Tourism Recovery | Industry Leaders Share Strategies For Coping And Building Back Better

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BEHIND THE SCENES: HOW TOURISM IS STAYING SAFE, BEING SUPPORTED AND EVOLVING DURING COVID-19

The ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector is being well documented. There is a real need for news coverage of how hard the virus is affecting the travel industry. According to the World Economic Forum, COVID-19 puts 120 million tourism jobs at risk, with economic damage likely to exceed over $1 trillion.

Yet it’s equally important to take note of how legions of people are keeping tourism safe; preserving livelihoods and morale with innovative programs and policies; renewing time-tested approaches that have historically been successful; and using new technologies to expand horizons.

The 18th-century French scholar Louis de Jaucourt described hospitality as ‘the virtue of a great soul that cares for the whole universe through the ties of humanity.’ I would concur. At the same time, the tourism and cultural heritage sectors are ones that in many ways operate anonymously and with little fanfare.

Yet, those people who make the difference in your holiday are part of a global industry that helps make our world turn, and our lives happier and more relaxed. Indeed, as a traveler, you have no doubt been the recipient of that caring.

Has an employee of a hotel gone out of their way to welcome you, or perhaps come to the rescue when you’ve had a minor emergency?

Chances are pretty good you’ve worked with a guide who has opened your eyes to the history and culture of your destination in a new way. Or take you on a heart-stopping adventure that you could have never attempted on your own.

You probably have had more than one exquisite meal on a vacation that was a revelation about a cuisine that was new to you.

While on a trip, you’ve likely bought a beautifully hand-crafted piece from an artisan that’s now a centerpiece of your home decor.

The mission of People Are Culture is to provide a way for readers to stand in someone else’s shoes and see life through their eyes. With this piece, it’s a privilege to share a behind-the-scenes snapshot of what the tourism sector is doing to ensure travel is safe and to keep a huge sector of the world economy going. Tourism is the ultimate “people business” and so it’s not surprising that at the heart of the industry’s efforts to counter COVID are collaboration, cooperation, and partnerships.

Meet five tourism professionals from around the world who share ideas, innovations and practices that are helping to sustain and regenerate an industry that supports one in ten of the world’s jobs. As you’ll see, these accounts from Belize, Wales, Ireland, Italy and India make it clear that a commitment to helping tourism “build back better” is not just a business proposition. It’s a labor of love.

As someone who has been the beneficiary of that love many times over, I also share my two cents and offer up my own idea on how tourism might revive more quickly. Have an idea yourself? Pay it forward in the comments section below!


HEALTH APP, TOURISM SAFE CORRIDOR & GOLD STANDARD

Lucy Fleming, Founder & Consultant, Chaa Creek Lodge, Belize

Lucy Fleming

When the plague found its way through the dusty roads and onto the long porous doorstep of this emerging new nation, our Prime Minister stood ready. He immediately closed the international airport and all land borders as the first case was diagnosed in mid-March.

Contact tracing began rapidly as our fellow countrymen held their collective breath.

Ministry of Health began the process of educating the public and rum distilleries started turning out hand sanitizer that cost the same as rum but smelled nicer. Wearing masks became law with a hefty 10K fine for non-conformity, and the market quickly stood up to the demand as women took to their sewing machines to produce cotton masks, and men their work sheds to create plexiglass shields.

Tourism resorts, hotels and hostels closed their doors and many remained in lockdown for six weeks accompanied by essential staff to maintain the properties.  Curfews were put in place and remain in place as government relaxes and tightens the travel reins based on the locations of caseloads.

Entire districts and towns have been shut down to any and all arrivals when COVID 19 cluster numbers have spiked. ‘Sheltering in Place’ is now a commonly known and familiar practice.

Televised press conferences by the Prime Minister, Ministry of Health’s Covid19 Specialist, and the Attorney General have become essential viewing with tens of thousands tuning-in weekly to learn about the latest cases and Government of Belize’s responses and calls to action.

With limited resources, even taking into account the 10M Lord Ashcroft Relief Fund, gifts of thousands of testing kits and PPE’s from Taiwan, and sixty doctors from Cuba; Government knows their only ascertainable choice is to try to keep Covid19 numbers as low as possible.

As of today, there are just over 2100 positive cases resulting in 30 deaths in a population of 365 thousand inhabitants creating a mortality rate of 01.37%. Thankfully nearly 1400 of our citizens are recovered and the balance remain in recovery mode.

