Facebook. There are many ways to let people know about these small businesses.

Some of these small tourism businesses might not survive this pandemic. Even huge corporations and airlines are hardpressed to stay afloat in this environment, what more the little guys? Without the local communities and the domestic market rallying behind the small tourism businesses, there will be no hope for them to survive. The little things changes we make to the way we buy can mean the world to them.

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I've been a professional writer for over 15 years and write about a variety of topics but prefer to write about things that make the world a better place.

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