Since the announcement of the re-opening of air borders, the tourism industry has been anticipating droves of foreign visitors to aid in the post-pandemic recovery.
At present, the steep air fares are keeping a lot of avid travellers from hopping on the next plane, topped with residual anxiety and fear from the rollercoaster of restrictive measures experienced in the past two years.
In their minds, they could plan a holiday as meticulously as possible; but the effort may well be in vain should the virus return with another round of horrors.
To put all the eggs in the foreign-visitor basket would not be the best strategy, given that the world is still working out what it means to travel in the new normal.
As such, I would like to urge all stakeholders in the tourism industry to consider putting more efforts into promoting domestic tourism.
The coronavirus crisis has essentially laid the foundation; and it is time for the stakeholders to pick up the torch and continue growing the industry.
Due to border closures, the industry was forced to make use of creativity and imagination to keep itself afloat, resulting in a host of fun activities to generate interest.
Such efforts shouldn’t be abandoned simply because we are “out of the woods”. Being in the endemic stage doesn’t equate foreign visitors lining up outside our borders waiting to enter.
If the pandemic has made one thing clear, it is the fact that there is an enormous untapped potential in domestic tourism. Not everyone wants to leave the country to have a good time; and that was true even before COVID-19.
Now that the industry has tested the water, perhaps it is time to build on the knowledge and experience and make the local scene vibrant enough to entice even those who tend towards holidaying abroad.
To borrow the whole-of-nation mantra from the authorities, it is time to set aside competition and work together in creating a stronger domestic tourism scene.