Our airport reopened on October 1st clearing 192 passengers from the two flights that arrived with American and United Airlines as the airlines resumed daily flight schedules.

Government of Belize requires all guests traveling to Belize to download the Belize Health App that registers data including PCR test results within a 72-hour frame for all inbound guests, both local and international. All guests who are approved receive a QR Code and Unique ID number. This information helps to fast-track travelers at their point of entry with GOB reserving the right to randomly test anyone for secondary testing. Guests who have not downloaded the App will be tested at their point of entry and charged $50.00 USD.

Accepted guests are then given an approval bracelet and permitted to travel within the Tourism Safe Corridor with government approved gold standard transportation provided by gold standard resorts and travel companies.

The Tourism Gold Standard recognition program was launched by the Belize Tourism Board with a nine-point program that enhances our tourism industry’s health and safety with new procedures that ensure both employees and travelers are confident in the cleanliness and safety of Belize’s tourism product.

Aside from mandatory face masks and distancing in public places, on-line check-in/out, contactless payment systems and automated ordering and booking systems, signage and hand sanitizing stations must be evident across properties with increased sanitization of public spaces and high touch areas in Gold Standard Hotels. Daily health checks with contactless thermometers for guests and employees as well as selected isolation/quarantine rooms are also required.

The training for Gold Standard recognition has been rigorous with training modules offered and regulated by various government agencies including the Ministries of Health, Tourism and Aviation and the Belize Tourism Board. The Belize Tourism and Industry Association, Belize Hotel Association, and Belize Tour Operators and Guides have all weighed in during the construction and implementation of this new regulatory system. Approval requires official inspections of hotels and tour companies inclusive of meetings with inhouse health and safety officers and reviews of individual companies’ health and safety management handbooks.

Government approval by the tourism industry has been taken very seriously. Albeit surely adding yet another expense to our already compromised and underachieving facilities and transit companies, everyone agrees that a safe journey through our fascinating country is beneficial for all.

Now that our own house is sparkling clean and in order, my dreams still circle around the creation of a joint effort Tourism Entry App for the seven Central American nations (OAS – Organization of Central American States) and the 15 Caribbean Community countries (CARICOM).

Just imagine a hassle-free entry process for enhanced travel to our assemblage of nations when tourism truly opens its many-colored doors to travelers once again.

A snippet from everyone’s book can create a whole new chapter in the history of travel to our region.

If ever there was a time for dreams, now surely is the time…..


BUSINESS SUPPORT GRANTS & EAT OUT TO HELP OUT SCHEME

Ashley Rogers,  Director at Gill & Shaw Ltd, Wales

North Wales is a region with a very long history in the tourism trade, from the Victorian resort towns such as Llandudno to the ‘bucket and spade’ visitors from England’s industrial North West and Midlands that have been coming to the area since the 1940s. Over recent decades our offering of beaches, mountains and heritage attractions–including two World Heritage sites and a bucket full of 11th century Norman castles–has been added to by world-class adventure tourism attractions (Zipworld, Adventure Parc Snowdonia, Rib Ride) and premium locally-sourced food & drink at award-winning pubs, restaurants & cafes.

Tourism is worth around 20% of our economy (circa GVA £3 billion) and employs 40,000 people. Up until Covid, we welcomed 30 million visitors a year (as a perspective our population is 700,000). The lockdown hit the sector like a sledgehammer just as it was re-opening for the season at the end of March 2020, its weakest point for almost all our businesses from a cash flow perspective. Most businesses were forced to close and not allowed to re-open until early August under strict two-metre social distancing regulations. Business support from our two governments (Welsh & UK Government) meant grants, zero-interest loans and, most importantly, a furlough scheme so employees would still be paid a basic salary whilst not working. This support runs to the end of October.

Even with these supports and reopening, the research I was involved with predicted a 25% loss of jobs in the sector this year, because of the loss of those crucial months and reduced operating capacity (due to the two metres social distancing) the determining factors.

With lobbying across the UK by the sector (our forecast was reflected in many areas of the UK), the Government introduced at short notice a discount hospitality scheme and this has helped to improve the situation. The scheme is called ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ and is centred around money off meals eaten in restaurants/cafes/pubs during August. Some 500,000 meals were served under the scheme in our area alone and around 800 businesses took part.

