Tourism and COVID-19 – An International Panel Discussion

All Categories, Inside CBS   -  23. December 2020

On November the 18th, two Tourism, and Sustainable Management students, Megan Arzbaecher and Eleonora Galati, together with their lecturer Hanno Martens organized the panel discussion.

What was the aim of the Tourism and COVID-19 panel?

The aim of this panel was to provide CBS students, alumni, and partners more specific insights on the effects COVID-19 is having on the tourism industry addressing its respective fields around the world. We are all reading news on infection numbers, lock-downs, effects, and restrictions on tourism in Germany. In this panel, we aimed to dig deeper, more specifically differentiate the segments of the tourism industry and learn from a global perspective.

The Panel

Megan very professionally moderated the panel of five experts. Yan Fang is regional director for Trip.com, Dr. Angela Durko is Instructional Associate Professor at Texas A&M University, Erik Altenhofen is hospitality and procurement expert as well as CBS lecturer for hotel business operations, Philip Eichkorn is managing director for the tour operator Take Memories and Frank Hartung is Manager Leisure Sales and Marketing at Air Canada. The panelists were chosen because of their professional experience, specific expertise in tourism fields, and knowledge of different areas of the world. In the following, I note a few specific contributions from each panelist.

The Agenda

Yan Fang insightfully told us about the situation in China and neighboring countries, where domestic travel is promoted since the virus is hardly spread around the country. Dr. Angela Durko presented results from her studies on the effects of the crisis on the tourism industry in the US and of her consumer behaviour studies. For example, cheap domestic tickets now allow new groups of people to afford longer distance domestic trips. Philip Eichkorn discussed the situation in the Middle East, where only Dubai is currently accessible for international tourists. He also contributed his observations on that currently complex tourism trips that require a lot of planning are hard to sell. Instead, people demand simpler domestic or continental last-minute trips. Frank Hartung introduced the situation of Air Canada and the airline industry in general, presenting some dramatic figures but also an outlook into the future. He said that airlines are hoping for rapid testing and are analysing every customer touchpoint to minimise infection risks.

The first part of the panel was strictly moderator lead with Megan addressing specific questions for each panelist. Later the discussion became more open and panelists responded to several inspiring questions from the audience. I am sure we could have continued the entire evening but arranged a 90-minute-limit before. In total about 40 CBS students, alumni and partners participated in the panel discussion. Thank you very much to our panelists, to Megan for the amazing moderation, to Ele for the support beforehand, and to all participants for attending and interacting with our panelists and moderators.

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