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An uncertain future for cruise and aviation

As it currently stands, all major cruise lines have had major disruptions to their services as they’re forced to lay off thousands of workers indefinitely whilst ports to many countries remain closed for the foreseeable future – the first big disruption to the industry since 9/11.

As we begin to hit what would be the peak season toward the middle of spring and start of summer, instead of reading stories of holiday go-ers preparing for their next big escape, we’re instead reading stories of two huge industries that may suffer huge losses following the coronavirus pandemic. 

As it currently stands, all major cruise lines have had major disruptions to their services as they’re forced to lay off thousands of workers indefinitely whilst ports to many countries remain closed for the foreseeable future – the first big disruption to the industry since 9/11. And whilst the extended period of time in which services aren’t running for, the issues that the cruise liners may suffer from most could be a damaged reputation following the spread of infections amongst a number of ships. With many different people from many different countries all coming together in one confined space, it allowed the virus to spread very quickly in some instances, such as the Diamond Princess, reporting over 700 confirmed cases.

It isn’t just the economic cost of a lack of travellers on the ships, and loss of revenue via bookings themselves, but also the onboard upselling too. Cruise ships are typically small villages at sea – the offering on them is as grand as it is diverse. From restaurants to drink packages, bowling allies to casinos – the industry encompasses far more than revenue from the trip itself. The Royal Caribbean International Voyager of the Seas, for example has 10 EGMs on board per passenger, as too does the Crystal Symphony – although this is a heavily regulated industry, as the ship moves into varying jurisdictions during its time at sea, each of which have conflicting rules and regulations around gambling activity. Any ship which is located more than 12 miles off of a coastline is considered to be in international waters, but the origin of the ship is accounted for in any online or offline gambling whilst onboard – as such, it’s important to ensure you’re entirely compliant from a legal perspective – you can find more info at Legalbetting. The complexities aren’t just economic, but legal too.

As the months pass and we move away from this global crisis, we may see a shift in how we operate as a society – we may see social distancing become more of a norm as people harbour some concern what the previous few months have held – and if this is the case, we may continue to see cruise lines experience difficulties. This could spell trouble for Virgin – the Scarlet Lady had been debuted in late February of this year as it aimed to capture the millennial market, aimed at providing a high quality more tailored experience to those who were looking for something a little more artificially fancy – but following the coronavirus outbreak could suffer from the huge hit to the market. The running cost of a cruise liner is already hugely expensive, and although many staff have had to be laid off during this period, to run once more when things return to normal requires all those who had lost their jobs to be re-hired, and then a length period of time that requires the ships themselves to be maintained and prepared for guests which leads to an extended period of time in which they’re unable to be used.

The aviation industry was also one of the first to voice its concerns and see the impacts of this, and also the first to see heavy losses. The questions of a potential bailout came very quickly following the first big spread of the outbreak and the closing of many borders in late  February and early March – the first of the big casualties was seen with FlyBe in the UK had attempted to overcome the challenges of flight cancellations, which had eventually become too difficult and caused the airline to collapse. We have seen others such as RyanAir running ghost flights, taking their planes in a circle around the airports in which they’re parked in an effort to keep the planes serviceable – as well as stories from British Airways warning staff that the survival of the airline is at stake.

As with the cruise ships, we may see that going forward many could remain afraid to fly for some time – we have seen compassion from flight attendants as they show guilt for being part of the spread, and with this a fast recovery may not be as simple as many would like it to be. Being in close proximity with strangers will cause apprehension for many for quite some time.

It’s still very uncertain how long this could go on for – we’re seeing countries such as Italy and Spain start to level the curve a little and in the coming weeks we may begin to see them recover, however with countries such as the U.S still ramping up very quickly, the UK seemingly beginning to approach the worst of it and other countries now beginning to issue a state of emergency, we’re still a long way out. And with this, further bad news for those industries already bleeding a lot – if flights continue to be grounded and cruise ships remain docked for longer periods of time then the running costs it takes to keep them in that state may become too much. 

The large number of unemployed will also be a huge cause of concern to these industries – to recover following the global epidemic they will need  a huge influx of customers to bolster themselves back up and return to a position where they’re able to operate as normal, however as we’re seeing the number of jobless and those seeking financial aid increase across the world, it is unlikely that capturing the same market will be at all possible as those who have faced losing their jobs will have other concerns. This will of course be another of the big factors that could see an extended period of challenges for the travel industry as many simply will not be able to afford to use these services.

As it stands, it is mostly all bad news in the travel and tourism industry without so much as a silver lining to look for – the current approach may be that those within the tourism and travel industry form a coalition with others that are struggling, such as those in the casino and gaming industry, to seek some form of government relief, as an approach to help each individually may seem unrealistic and too big a task. With no end yet in sight, we may see many others fall without support, as even efforts for partnerships to form possibly not being enough – this is the worst crisis to hit both industries since 9/11 but the effects may be even further reaching – as mentioned we may see a huge social shift following this as many adjust personal habits in fear of the months that follow.