The uncertain nature of international travel has benefited the U.K. tourism industry, with many Brits deciding to holiday domestically in August. Many businesses here report a substantial number of first time UK visitors to the region. The furlough scheme has also meant that those on furlough have taken the opportunity to holiday longer and later into the season.

So some catching up has been made, but many businesses are still on a knife-edge. An increasing number of local lockdowns e.g. Manchester, Cardiff etc, means that the likelihood of visitors being prevented from leaving their own areas or them not being allowed to cross the border into Wales is a very realistic possibility.

Businesses are already doing everything they can to keep customers and employees safe, so it’s down to Governments to support further. So, what else can be done?

Given the uncertain nature of the situation, it rolls down to two areas:

In areas that go into local lockdown, provide support grants to those businesses because they are not able to trade under normal conditions. Please, no more 0% interest loans. Tourism businesses do not need more debt!

Turn the Eat Out To Help Out scheme back on in December through to February, across the UK. This should give visitors and locals the incentive to get out there (safely of course) and enjoy the best our sector has to offer. With a three-month scheme, and local lockdowns lasting a few weeks, when the lockdowns are lifted, there is still plenty of time for the scheme to do its job in those particular areas.

With such a complex and fast-moving situation, we need simple solutions that can flex as and when they need to. If we are to avoid mass job losses in tourism and hospitality, then the support for businesses needs to continue.

North Wales is open to tourism with social distancing.

A HUDDLE & LIFELINE

Tina O’Dwyer,  The Tourism Space, Ireland


Sometime during the second week of March 2020, the tourism and hospitality industry in Ireland shut down. It was swift and sudden and it was very hard to take it in, much less process and understand it.

There was a flurry of announcements, restrictions, regulations, explanations followed by a host of online webinars to announce, restrict, regulate, and explain some more.

My head was reeling and my heart was reaching out to all the tourism business owners I have had a great pleasure of working with over the last 10 years or more. I felt helpless yet had a huge wish to help. What could I do for anyone who was at that very time living the trauma of shutting doors, locking gates and trying to manage the inevitable letting go of staff and colleagues?

I did the only thing I felt I could do. I posted on LinkedIn that week and invited people to ‘connect, talk, share, ask questions and support’.

20 weeks later, The Recovery Room Huddle, as it came to be known, was still going twice a week. More than 160 people registered and usually we had about 25-30 on any given call.

How did it work?

For the first few weeks, all Huddles were just about processing the whirlwind of happenings during the day. As the restrictions and eventual lockdown continued, it became slightly more structured. Usually, I would post a Focus Topic on social media in the day or two before the Huddle, I would share some ideas on the topic to start each session and then open up and let the conversation flow organically. On a few occasions, a guest speaker would join or one of the regular participants would share their expertise on a special topic of interest.

There were a few golden guidelines.

  • Everybody was welcome to talk but nobody had to. Listening was just as valuable.
  • Everybody was there in a personal capacity and were not to be expected or called upon to represent their employer.
  • Everybody was invited to participate in a spirit of openness and sharing.

And that was it! Set up the zoom meeting, share the link and then just let the magic happen.

What did we huddle about?

There were some really practical, tangible elements to the Huddle. Evenings where people just shared how they had managed signage and face coverings, how they were planning to ease their staff and visitors back, how to manage rosters, and understanding what business supports were available.

There were some fun, light-hearted evenings where we smiled at the idiosyncracies of the newly exalted domestic visitor and reflected on our own childhood holidays (if you were lucky enough to have had one) in what seemed like very innocent bygone times.

There was much business networking and even business deals done offline between people who had only ever really met online in The Huddle. For example, one tour operator from the USA started programming Northern Ireland for the very first time based on connections made in the Huddle.

We had a number of consultants and trainers who joined the Huddle regularly and also quite a few people who worked in state agencies or in a local or national tourism authority. We had Huddlers from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Italy and the USA and this real-time sharing of different international perspectives – with each country at different points in the unfolding Covid story – was one of the great features of The Huddle.

What was the benefit that we can bring forward?

The Huddle almost accidentally had created a space where the competitive mindset had evaporated and those with expertise, knowledge, and wisdom (and we all have some in our own little niche) generously shared and generously listened. It was also just a good chat and there was always room for plenty of banter.

That said, what I suspected the real value of the Huddle might have been was confirmed for me in a quick survey I did late in July. Almost unanimously, what people said they valued the most was the ability to connect with their peers in a comfortable and safe space where it was ok to talk and ok to listen. They valued that it made them feel less alone. They also really valued hearing from experienced individuals and from accomplished guest speakers and found this motivational.

