With August ending, we have finally made it to the home stretch of 2021. While a few businesses are opening their doors and bringing in customers for the first time in months, it seems travel agencies are not as lucky. Many of these tour companies are struggling to bounce back in the aftermath of the pandemic that shut down countries and business alike. Guatemalan travel agencies took a hit just like the rest of the world, and with a huge percent of the countries economy depending on the travel industry, it is clear just how important it is to get these companies up and running again. The big question with that is how?
Guatemala was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and like many other countries, it is struggling to get back to normal. The poverty level in Guatemala is nearly 59.3% and many of those people do not have the resources to make it through this next leg of the virus. There has been a considerable contraction in the Guatemalan economy, its GDP shrunk nearly 2 percent in 2020. So, what does this mean for the country as a whole? It means that the citizens and businesses are losing money and are not able to stay open, and for many people that means that they are losing their only source of income. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for these businesses, with travel opening again, businesses are once again able to rely on tourists to help boost the economy and their businesses.
Okay, so tourism is good for the Guatemalan economy, so we know that these travel agencies are very important to the livelihood of a country that thrives on visitors. However, that leads to the main question, how are these Guatemalan travel agencies and tour providers going to be able to bounce back from COVID-19? Travel is important, but these agencies have lost so much business how are they going to make it to a time where frequent flying and traveling is a norm again?
Luckily, there are a few ways these agencies can prepare now for the prospective boom in travel and keep themselves afloat in the meantime. The first would be to focus on the digital aspect of the business. The next would be to shift the focus of the trips to what the customers are looking for. Another would be to encourage people to follow the safety and health guidelines put in place by both their home country and Guatemala.
Anyone with access to technology has likely been online quite a bit in the last few months. Whether that was because of working from home, taking classes online, or just using any of the myriad of social media platforms. Who is to say that travel agencies can’t do the same? By starting new social media accounts for your business, doing live broadcasts, or simply reaching out to potential travelers with the internet, these agencies can stay relevant and hopefully build a strong client list to fall back on when travel opens again.
So once people are getting information about these agencies, they are going to want to know why they should care. This is where shifting peoples’ views on the business comes in handy. For example, most people have felt very isolated and lonely throughout the pandemic. By creating content online that show how people can do team building activities, support families and people in another country, and go on a life changing adventure, most people are going to at the very least check out the agency. Gone are the days where people want to do solo travel, most people are now looking to make life-long friends and do life changing work, so Guatemalan travel agencies need to shift to that narrative to bring in clients.
Finally, these Guatemalan travel agencies need to encourage following health guidelines put in place by the respective countries. Currently, to travel to Guatemala, all travelers must present evidence of either: a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival; COVID-19 vaccination completed at least two weeks before arrival; or documented recovery from COVID-19 within three months of arrival. These agencies need to follow these rules so that the country itself can heal from the effects of the virus. The healthier the country gets; the more travel will be allowed. Once more travel is allowed, these agencies are likely going to have much more business. So, by being safe and healthy now, these travel agencies can set themselves up for success once the world opens again.
COVID-19 has been the root of many issues inside the tourism industry, and Guatemala has been just like the rest of the world. Bouncing back from this setback is going to take the work of companies and individuals alike. Whether it is through following health guidelines to help curb the spread of the virus or business redirecting their ideas to focus on the needs of the people of Guatemala, it is going to take a lot of work.
Guatemalan Humanitarian Tours is anxious to get back on schedule with our service vacations! In July, we took a fantastic group of volunteers down for the first time in over a year. There is so much work to be done and we would love to have you join us. Service vacations are valuable to do together with family, friends, and as a business group. What are you waiting for? Schedule your service trip with us today! We are so excited to see what the rest of 2021 holds, and we are hoping for safe travel to get back to normal as soon as possible.