The coronavirus pandemic has struck a severe blow to the travel-related industries. Planned vacations and holidays have been put into question, while carriers and owners of holiday accommodation facilities have suffered enormous losses. New safety rules implemented by aviation and tourism made it possible to hit the road again.

“Tourism can be a platform for overcoming the pandemic” said Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, in his message to the world. He also noted that this industry is one of the most affected by the pandemic, as “Travel has decreased, fear has increased”, especially about the uncertain future. However, the past months have made it possible not only to overcome fears, but also to take appropriate steps to minimize the risk of infection by introducing new, previously unused procedures on a global scale. “Global tourism has never been more united than it is now” – said Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

We are flying again

The travel restrictions introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are slowly being reduced, thus tourism is restarting in more and more areas. The latest research by the World Tourism Organization shows that 22% of all destinations in the world have started to ease restrictions, with Europe being the leader. EUROCONTROL (European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation) reports that air traffic on the Old Continent will reach 16.5 thousand flights in the second half of July, and even 18 thousand flights in the first half of August 2020. This is about 50% of the flights, as compared to the same period in 2019. On the other hand, Airport Council International – ACI World representing over 500 airports in 46 countries of our continent predicts that it will take at least three years for global passenger flights to return to the levels from 2019, and the dynamics of the recovery are linked to many variables. COVID-19 required the introduction and compliance with an emergency sanitary regime. The European International Airport Council has developed a number of preventive measures in line with the guidelines of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).  

Challenges – the economic aspect

The economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are felt in all areas of society and the economy. The limitations resulting from the reduced number of flights operated by the airlines and the decreased availability of non-aviation services undoubtedly have an impact on the commercial decisions taken today by airport management. Maintaining the balance between supply and demand, close cooperation and open communication between all airports is the key to rebuilding the flight schedules and restarting tourism. One of the areas at risk is airport retail, which has traditionally been a highly profitable sector. Prior to the pandemic, global airport retail sales were expected to grow by 6.1%, as compared to 2019 levels, and reach $ 48.2 billion in 2020. With a significant decrease in global travel and the suspension of international events such as the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, which usually increased air travel, the forecast for 2020 is much less optimistic. The problem is not only fewer travellers, but also changing consumer habits.

Consumers’ reaction

AlixPartners, the American consulting company, conducted a survey among retail consumers at airports after the announcement of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their attitude towards retail at airports has changed dramatically: as many as 86% of the respondents said that after the restrictions were lifted, they would travel less and spend less in airport shops, 75% of respondents felt that they would not feel comfortable in an environment that does not apply health care measures, 43% stated they would avoid interactions with sellers, whereas 38% intended to avoid going to stores. Almost half of the respondents would be less likely to buy products from luxury, perfume and cosmetics, clothing and accessories categories.So how to increase the level of consumer comfort? It will be crucial to reduce waiting time, keep social distancing (e.g. with “click-and-collect” solutions) and inform about following high hygiene standards.

Relaxing once again

Not only air traffic, but also tourism is coming back to life with newly introduced sanitary restrictions. Hotels and other accommodation facilities are taking special safety steps, in order to invite guests, while the industry is dynamically adhering to the new challenges.   The Polish Tourism Organisation has initiated hygienic auto-certification programme for accommodation facilities. As part of the project, an interactive map was created, which allows you to search for facilities with the graphic sign “Hygienically Safe Facility” ( These are places that declare that they provide their services in accordance with the applicable guidelines of the Ministry of Economic Development and the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate. The aim of the programme is to increase the safety and health protection of employees of accommodation facilities, and to minimize the risk of infection of guests and other people from outside, e.g. suppliers. 
“Thanks to the opening of accommodation facilities and restaurants, domestic tourism is beginning to recover. We are aware that the safety of tourists and employees of tourist facilities is still the most important issue, which is why, together with the industry, we have developed a self-certification programme for accommodation facilities and restaurants located therein. We are aware that trust is the basis, both in life and business such as tourism” – sums up Robert Andrzejczyk, president of the Polish Tourism Organization.

The aviation and tourism industries still have a long way to go to regain stability and liquidity. From the beginning, however, the health and safety of travellers has been a priority.