Comments revealed that this ability to connect helped with their mindset and perspective. In a time when ‘what was true this morning may not be true this afternoon’, that connection was described by quite a few participants as ‘a lifeline’.

Ironically, for all its ability to host and welcome, the tourism and hospitality industry can prove to be a very lonely work environment – even in the best of times! With just a facilitator and a zoom connection, The Huddle is something that can bring the true treasure to those on the coalface. What was abundantly clear to me is that the greatest leaders in the greatest crisis came from those in the trenches, those who had to react and innovate and pivot just to survive. We can create spaces where those leadership and entrepreneurial qualities can be shared and valued widely.

I intend to make this the focus of my work in the future: creating spaces where we can lean into each other for strength and support, where we can draw on each other for inspiration and motivation, where we can count on each other for perspective and mental boosts, where we can just learn about how to do the everyday things a little bit better.


LOCAL TRAVELERS & AGRITURISMO

Dr. Barbara Mordà, Vice President Presso MEDFORT | Founder of The Heritage Call, Italy

The Coronavirus has been challenging the world since the beginning of 2020. Unprecedented restrictions resulted in international travel bans affecting over 90% of the world population, disrupting the tourism sector and world economy. As a consequence of the lockdown, many people were more eager than ever to travel, but due to limited budgets and the difficulty of movement, they needed to find new options.

Italy’s recent tourism season suffered tremendously due to the absence of foreigners who are regular visitors to the country’s centers of art. For this reason, cities like Venice and Rome recorded great losses. However, the recent data about the behavior of Italian tourists show that people gravitated to the most convenient and sustainable options. With the cities of art being perceived as potentially crowded, too risky and expensive, the new preferred destinations became small and rural places known as borghi and agrituristic venues.

Agriturismo originated in Italy shortly after WWII in order to replenish the depletion of many rural places. Agriturismo still represents a vital source and an important strategy of investment for the country. The choice is wide since Italy has a large percentage of rural villages, with a population of fewer than 5,000 inhabitants. These agriturismo enterprises are able to host visitors in their cosy structures offering comfortable and targeted services.

The strategic investment in this sector in the time allowed Italy to accrue other benefits from the number of people touring in its countryside. For instance, the agricultural sector in many areas has been preserved. Continuity has been maintained of the production of many excellent typical enogastronomic products which also annually contribute to Italy’s economy. Moreover, the locals benefited, too, particularly in terms of job opportunities by avoiding/mitigating a new exodus of people looking for better opportunities in larger cities.

Thus, in the 2020 season, Italians started (re)discovering the pleasure of immersing themselves in familiar and comfortable places and experiencing the simplicity of the rural way of life. These places are located in enchanting areas characterized by beautiful views and by a landscape easily adaptable for many activities such as horseback riding, hiking, cycling or simply walking. The most preferred destinations were Puglia, Emilia Romagna and Toscana. Together with other small communities, these places were able to increment their income during this disastrous season as never before, such as some areas of Abruzzo (e. g. the borghi Santo Stefano di Sessanio and Calascio).

The agroturistic structures have been empowered in Italy and therefore they offer good and comfortable accommodations, excellent opportunities to taste and buy traditional homemade food and beverage. Further services have been added, like a spa and other relaxing activities. Many tourists are also allowed to visit typical farms and experience all the activities behind the productions before the actual commercialisation, meaning that visitors can experience the essence of these rural villages. Yet, it must not be forgotten that these places host many cultural treasures and traditions. Even if these heritage sites and customs are less known – or unknown – they are equally important to better comprehend the local history and their own identity.

I am currently based in southern Italy and have personally witnessed the presence of Italian tourists enjoying the many beaches between Sicily and Calabria. The local news reported that many visitors used to go to the Greek Islands to enjoy the sea before the pandemic, but the need to make different choices led them to discover new pleasant places closer to home. Exploring the unique characteristics of the area’s heritage encourages them to come back in the near future.

I think that the current pandemic represents an opportunity for a reconsideration of the concept of tourism in a much more sustainable perspective. There are opportunities for everyone and not only for a few. In this spirit, it is not surprising that Ettore Prandini, president of Coldiretti, Italy’s leading organization of farmers, recently observed that the Italian Borghi is a great cultural resource which will play a crucial role for the relaunch of the Italian tourism in the near future.

