A recent article, in which Techpoint looked at the role of social media in the Nigerian tour company business, made it clear how key it is for information, promotion, and engagement; such is the power and import of social media.
It, therefore, is not surprising that social media is a major source of information dissemination in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that has become a global challenge. Understandably, concerned governments have taken measures to either deal with identified cases or stop infected persons from entering their countries.
Gulf countries respond to COVID-19 outbreak
It is a no-brainer that flights offer the quickest means of getting from point A to B; for this reason, no one was shocked when airlines cancelled flights around the world, with Emirates going as far as asking its staff to go on leave for a month.
As screening measures at entry points have been stepped up, travel bans have been introduced, and many events — cultural and sporting — have been either rescheduled or cancelled.
It is noteworthy that Dubai is a popular tourist destination for Nigerians.
Tourism also affected
In a recent chat with Techpoint, Damola, who runs a tour company, revealed that there had been times when his company had to pay to make trips happen because the number of people required for a trip’s profitability was not reached.
Given the flight cancellations around the world resulting from the outbreak of the COVID-19, he says, “We are currently at the stage of re-evaluating our travel plans, and this is not very good for business.”
Tayo, with whom we also had a chat recently, believes that the reduction in sales being recorded is the result of people’s fear of travelling at this point.
Damola’s experience seems to validate Tayo’s belief, as he says, “We had a customer ask about our refund policy because of the global spread of the virus.” The customer, he says, “was supposed to be on a trip with us to Mauritius in April for a destination wedding.”
Education using social media
As with many things on social media platforms, there is a healthy dose of misinformation being passed around and Tayo, who opines that “this period calls for consciousness on hygiene and self-awareness,” says, “we are educating them on the need for travel insurance.”
He believes social media is an option for getting the right information out.
Though different travel insurance packages exist, one of the objectives of medical insurance is to “provide support if there’s a health emergency,” Tayo says.
Considering the average Nigerian’s aversion for insurance, the availability of medical insurance has done little to encourage the potential vacationer to go on that long-awaited trip.
So what’s the alternative?
In a bid to make the best of a situation beyond one’s control, Tayo believes, “Local tourism is a good way to go and travels/tours within virus-free West African countries are encouraged.”
“My major concern is our planned trip to Singapore in May for which we have an agreement in place with both airline and destination managers.
“We are talking to them to see if we can shift our dates until sometime in the summer when we hope a cure or a vaccine for the virus would have been found,” Damola says.
Concluding our chat, Damola says quite unequivocally, “Our priority is ensuring that our participants are safe, even if it means total cancellation. But trust me, it is not a good time for business.”
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Sub Editor at Techpoint Africa