Italy’s agriturismo strategy can help many rural communities scattered around the world develop. Agriturismo not only offers a business model, but it also enables the conservation of heritage and encourages sustainable farming practices.


CULTURAL HERITAGE, AUGMENTED REALITY AND PARTNERSHIPS

Pankaj Manchanda, Founder & CEO, Augtraveler, India

With the increasing spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is currently facing an acute disruption on a global scale. This disruption apart from being of health, wellbeing and economy is also creating a serious disconnect on the cultural front. As per a recent global survey by UNESCO, at this point, 89% of the world heritage sites are completely or partially closed.

A large part of the economic funding and support for cultural industries comes from tourism. The disruption has led to cancellations of cultural performances and festivals, hitting the artistic sector very hard. It has caused an immense economic setback to the tourism industry too, which will take a while before it can be back to normal.

Augtraveler’s mandate is to utilize and adopt new-age technologies of augmented reality, geo-location and multimedia to enable visitors to appreciate the regional cultures and history of India. With assistance from our globally renowned knowledge partners, the platform offers interactive and immersive augmented reality and multimedia-enabled curated interpretations of the built heritage of the World Heritage Sites.

Augtraveler’s project vision has a global mandate and is aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goals of 11, 8 and 4. Some of our Knowledge partners include ICOMOS, DRONAH, World Monument Fund, Global Heritage Fund, Prof. Barry Perlus of Cornell University, Macmillan Education, Korea Culture Centre, Conservation Architect Kavita Jain, etc.

The advent of technological innovations in cultural heritage tourism promises to offer multifold benefits across stakeholder segments. At the outset, the adoption of augmented/virtual reality and associated new age technology made possible detailed documentation and recording of cultural traditions and the associated heritage.

Augtravelers applications were originally intended as a means of enhancing in-person visits to heritage sites. In these times of travel restrictions resulting from the pandemic, Augtravelers’ platform makes possible visits to monuments from people’s homes anywhere in the world.

And the Augtraveler platform is evolving to meet other important needs that have emerged in these unprecedented times.

As part of our School Outreach Program, Augtravelers co-created a multidisciplinary activity book series mapped to school grade levels with Macmillan Education, one of the leading education players in the country. With numerous schools systems and classes moving online in the current year, Macmillan Education now plans to reach their 28,000 – 30,000 partner schools with the Augtraveler Education Series.

This proposition will enable students to virtually visit the World Heritage Sites of the Golden Triangle in India from their homes using the app experience and activity books to reinforce their cross-curriculum concepts (Math, Sciences, Creative Arts, English, ICT, General Knowledge, etc.), whilst developing an appreciation of the heritage sites and our culture.

With travel restrictions, we are utilizing this time to evaluate specific community-based organizations, who can help us onboard and train the communities to start listing their local products and services on Augtraveler’s Curated Online Marketplace. This feature is part of our mandate to promote sustainable livelihoods of host communities.

Thematic Coverage

We are also looking ahead and working to help build a resilient and sustainable tourism model in the Post-COVID-19 era. We are now collaborating with our knowledge partners to assist local travel companies and tourism entrepreneurs to evolve heritage walks and cultural experiences on the Augtraveler platform.

The platform will enable these professionals to ‘author and build’ their own unique heritage trails and experiences during the lockdown period. Being local professionals who closely engage with the host communities, they can also assist them in on-boarding their local and unique products and services onto the platform’s online curated marketplace (e-commerce).

The ‘curated experiences’ by these local partners will be uploaded on Augtraveler platform following a review process and thereon will be published under the author names, or their companies. Once the experiences are published, they will be open to our customers for purchase and they can start earning revenue from all ‘sales’ transactions.

Through this project, we hope to provide the local community businesses a scalable digital platform and enable them to further co-create immersive experiences with the host communities which can generate more value for all stakeholders in the post COVID travel era – thereby evolving a more enriching, resilient and sustainable tourism model.

The digital adoption of the local partners will further facilitate preservation and promotion of regional tangible and intangible heritage; introduce/ open up new regions, which will help propagate newer tourist areas, and therefore in a way also help in the reduction of the ‘over-tourism’ problem.

By connecting cultures and communities, we also help the local economy bring forth products and services unique to their region for tourists. The community builds economic opportunities, and the tourists get a true flavor of the local culture. We’re looking forward to seeing even more positive impacts of Augtraveler between the local community and tourist systems.


EXTENDED TRAVEL VISAS

Meg Pier, Founder & Editor, People Are Culture

COVID-19 has driven home for us just how interconnected we all are. The extent of the virus’ spread was fueled by our mobility. Countering COVID has necessitated restrictions and boundaries.

Yet the rhythm of Nature itself is a continuous cycle of push-pull. Expand. Contract. Expand. Contract. Whether you look to the tides, the seasons, or the human behaviors of song, sleep and business, there is the pattern of advancing, then withdrawing.

In that vein, there is also the cycle of casting off that which no longer serves. When the status quo becomes too uncomfortable, or the light dawns there is a better way, we change. The snake sheds its skin. The butterfly emerges from the cocoon. The child crawls, then walks then runs.

Individually and collectively, we are processing and adapting to what has occurred. We are absorbing, reflecting, assessing, and revising. We are questioning assumptions. And soon enough we will be resuming–differently.

One of the many protocols of tourism that countries may wish to look at anew is the travel visa. This bureaucratic requirement came into being after WWI, largely to curb illegal immigration, heighten security and as a quid pro quo status for residents of countries between which there is a reciprocal arrangement. The world has changed considerably since the inception of the visa as we know it. Technology has advanced at WARP speed, making the ability to monitor people’s movements a completely different scenario than it was a century ago. And there are diplomatic relations today between a huge number of countries that didn’t even exist when travel visas were introduced more than 100 years ago.

Recently, a number of countries began offering “digital nomad” visas of up to two years, to people who can demonstrate a certain level of income and proof of health insurance. Among those countries are Antigua & Barbuda; Barbados; Bermuda; Costa Rica; Croatia; Estonia; Georgia; Germany; Mexico; Norway; Portugal; and Spain.

This move makes a lot of sense for the obvious reason that residents are ongoing contributors to the local economy.

However, marketing a two-year residency solely to “digital nomads” seems short-sighted. To me, the term is at best outdated and at worst pejorative, conjuring up an image of a surfer who exists hand-to-mouth. COVID made tens of thousands of people location-independent and many of these people would definitely not call themselves “digital nomads”.

The term “digital nomad” explicitly means a transient. If a country is really seeking a two-year resident, they want a commitment. This kind of commitment would be a dream come true for many people who would love to move to one specific country abroad and experience it as a resident. To truly immerse. To connect. To belong.

These people are the antithesis of digital nomads. They might be called community immersives–long-term guests engaged in a cultural immersion experience.

The digital nomad programs are described as work visas, not tourist visas. Ironically, a demographic that would likely embrace the option of a two-year residency are people who don’t work: retirees. There is a significant number of retirees with the material wealth to make such a move and be able to contribute to the local economy in a meaningful way–and have the time to be engaged in community life.

Such a move could be a prelude to exploring permanent residency. Or it may represent a life-long desire to live abroad for an extended time at a major life inflection point that brings new freedom from career and family responsibilities. It’s very common for people to downsize from a family residence upon retirement, which frequently creates wealth.

The standard duration of a travel visa is typically 30-90 days. Many people have dreams of visiting far-off destinations that never materialize because the cost and duration of the trip itself is prohibitive for a standard two-four week vacation. And some destinations are too vast to contemplate tackling in even a 90-day stay. But if an American can go to Africa, Australia or India for six months – two years, the cost and duration of the journey can be justified.

Should a two year tourism visa become available and spur more extended travel to long haul destinations, then there are positive implications for carbon emissions.

If at the end of the day, the impetus for extended visas is economic stimulus, then the policy-makers redesigning their visa requirements should consider structuring their programs for maximum benefit. Food for thought: According to an Oct. 9, 2020, report by CNBC, Baby Boomers control over 53% of the wealth in the U.S., while Gen X accounts for just over 25%. Despite making up the largest portion of the workforce, millennials controlled just 4.6% of U.S. wealth through the first half of 2020, according to data from the Federal Reserve. In short, visa redesigns that exclude Baby Boomers are selling everyone short.

However, an important consideration is taxes. In order for an extended tourist visa to work, there would need to be a reciprocal tax agreement so the “immersives” aren’t paying a penalty for the experience.

Indeed, the concept of reciprocity–also known as “the Golden Rule”–could be a guiding ideal in all realms as the world seeks to build back better.

Are you interested in the role of the tourism and heritage sectors in human relations? Then you might enjoy these pieces!

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